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Daily Bridge in New Zealand

 A decent minor hand!

 It’s All About the Minors.

Who cares about the major suits when you can play in a minor? The opposition have one major while the other one seems spread around the other three hands. We have those precious minor suits. The question is how high and in which suit to play. In case you have forgotten, you need 11 tricks to make game and our partner is a passed hand!

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A K 8 5
A 10 9 7 5 4 2
West North East South
Pass 1  2  Dbl
Pass ?    


1Club-small promised at least 3 clubs, though you can see you have more than twice that number. 2Heart-small was an Intermediate Jump. Where to from here? You are playing Teams. Everyone is vulnerable.

If clubs were a major suit, then I would expect to hear everyone leaping to game in that suit. Yet, that’s not the case. So, how high do we go? We have quite a wide range of suggestions from our Panel.

Kris Wooles “3Club-small: Double could be on a variety of hands including a single suiter in spades or diamonds or 5341 with a singleton club, for example. I have 7 clubs which is 4 more than promised and want to show them first. I don’t like 3Diamond-small or 4Club-small given the range of hands that double can show.”

While all those hand types are possible, I would think we could rule out long spades (or at least the chance is heavily reduced) as our partner had the chance to open with a six or seven card spade suit.

We do have good shape and others have reflected that in different ways:

Bruce Anderson “4Club-small: I am inviting game in my long suit. Partner is likely to have a hand in the 7/10 point range with 4 spades and probably 4 diamonds. The issue is partner’s holding in clubs.

The problem with 3Diamond-small or 3Club-small is that partner will not move with a hand as good as Spade-smallAxxx Heart-smallxxx Diamond-smallQxxx  Club-smallKx (admittedly, golden cards) as they have already bid their hand by way of a negative double. With a similar hand, or with a better club fit, partner will raise after 4Club-small, so at least game will be reached. As it is Teams, the risk of 4Club-small being one level too high is justified in my view.”

Michael Cornell “3Diamond-small: Shows a decent hand with longer clubs than diamonds. Unless partner has a big hand, he guarantees 4 spades but not necessarily 4 diamonds so my bid is forcing but only as far as 4Club-small. I am far too good to bid just 3Club-small here.6Diamond-small is a great contract opposite Spade-smallAxxx Heart-smallAxx Diamond-smallQxxxx Club-smallx – in fact 7 is good!”

Same bid but with a different level of enthusiasm is:

Nigel Kearney “3Diamond-small: The way I prefer to play, double suggests spades and not necessarily diamonds. Therefore, 3Diamond-small shows extra values. Anyway, spades and hearts have to be somewhere, and if partner has diamonds as well, he could have a shortage in clubs and 3Diamond-small will be high enough. If he bids again, I will be happy to hear 3NT and can happily go back to 4Club-small over 3Heart-small or 3Spade-small. Bidding 3Heart-small could also get us to 3NT but is game forcing which is too much on this hand.”

So, 3Diamond-small shows a decent hand? Matt is not so sure:

Matt Brown “3Heart-small: I think this is the only real possibility, because I don't think 3Diamond-small should promise any extras which we clearly have. So, I'll start with a forcing bid and proceed from there.”

Our next Panellist agrees with Matt though mentions a bid that might not occur to many:

Michael Ware “3Heart-small: Not sure what 4NT is here (RKCB spades?). Both minors longer clubs seems a possibility but there is no rush. I am bidding 5 of a minor at least. So, let’s start with 3Heart-small and see what happens from there. Will remove 3NT to 4Club-small.”

When competing over the opposition’s 4 of a major, 4NT can suggest a long minor with 4 cards in the other minor. That must be what Michael was thinking as an option here. He is certainly going to play game and takes a sensible route to see which one.Another who is going to game is:

Pam Livingston "3Heart-small: Partner will have four spades for their double and it is possible that they could even be 4441.   I don't know if we should be in no trumps, clubs or diamonds. So, I will gather some more information.  I certainly want to be in game.”

Back, though, to where we started and reasoned but cautious views from:

Stephen Blackstock "3Club-small:Yes, I have a potentially strong playing hand but the signs are not promising. South has 4/5 spades, likely 4 hearts unless East has been timid with a 7-card suit or West has declined to raise with three (weak and balanced?).So, partner’s minor lengths may not be a particularly good fit. If he can move again, of course I will drive to game, but for now, even vulnerable at IMPs, it looks prudent to confirm genuine club length and await developments.”

Peter Newell “3Club-small: tough problem – vulnerability makes a bit of difference as non vul I lean more towards underbidding …

It’s a hard hand to assess:  lots of playing strength, but if partner doesn’t fit clubs the hand will not play well unless partner has 5 diamonds (a 4-4 fit often will not play well if partner has to ruff a couple of clubs to set them up and get to your hand and draw trumps). 

 So, the options: I believe 2NT is natural (rather than showing diamonds and long clubs), so that leaves 3Club-small/Diamond-small/Heart-small and 4Club-small. Partner does not have to have 4 diamonds for a takeout double, and West’s failure to raise hearts suggests partner has 3-4 hearts, with 4-5 spades probable. That leaves about 5 cards in the minors.  To make game, partner needs some kind of fit and probably at least some sharp cards (kings and queens in the majors will be useless). So, I’m going to be “dry” and bid only 3Club-small, a clear underbid but I think more often than not we belong in part score and other bids will propel us to game.  If vulnerable, 3Heart-small or 4Club-small would be more tempting.”

Confession time. Initially, I forgot to give the Panel the vulnerability. Of the above only Stephen Blackstock and Pam Livingston answered knowing the vulnerability. So, we will allow Peter a “3 and a half club” answer, an ideal bid, really as that would have got the South hand heading towards the cold, well, nearly cold game.

The better game was 5Diamond-small. Three pairs bid and perhaps luckily made 6 of a minor (only one in diamonds) while a third of the field languished in part-score. Would you have opened the South hand below?

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

What other option did South now have to the negative double? Obviously, this time, opening 1Diamond-small would have worked really well though the bid seems to have very little merit. Nor does 1NT for the weak no-trumpers.
big reward.jpg

Big reward for aggression!

As Peter Newell said, that North hand is hard to evaluate opposite a passed but active partner. The reward of playing a perhaps slightly dodgy game in Teams can be very worthwhile. Thus, I would favour over rather than under-bidding the North hand. If, like Michael Ware, we were not going to play 3NT, then 4Diamond-small, offering a choice of minor games seems a good option. Check with your partner as to how forcing a response of 3Diamond-small to the negative double is.

Glad to have a major suit

Q 10 2
Q 9 8 6 5 2
7 5 2
West North East South
1  Pass 1  2 
4  ?    


So, it is back to holding a major suit again. Alas, it is not spades, though. The opposition have them and are looking for slam. 4Club-small shows first or second round control in clubs and agrees spades. East-West alone are vulnerable and you are playing Pairs.

We will reveal all on “Jan’s Day” tomorrow.

Richard Solomon

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