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The strange case of the Missing Majors.

We all know that there is a great advantage in a competitive auction to hold the spade suit. You can bid the same level as your opponents without needing more tricks than they do. If you have not got the spade suit, then perhaps your side has plenty of hearts?

So, perhaps then, at many tables, the end result, even maybe the means of reaching it was a little strange. Disaster was to strike many North-South pairs.

There were some unusual actions by one of their opponents at several tables though, firstly, would you take any action as South after this tame start:

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South Deals
Both Vul

 

N

W

 

E

S

   
 

7 5 4 3

10 8 7 5 4

Q J 3 2

 

West

North

East

South

 

 

 

Pass

Pass

1 ♣

1 

?

 

1Club-small promised at least 3 clubs. The South hand has potential, perhaps, though too aggressive a start might give partner a false impression of the worth of the hand.

A pass from South would almost certainly end their side’s involvement in the auction as North may not now enter the auction when West bids 1NT.  Many South players were not lucky enough to get the chance to bid at such a low level. How would North or South feel when East made a more realistic bid?

 

A K J 10

A J 3 2

6 3

10 8 5

 

West

North

East

South

 

 

 

Pass

Pass

1 ♣

5 

Pass

Pass

?

 

 

With South passing (if they could not bid over 1Diamond-small, they would certainly not be taking action four levels higher!), North would be unlikely to find a re-opening double at the 5-level…. and nor would they want to since they would not be making a 5-level contract. Yet, while in theory, they should be beating 5Diamond-smallx, theory and practice do not always coincide:

South Deals
Both Vul

A K J 10

A J 3 2

6 3

10 8 5

Q 8 6

Q 9 6

J 2

A 9 7 6 4

 

N

W

 

E

S

 

9 2

K

A K Q 10 9 8 7 5 4

K

 

7 5 4 3

10 8 7 5 4

Q J 3 2

 

West

North

East

South

 

 

 

Pass

Pass

1 ♣

5 

Pass

Pass

?

 

 

Well, it’s your lead as South to 5Diamond-small, doubled or undoubled, after your partner, North, opened 1Club-small, of some varying length. The old adage about leading partner’s suit is not one to follow here, even though it is the only suit in which South holds high- card points. A club lead, two rounds of trumps finishing in dummy and a major suit loser disappears on Club-smallA. 5Diamond-small making. That happened many times.

The double of 5Diamond-small should probably be based on quick tricks but there is no reason why those tricks should not be in the black suits rather than the majors.

The board does illustrate why a quick 5Diamond-small bid  does work (pre-empts do!) basically cutting out the major suits. Few North-Souths got to be declarer and many were recording -600 in 5Diamond-small.

10 tricks should be the limit in a heart contract though were spades to be trumps and West to lead a diamond, the defence must be patient in order to score their two club tricks. A successful trump finesse, a second diamond ruff and two more rounds of trumps followed by Heart-smallA and a second heart…5Spade-small should not make but Club-smallA has been cashed prematurely before!

Of course, the North hand is at least in theory a triumph for those opening 4-card majors. Their partner should now find the right lead to 5Diamond-small and even if South does elect to bid on to 5Heart-small, they will score better than those who found the wrong lead to that contract.

However, for most tables, East should declare in 5Diamond-small and await the opening lead with some interest. Major suit contracts just do not happen!

Richard Solomon

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