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Daily Bridge in New Zealand

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Long or Short Black?

It’s good to have the spade suit, especially when you have the chance to open 1Spade-small. It means any suit overcall by the opponents is at the 2 level and that can sometimes be dangerous and at other times awkward.

Similarly, there are times when we have 5 cards in a higher and 6 in a lower suit that our bidding flows better when you open the higher suit first. So, with these thoughts in mind, would you be happy with South’s choice of opening bid below?

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East Deals
Both Vul
 
N
W   E
S
   
 
K J 10 9 8
8 2
A Q J 10 6 5
West North East South
    Pass 1 
Pass 2  Pass ?

 

You are playing Pairs. Do you agree with the 1Spade-small opening bid? Whether or not you do, what is your next bid?  2Diamond-smallis natural and a 1 round force.

“NO” says our Panel in one voice to our opening bid, with emphasis!

Matt Brown “Very strong disagree with 1Spade-small. Our suits have such great texture and having spades is even easier because I can bid 1Club-small-1Spade-small-2Spade-small to show my shape and the auction will still be relatively low.”

Michael Cornell “Absolutely not. This is a 4 loser on my count. It is a 1Club-small opener followed by 4Spade-small (if necessary) all day long.”

Bruce Anderson “Disagree very strongly with the 1Spade-small opening. I would not be in this ridiculous position if I had opened 1Club-small. With a 6/5 hand and the suits nothing to be ashamed of, what is the 1Spade-small opener all about?”

There are times when one’s bidding is smoother with 5-6, e.g. hearts and diamonds but, as Michael Cornell says, it would be very rare with the black suits above that spades would be pre-empted out of the bidding. Others disagree with our opening, but in milder tone.

Michael Ware “With weak 5/5's I agree with opening 1Spade-small, but this is too good - I would open 1Club-small.”

Stephen Blackstock “1Spade-small is a very odd choice of opening bid. Shorter suit first? Pre-empting your own auction?”

Pam Livingston “I prefer opening 1Club-small to give more room in the auction and can repeat spades to get the shape of the hand across. “ 

Kris Wooles made a similar comment.

Peter Newell “I would open 1Club-small. It saves a lot of bidding space and allows us to show our hand better. Yes, the spades are great but when I rebid 1Spade-small then 2Spade-small, partner will get the idea...on the auction given, we have chewed up heaps of room.”

However, the Panel were not quite so united in what to bid over 2Diamond-small after our 1Spade-small start.

Pam Livingston “2Spade-small:  3Club-small overstates my high card points (4Club-small splinter, 5Club-small exclusion blackwood).  Having a void in partner's suit is a minus for the hand.  Partner will usually make another move.”

Michael Ware “2Spade-small: If you are good enough for 3Club-small now, you should have opened 1Club-small.”

Nigel Kearney “2Spade-small: 3Club-small is game forcing which is too much and doesn't really help us play in clubs as partner won't picture this hand.”

However, even though light on high cards, the rest just had to bid their 6-bagger:

Michael Cornell “3Club-small: Forced to do so. Game-forcing and partner will never think I have an 11HCP hand! If we do not have a primary fit, it is almost imperative to play in clubs in order to sustain a force but partner will never know our clubs are longer.”

Matt Brown “3Club-small: We have to start showing our suits somehow, despite being classically under-pointed with us not being strictly in a game force yet.”

Peter Newell “3Club-small: yes, it’s kind of ugly but 2Spade-small is such a big distortion. No thanks...” Similarly, Bruce Anderson who hopes the auction does not get out of control. There’s another danger of a 2Spade-small rebid:

Stephen Blackstock “3Club-small: Whether or not you think you have the values (high cards no but playing strength yes), there is now no choice: you can’t conceal the clubs forever.

You say that 2Diamond-small is a one round force; imagine the auction proceeding 2Spade-small and then all pass! Perhaps North holds Spade-small- Heart-smallAxxxDiamond-smallAxxxx Club-smallKxxx.

There is no right answer now because 1Spade-small was not the right start. Summing up for the Panel:

Kris Wooles “3Club-small: As it is the situation is very ugly. I’m almost inclined to decline an answer.  3Club-small suggests more values than I have while 2Spade-small is simply a distortion of the hand shape while confirming minimum values. So, if forced into a corner I don’t think I could bear not showing this club suit and so would bid 3Club-small anyway. In my mind this is the lesser of 2 evils with which I wouldn’t have been faced if I had opened 1Club-small. “

There are some days when bidding spades just has to wait. Ironically, starting with either 1Club-small or 1Spade-small, you should reach 6Spade-small. Some played in North’s suit. Others only reached game or stretched to grand slam. How would you play 6Spade-small by South on the lead of Heart-smallJ?

East Deals
Both Vul
A 7 3
A 3
A K 10 8 6 5 4 3
   
N
W   E
S
   
 
K J 10 9 8
8 2
A Q J 10 6 5
West North East South
    Pass 1 
Pass 1  Pass 1 
Pass 2  Pass 2 
Pass 4 NT Pass 5 
Pass 6  All pass  

 "Never pur a good 8 card suit down as dummy"....except playing Pairs!

2Heart-small was 4th suit, game-forcing. 4NT was not perfect with a void club. 5Heart-small showed 2 key cards but no Spade-smallQ…hence 6Spade-small. An alternative would be for South to bid 5Spade-small over 2Spade-small asking partner to bid 6Spade-small with good trumps….and South would have obliged.

At the table, declarer won their Heart-smallA and then discarded their losing heart on the Diamond-smallA. A low diamond was then ruffed in hand with both opponents following. Spade-smallK was played next and then Spade-small9. West played low and so did declarer from dummy. The contract was now safe as long as trumps broke 3-2. 13 tricks had been made:

East Deals
Both Vul
A 7 3
A 3
A K 10 8 6 5 4 3
Q 6 5
J 10 7 6 5
9 2
8 7 4
 
N
W   E
S
 
4 2
K Q 9 4
Q J 7
K 9 3 2
 
K J 10 9 8
8 2
A Q J 10 6 5

 

Notice that West erred in not playing Spade-smallQ. Had they covered, South had to lose a trick as declarer must now run diamonds with West ruffing as the only trick for the defence. A club ruff will then see South back in dummy to enjoy the remaining diamonds. 

Those in 6Diamond-small and 7Spade-small had to find the Spade-smallQ, and as stated, West could have beaten the latter by covering with their queen.

In a few cases, East had found an opening bid. On the heart lead, South could be excused from presuming East held Spade-smallQ and thus could take the “marked finesse” through East, conceding just the Club-smallK.

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Alas, that line produced two losers. Bridge can be cruel at times.

Major suits can be good, sometimes!

But not always. Being able to follow suit to a few rounds of clubs would have been much more comfortable on the deal below.

West Deals
Both Vul
J 7 3
8 7
J 9 5 3
Q J 10 8
   
N
W   E
S
 
Q 9 6 5 2
Q J 10 9 3
7 6 2
West North East South
  dummy you  
Pass Pass Pass 2 NT
Pass 3 NT All pass  

 

2NT is 20-22 balanced. Your partner finds the very interesting lead of Heart-small2. See, partners do make good leads, sometimes! Your Heart-small9 is taken by the ace and your joy of quick success is short-lived as declarer plays off Club-smallAK and then a third and then a fourth club from dummy. Everyone except you follows to all four rounds of the suit. Which 4 cards do you throw?

Until Monday….

Richard Solomon

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