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Daily Bridge in New Zealand

Strong and hard to handle.

That’s a reasonable description of today’s hand. Hard to decide where to start and then if you decide on a simple overcall, even harder to know where to go next. Was that overcall right in the first place?

Bridge in NZ.pngnz map.jpg

 
     
East Deals
N-S Vul
 
N
W   E
S
   
 
A K 2
7
K 10 4
K Q J 10 4 2
West North East South
    1  ?

There’s a problem with a simple overcall and there are problems with other actions like Double. What are the Panel’s thoughts? Most see no alternatives to an initial 2Club-small:

Michael Ware “2Club-small: Don’t like 1NT over 1Spade-small - too likely partner will transfer to hearts.”
I absolutely hate 1NT but there are other choices.
Peter Newell “2Club-small: underbid sure, but nothing else better to do, and it is unlikely to be passed out. Even if it is, it is probably the right place given that 3NT needs quite a bit. Hearts may be wide open, or even if partner has plenty of hearts and a stopper, we are unlikely to have 9 tricks unless partner specifically has Diamond-smallA, as that would give us 5 clubs, plus 2 tricks in diamonds and spades.”

I am not sure that 2Club-small is unlikely to be passed out though when we see all four hands, it would be interesting to know whether a move by North over 2Club-small is likely were West to pass. 

Kris Wooles “2Club-small:  the singleton heart mitigates against a double first. And these days strong overcalls are fairly normal.”

True. It is interesting how overcalls are getting stronger (can be, anyway) while one level opening bids are getting weaker!

Bruce Anderson “2Club-small: I see no alternative as after a double with the intention of then bidding my club suit, I will never convince partner I have only a singleton heart. If I had hearts, not clubs, that would be the way forward.”
Nigel Kearney, Matt Brown and Michael Cornell also all seem happy with 2Club-small. You are going to have to bid clubs if you double and partner bids/ jump bids in hearts. So, why not bid them now?

Out on his own is:

Stephen Blackstock “Double: Not 2Club-small, because except in the relatively unlikely event that partner enters the auction freely, I have no way of showing such good values. After double, if North bids hearts at any level, my clubs are strong enough to correct.”

Stephen’s first statement could well be proven correct. Developments at the table after 2Club-small were straightforward but our problems had not gone away:

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

If we were now to bid 2NT,  would it be natural?

Peter Newell “3Club-small, It looks unlikely we can make 3NT, and partner will occasionally bid with hearts and some values in which case I’ll try 3NT then. 2NT natural would have some appeal, but I think this more likely shows diamonds i.e. a 4/6 hand.”

Nigel Kearney “3Club-small Vulnerable games at Teams are always tempting but 3NT needs quite a lot from partner, e.g. Diamond-smallA plus enough in hearts to stop them running the suit. We could easily be down two in 3NT so the gain/loss compared to 3Club-small would then be 10 vs 7. Probably 3Club-small is the percentage action. Even more so if partner might interpret 2NT as competing with 4-6 in the minors.”

Thus, 2NT could be  4-6 in the minors, a traditional meaning for that bid as one cannot now double for fear of hearing a heart call from partner. However, 3Club-small has its problems, too:

Stephen Blackstock “even if partner has useful cards, he will think he is marked with some values on the auction that I have bid already, and that 3Club-small is simply balancing.” (part of the case for an immediate double over 1Spade-small)

With no thoughts of minor suits and no worries about hearts are:

Bruce Anderson “2NT which must show a double stop in spades, and a strong club suit, or a spade stop and solid clubs, and deny length in hearts, or I would have doubled. Partner should have some values on this auction and be able to stop the heart suit, and may even have a suitable hand to raise to game.”

Kris Wooles “2NT “a simple 3Club-small next seems to potentially understate the hand. I’m going to bid 2NT despite the singleton.” Michael Ware was also a supporter here of 2NT.

With less ambition is:

Matt Brown “3Club-small: I don't really see many alternatives with such a short heart; partner will be able to ruff my third spade (they don't know to lead a trump which may not even be enough if partner has 3, or Club-small9x) and that will be an entry to play a diamond up. So, I expect to make more often than not even when partner has nothing.”

As contrasted with:

Michael Cornell “3NT: I will rip if either opponent doubles. 4Club-small is favourite for at least 9 tricks on a spade lead. I cannot double with a short heart and 2NT must show diamonds (if partner would think it was natural, it would be perfect!)”

problems.png

   problems!

So, differing views on what 2NT would mean with it not being an option if it showed diamonds too. 3Club-small does not seem to do justice to the hand and double is just not right. This all leads to Michael Cornell’s aggressive action…or was Stephen Blackstock correct in suggesting we should have started with a double?

When you see all four hands, would North have bid had West passed, which really is what they should have done? I am inclined to think they would or should:

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

 

3Club-small from South would surely have bought the contract while I do not feel that a raise to 3NT or indeed to anywhere is right had South bid a natural 2NT. West created the problem by bidding. I would risk 2Heart-small on the North hand had West passed and would have felt decidedly nervous when partner jumped to 3NT. However, all would end well with plenty of overtricks available on a spade lead unless East cashed up.

Had South doubled initially and West bid 2Spade-small, North would bid 3Heart-small and South 3NT. North had better pass that!

After running the clubs, South can turn their attention to diamonds… Diamond-smallK then Diamond-small10 just in case the Diamond-smallQJ are doubleton. Oh, they are! Easy game but difficult bidding.

Not Strong but hard to handle?

     
East Deals
E-W Vul
 
N
W   E
S
 
Q J 2
9 8 7 5 4 3
10 9
7 3
West North East South
    Pass Pass
1  Pass ?  

 

So, can your methods cope with this type of hand? Please do not tell me you would have opened a Weak 2 first of all, at this vulnerability? Please.

Richard Solomon

 



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