New To The Table
Finding The Right Game.
The words “trump fit” are regularly discussed in Beginners’ Bridge Lessons. The magic number seems to be eight. If you have eight or more cards between you and your partner's hand, then you should be thinking about making that suit the trump suit. There is a proviso that often even where the 8 card + fit is in a minor suit, that you would be better off playing in 3NT….only 9 tricks required as opposed to 11 in the minor suit.
It should be easy enough to identify that fit when each player has four or more cards in the suit. However, frequently, we need to identify the fit when one player has a five card suit and the partner just three. (We will leave 6 or 7 card suits for another day.)
Take the following hand and bidding sequence:
T8 Q8764 J4 A643
West North East South
1 Pass 1
Pass 2NT Pass ?
Your partner has shown a balanced hand with at least 4 diamonds and 18 or 19 high card points (you may have learnt 17-18 though it is better with 17 either to open 1NT if you play strong no-trump or to rebid 1NT to show 15-17, thus making 2NT 18-19).
That’s not our problem here. We have a rather uninspiring 7 count but we do have a 5 card heart suit. Partner will probably expect us to bid to game opposite their 18 count..but which game? If our partner has a three- card heart suit (they cannot have more as they would have supported hearts a round earlier), we might be better off with that suit as trumps.
So, let’s find out. With the above hand, we would bid 3 which is actually a natural bid. You may have learnt already the term “Checkback” where normally the bid of 3 (after 2NT rebid) or 2 (after 1NT rebid) asks about the major suit holdings of the opening bidder. These are useful bids to make, even if we do not have 4+ clubs, to unearth 5-3 or even 4-4 major suit fits. However, even if you were not playing Checkback, you should bid 3 on the above hand. Note that if you had bid 3 over 2NT, that would show a six -card suit.
After our 3 bid, our partner will bid 3 with three card heart support. That is what they did. So, decision time. Do we bid to 4 or do we let partner play in 3NT?
As we know, there is no certainty in bridge. However, generally a 5-3 major fit will play at least as well as 3NT (Note all the qualifications. I do not want to have to defend that statement in a court of law!). So, we should bid 4 to end the auction.
Our next problem is to make at least 10 tricks. West leads K and this is what we see:
|1 ♦||Pass||1 ♥|
|Pass||2 NT||Pass||3 ♣|
|Pass||3 ♥||Pass||4 ♥|
“Thank you, partner. Nice dummy” you say although you could have added “except for the trump suit!”
Never mind, plan the play to 4. See you on Sunday.