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Daily Bridge in New Zealand

No Time for a Fit.            

So, yesterday we gave you a pretty nice 20 hcp hand and we established that we had a spade fit. You know your partner has not got much of a hand. Even if the opener had only 11 hcp, that would be a maximum 9 to be spread around between South and your partner….and there could be several hcp less than that for these two hands.

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Let’s remind ourselves of the problem:

You are West holding:

Spade-small AQ87

Heart-small AJ8

Diamond-small KJ42

Club-small AJ

Dealer North. N/S Vul. Pairs

West              North            East                South

                        1Diamond-small               Pass                Pass

x                      Pass             1Spade-small                  Pass

?

How good is your hand in spades with every chance that North has Diamond-smallAQ and that suit being led with your hand as dummy? Opposite very little, you may be lucky to make even 3Spade-small unless partner produces something useful like Spade-smallK or Diamond-smallQ. So, a direct raise to the spade game feels wrong. If a jump to 3Spade-small opposite a partner who has been forced to bid shows around 18-19 hcp, then really you should try to show even more by bidding the opponent’s suit and then raising to 3Spade-small…more like the point count you have.

Keeping a Secret

Yet, maybe now’s a good time to keep that spade suit a secret. It might be easier to make game in no-trumps than in spades. It should certainly be better having North on lead than their partner. So, what about bidding no-trumps?

How Many?

Normally, a rebid of 1NT here shows 19-20, maybe a very good 18 count, too good for a strong no-trump overcall. However, with a fit for partner, and a probable double hold in opener’s suit, perhaps you could stretch to 2NT, in theory showing 21-22.

Perhaps partner should thus have raised to game with 3 points and 5 spades though they passed which in Pairs was a fair enough decision:

North Deals
N-S Vul
9 6
K 9 6 3
A Q 9 8 7
K Q
A Q 8 7
A J 8
K J 4 2
A J
 
N
W   E
S
 
J 10 5 3 2
Q 2
6 3
8 6 4 2
 
K 4
10 7 5 4
10 5
10 9 7 5 3
West North East South
  1  Pass Pass
Dbl Pass 1  Pass
2 NT All pass    

 

If only West could get to be declarer in 4Spade-small as South can never get in to lead a diamond. With West declarer, North will lead Club-smallK which West can win to exit a low heart. A patient North can win, cash their club winner and exit a heart. Declarer is in dummy and receives wonderful news in trumps, discards a diamond on the Heart-smallA and can score 420… but not when East is declarer.

Any sensible contract by West is so much better. Say North leads a diamond against 2NT..say Diamond-small9. South will unblock the Diamond-small10 (though it makes no difference if they do not). West wins to play a low heart and can then enjoy two heart tricks, five in spades, Club-smallA and a diamond beating any pair who manage to stop in 3Spade-small with East at the helm.

So, the key was to avoid that spade fit unless miraculously you could get West to be declarer. Major suit fits need not always be the answer.

While it was fortunate South held Spade-smallK, a spade contract would have been even worse off had there been a trump loser too. Basically, any no trump bid was better than any spade raise.

And today’s problem is:

  You are South and hear the following sequence. What, if anything, do you bid?

South holds:

Spade-small A4

Heart-small AJ5

Diamond-small 973

Club-smallJ8642

Dealer North. All Vul. Pairs

West              North            East                South

                        1Diamond-small                 2Spade-small1                        ?

1 Weak Jump

What system are we using? The answer is “yours” though we will dictate that 1Diamond-small promises at least 4 diamonds!

See you tomorrow.

Richard Solomon

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