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Showing Strength.

It is important when Opener, or indeed Responder, has a strong hand that they show that strength to their partner. It would not have mattered particularly on the following deal though it is a good principle to grasp.

What should North’s second bid be with the following hand in this auction:

Spade-small AK53                     Heart-small A2              Diamond-small 87               Club-small AK943



West              North            East                South

                        1Club-small                  Pass                1Heart-small

Pass                ?

Your hand is semi-balanced. You have no void or one card suit though it is not truly balanced as you have two two-card suits. Any idea of bidding no-trumps (presumably 2NT with your 18 count) is not a good idea if there is a logical alternative since you are not sure about the diamond suit. Your partner may have 4 spades along with hearts. So, bid spades but not just 1Spade-small. You would do that with the same shape and far fewer high card points (hcp). Your bid should be 2Spade-small.

Jump Shift by Opener in New Suit forcing to Game

It is important to realise that this bid is forcing your partnership to game, being a jump bid in a new suit by opener. Therefore, you are showing 18/19 hcp, possibly a good 17 since your partner could have as few 6 hcp (possibly even 5). Although 1Spade-small is in theory forcing for one round, because you have limited your hand to at most a poor 17hcp, your partner who may have scraped up a bid on a 5 or poor 6 count, could pass. You would not want that to happen holding the North hand above.

Let’s look at partner’s hand and continue the bidding.

North Deals
None Vul
A K 5 3
A 2
8 7
A K 9 4 3
W   E
Q 9 2
K J 10 3
A 9 6
10 8 6
West North East South
  1  Pass 1 
Pass 2  Pass ?


South realises that they are going to game but has no special support for either of partner’s black suits. Although South would like to have perhaps two holds in the unbid suit, diamonds, they do have a reasonable holding there. (We will see why when we play the hand.) Thus, South will bid no-trumps. If South bids 2NT (a reasonable action), North will raise to 3NT. Alternatively, South may just bid 3NT themselves.

So, therefore, to the play of the hand in the contract of 3NT. West leads the Diamond-smallJ and on the first round of the suit East plays Diamond-small2, a low card being encouraging.

Plan the play.

Which suit/suits do you play and at what point?

Do you win the opening lead with your ace?

(We are not saying you should play spades but if you do, you will find that West started with just one spade.)

We will be back with the solution on Sunday.

Richard Solomon

Remember that opener should show strength to your partner with a really strong hand by jumping a level with their second bid.   

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