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Staying in Part-Score.

Part-score contracts are important too. You cannot make game on every hand. When we do not think we can make a game, we would like to stop as low as we can…but it is not always possible.

     
North Deals
None Vul
 
N
W   E
S
   
 
A K Q 7 3 2
J 7 4 2
5
4 3
West North East South
  1  Pass 1 
Pass 2  Pass ?

 

Our first call is easy to make though after partner’s 2Club-small response, we have a problem. We have a really nice 6 - card spade suit and enough high card points to play in game except where our partner has a mis-fitting minimum opening hand.

While the spades are good, the rest of the hand is not. Having only one card in partner’s first bid suit and only two small ones in their second are not good holdings for playing these suits unless partner has particularly strong holdings.

Also, our heart holding is poor unless our partner has four card support (or if spades were trumps, a one- card suit). We have to make a call and have three or four possible options:

  • 2Spade-small We are a little too strong for this bid which is really a request for partner to pass. We would make that bid without the Spade-smallA or Spade-smallK (a small spade instead).
  • 3Spade-small We learn that this bid is invitational to game showing a 6-card spade suit. If we play this bid, as many do, as forcing to game, we cannot make this bid.
  • 2Heart-small If you have not yet learnt a convention called 4th Suit Forcing where the bid of the “4th suit” by your side can be artificial and is forcing, this would seem a good alternative. There is a chance that our partner has 4 hearts also (they would bid as above with a weak hand and 4 hearts, 4 or 5 diamonds, and 4 clubs). Thus, 2Heart-small would enable us to find a heart fit.

However, even if you do not play 4th suit forcing, partner might call 2NT or maybe with 5 clubs, even 3Club-small. Your hand is best suited to spade play, not no-trumps and certainly not a minor. By bidding 2Heart-small and then 3Spade-small, you would be forcing to a game, not necessarily what you want.

(There are two versions of 4th suit Forcing, one where the bid of “fourth suit” (2Heart-small) is only forcing for one round at the 2 level and the other where it is always forcing to game. 2Heart-small followed by 3Spade-small would in both versions be forcing to game: therefore, not ideal here.)

  • 2NT This is the worst of the 4 options in that partner will never expect you to have 6 good spades….and your heart hold is poor. If partner is weak, and passes, you may well be in the wrong contract.

Time to make a bid

So, there are our choices. They all have flaws. Both spade bids may miss a heart fit while 2Heart-small does not get over the length or strength of the spade suit.

What’s your choice?

Mine would be 3Spade-small, invitational, and hope we have not missed a heart fit. At least, we have a strong long playable trump suit even if we have!

So, 3Spade-small it is….and partner passed! Shame we did not bid 2Spade-small! Oh well, here’s hoping we can scramble 9 tricks. West leads Club-smallQ. This is what we see:

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

 

We have at least 3 heart losers and a diamond loser. If trumps break favourably, then we can lose a diamond to the ace and discard a heart on the Diamond-smallK. That means only 4 losers. Great.

So, we win the club in dummy and play three rounds of spades…but on the third round, West discards a small club. Thus, we have a spade loser.

plan A  plan B.png

Can we still make 3Spade-small? Do we have a Plan B? Any ideas?

Check in on Sunday to see.

When you feel ready for a little artificial bidding, Fourth Suit Forcing is a very good convention. You need to understand its uses and know whether the bid at the two level is forcing just for one round or to game.

The above sequence to 3Spade-small also highlights as to whether a jump bid in the same suit by responder is invitational or game forcing. Both methods have their uses though we do learn initially that the bid is invitational. Our North and South above both thought so.

Richard Solomon

 

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