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Daily Bridge in New Zealand

A few weeks ago, four friendly bridge players were engaged in their favourite pastime. The bidding, naturally, was competitive. East, who will not remain nameless for long, Dave, had bid 4Diamond-small over North’s 3Spade-small call and this had indeed got passed round to North, Tony. Earlier in the auction, there had been a spurious double of North's 2Spade-small.

However, Dave had intended 4Diamond-small as forcing. There followed a lot of banter, with the opposition cajoling Tony to bid one for the road and eventually, maybe (certainly was!) against his better judgment, he did bid 4Spade-small. Dave’s 6Diamond-small closed the auction…and he was happy with the result, 12 tricks, spot on. Well bid! Whoever said bridge was played in silence!

We move on and a few weeks' later, three of the four players (including Dave and Tony) met once more at the club and as before there was a lively auction and we gave part of it to you yesterday.

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East Deals
N-S Vul
W   E
10 9 6
A K 10 6 2
Q 9 2
J 3
West North East South
    Pass 1 
4  4  ?  

Sometimes you have no fit and sometimes you do. West's 4Heart-small suggests the latter! What should you do? You are playing Pairs?

Just a short break in the story as we asked our Panel what they would do in East’s, Dave’s, position. We have the heart suit but what do they have? We have a nice variety of answers:

Matt Brown “Pass: A tricky one, having to weigh up sacrificing and pushing them to slam against passing and giving them the ability to key card. I think they are too likely to be propelled to slam if I bid at the 5 level. South competes and North now raises again since they have a heavy 4Spade-small bid and any sacrifice over that will cost more than them being simply in game. if they bid slam anyway after I pass, I can likely re-evaluate and will probably sacrifice over that.

Some of the above was very true.

Nigel Kearney “Pass: Anything from pass to 7Heart-small could work depending on what the other hands are. We don't have much defence so bidding 5Heart-small will not stop them and is more likely to generate momentum for them. 4Spade-small has quite a wide range and maybe LHO will choose to pass.

Moving up the line.

Kris Wooles “4NT: Might muddy the waters? We may have an 8/5 fit. What else does partner have bearing in mind we are not vulnerable against vulnerable? Do they have a slam? Would 7Heart-smallx be a good sacrifice if 6Spade-small is bid? As usual, there is uncertainty when the auction goes high quickly and even bidding by our side could propel the opponents into a slam by revealing all their points are outside of hearts. Definitely don’t want partner on lead against any spade contract.”

Michael Ware “5Club-small: Lead direct. It seems partner has 8 hearts or some 7411. No reason to think we have any defence. So, we have a great dive over any number of spades except when the laws prevent us from bidding 8.How do we stop the opponents bidding to the maximum number of spades?
Either pre-empt e.g. 7Heart-small or my cunning plan of sowing doubt in their minds by showing a void club.”

It would be even better if you could pass two cards to your right-hand opponent at the end of the bidding. Then, you might indeed have a club void! Nice idea. I wonder the effect of 5Club-small?

Stephen Blackstock "5Heart-small:may nudge them into 6Spade-small, but as their forcing pass will invite the small slam rather that the grand, it may be hard for them to count 13 tricks (which they may well be able to make, looking at my hand). But anything at all might be right, including pass – South cannot know how much North has stretched and might be reluctant to move. That would be my guess at IMPs."

Michael Cornell "5Heart-small: but would be surprised if that ends the bidding.We have little defence and may even have a side diamond fit."

Bruce Anderson “5Heart-small: Partner may have the outside strength to defeat a small slam. On the other hand, if N/S have a double fit in clubs and spades, a grand could be making.

Admittedly, bidding 5Heart-small does not put the opponents under much pressure. But a further pre-empt 6Heart-small may push our opponents into a making 6Spade-small that they were not going to bid because of the uncertain diamond position. Against competent opponents, who did bid up to 6Spade-small I will sacrifice in 7Heart-small.”

Do you agree with Bruce, Peter?

Peter Newell “6Heart-small: The opponents clearly have big fits too. So, I think I am best to take up some bidding space.  It may make it hard for South to bid 6Spade-small as South may not have many spades, and hard for South to know whether North has good/long spades given the 4Heart-small bid.  Bidding 5Heart-small would give them room to bid 6Club-small or 6Heart-small. So rather take up room and make it hard for them to judge.  Partner is likely to have a high card or two outside hearts so hard to know what they can make, anywhere between 5 and 7.

I am sure the debate between Bruce and Peter can continue in the bar later. Let’s see who was right.”

Dave was still in the East seat and agreed with Bruce and Michael Cornell above. After his 5Heart-small call, Tony, who had taken the long walk from North to South between the time of the two hands, chose to call the same suit as Michael Ware…6Club-small. Well, he had opened 1Club-small many sentences ago!

To avoid confusion (though maybe we should first introduce you to the one who created a fair chunk of it…West or Les.), here are the four hands and the bidding in its entirety:

East Deals
N-S Vul
A K Q 8 4 3 2
8 4
5 3
K 2
Q J 9 7 5 3
K 8 7 6 4
W   E
10 9 6
A K 10 6 2
Q 9 2
J 3
J 7
A J 10
A Q 10 8 7 6 5 4
West North East South
Les Stuart Dave Tony
    Pass 1 
4  4  5  6 
6  6  7  7 
All pass      

(not a bad effort..9 successive bids without one Pass!)

You can draw your own conclusions about both of Les’ actions. The combination convinced Dave that he had to sacrifice over 6Spade-small, a mere 3 down at the 7 level, -500, cheaper than game. There were just three things wrong with 7Heart-small.

  1. It gave South one of the easiest 7Spade-small bids in the history of bridge.
  2. The opponents could score just a little better by bidding on than defending.
  3. Bidding on over 7Spade-small is desirable but either catastrophic (if you chose the legal option) or just plain not allowed! Damn those rules! You can bid 8Heart-small in "500".

There were three definite winners. One was Peter Newell who rather predicted the North-South hands. Whereas North may still bid 6Spade-small, would South bid on for sure? Oh, and who knows what might have happened had Michael Ware’s 5Club-small been made? Make that 4 winners! Michael, alone, raised the issue of wanting to bid at the 8 level!

The other two winners were Tony and Stuart. We had not mentioned Stuart previously. He earned his keep by bidding on to 6Spade-smallundaunted by all around him.

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“Sweet Revenge” indeed. Nice story, nice players too. If ever you are down Christchurch way and hear a slice of laughter coming from a table, it could well be that Les Frater, Dave Mikaera, Stuart Grant and Tony Quinlivan are there,   involved in yet another high-level banter!

Nice dummy, partner

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


Well, you have seen far worse! West leads Spade-small3. Over to you? Diamond-smallQ is not singleton.

Richard Solomon

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