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Daily Bridge in New Zealand

Fast Arrival….or Take it Slow?

Below is the bidding sequence and hand we gave you yesterday. We asked you what action you would take at this point of the auction. We asked that of our Panel too but we also asked the Panel whether they would have jumped to 4Heart-small first time or have taken some other action:

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South Deals
E-W Vul
A J 5 3
A K 10 9 8 7 5 2
W   E
West North East South
4  5  Pass Pass


There was no consensus as to what action to take after the 1Diamond-small opening:

Matt Brown “4Heart-small: probably our best shot at involving partner. If we overcall 1Heart-small, they could pre-empt massively in either minor and now partner is stuck.


Michael Cornell “1Heart-small: Absolutely not 4Heart-small. I can be cold for slam opposite nothing. I would have been tempted to overcall 1Heart-small, 2nd choice X.

Gentlemen, please step outside! In Matt’s corner are:

Nigel Kearney “4Heart-small: Sometimes they will let us play there. When they don't, the problem on the next round is foreseeable but starting with 1Heart-small won't necessarily help.”    and:

Peter Newell “4Heart-small: sure, it makes it hard to determine whether partner has spade cards but the alternatives are not great. At this vulnerability, this shows a good hand, though usually not as good as this, and makes it harder for the opponents to judge. As you have such a good hand, I don’t mind a 1Heart-small bid either to see whether this helps get more information about partner’s hand but at this vulnerability the opponents often pre-empt anyway….and if you bid only 1Heart-small and then they bid 5Diamond-small, you will want to bid 5Heart-small as I don’t think partner will be expecting 4/8 shape for a double…I don’t like doubling on this hand.”

but they do not like 4Heart-small in Christchurch:

Kris Wooles “Double: We may have a big spade fit which will never be found after 4Heart-small. With Spade-small Kxxxxx and a void in hearts, partner will never introduce their suit and we may have 6Spade-small on.”

Bruce Anderson “Double: I want know if partner has anything useful and can only find that out if I start with a double. I do not know North is intending to bid 5Diamond-small. If partner had the chance, perhaps, I would have heard a jump response in spades.. or even a bid of 5Spade-small over 5Diamond-small had I started with a double, intending to bid 4Heart-small over a minimum response.”

So, along with Michael Cornell, they have slam in mind though I do feel too much emphasis has been put on a spade fit. Realistically, surely, hearts will be trumps and therefore a little 1Heart-small start might be a better start than double. I do not think I would be very happy to hear my take-out double passed out if partner had a stack of diamonds.

Dare I say that a slam would be a little more likely if our singleton was in clubs not the opposition’s suit? If only for that reason, a leap to game in hearts seems quite practical.

So, they did compete in diamonds and we have to decide how to handle our hand now. As you would have expected from his above comment, Michael Cornell is far from happy to be in this position:

Michael Cornell “Double: no other choice but to double to show a serious 4Heart-small bid but I would NEVER have got into this position.

I do not know whether the opposition are diving or bidding to make. All I know is partner does not want to x it but he could still have a myriad of different hands that fit that category.”

Peter Newell “Double: good hand with some defence. 5Heart-small much looks like we have one diamond loser and unless partner has spade honours, some spade(s) to lose… “

I am nervous about this double. Where your hand is stronger than it might have been vulnerable is in the heart length. Perhaps we should have asked the Panel what they would have bid with the East hand below after the double. Is 5Heart-small obvious?

Others bid 5Heart-small:

Matt Brown “5Heart-small: It's not that hard to imagine we could be making it, or it could be a sacrifice over their making 5Diamond-small.”

    or both!

Bruce Anderson “5Heart-small: It could be right to defend but if partner does have strength in spades with a singleton heart, how can he judge to remove my double and bid 5Heart-small? And even in that case, 5Diamond-small could still be a make. So, I am not doubling or passing."

Prophetic words..

Kris Wooles “5Heart-small: I have made a rod for myself with 4Heart-small and while encouraged by my 8/4 shape, I am making my bid while still being a little uneasy about it and double may prove to be correct. Partner’s silence in response to my vulnerable 4Heart-small bid may or may not be meaningful given he/she would hardly know what is going to be useful (i.e. something in Spade-small’s).”

Nigel Kearney “5Heart-small: Maybe I should double, suggesting stronger than just a pre-empt and giving partner the option of passing or bidding. But I think I have too much shape for that.” 

Me, too, Nigel. Double puts a lot of pressure on East to make the correct decision here.

So, what actually happened?

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


Everyone was kind of right though 4Heart-small would not have stopped the 5Diamond-small bid coming either, hence the problem we gave the Panel. However, the take-out double did not encourage East to either bid over 5Diamond-small or to correct 5Heart-smallx to 5Spade-small.

Yes, 6Heart-small or 6Spade-small make but would you like to be in either slam? South might have been a little suspicious of the 5Heart-small bid and their partner’s own pre-emptive diamond raise. In reality, how many tricks could they count on? Surely no more than two? A quiet pass would have saved a little, but not much as this happened at the other table:

            West              North            East                South

                                                                                   1Club-small   (strong, artificial)

            4Diamond-small                   X                    4Heart-small                   5Diamond-small

            All Pass

That’s right, it was West who bid 4Diamond-small, a very high- level version of Suction, showing either single-suited hearts or both black suits. This enabled North to double, penalty style. 4Heart-small was pass or correct. South had no doubt who had the diamonds and the auction ended quietly.

West could have saved a couple of imps with a brave Heart-small2 lead with either black suit switch being good enough to beat the contract by one trick but after a high heart, it was -400 along with – 1050 and 16 imps in or out depending on your perspective.

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I wonder where the initial doublers or 1Heart-small overcallers would have finished. Anyone for 6Spade-smallx on a diamond lead and club switch? Not I!

Thanks to Shirley Newton for submitting this deal.

Another piece of “make-believe” for tomorrow:

North Deals
Both Vul
Q 6
Q 9 6 4
A K 8 2
W   E
K 10 8
10 8 7 2
10 8 4
Q 9 5
West North East South
  1  Pass 1 
Pass 4  All pass  


Maybe you should: maybe you should not but you did!

You bid 1Heart-small hoping to bail out in perhaps 1NT or 2NT, a better spot than say a 3-3 club fit. “Bailing out” occurred at the game level! West led Club-small7 and you won in hand (East playing Club-smallJ) to run Heart-small7 to East’s ace. Back came Spade-small7 and you play Spade-small8 to West’s ace. Plan the play. West will exit Club-small4.

Richard Solomon


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