The Clapham Omnibus
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 1 and rebids 1 over East’s 1. When East raises to 2 what should West do?
Jumping to 4 is a possibility, and so is an invitational 3. Perhaps you should bid 3, 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 4 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 4 – 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 4 which failed 7 times.
In the Wuhan Cup 18 pairs got to game (one making 4 another attempting a doomed 5). 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 4?
It looks natural to play on hearts, but one might also be tempted by those diamonds.