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Daily Bridge in New Zealand

Lots of clubs!  for Juniors, Intermediates and Novice players...and anyone who likes long suits!

We think we are getting an unusual hand when we have a 7-card suit. Very occasionally, it is an 8-card suit. 9-card? Once a decade if you play regularly. 10- card? Not for a very long time. Yet, something very special happened at the Marlborough Bridge Club earlier this week.

It will be much quicker if you count the non-club cards in the hand below. When did you last hold an 11-card suit? For me, the answer is “never”...and I have played a few sessions!

So, how do you bid such a hand once the opposition have opened the bidding? We are playing Pairs.

Bridge in NZ.png nz map.jpg

     

East Deals
E-W Vul

 

N

W

 

E

S

   
 

6

8

A K Q J 10 8 7 6 5 4 3

 

West

North

East

South

 

 

1 ♠

?

Wayne Burrows “6Club-small: Only 10 hcp so just enough for a two-level overcall!

Seriously, I might vary my action depending on various factors including who I am playing against.
If I go slow then, on the one hand if then I might be able to accurately judge how high to bid. On the other hand, sometimes they will get together and be able to bid a slam. I suppose I can dive in 7Club-small but then they might bid seven of their suit.
The alternative is to pre-empt. Obviously, I can safely make 5Club-small but partner will never raise with a useful ace and partner rates to have a useful ace nearly half the time. I did some simulations and given the 1Spade-small opening partner had the Spade-smallA 18% and the Diamond-smallA 30% of the time.

I don't like bidding 5Club-small and then 6Club-small if they outbid me but maybe this is the hand for that. I think i will bid 6Club-small and hope for that useful ace or otherwise to make it very hard for them to bid accurately. I will of course have the problem of whether or not to bid 7Club-small if they do find a bid over 6Club-small.”

 

So, there are some of the issues. Vulnerability, at least, is in our favour. We have the bottom suit, clubs, and could easily be outbid at any level. Wayne jokingly mentioned he had enough for a 2-level overcall. Others took him up on that:

Andy Braithwaite “2Club-small: An interesting situation- in my system 4NT here is specific ace ask but a 5Heart-small response on this hand would be very distressing.

So I would bid a quiet 2Club-small initially and follow up with a 4Heart-small splinter (shortage). Partner may not get the gag but since I did not Michaels originally, I would hope they would understand and if not, I am just bidding the 5Club-small I could have bid originally.”

 

For most “specific ace ask" is only an opening 4NT. That occurs so rarely. Here, where it might be used, you cannot because 5H (showing only the Heart-smallA )takes you too high!

Another quiet approach is taken by:

Bruce Anderson “2Club-small: I would like to bid 4NT as a specific ace ask but partner is sure to treat that as both minors."
Surely that is a much more common meaning after an opponent’s opening bid.

"Obviously, 2Club-small is not pre-emptive and could be considered an underbid, but it is inconceivable the hand will be passed out in 2Club-small and the plan is to find out if partner has any strength. It is likely our opponents have a fit and the auction may well move  forward very quickly; then I keep bidding clubs, up to the 6 level if need be.

Given my extreme shape, the opponents are surely running into bad breaks and partner may well start doubling before I have to do that. If partner shows strength, I am bidding 6Club-small.”

It is not strength you need but the right aces.

 

If you think that approach is too quiet, then try this:

Michael Cornell “ Pass: I reckon I might get another go later. I will risk diving over 4 of a major that I expect opponents to bid!

Now, there’s a risk!

My second choice was 2Club-small but this would only confuse partner( sounds lead directional but we don’t have a trick! ) I will look disinterested but I will be tuning in to the auction. If partner shows some strength, I can think of 6 if there is a good chance he has an ace. Anyway it sounds like fun.

Beware those who pass!

 

Yet, the more common approach would be Wayne’s. A jump to the making 5Club-small will not look like our hand we actually hold. It could be less solid and have 3 clubs less. So, let’s go slamming:

 

Leon Meier “6Club-small: While I would love some way to specific ace ask, this is sadly not a reality after the opponents have opened 1Spade-small. So, I'll just bid 6Club-small. If partner has a pointed ace, then we make and if not then they probably make 5 of a major.”

Half right! I think you can guess which half.

Nigel Kearney “6Club-small:  I don't expect to buy it in 5Club-small. 7Club-small seems too much at match-points but might be all right at IMPs. “Walking the dog” with 2Club-small or similar can also work sometimes, but I don't like it here because they have three possible trump suits and may need space to find the right one. If they bid slam, I will pass and hope they do not make exactly 12 tricks.”

Kris Wooles “6Club-small: what are my choices? 4NT specific ace ask?. What if I now hear 5Heart-small? I would be bidding 5Club-small on a 9 card suit but here I have 11. No room for exact science here. I don’t want to give the opponents any room. It is not just what we can make but also what the opponents can make.”

Some abandon an opening 4NT Specific Ace-Ask for the more frequent hand showing both minors. So, I am surprised that that Specific Ace-Ask would be the meaning of 4NT after an opponent’s opening bid.

 

Well, who would be right? The auction below is one that started with a Multi 2Diamond-small.

East Deals
E-W Vul

9 5 4

A K J 6 5 3

A 10 6

9

Q J 2

Q 10 9 8 4 2

Q J 9 3

 

N

W

 

E

S

 

A K 10 8 7 3

7

K 7 5 4 2

2

 

6

8

A K Q J 10 8 7 6 5 4 3

 

West

North

East

South

 

 

2 

5 ♣

5 

Pass

5 ♠

6 ♣

6 ♠

7 ♣

Pass

Pass

7 ♠

Dbl

All pass

 

East is too strong for a Weak 2 opening. Hence, we gave the Panel a 1Spade-small opening from East.

The above auction shows what can happen when you give the opponents too much space. Even at adverse vulnerability, West did well to bid 5Heart-small, pass or correct to spades. East showed their major and now South bid their hand again.

Once more West did well to bid 6Spade-small. It was all too much for North who gambled his partner would have solid clubs and a spade void. West was then about to record the only East-West plus but they bid once too many times….or did they?

North doubled 7Spade-small but it was South on lead…and they had to lead their diamond to get a ruff to score 800, whereas at most other tables South scored 920 for 6Club-small making, even more when it was doubled.

7Club-small can be made on a non-spade lead. What would West have chosen?

michael the passer.jpg  
beware!

So, maybe at favourable vulnerability an immediate 6Club-small would have worked well, even over 1Spade-small. However, beware. Next time you play Michael Cornell and he passes your side’s 1 of a suit opening, he might just be holding an 11 card…or even longer suit!

Richard Solomon

See you after a long weekend of bridge on Tuesday.

 

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