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The Unchanging Commodity

Bidding styles change over the years because some traditional approaches, whilst effective, occur so rarely that we find more frequent uses for such bids. A prime example is reserving one’s 2 level suit openings apart from 2Club-small for Strong “Acol 2” hands, powerful but not quite game force. Most now play some version of Weak single or two suiters. Similarly, strong jump shifts by responder have given way to weak ones, mini- splinters, Bergen etc.

Occasionally, one wishes for the “old days”. This week at Akarana, a more traditional use of a couple of bids would have come in very handy.  

How do you handle the following hand?

Spade-small 7  Heart-small 54  Diamond-smallAKJT8742  Club-small A2 ?

You are opener and are not vulnerable against vulnerable opponents. It does not fit the bill for most partnerships’ gambling 3NT opening. Oh, if we played a strong 2Diamond-small, then we could open that….but who has that bid in their armoury?

So, 1Diamond-small it is and a take-out double on your left. Partner bids a spade…and if you were next to speak you could try a modern day 3NT (gambling style…long running minor…something outside.) That seems to be what you have. However, your right hand opponent will not let you bid next. In they come with 2Heart-small. Now what?

There is a gambling bid and a suicidal one. Your heart cards would not stop much. Will partner realise that, looking at Qx or two small themselves?

You could try 3Heart-small, asking for a hold. 30,50 years ago it may have asked for a hold but today it tends to show support, be a game try for your partner’s suit…and that is not your intention here.

Thus, to win the post-mortem, and almost as importantly, to win the board, you make a good old conservative 3Diamond-small bid. It’s a free bid though it’s the same bid you would make with a six rather than an eight card suit. Oh these wonderful modern methods we play.

The bidding did not end there:

West          North         East            South

                                      Pass            1Diamond-small

x                 1Spade-small              2Heart-small             3Diamond-small

3Heart-small             Pass            Pass            ?

What now? 4Diamond-small seems sound. However, you produced an interesting double..a “do what’s right” double. Looking at the North hand below, nothing seemed particularly right. So, I elected to defend:

Board 22
East Deals
E-W Vul
J 10 6 3 2
A 10
Q J 10 4 3
K Q 5 4
Q J 9 7
Q 6
K 7 6
W   E
A 9 8
K 8 6 3 2
5 3
9 8 5
5 4
A K J 10 8 7 4 2
A 2
West North East South
    Pass 1 
Dbl 1  2  3 
3  Pass Pass Dbl
All pass      


On the normal lead of South’s singleton spade, the defence got their five tricks (two diamonds, Heart-smallA,Club-smallA and a spade ruff) for +200. It could have been 500 if South had gone for a ruff with their doubleton club rather than their singleton (spade gets discarded on the third round of clubs) though the result does seem to be a little lucky in that diamonds broke 2-2. There might have been a cry for “an older style approach” had one opponent held three diamonds.

If that were the situation, it is unlikely that 3NT would have made with most failing in their 4Diamond-small contract, though a smaller minus than the 730 for 3Heart-smallx making.

All bar one of the other tables made 10 tricks in diamonds, though those in 5Diamond-small and 6Diamond-small recorded minus scores. One lucky North-South got to defend 4Heart-small, doubled of course.

Perhaps the outcome of the board depends on one commodity which was as true 30 or 50 years as it is today….

shamrock 2.jpg

Richard Solomon

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