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Daily Bridge in New Zealand


When you and partner find a fit, you can happily explore which level you wish to play. However, when you have no apparent fit and each partner has their own good, long suits, finding the right denomination in which to play can be tough. We tend not to look beyond what we can see.  No -trumps might not be right but what is? And then there is the level! 

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It is never great when partner opens your void suit and then jumps again in that suit. Oh, you have 2 rather good suits of your own. What next?

Our Panel have divided themselves into two camps with one maverick making a practical “this is what I have got” bid. However, let’s start off with those who see this problem as no problem because they just bid what they have at the next level:

Stephen Blackstock “4Club-small: I don’t quite understand the “problem”. Would anyone consider not showing the second suit with this length and quality?”

Kris Wooles : “4Club-small: I’m hardly going to keep them secret. I’ll next bid 4Spade-small if able. Still looking for at least a partial fit on what could be a misfitting hand.”

Bruce Anderson :”4Club-small: possibly this is a misfit but rather than give in to feelings of paranoia, I am going to show my second suit. Bidding in this way must show either two very strong suits and/or great playing strength. The hand has so much playing strength that opposite a yarborough with Spade-small xxx and a singleton club, 4Spade-small is a good chance.

In fact, partner will have some values on this auction and if he does fit clubs and has Diamond-smallA, I would expect to hear 4Diamond-small on the way to 5Club-small. After all, I have forced him to make his next bid at either the four or five level.”

Peter Newell “4Club-small: seems reasonable to bid my unbid 6 card suit. We could belong in spades, hearts or clubs. So, let’s bring another option into the picture, as I don’t want to guess yet.   I can bid 4Spade-small next time over 4Diamond-small and possibly over 4Heart-small to show good spades.”

That’s all very true in an ideal world where one can change the meaning of every bid to suit the hand you hold. I believe that when partner jumps to 3Heart-small, the chances are slim that clubs will be trumps. It seems much more likely that you will have a hand to fit hearts and want to explore slam in that suit. Hence, I am in the camp of the following:

Matt Brown “ 3Spade-small: Natural and (obviously) forcing. Whibley and I play 4Club-small agrees hearts here so 3Spade-small is the only real option; plus, my spades are most likely to be strong enough opposite a singleton. Nervously await developments about whether to slam or not (most likely yes!).

Nigel Kearney “3Spade-small: Probably 4Club-small is a cue bid agreeing hearts but even if not, I want to emphasise my good spade suit as the most likely final contract is 4Spade-small. Over 3NT, I can continue with 4Club-small.

It may be hard for partner to believe your actual shape when you bid 4Club-small but assuming you do, then they are certainly aware of your spade length.

Pam Livingston “3Spade-small: This is forcing.  Would like to bid my clubs but 4Club-small would be a cue for hearts.  If partner raises, all good and off we go.  If partner bids 3NT, then I bid 4Club-small natural and forcing.  If partner bids 4Heart-small then they must have a long self -supporting suit and I will wheel out key card.  Partner could also bid a four card minor they had chosen to overlook earlier.  If they bid 4Diamond-small, I am going to give up and just bid 4Spade-small as my suit is pretty solid.”

I grew up with the belief that after partner showed a 6-card major and 15-17ish hcp that 4 of a minor was indeed a cue-bid. I can also see little merit in 5 of a minor being natural. Therefore, I have no objection to the approach Michael Cornell chooses below. After all, it appears our partner has 6 heart cards and 7 which are not hearts… and slam seems a good place to be:

Michael Cornell “6Club-small: There is no way to agree one of my suits and investigate sensibly ( 4Club-small is a cue, 5Club-small  Exclusion Key Card ). So, I bid what I might make.

Opposite the wrong hand, I may have trouble making 5 of a black suit and opposite the right hand i.e. Diamond-smallA and some black honours 7 can be cold but this is not likely. Most of partner’s cards should be in hearts.(but Heart-smallAQ109xx  and a 16/17 count is a 3Heart-small bid,isn’t it ?)

This offers the choice of our two suits at a level where we anticipate we would like to be. It also leaves hearts open as the trump suit if partner really does have solid hearts.

The key may be to know how your regular partner would interpret 4Club-small. If you were to sit down opposite 4 of our Panel, it would be a cue-bid whereas the other 4 say it would be natural. My casting-vote (!) would be for the cue-bid. 

So, what would have worked at the table?

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


Mike Cornell’s South would convert back to 6Spade-small anticipating that North’s second suit would not need setting up. Over 3Spade-small, South may reluctantly choose to raise ignoring their one-loser heart suit. However, Key Card from North would produce just a 1 or 4 response…and North would expect the “one” to be the Heart-smallA making a spade slam less attractive. A 5Club-small cue-bid over 4Spade-small would get a better 5Diamond-small cue-bid response though it would be hard for North to picture their partner had everything needed for grand-slam. So, 6Spade-small it would be.

And after 4Club-small, natural? Again, 4Spade-small may be South’s response with much the same coming now from a Key Card ask as refered to above.

So, getting to 6 of a black suit was a very good idea, finessing twice for the overtrick. A club lead should defeat 6Heart-small which needs the spade finesse to make after other leads, rather than for the overtrick.

Exploration might or might not have worked this time. The 6Club-small jump ensured that a slam would be reached and at the right level.

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North Deals
Both Vul
W   E
A Q J 8 4
A K 4 2
J 9 3 2
West North East South
  Pass Pass 1 
2  Pass Pass ?


Well, if you pass, that will end the bidding! That is certain. Is that a good idea?

If you double, the words of a Pete Seeger song made famous by Peter, Paul and Mary…”Where have all the diamonds gone?” OK, we have substituted “diamonds” instead of “flowers”… may ring in your ears.

So, pass, double, or bid. Only 3 options!

Richard Solomon



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