All News

Daily Bridge in New Zealand

A Baker’s Dozen.

It is not very often that your side holds all 13 cards in one suit. It is even rarer that you know from the start of the bidding that this is the situation…and you are the only one at the table who knows it! How do you handle this piece of knowledge when you have little in strength outside your suit and the vulnerability is in your favour? These are the issues surrounding today’s deal which occurred in the recent National Open Teams.

Bridge in NZ.pngnz map.jpg

A Q J 9 6 4 2
8 6 2
J 2
West North East South
3  ?    


2Heart-small is a weak 2 in hearts…. and that is correct, it is your partner who opened the bidding. 3 Heart-small is Michaels style, 5+ spades and 5+ minor…and your bid is?

The issues centre around rather what the opponents can make rather than the number of losers we have in a heart contract.

Straight to the point and with no messing is:

Pam Livingston “7Heart-small: Go hard go early. The opposition can clearly make at least 6Spade-small and 7Heart-smallx will not be too expensive. They may well be able to make 7Spade-small but they are unlikely to bid it rather than take the money. 

Immediately showing the spade suit by bidding 3Spade-small has greatly reduced the chances for our side to muddy the waters. Bidding 3NT might cause problems after a double but when East is looking at a void in hearts, they are not likely to be fazed.”

With both opponents looking at heart voids, the chances are perhaps a little better than “unlikely” that they will take the bait. Pam has company:

Peter Newell “7Heart-small: let’s take up room and make them guess whether to bid 7Spade-small. Given my hand and what I expect from partner at this vulnerability, they are making at least 6Spade-small and bids of 5Heart-small/6Heart-small are not likely to put them off bidding 6Spade-small. So, let’s make it harder to judge whether to bid 7Spade-small or not.

My second choice would be a 6Club-small bid just to try and make it hard for the opponents to judge, and maybe scare them into thinking I have length or a void, but their lack of hearts means they probably will not be put off.

We have a pot pourri of answers from elsewhere. Working our way downwards:

Bruce Anderson “6Heart-small: that bid takes up most of the bidding space and may make it difficult for our opponents to bid a making 7Spade-small, i.e. should East bid 6Spade-small over 6Heart-small, West may consider that it is not clear to bid one more…. or East may be reluctant to bid a making 7Spade-small over 6Heart-small because it would be disastrous if that was wrong.

Admittedly, bidding 6Heart-small means partner, who is very likely to be on lead, will give a ruff/sluff at trick one, which could be costly; partner may have a king sitting over East's AQ, with a doubleton in dummy. Possible, but infinitely less likely is our 7/6 fit.”

Stephen Blackstock “6Heart-small: Happy to save at that level if allowed. -1100 shows a profit against 6Spade-small (a big one against the seemingly unbeatable 7Spade-small). 7Heart-small gains little against 6Spade-small and may goad them into the grand. 4Heart-small will likely hear 4Spade-small; 5Heart-smallwill hear 6Heart-small; 7Spade-small and over 5Heart-small I expect 5Spade-small-6Heart-small; 7Spade-small or simply 5Spade-small-7Spade-small.

Of the so-called deceptive bids like 3NT, 4NT, or a spade psyche, none is remotely believable and all are easily exposed. They simply concede more bidding room.

Frankly I don’t think it matters. Competent opponents should reach a grand slam every time. Whether partner has a stray queen or some other feature to impede them in the play remains to be seen.”

Michael Cornell “5Heart-small: I will start with 5Heart-small sounding like a dive over 4Spade-small.I will be bidding again I suspect though- not much defence here!”

Are you ready for a piece of” water muddying”?

Kris Wooles “4NT: what will muddy the waters most? Pass initially or bidding? And if bidding, then what? I like to take away the opponents’ space and hope they won’t have a clear enough picture although sometimes at the table it is clear that someone is operating. I will not be happy to have my partner on lead and give a ruff discard.”

And then we have a very sedate bid from our youngest panellist. Who says our youth are wild bidders!

Matt Brown “4Heart-small: I think it’s right to start slowly; it looks like the opponents have a slam and I wouldn’t want to push them there too quickly. If they start bidding scientifically in the hopes of a grand slam, I can bid again to get in their way.

Peter Newell toyed with a club bid. Nigel Kearney chose such, as a rather unusual action:

Nigel Kearney “4Club-small: It looks like they can make 6Spade-small or 7Spade-small. I could bid 7Heart-small to force them to decide immediately and maybe 4Club-small will muddy the waters. It's not an obvious psyche as I might well bid a lead directing 4Club-small here with something like Club-small AQx and heart support.”

A 4Club-small bid may at least prevent your partner from leading a heart though there is no evidence that that lead will be any better.

So, we have a range of bids from 4Club-small though to 7Heart-small, all aimed at making it as tough as possible for their opponents to find their right level. There is general agreement that the opponents can make slam. The big question is which one or shall we say at what level?

On this day, the 7Heart-small bidders had it just right as South did have a trick to defeat the grand. Even a heart ruff and discard at trick 1 would not have helped those in 7Spade-small.

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


7Spade-small needs a 3-3 club break or Club-smallQJ doubleton in one defender's hand with or without a heart lead. Similarly, although a heart lead against 6Spade-small might give North a nervous moment, this contract is cold even without a ruff and discard.

i love high diving.jpg

 7Heart-small was a “no lose” bid for North-South. The dive only cost 500 unless West produced an extraordinary underlead of their spades at trick 1 and declarer misguessed as a low diamond was played.

The table of final contracts makes interesting reading:

Contract                   N/S score              No.

7Spade-small                           + 100                         7

7Heart-smallx                         -  800                         1

7Heart-smallX                        -  500                         2

6Spade-small                          -1430                       17

6Heart-small X                       - 500                          1

4/5Spade-small                      - 680                           6         


Some South players would have opened a Multi 2Diamond-small meaning that North became declarer at some tables. Only 10 tables reached the 7 level with 7 of the East-West pairs taking the push to grand. So close but not a make this time.

It looks like 4Heart-small and 5Heart-small would have produced spade bids from East while West may have simply bid 6Spade-small over North's 6Heart-small bid. Meanwhile, over 7Heart-small?

Would your approach have worked?

Your line for 10 tricks?      


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

 You are in 4Heart-small and are not too worried about the overtricks. South's 2Spade-small was a weak jump overcall. South starts off with
Spade-smallJ. Plan the play.

Richard Solomon

Go Back View All News Items

Our Sponsors
  • NZB Foundation
  • Ryman