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Tales of the Absurd: Do you want to play in hearts?

How else can one describe a couple of boards from this week’s play? No fancy squeezes or end-plays this time. It’s all in what we bid and how much…which usually means too much!

It also helps if you hold the master- suit, something North players ruefully acknowledge when they picked up the following:

Spade-small -                  Heart-small AKQJT98              Diamond-small A7643 Club-small 10

I was able to observe first-hand a typical “marriage tester” sequence started by North with 1Club-small Precision. Indeed, it was a happily married couple (and they still are!) who did all the bidding:

                        North                                             South

                        1Club-small (Precision style)                       1Spade-small

                        2Heart-small                                                  2Spade-small

                        3Diamond-small                                                  3Spade-small

                        4Heart-small                                                 4Spade-small

at which point, North, wisely, gave up. Draw trumps and come home on the hearts? Not quite:

Board 29
North Deals
Both Vul
A K Q J 10 9 8
A 7 6 4 3
9 7 6
6 3
K Q 9
A K Q 5 3
W   E
Q J 10
5 4 2
J 10 8 2
J 6 4
A K 8 5 4 3 2
9 8 7 2


In a sense, our married pair had more chance than most to stop in 4Heart-small as a natural sequence might go:

                        North                                    South

                        1Heart-small                                           1Spade-small

                        2Diamond-small                                           4Spade-small

but who wants to play in 4Heart-small anyway? Partner said he would lead a trump against 4Heart-small but a more normal club lead and trump switch would work as well for the defence.

Deal Master Pro was in fine form against 4Spade-small..low club lead to the jack, three more clubs and another ruffed with Spade-smallT and over-ruffed. The defence is still due two trump tricks…down 3! Well, we did beat 4Spade-small one trick!

There is no point in playing 4Heart-small anyway, unless the defence kindly leads two top clubs. So, the battle of the majors ended quite peacefully….flat board.  

A few boards later came “the battle of one major”. I dedicate this board to my good friend Carol De Luca who systemically opens 2NT on flat 19-20 point hands.

I held in first seat: Spade-small JT2               Heart-small AKQ76                  Diamond-smallA4               Club-small AJ5

I counted 19, saw a good five card suit, a “10” and plenty of controls. Upgrade time…2NT (20-21 balanced). I was amazed by what happened next:

West                          North                                    East                            South

2NT                            3Heart-small!                                        x                                  Pass

My second bid was not hard to find. The heart distribution was interesting:

Board 36
West Deals
Both Vul
J 10 9 8 5 4 3 2
Q 2
J 10 2
A K Q 7 6
A 4
A J 5
W   E
7 6 5 3
K 10 7 6 5 3
10 4 2
K 9 8 4
J 9 8
K Q 9 8 7 6


I have never seen a hand where it is right to disturb a strong 2NT opening…and I still have not! Even 8 tricks in no-trumps would be an almost impossible ask for East-West. Meanwhile, +800 proved adequate compensation for the missed and dubious part-score.

bad break.png

At the other table, West did not find the heart break to his liking when he attempted to play in 2Heart-small.

As I said, a strange night and too much bidding. 

Richard Solomon





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