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The Clapham Omnibus

The Clapham Omnibus

By In 46th World Bridge Teams Championships On 20th August 2023

In English law, the phrase ‘the man on the Clapham Omnibus’ refers to a hypothetical ‘ordinary and reasonable person’ when one needs to determine if a person’s actions have been in accord with accepted principles.

In so as bridge is concerned I use it mostly when attempting to determine the right course of action during the bidding process.

When the Championships got under way this deal soon appeared on the tables this morning:

It is easy to predict the early action – barring some conventional effort by East to indicate the majors West opens 1Quadri and rebids 1Picche over East’s 1Cuori. When East raises to 2Picche what should West do?

Jumping to 4Picche is a possibility, and so is an invitational 3Picche. Perhaps you should bid 3Fiori, showing your 6-4. At the table I was watching West elected to pass, which looks conservative. Just to make sure I asked my resident Clapham Omnibus man and he was in favour of bidding on. He couldn’t decide what the best bid was but was clear that West should at least make a try.

In the Bermuda Bowl 20 pairs bid game (one in 4Cuori which has no real chance) 11 of them going one down (which looks odd, as even a forcing defence in clubs should not succeed).

In the Venice Cup 20 Pairs bid game (again once in 4Cuori – this time made – and there was a 3NT that went three down) only four pairs failing to collect 10 tricks.

In the d’Orsi Tophy 21 pairs essayed 4Picche which failed 7 times.

In the Wuhan Cup 18 pairs got to game (one making 4Cuori another attempting a doomed 5Quadri). Here too a spade game was defeated 7 times.

Those statistics make it clear that the man on the Clapham Omnibus was spot on in at least looking for game, but I’m beginning to wonder if I was asking the wrong question – what’s the best line of play in 4Picche?

It looks natural to play on hearts, but one might also be tempted by those diamonds.

About the Author

Mark Horton
Mark Horton

Mark Horton British journalist and expert player, was Editor of Bridge Magazine 1995-2017 and now edits the online publication Bridgerama+. At one time, his business cards were inscribed: Have Cards will Travel, but following the death of his most famous sponsor, the Rabbi Leonard Helman, he has tended to concentrate on his writing exploits (in 2018 he had five books published!). Anyone wanting to discover how to lose at bridge on a regular basis (and pay for the privilege) should feel free to contact him. He currently lives in Shrewsbury with his wife Liz.