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Daily Bridge in New Zealand

All that Glitters…

A nice- looking hand, great potential, two good suits….and, wait a moment. Someone has opened the bidding in one of them…but it is not your partner. What should you do?

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South Deals
E-W Vul
K Q J 8 3
A 9 3
A Q J 9 2
W   E
West North East South


It is possible you were not expecting South to say that. One option is to pass, in as normal tempo as you can (no “Stop Card” is required for a 1Spade-small opening!) and hope your partner produces a double, though the vulnerability is not really in your favour even if you can do damage to this contract.

If you are going to bid, double seems not quite appropriate with a severe disliking for hearts. 1NT too has its obvious flaw…which leaves:

Matt Brown  “2Club-small. I've never really been that afraid of overcalling with 5 of their suit. Partner can contribute ruffing value, and my hand and clubs are strong enough that I'm not going to get penalised or anything. If partner can raise, we've got pretty good chances for game now on a spade lead.”

You might not be penalised, Matt, but on some days others might!

Peter Newell “2Club-small: These hands are difficult to bid, and they usually get even more difficult by passing. So, I would like to show my unbid suit and that I have some values.  If the opponents were vulnerable, I would be prepared to pass but here I want get into the auction quickly and at a safe level.”

Michael Cornell “2Club-small: A very clever “trap” if I pass. We would well and truly “trap ourselves” ( I would overcall a heavy 2Club-small.)

However, pass did receive some support:

Nigel Kearney  “Pass on the first round. With length in their suit, a pass initially tends to work out best. Either they get into trouble or we avoid trouble.”

Bruce Anderson, Stephen Blackstock and Pam Livingston, too, are all first- round passers. 2Club-small seems safe enough as an overcall though Nigel Kearney is not so sure. We asked the Panel what they would do on the second round of bidding had they passed the first time because, had they passed, the bidding would have proceeded:

            West              North            East                South


            Pass                1NT                Pass                2Heart-small


Again, we have differing views from the quite satisfied:

Bruce Anderson  "Pass: (again): I can see no rational alternative; 3Club-small could find partner with club length, but it could also go for a number. I do not intend to take that risk.”

to the slightly aggravated:

Michael Cornell “Double: Now all I can do is Double and await developments-e.g. if hearts get raised, I can double again, but if partner has 5 reasonable hearts or even 6, we have them on toast. It could work out well.”

The debate between these two would be quite interesting especially when you get to see the actual four hands. With some premonition about what could happen is:

Peter Newell “Double: If I pass first time, then the auction becomes more difficult in some ways as it is more dangerous to enter the auction at a higher level on a hand maybe with a misfit and likely bad breaks. I will double with some trepidation (and might not against sound bidders i.e. full opening and full 1NT response).

Clearly this is take-out, strong (I wouldn’t enter the auction vulnerable on the 2nd round otherwise) and must have spade length and short hearts.  I don’t mind too much if partner passes, but I’m nervous about partner having a shape like 2542 and with weakish hearts and could bid 3Diamond-small. However, I’ll take my chances with double…but I think bidding the first time would have been preferable.”

While not staying silent forever are:

Stephen Blackstock "Double: 3Club-small would be dangerous and foolish. It might be a very bad contract with 3Diamond-small a make. If partner has a poor diamond suit  (four card or bad five) and club tolerance (xxx or better) I expect him to scramble with 2NT, so we should reach our best fit. And if we defend 2Heart-smallx, it might well go very badly for declarer.

Nigel Kearney  “Double: for take-out. This doesn't suggest my full strength and shape but is the most descriptive call. I'm happy to defend if partner has hearts and if partner chooses to bid 3Diamond-small, that figures to play better than 3Club-small most of the time.”

All of what Nigel says is true though there are heart suits with which partner might like to defend at the 2 level with and others which they might not. There was to be little joy for those who overcalled 2Club-small first time or who defended 2Heart-smallx this time. That is not to say that East would have passed 2Heart-smallx though the only safe resting place would not be high on East’s choice of contracts, the opposition’s first bid suit at the 2 -level

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


Michael Cornell (and others) “heavy” 2Club-small overcall would have received a re-opening double from South (“ The opposition are not the only one with a good hand!") and a hopeful pass from North. With East having a couple of clubs, it is doubtful they would look to escape in a red suit by redoubling. West would manage four or five tricks but that would not be a happy result for West.

Meanwhile, with West unable to lead a trump, there is even the possibility of South making 10 tricks in their heart contract with some admirable cross-ruffing.

On some days, like when the North cards were in the East seat, the club overcall would have worked out very well though this was one of those days when silence was indeed golden, twice over. A score-up in a Teams match might have gone “+170” which did not negate the -500 or -800 at the other table.

Unlucky? Certainly. Our heading’s unsaid words certainly rang true this time.

tarnished gold.jpg

Tarnished gold!

Avoiding a Defensive Disaster


West Deals
None Vul
A 10 6 3
A K 9
6 2
10 8 4 2
W   E
Q 9 5 2
8 7 5
J 10 5
K J 9
West North East South
  Dummy You  
1  Dbl 1  4 
All pass      

 It looks like North made a pretty light-weight take-out double and that the final contract might not be an easy make. Your partner leads either Diamond-smallA or Diamond-smallK (We will give you the clue that they have them both.). Using your own method of following suit, which card would you play to trick 1?

Richard Solomon


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