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Daily Bridge in New Zealand

Fighting for The Plus-Score.

You cannot make a game or slam on every deal. Sometimes, despite having the majority of the high-card points, you cannot make a contract! Weird distributions are all part of the fun, in a “weird” or masochistic way.

“Oh, why did I not use that “pass” card and let the opposition suffer? I can see now that the warning signs were there” reflected East after recording a minus score despite having nice looking trumps. It was just a shame about the rest of the hand!

However, for many including most of our Panel, the problem for today would not have occurred because the West hand had already taken some unfortunate action. Here is the West hand and the bidding so far. We can assume that 1Spade-small promised a 5+ card suit, though the problem still exists opposite a 4+ card opener:

East Deals
N-S Vul
   
A
10 6 5 3 2
A 6 3 2
10 5 4
 
N
W   E
S
   
West North East South
    1  2 
?      

 

The options seem to be:

  • 2Heart-small, a one-round force,
  • a negative double showing normally 4 hearts but could be more hearts with fewer high card points than for the one round force, or
  • Pass

Nigel Kearney “Double:  I have a lot of playing strength if partner has hearts and the double gets the hand off my chest immediately whereas pass is quite likely to leave me wondering what to do on the next round.”

Or in fewer words, though despite the comment, I am sure he “thought” first:

Matt Brown “Double: without much thought really. If partner rebids 2Spade-small, I hope it isn't on a 5-card suit only.”

Michael Cornell “Double: Close between Pass and Double. for me but I would double, just.

I am not desperate to get in the auction but if partner has anything reasonable, I will be better placed bidding now, especially if he has hearts, of course.”

Bruce Anderson “Double: Not good enough to bid 2Heart-small but too good to pass. The two aces are big cards here; if partner has hearts, game is a real possibility. For spades, my one card support could not be better.”

Partner might reflect that doubleton Spade-small32 might be better. I know the hand is no “bed of roses” but it might be better to play in a 5-3 heart fit albeit one level higher (nice partners produce Heart-smallAQJ) than a 5-1 spade fit. Since double is not perfect, I do not see that bidding 2Heart-small here is that bad. If you end back in 2Spade-small, so be it.

I am not alone in the rejection of double:

Kris Wooles “Pass: with one less diamond and one more club, I’d negative double but am not comfortable on doing so with the actual shape. As it stands, it would be nice if partner would double back in after which I would bid 3Heart-small. If partner bids 2Spade-small, I would pass again. 

Peter Newell “Pass: It’s close to Double but I prefer pass with length in opponent’s suit, and expect partner to reopen with shortage (while I would be tempted to pass again at the vulnerability, I would bid 3Heart-small), poor fit for partner’s suit.  If partner passes, I expect he will probably have 3 maybe 2 diamonds and defending with the opponents vulnerable at Pairs is probably right more often than not.

The downside with double is that this is not a great hand if partner doesn’t have hearts and will thus be a good hand to defend…”

So, no votes for 2Heart-small while the rest see it as close between passing or doubling. In the problem we left you yesterday, West did pass and the opener was left with the following:

Bridge in NZ.pngnz map.jpg

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

 

As East, what action would you take?

At the table, East was taken in by their lovely spades, worth a trick or two if that suit were trumps and decided to make it so. “Making” 2Spade-small proved a little tricky!

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

 

2Spade-small from East was not a good idea and not just because trumps broke 5-2. East looked at their spades but not at the rest of their hand. The art of reopening doubles stems from the fact that the reopener is short in the opponent’s suit, ideally a singleton, perhaps on some days a void or a doubleton. Certainly, East did not double but the action they took was just as bad.

What East has to realise above is that their partner did not make a negative double or indeed take any action over 2Diamond-small themselves. There are two possibilities why. Firstly, they are just too weak. The other alternative is that they have a diamond stack and are waiting your reopening double. When, as above, East has three diamonds, and three decent diamonds at that, they know that partner is not waiting for you to reopen.

As both Kris Wooles and Peter Newell said, had East doubled, they would jump to 3Heart-small on the West cards. This East hand is not one to reopen with a double…and if West is weak, then they should not reopen at all. West does not have a 5 or 6 count with three spades.The only time when East would want to bid with the shape they held is when they had an ace more than they have, say 18-19 count when 2NT may be the right bid.

The warning signs were there, in the diamond suit. East must pass 2Diamond-small.

While South’s 2Diamond-small seems slightly odd with such a weak suit, it is hard to suggest a better action following the 1Spade-small opener. The only alternative is to pass. The making part-score for North-South is 3Club-small, hard to reach when 2Diamond-small is passed out!

A couple of AK’s and a couple of trumps, maybe a third heart is about all South could muster in 2Diamond-small, a just about certain minus score. Meanwhile, five trumps and a diamond were all East could manage in 2Spade-small, a couple short.

positive and negative.jpg

West’s action over the 2Diamond-small overcall is questionable. East’s in the pass-out seat is not, if indeed East wants to record a plus score.

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

 

The bids kept coming! 4Club-small was a splinter, singleton or void with 4-card trump support. The redouble showed slam interest and club control. 5Club-small was one or four key cards while 5Heart-small denied the Heart-smallQ. Undaunted, South bid the small slam.

West led a club, ruffed in the dummy. When a heart was played at trick 2, East discarded a club. Did the slam make?

See you tomorrow.

Richard Solomon

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