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Daily Bridge in New Zealand

How Strong’s Your Weak No-Trump?

Yes, that’s all your hand is….and a minimum point-count 12 hcp at that. Yet, it is starting to look a little better….but how much better? Good enough to advance the bidding freely to the 5-level?
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K 7 6
K 6 2
A Q 10 9 7
9 7
West North East South
  1  Pass 1 
Dbl Rdbl Pass 4 
Pass 4  Pass 4 
Pass ?    

Your redouble shows three card spade support, not necessarily extra values. 4Club-small is a splinter, singleton or void club with spades set as trumps. 4Diamond-smalland 4Heart-small are cue-bids, first or second-round controls. What now?

A support double, where you as opener show 3-card support for your partner’s suit after an intervening bid on your right, is a handy convention. So, indeed, is its first cousin, the support redouble, when that same opponent chips in with a double.

They find your 5-3 fits very quickly. Subsequently, you find your level. In the above case, our partner has a very decent hand and is able to make a game-force splinter bid now that the fit has been established.

Not so impressed is:

Nigel Kearney “4Spade-small: My hand is unlimited. So, I can't really go past 4Spade-small with a minimum opening, even a nice minimum like this one. Partner could have Spade-smallQJxxx Heart-smallAQxxDiamond-small Kxx Club-smallx. Of course, he could also have Spade-smallAQxxx Heart-smallAxxx Diamond-smallKxx Club-smallx and may pass 4Spade-small with that, especially if my redouble could be junk such as Spade-smallJxx Heart-smallKxxDiamond-small AQJx Club-smallJxx. It would be better if that bidding space we skipped over was used to say something about hand strength.”

Maybe that double jump did make that statement: that they have a seriously good hand?

Bruce Anderson “4Spade-small: I have bid my hand. It is now over to partner. I must have three spades to an honour, Diamond-smallA and a useful diamond suit, or I would not be cooperating with a slam try. If partner has a good five or six card spade suit, Heart-smallA, a diamond fit (Kxx or Kx ), and a singleton club, they will bid on to a small slam using RKC.

With a club void, partner could bid 5Club-small over 4Spade-small, to which I would respond 5Heart-small. A grand could then be bid as I would not be bidding 5Heart-small without king of trumps and the aforementioned useful diamond suit. Using RKC, partner will not know whether I hold Heart-smallK or Club-smallK, and there could well be a big difference.

Indeed, Bruce. So, why not tell partner, now which you have!

Peter Newell “5Heart-small:  a great hand opposite a splinter. I don’t think we can be certain it is a void and don’t know enough to want to key card. So, I’ll show continued interest and the Heart-smallK is likely to be of considerable interest to partner (and at the same time no Diamond-smallK).  The fact that partner hasn’t key carded suggests cards like the Heart-smallK and Diamond-smallKQ are important. So, I’ll show my heart control….and deny the Diamond-smallK”.

Kris Wooles “5Heart-small:  I have some pretty useful cards with Spade-smallK and Heart-smallK and if partner has a fit in diamonds, we could make 7 but I acknowledge after the initial double by West the breaks may not be great. Partner has to be very strong and if he hasn’t got at least 2 aces then as a minimum, he should have an ace plus a void. Otherwise, I wouldn’t like his bidding.”

I like your bidding, Kris. I only have a 12-count but it is beginning to look like a golden one with no wasted honours in clubs.

Michael Cornell “5Heart-small: I have a minimum opening and I did not have to cue (though I always will unless I have a ‘dog’ with stuff in clubs) but I should not sign off with 3 great cards and no wastage in clubs.

Partner clearly has long spades and the Heart-smallA. So, our Heart-smallK must be good and we did not have to have the Spade-smallK either.

Grand is possible if partner is void in clubs and has the Diamond-smallK e.g.Spade-smallAQ10xxx Heart-smallAxxx Diamond-smallKxx, Club-small -, a mere 13 count.”


Pam Livingston “5Heart-small: The 4Diamond-small cue is mandatory and does not show any extra values.   I have sharp cards and the club splinter improves my hand.  However, I cannot underwrite slam even if partner has two key cards and the Spade-smallQ. So, RKCB is not the path to take. Partner still needs the Diamond-smallK.  It is reasonable for partner to have all these cards but also may have splintered with something like  Spade-smallAQJxxx   Heart-small Axx  Diamond-smallxxx  Club-smallx.

Bidding 5Heart-small denies second diamond control, as well as the Club-smallA but says "i'm still interested".  Partner knows that if all i needed was the appropriate key cards, then I would use RKCB. So, they will think "what does she need?"  Partner will bid 6Spade-small looking at something like Spade-small AQxxx  Heart-small Axxx  Diamond-small Kxx  Club-small x .”

 It is interesting that some think that you must bid 4Diamond-small with a diamond control, unless you have wasted club honours. Maybe it is not so mandatory if you were looking at only three small spades. No worries, this time, though.

A different route, though, for Matt:

Matt Brown: “4NT:  and bidding slam if we are not missing 2 key-cards or 1+Q. Partner is splintering opposite our expected range which is 11-14 and we have absolutely no wastage in clubs and the Heart-smallK to go with partner's cue. Having a doubleton heart or something might be better but we have a serious source of tricks with our diamonds, and if partner is somehow splintering without the Diamond-smallK (surely, they have to have this? Spade-smallAQT9xx Heart-smallAxxDiamond-small Kxx Club-smallx?), the finesse is almost guaranteed to be onside through the doubler.”

With a different view as to the meaning of 4NT and with some advance notice to the opposition (“I know partner will now hesitate!") is

Stephen Blackstock “5Heart-small: (in a casual partnership). And give my screen mate a discreet note to the effect that I am bidding slam no matter how long South takes to bid 5Spade-small! I will bid a choice of slams 6Diamond-small over 5Spade-small, and 7Diamond-small similarly if South can find 6Club-small to show a void. Perhaps South has Diamond-smallKJx and Spade-smallAQTxx, when diamond slams can make on a bad spade break but spade slams cannot.

In a regular partnership, I bid 4NT “DI” (declarative-interrogative), which will probably have the same effect but with a little more certainty. It seems impossible that 4NT would be Blackwood in this sequence, especially when I eschewed that option earlier, but in a casual partnership, I’m not risking it.

It’s puzzling that neither East nor West could manage to bid clubs. They may have a paying save at some level; they could certainly have made our auction more difficult.”

Thanks, Stephen. We will allow you two bids! And “DI”. That means…just seeking more information.

There has been a lot of talk that partner must have the Diamond-smallK for their aggressive auction. On the actual deal, they did not but what they did have more than made up for the lack of this card.

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

Over 5Heart-small, South would surely bid slam. Arguably, they could not be sure whether our 4Diamond-small cue-bid showed the Diamond-smallA or Diamond-smallK though it would be a very strange hand that one would continue with a 5Heart-small cue, with neither minor suit ace. If our cue had been Diamond-smallK, we would have had to use Roman Key Card instead. (sorry, Stephen, I think 4NT remains as a key-card ask.)

So, slam was not cold but with lots of entries to dummy, you can bring down the Diamond-smallK by ruffing it out. The bidding suggests that West will not have more than 4 diamonds. Any sensible play of the diamond suit would be successful.

 strong weak.jpg

So, there’s weak weak no-trumps and other ones which improve with the bidding, and this one certainly did that.

Fast and Furious


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

No messing at this table. North’s 2Club-small was alerted as being natural and forcing to game. Within a very short time, North was forcing to slam. Oh, by the way, your partner was in the bidding, too.

So, the bidding is not yet over. Have you anything else to add?

Richard Solomon

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