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Daily Bridge in New Zealand

Game Selection.

Choosing the right game in all kinds of scoring is so important. No-trumps can often be the best choice when all games are making the same number of tricks though 4 of a major can produce an extra trick where there is ruffing to be done, or else where there is one wide-open suit. Never also ignore the minors where the last - mentioned situation is a factor.

Where 1NT is opened, stayman and other similar conventions help. After a 1NT rebid, whatever its strength, many play some form of checkback (2 of a minor) to determine major fits. However, there are situations where checkback is not so useful, where the responding hand is distributional, perhaps highlighting weaknesses elsewhere.

For this reason, a change of suit being a jump to the 3 level, shows two suits of at least five cards, and at least game-forcing values, leaving it to the opener to place the contract, rather than the other way round. Or that’s the theory.

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Q 7 3
A Q 8 3 2
K 9 7
West North East South
Pass 1  Pass 1 
Pass 1 NT Pass 3 
Pass ?    


1NT is 15-17 and 3Club-small is what it looks like…hearts and clubs…and forcing.

What next?

Firstly, a warm welcome to the Panel for Stephen Blackstock, a very regular contributor and writer of the Master Solvers Club feature in the days of NZ Bridge Magazine.

Stephen Blackstock “3Heart-small:  I don’t want to go past 3NT opposite say Spade-smallAx Heart-smallAxxxx Diamond-smallx Club-smallQJxxx, or arrive there opposite Spade-smallx or xx – but if he has spade shortage (less likely on the EW auction), slam must be close. There will be votes for 3Spade-small no doubt, but partner may not see it as just kicking the can, and in any event will bid 3NT with Spade-smallKx/Jx and score worse than 4Heart-small even if 3NT makes. Up to partner now to provide some more assistance with strain/level. I hope we agree whether 3Spade-small after 3Heart-small is a cue or a NT probe; these questions are usually resolved at the table by how quickly and confidently the bid is offered…..

Kris Wooles “3Heart-small: great 2 card support, not good enough spades to bid 3NT and certainly no hurry to rush the auction which is already Game Forcing. Will await partner’s next bid with interest.

Bruce Anderson "3Spade-small which is not a suit but aims for 3NT if partner holds a doubleton honour in spades. The problem with 4Club-small is we go past 3NT and it is Pairs. If partner cannot bid 3NT my next bid is 4Heart-small as I continue to strive for the best match-point score. This sequence does not preclude a slam if partner holds, say, a 5/5 with a singleton spade and Diamond-smallKx .

None of this would be going on at Teams; then I would bid 4Club-small, not concerned about going past 3NT.

Not making the final decision were:

Nigel Kearney “3Diamond-small: No reason to do any more than complete the description of my hand shape. My heart and club honours are nice but I have two probably wasted queens in a suit contract. Happy to pass 3NT or co-operate if partner has bigger plans.”

Matt Brown “It seems right to temporise with a 3D bid... With many points in partner's suits and a spade hold that may easily not be a hold, I think it is wrong to bid 3NT. 3Heart-small is an option I guess, but partner would expect 3 and I see no reason to lie just yet.”

Michael Cornell “3Diamond-small: sort of waiting. (cannot be long diamonds) Would like to hear 3Spade-small from partner so no trumps are played by me e.g. opposite his Spade-smallAx. Am happy to support or go to 4Heart-small on next round if partner does not bid 3Spade-small.”

Maybe we are one bid too early in this auction as on the South hand below, 3Spade-small, seeking a no-trump hold may be their choice…and they did not have Spade-small Ax.Stephen Blackstock is quite correct in asking what 3Spade-small means, either after 3Diamond-smallor 3Heart-small.


West Deals
Both Vul
Q 7 3
A Q 8 3 2
K 9 7
K 6 5
7 6 3
J 10 9 7 6
A 2
W   E
A J 10 8 4 2
9 8 4
J 4 3
A J 10 5 2
K 4
Q 10 8 6 5
West North East South
Pass 1  Pass 1 
Pass 1 NT Pass 3 
Pass ?    


Perhaps, 3Diamond-small was a warning to South that they did not have a great spade hold (no 3NT bid) leaving South to bid 4Club-small and North finally to show some delayed support for hearts.


the 3NT danger

“Silence is Golden”

So, you would have overcalled 1Spade-small on the East cards, maybe 2Spade-small? At the table, and perhaps at others too, they did not and North got to be declarer in 3NT which they did not enjoy very much on the lead of Spade-smallJ. If you would have overcalled, then the problem here would be just the same had East held Spade-small AJTx or Spade-smallAJTxx and made no overcall. Less down but still the same bad contract.

At the table, North decided to “lie” a little by bidding 3Heart-small which produced a nice smooth end to the auction in 4Heart-small. Another possible bid from North is 4Club-small on the assumption that South had shown 5 cards in that suit. That may propel the partnership to a dangerous 5Club-small unless South can bid 4Heart-small next as an offer to play.

So, 3NT met a very ugly end. 4Heart-small is not cold, (though certainly less down) on the small spade lead from West. The trump break is friendly and a club to the king will produce a very favourable result for the declarer assuming they then play a club to the 10. The loss of a second club trick to the jack would see South run out of trumps. Thus, the contract is making an over or an under-trick... but then they might not lead a spade.

I am sure 3Diamond-small has merit but am not clear that North will make the right decision after the 3Spade-small follow-up. Maybe the heroes of the day were the East players who sat in silence until it was their turn to lead to 3NT and to the North who bid their two-card heart suit as false preference.


Back to being declarer for Sunday’s probem:

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


West leads Diamond-small4 to East’s king and your ace. On a good day you have a club, a diamond and a trump loser…but this is not such a good day. You lay down Spade-smallA and East almost fools you by playing a black card but it is a low club! What to do? You still want to make 10 tricks…certainly no overs this time.

Richard Solomon

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