All News

Daily Bridge in New Zealand

On style and judgment.

Two questions revolving around one hand today. The first is how one is best to take action when the opposition start with the awkward bid of 2NT, showing a weak hand with both minors. The second is a judgment call when the bidding escalates rather quickly.

Bridge in NZ.pngnz map.jpg

K Q 5 3
A K J 10 7
K 8
A 8
West North East South
    Pass Pass
2 NT ?    


2NT showed both minors, 5-5 or better and less than an opener.

Our first question is what would you bid?

There are indeed at least two approaches. One is to start with a double, basically showing a strong hand and see how the bidding develops from there. That is fine as long as you are aware what subsequent doubles by your side mean. Another, which was the one used at the table, is to make use of their bids to try and show some of the hand-types which their opening bid may make more difficult to show.

In this respect, both 3Club-small and 3Diamond-small show take-out doubles with both majors, 3Club-small with longer/better hearts and 3Diamond-small with longer/better spades.

Let’s hear from the Panel:

Peter Newell “Agree with 3Club-small: it is rather strong and not shapely but is clearly the most descriptive bid getting both majors with better hearts into the picture.  It doesn’t completely shut out the possibility of 3NT which I’ll bid next if the bidding doesn’t go past 3NT.”

Michael Ware “Agree with 3Club-small: Seems more descriptive than double.”

Kris Wooles liked this treatment but had never played it. Others preferred “double”. A very honest answer from Nigel in view of the second question:

Nigel Kearney “Prefer Double: I could bid 3Club-small and usually showing shape immediately is better then. If they bounce to a high level, I can complete an accurate description by doubling. But, at this vulnerability they probably won't bid much and I'd prefer to double (and double again) in case partner wants to pass for penalties.”

Michael Cornell “Prefer Double: I have no idea why one would not start with X and try to get a feel who has got what.”

Matt Brown “Prefer Double: I think X to show values and then next X t/o from either partner. Typically, they will not be bidding this high and if partner makes a t/o double, it is very promising for slam prospects, or if we get to make a t/o X and partner passes, that is very good at these colours. I don't mind 3Club-small, though.”

Bruce Anderson “Prefer Double: which, I think, shows either both majors and the strength to compete at the 3 level, or a strong balanced hand, but not strong enough to bid 3NT, or a single suited hand that is too strong to immediately bid my suit. “

So, some sympathetic support for 3Club-small here though it seems it is either not the system or maybe the time to use it. However, the bidding did escalate more quickly than some of the Panel anticipated.

                        West              North            East                South

                                                                    Pass                Pass

                        2NT                3Club-small1             5Diamond-small                    5Heart-small

                        Pass                ?

1 Both majors with better hearts than spades

Time of Judgment.png

The dilemma is we did not have to be as strong as we are. Should we bid slam or stay where we are? Putting the Panel’s view is:

Peter Newell “Pass: Pass. Although we have a 20 count, the Diamond-smallK looks wasted. Diamond-smallA could be offside and if not, partner probably has singleton which will not be useful unless we have a spade loser to get rid of in partner’s hand. 

It looks likely we have a diamond loser but quite likely to have a club, or possibly a spade (partner may not have the ace which case you may get a spade ruff), or even a heart (partner could have 5 small with Heart-smallQxx offside).  Given the opponents have jumped to 5Diamond-small vulnerable, it’s pretty safe to assume that there are bad breaks.”

Nigel Kearney “Pass - reluctantly. They probably have a lot of diamonds and partner could easily have something like Spade-smallAxx Heart-smallQxxxx Diamond-small- Club-smallQxxxx. But there are just too many unknowns.

Partner may think we're in a force over 5Diamond-small (we're not) which would make 5Heart-small weaker than pass They could get a spade ruff when we have 12 top tricks otherwise.  partner may believe (possibly correctly) he has denied a decent hand with shape by not opening and anyway it's going to be hard for partner to resist bidding with a sixth heart, e.g.Spade-small Axx Heart-smallQxxxxx Diamond-smallx Club-smallQxx.

Was 5Heart-small bid to make or as a sacrifice?

Michael Ware “Pass: Mainly because of the vulnerability. No reason to think partner has bid 5Heart-small to make. So, raising to 6Heart-small seems a big gamble.

Bruce Anderson “Pass: The vulnerability should mean something here, unless our opponents are crazy. Partner could have 6 hearts and little else, and be concerned 5Diamond-small is a make. They are unaware I have such strong defence. If the vulnerability was reversed, I would bid 6Club-small; partner will then be bidding to make and likely to have at least one ace.”

Similar comments about sacrificing were echoed by Kris Wooles and Michael Cornell who added:

“I am also assuming we are playing against human beings and partner is also one!”

While Matt is one who is just not prepared to take the chance:

Matt Brown  “Pass: Partner is almost certainly marked with a singleton diamond making our king close to worthless, and since he is long in other suits it likely won't even be a useful discard if they lead the Diamond-smallA. Partner can't be too strong (he didn't open) or too shapely (he didn't open at a higher level).
We could easily be making slam (Spade-smallAxxxxHeart-small Qxxxx Diamond-smallx Club-smallxx) but if he doesn't have 5-5 majors, we are going to need a void Diamond-small or the Club-smallK also. I prefer not to gamble slams that much, especially when it could be punishing partner for bidding (at favourable no less!).”

So, whether it was because they were not sure if South was sacrificing, because the 20 count could be devalued by holding the Diamond-smallK or that they did not want to penalise a previously passed partner for their enterprise, our Panel all passed. At the table, North raised to slam, 6Heart-small, and held their breath during the play but were duly rewarded:

East Deals
E-W Vul
K Q 5 3
A K J 10 7
K 8
A 8
9 4
Q J 10 7 2
K 7 6 5 4
W   E
8 7 4
3 2
A 9 6 4 3
Q J 9
A J 10 9 2
Q 8 6 5
10 3 2
West North East South
    Pass Pass
2 NT 3Club-small  5Diamond-small  5Heart-small

                                                                 Pass           6Heart-small           All Pass

A double fit and as expected, a singleton diamond with the fifth spade down South being amazingly useful in disposing of the club loser. +980. There was either 500 or 800 (depending on the trump guess) available for the defence against 5Diamond-smallx.

Win some: lose some. It’s hard for North to know if their partner held four or five spades, along with the Spade-smallA. This was a “win” time.

There was one other slam possibility, 6NT by North to protect the Diamond-smallK at trick 1. However, it would not be hard for East to lead Club-smallQ. North could win the first 11 tricks but would then have to give up.

South bid bravely but with our Panel as their partner, they would have exchanged 500 or 800 for just 480.


A tiny piece of defending

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


South’s 1Club-small opening promised at least three with the 1NT rebid 12-14. West led Club-small6 with declarer playing low from dummy. It’s your turn to plan and play.

Richard Solomon

Go Back View All News Items

Our Sponsors
  • NZB Foundation
  • Ryman