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The Suit You Do Not Need to Call.

You open the bidding by calling your longest suit at the 1 level. Your partner calls a different suit and you call your second longest suit because you have no support for your partner’s suit and a hand not suitable to bid no -trumps. ..or in other words:

North Deals
N-S Vul
9
A 9
A K 6 5 2
K 9 7 5 3
   
N
W   E
S
   
 
K 10 7 4
Q 7 5 4 3
3
A J 10
West North East South
  1  Pass 1 
Pass 2  Pass ?
       

 

What should South’s second bid be? They also bid their longest first (or usually). So, you can argue they should now call their second suit, spades. That in theory is fine although North would know that South had 4 spades but would know very little about the strength of their partner’s hand.

When one constructs a bidding system, one tries to cover as many normal hand shapes as possible. Say South had only three spades and a slightly different hand but the same point-count:

Spade-smallT72

Heart-small A7543

Diamond-small 53

Club-smallAQT

There are options for South’s second bid but not particularly satisfactory ones:

2Diamond-small  though that bid would ideally show 3 or 4 diamonds and could be as weak as a 6 count.

2Heart-small   normally shows 6 hearts and 6-9 hcp

2NT not a great bid with no hold in the unbid suit, spades.

3Diamond-small  OK on point count but short on diamonds

3Heart-small shows 10 or 11 points with 6 hearts

What South wants to do is make a bid that says they might be interested in game if their partner is maximum for their 2Club-small bid but only if they have a hold in the unbid suit, spades. The ideal bid for such a question is 2Spade-small, the unbid suit, though we could not call that if we did so with the first South hand above. It cannot show spades and ask about spades at the same time.

Yet, we can get around this apparent problem by actually calling no-trumps when we do have a hold in the fourth suit (spades) and calling the suit (called “4TH Suit Forcing” (you cannot pass the bid) when we do not.

So, with our first South hand, we can call 2NT showing 10 -12 points with a hold in spades. With a stronger hand, we can jump to 3NT. If South has less than 10hcp, they have to find a different bid, but with say 7 hcp and 4 spades, you are best not to call 2Spade-small any way…getting too high on few high card points.

Thus, with the second South hand, we can call 2Spade-small and wait to see what North says. With no hold in spades, they cannot bid no trumps.

There is more to the principle of “4th Suit Forcing” than has been stated (please do remember that all 4 suits have to be bid by your side not the opponents) but the use of this artificial bid is a reason why the bidding on the first North-South hands given should go:

                        North                        South

                        1Diamond-small                               1Heart-small

                        2Club-small                               2NT (spade hold, 10-12 hcp)

                        3NT (not minimum) Pass

 

So, South became declarer in 3NT with these two hands.

North Deals
N-S Vul
9
A 9
A K 6 5 2
K 9 7 5 3
   
N
W   E
S
   
 
K 10 7 4
Q 7 5 4 3
3
A J 10
West North East South
  1  Pass 1 
Pass 2  Pass 2 NT
Pass 3 NT All pass  

 

West led the Spade-small3 and East played Spade-smallJ. It seems a good idea to win this with your king. You need at least 8 more tricks. Plan the best way to make at least 9 tricks. See you on Sunday.

You may or may not play or want to play “4th suit forcing” just yet but it is generally a good idea that when your side has bid three different suits and you have a hold in the unbid suit to bid no-trumps assuming you have enough high card points. Then one day, when you start to learn about “4th suit forcing”, you will find the adjustment to playing it much easier.

Richard Solomon

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