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Daily Bridge in New Zealand

Breaking the Rules? Should You?

You know the rule, or do you? Let’s just check and see if there is any reason to break the rule. It is one of those “we have got hearts: they have got spades” boards. How high should we go?

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South Deals
None Vul
   
K 3 2
A K 10 4
K 8 6 3
10 8
 
N
W   E
S
   
West North East South
      1 
Dbl 2  4  4 
?      

 

As usual, both sides are bidding furiously and unfortunately, you have the heart suit and the opponents the spades. What to do? It’s your bid.

So, what is the rule? It is that "the player in your partnership who bids to game is the one who should know what to do, unless there is anything particularly special about the partner’s hand"

Your partner bid to game. Thus, the question needs to be asked is about your own hand. You have made a reasonably sound take-out double (shame that Spade-smallK was not in the club suit..but otherwise, it’s fine) and are now faced with the opponents bidding up to 4Spade-small. That Spade-smallK looks like a card for defending..hardly an asset at the 5 level. Yet, other than the fact that your partner has a few high card points and a few hearts, you know nothing, not enough to make an informed decision for your side. With relief, perhaps, you should follow the rule and leave the decision to your partner.

Let’s look at  East, your partner’s hand, and see what they would do after your pass:

Spade-small 4

Heart-small QJ982

Diamond-small AJ7

Club-small J976

East’s majors suggest bidding on though it is anyone’s guess about the minor suits. On balance, East must anticipate that the opponents have at least a 10-card spade fit (it was only 9) while you should have a 9-card heart fit. 19 trumps, 19 tricks…too close to call as to whether 9 or 10 of these tricks belong to North-South. Therefore, on balance, it seems right to bid on. Maybe the opposition will bid on to 5Spade-small and go down. Maybe 5Heart-small might make. It does not but it was the right decision for East to bid on… and you, West, just could not tell.

South Deals
None Vul
A 10 7 6
7 6 5 3
Q 9 4
4 2
K 3 2
A K 10 4
K 8 6 3
10 8
 
N
W   E
S
 
4
Q J 9 8 2
A J 7
J 9 7 6
 
Q J 9 8 5
10 5 2
A K Q 5 3
West North East South
      1 
Dbl 2  4  4 
?      

 

Minor Obstacles in major suits

As you can see, West’s Spade-smallK was a minor obstacle in the way of South making 10 tricks. All South had to do was ruff the opening heart lead, take 2 rounds of trumps via the finesse (three if West covers with Spade-smallK) play two top clubs and ruff a club, draw the last trump and return to hand via a heart ruff to enjoy the last three club tricks… a very comfortable 10 tricks leaving the defence to take three diamonds or the equivalent at the end.

South should not try and discard a diamond on Club-smallQ and ruff a losing diamond. That’s fine were the spade break 2-2 but would not work otherwise.

Meanwhile, another “minor obstacle” are North’s hearts if that suit is trumps. Two rounds of spades reduces East to 4 trumps also. The contract must be one down on top losers though East has to be careful to avoid an extra loser and losing control. If East plays on clubs, the defence will play a third spade. Declarer now needs to make tricks on a cross-ruff. So, play three rounds of diamonds, finessing before giving up a second club. South has to play a black suit and the ruffing of clubs can take place. Ruff the first with Heart-small10 and the second with a higher heart and declarer will watch as North is left with under-ruffs.

This board, thus, proved rather than was an exception to the rule about whether to bid on over 4Spade-small. It also proved a second rule about high-level bidding. “The 5-level belongs to the opposition” since 5Spade-small is a bid too many.

play by the rules.png

North-South should defend 5Heart-small, hopefully doubled, the final decision being made by North, the one in their partnership who bid game. Does that last statement sound familiar?  

Bread and Butter

     
East Deals
None Vul
 
N
W   E
S
   
 
Q 2
K 4
J 8 7 5 2
A K 6 3
West North East South
    1  ?

 

We talked about overcalls a day or two back. As a follow-up, how would you treat this South hand? It’s Pairs and no-one is vulnerable.

Richard Solomon

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