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Daily Bridge in New Zealand

A Dangerous action?

                             Sound or Unsound?            

Your right-hand opponent overcalls a suit at the two-level in which you appear to have a hold. After starting off with a very strong one-level opening, and holding a long running minor, you will definitely play in game and since you are playing Pairs, there seems like only one place you want to play…to score overtricks and lots of match-points, 3NT.  

Bridge in NZ.pngnz map.jpg

 
     
South Deals
None Vul
 
N
W   E
S
   
 
K
Q 8 2
A K Q J 8 3
K Q 2
West North East South
      1 
Pass 1  2  ?

You are playing Pairs and elect to open your potentially strong hand 1Diamond-small. What, though, is your next bid?

We also asked the Panel what they thought of our 1Diamond-small opening, there being general agreement that that is the bid they would have made too.

Michael Cornell “3NT: The opening bid is fine. My only alternative would be to show 22-23 balanced, far too much playing strength for 20/21 but the hand is flawed.

I would now bid 3NT. I cannot see another choice. If partner has a short heart and an ace, I have got it wrong but if say he has Heart-small xx, I can hardly bid 3Heart-small and expect him to bid 3NT. He may even have Heart-small xxx.”

Nigel Kearney “3NT: I definitely agree with the 1Diamond-small opening. It's not close to enough for 2Club-small.

I can pass with a balanced 15-17 and bid 2NT with 18-19. So, this should be solid diamonds, a stopper, and some other stuff, not a balanced hand. It may not make if partner is minimum but I can't do any less.”

Passing with 16-17 and less than three spades (you would double with three spades) and 2NT showing 18-19 balanced is an interesting concept. Those who open 1NT strong have, of course, already eliminated 15-17 balanced and they would never bid 2NT here with 12-14 and a heart hold.

Pam Livingston “3NT: I have a source of tricks and a likely heart stop. 3NT is more distributional than 2NT and because I have used up so much space in the bidding, partner can be sure I am very short in spades.”

Matt Brown “3NT: I agree with 1Diamond-small and don't see any other option.

If there had been no opposition bidding, I would have rebid 3NT over partner's 1Spade-small to show a strong hand with decent long diamonds; I have a heart stopper so nothing has really changed with that plan.”

So, the practical bid with a long strong suit and a hold, not the best hold, but a seemingly well-positioned hold in the opposition’s suit. It seems we are likely to show a long strong diamond suit in the process.

Yet, others are not quite so sure about putting our eggs in the 3NT basket:

Bruce Anderson “3Heart-small: I agree with 1Diamond-small; 20 high cards are devalued by the singleton king. No other bid appeals playing a natural system.

 If partner has anything in hearts, we will be playing 3NT from the right side. And if partner has a good 6 card spade suit, they could bid 4Spade-small. Over 3Spade-small there is an obvious problem: If I bid 3NT and partner does have an ace, it is likely to be in spades, meaning making 9 tricks will be problematical.

All of this presumes partner is relatively weak. It is possible they have a good hand with diamond support, and they will read that I have a solid diamond suit for the 3Heart-small bid. It is unlikely that they will have two aces and singleton heart, but if so 4Heart-small would be the response to my 3Heart-small. RKC could then be used to bid the slam.

Watch this space!

This sounds reasonable though there will be hands where partner has only a four-card spade suit, no heart hold and therefore you will by-pass the making 3NT. There is another way:

Stephen Blackstock “3Club-small: No problem with the 1Diamond-small opening: seems normal to me. The only real option is 2NT, which misdescribes both diamonds and spades. Partner’s six card spade suit may not be where we want to play, but he won’t guess that.

Let’s see what everyone does now, including West:  a heart raise would tell me a lot. 3NT would clearly be premature. Partner needs specific cards for us to have nine tricks. I have a lot of high cards but not a lot of controls. Even Spade-smallAQ will not do if the defence thinks to play a spade early. Note also that 3NT could be a lot better from North’s side (he might have Heart-smallKx. I have some sympathy with 3Diamond-small at match-points. It’s a big underbid but will usually go plus when normal GF sequences don’t find a good game contract.”

The point about giving West the opportunity to bid is a very good one. They might even have doubled Bruce Anderson’s 3Heart-small bid. Yet, tell me a West player who would not have chimed in with 3Heart-small over Stephen Blackstock’s 3Club-small. The opposition can be there to help you out and, at the table, that is exactly the help you need.

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

 

So, our partner had not just one ace, per Michael Cornell, but Bruce Anderson’s two. If they viewed your hand as being strong with long diamonds and a heart hold, they might move (4Heart-small cue bid) though the stronger is your heart hold, then North would view you as being weaker in the black suits.

It would seem that both 3Club-small and 3Heart-small would steer us away from 3NT thanks to West. Indeed, West’s intervention will confirm heart shortage in North’s hand after which we only need to check for aces (Key Cards if North does support Stephen Blackstock’s 3Club-small call with either 4Club-small or a direct control -showing 4Heart-small cue-bid.)

Reaching a small slam would be excellent. Grand-slam?

Yay.png

Is that really a void heart, partner? Of course, the same West who helped us out with a 3Heart-small bid or double, might bid on to a heart sacrifice, which at the 6 level is three, probably four down, either being a much better score than going minus in or even making 3NT! (no correspondence please as 3NT making 13 tricks is 510 whereas if the defence is not sharp, they will only collect 500 from 6Heart-small!). Yet, and now we really are dreaming a little, if West did bid 6Heart-small and North passed (you only pass with first-round control, a void), after showing two aces, then, well, 7 of a minor is possible.

At the table, most arrived and stayed in 3NT and were not happy when West led a low heart and one’s so called heart hold evaporated. If the deal only teaches newer players one thing, it should be that one should not lead a high honour in partner’s suit against no-trumps with more than two cards in the suit. West should lead a low heart, not the king. You can see why.

We cannot say for sure that those panellists who bid 3NT would play there though their partners would do very well to suggest a higher contract, and not necessarily in no-trumps.

One bid…one lead?

South Deals
None Vul
   
A Q J 8
A 3 2
K Q 9 4 2
2
 
N
W   E
S
   
West North East South
      1 
Dbl 2  Pass 4 
All pass      

 

Two questions for you to ponder during the week-end. Do you agree with West’s take-out double on this deal?

2Spade-small showed 3 card heart support and 10-11 high card points, Bergen style. What is your choice of lead? Until Monday…

Richard Solomon

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