A few days ago, one of my questions on overcalls in bridge was closed by a moderator, apparently for being "subjective."

What are rules for an overcall that have wide acceptance?

When this happened, I reviewed the entries on the internet that I had consulted. Their generally vague and confusing discussions 1) reminded me of why I had asked the question, and 2) seemed to support the moderator's decision to close the question.

Several days later, I stumbled (after trial and error) on this answer.


It seemed to meet all the requirements of a good Stack Exchange answer: 1) It was "objective" insofar as it not only described the requirements for an overcall but put them into a formula 2) "expert," insofar as it was not a typical "wiki" article, but apparently part of a book and 3) clear, insofar as it created a "light bulb" moment in my head. I would have gladly accepted an answer that was a takeoff on this post as "authoritative."

The question was closed because someone apparently honestly believed that an objective answer based on "facts, references, and specific expertise" would be hard to come by. I have, in fact, found such an answer. Is this grounds for reopening the question?

  • I would say yes, though I know nothing about bridge, so I'm not completely sure. Jun 22 '11 at 15:24

I don't agree that the link you gave is expert standard.

First it clearly says intermediate lesson (if you go to the top page).

Second, it suggests determining the suit quality by adding the length and number of honours which reeks of non-expert bridge.

Third, it does not discuss Lebensohl (or like) which is a common expert defense system when partner doubles opponents preemptive bids for take out.

The fact of the matter is overcalling is subjective (matter of style as they say), there are hands where there will be wide disagreement between experts in USA and experts in Europe on whether to overcall or not etc.

And really, Michael Furstner seems to be an unheard of name. I found no playing record which will confirm his expert status and the fact that he has an online book says nothing.

Besides it seems that the question itself is phrased in such a way as to elicit different opinions, making it subjective by nature.

  • 2
    I would add that the linked article includes several references to quality suits, and as we've already seen, that's not exactly an objective measure itself. Jun 24 '11 at 19:38

It seems to me (from this and other questions), that you're misreading the nature of bridge. There is no "clear, objective, expert" answer to "What do I bid with this hand?". If it were "What does American Standard say I should bid with this hand, assuming Pass from RHO?", then it would probably reach the standard for SE sites, but it's still not Objectively answerable; your bid should be affected by the vulnerability and whether you need a good result or are happy with an average (and probably will be affected by your estimate of your partner's and opponents' abilities).

On the other hand, if you asked "What is the reason you can overcall with a weaker hand than you need to open?" I'd say that's a fair question (although not one I'd be inclined to answer; you really need to read a book on your system).

  • Actually, I edited the question. boardgames.stackexchange.com/questions/3661/…. The gist of it is now why you need a suit headed by two honors for an overcall, whereas you can get by with one (sometimes zero) in your suit for an opening bid. On the other hand you need fewer points for an overcall. Maybe one requirement is a "substitute" for the other?
    – Tom Au
    Aug 8 '11 at 18:51
  • 2
    @Tom: No, you still don't get it. It's not about scientific rules which can be justified with a computer; it's about what bid will give you the best score. A system works because (if done right) there is a reason for each feature. But if you and your partner dislike overcalling with a weak pointcount, change it and see whether your results get better or worse. A site like this can't properly explain features of American Standard, because it is a system, and a proper explanation would be booklength. But whether length "substitutes" for strength: that's not even a sensible question. Aug 9 '11 at 23:06

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