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Daily Bridge in New Zealand

How high and how?

The opposition are not giving you an easy run. Vulnerability is in their favour and you have managed one bid and you are already at the 5-level for your next. The first decision to make is whether you should “take the money” or else move on into the unknown. If you decide to bid on, how high and how should you advance?

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


Don’t you love such decisions? Worth every cent of your table money. (You were playing on-line…so, it did not break the bank!) For what it is worth, your system is 5-card majors and had partner opened 1NT, they would have shown 15-17. You are playing Pairs.

The first question is relatively easy in that with your void in clubs and the vulnerability adverse, seeking a higher score than one could achieve from a penalty double seems right. But how high?

Peter Newell “5Heart-small: At Pairs want the vulnerable game, and give partner a chance to bid 6Heart-small if he wants to.  Partner was under pressure with the 4Club-small bid so could still have a reasonable hand, and likely has a few clubs and until the 5Club-small was made, wouldn’t have expected me to be void…

though others are going higher themselves but via different routes. There’s the direct approach:

Bruce Anderson “6Diamond-small: I am bidding what I think I can make. Surely partner has an unbalanced hand with at least 5 diamonds. With only one ace, he/she must hold Heart-smallK. Partner could hold the key cards for a grand slam, but that is unlikely given the pass of 4Club-small. I am aware 6Heart-small could also be a make, but bidding and making any slam is often good at Pairs.  

Nigel Kearney “6Heart-small: I don't have many options. Pass is not forcing and double, even if not penalty, is too likely to be passed. My guess is 6Heart-small will make more than half the time and sometimes when it doesn’t, they will sacrifice.
That last statement is very prophetic. Our other panellists sought out their partner’s help into which slam they would attempt.

Matt Brown “5NT: Ideally we could make a takeout double but double isn't for takeout and it is too much to hope that he'll do the right thing. It looks like all of his values are outside clubs. So, I hope we make a slam, and if not, it's just one board.”

Stephen Blackstock “6Club-small:  Initially saying “pick a slam” and showing first round club control (otherwise 5NT). Perhaps we have a grand, perhaps even six is too high on some layouts although it would be very pessimistic not to bid a slam. It will be difficult for East to bid a grand with any confidence but West may have enough to do so now.”

An interesting difference from Stephen in the meaning of 5NT and 6Club-small.

Kris Wooles” 6Club-small: partner could not double 4Club-small and that fact and the opponents bidding suggest most of West’s values are in my suits. I’d hope it would be read as initially “pick a slam” and is to my mind more descriptive than other options. We might have a grand on but after the pre-empt and loss of space, that could be difficult to discern. After 6Diamond-small, I’d bid 6Heart-small

I am not sure I would read a double of 4Club-small as a penalty double. Also, I am not sure that partner has an unbalanced hand because they passed 4Club-small. It seems that West could have a weak no-trump shape and strength without 4 hearts, something like a 4342 shape, meaning that if one does try for slam, that asking for partner’s help would be preferable to taking a guess at the 6 level.

Partner’s actual hand might attract criticism for failing to bid 4Diamond-small over 4Club-small. However, as Peter Newell pointed out, at that point West did not know their partner was short in clubs.

At the table, East did ask for their partner’s input as to choice of slam….but Nigel Kearney’s prediction about a 7-level dive became reality:

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


7Club-smallx was never going to be expensive (it cost less than a vulnerable game- down 3, -500) but was much more expensive than defending 6Diamond-small on the lead of ace and a second spade. 6Heart-small would, of course, have met the same fate as long as South led their singleton. All of which left 5Heart-small as the winning if slightly pessimistic action over 5Club-small…or would South have bid once more…or once and twice more?

Wrong Guess!

Interesting all round and just demonstrating how hard such deals can be. Say South had bid 5Club-small first time round. What would have happened then? All up, a fascinating deal.

For tomorrow, you are playing 4Heart-small. It’s Pairs, if that matters.

East Deals
None Vul
J 4 2
J 6
J 5
A K Q J 10 3
W   E
A K 10 8 4 2
A 10 9 8
5 4
West North East South
    Pass 1 
1  2  3  4 
All pass      


The lead is Diamond-smallK. Presumably, you will win the ace…and then?

It’s a wet Monday. See you on…a wet Tuesday?

Richard Solomon


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