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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:

Spade-small T8    Heart-small Q8764   Diamond-small J4    Club-small A643

West              North             East                South

                        1Diamond-small                   Pass               1Heart-small

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 3Club-small which is actually a natural bid. You may have learnt already the term “Checkback” where normally the bid of 3Club-small (after 2NT rebid) or 2Club-small (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 3Club-small on the above hand. Note that if you had bid 3Heart-small over 2NT, that would show a six -card suit.

After our 3Club-small bid, our partner will bid 3Heart-small with three card heart support. That is what they did. So, decision time. Do we bid to 4Heart-small 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 4Heart-small to end the auction.

Our next problem is to make at least 10 tricks. West leads Spade-smallK and this is what we see:

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


“Thank you, partner. Nice dummy” you say although you could have added “except for the trump suit!”

false smile.jpg

Never mind, plan the play to 4Heart-small. See you on Sunday.

Richard Solomon


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