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Daily Bridge in New Zealand

Cream….or custard!

 Could that describe our hand today? Altogether, you have a 16 hcp hand. It must sound promising that you have a game to bid and make. Well…..

Bridge in NZ.png nz map.jpg

 

     

West Deals
E-W Vul

 

N

W

 

E

S

   
 

K 10 9 6

7 5

A K J

K Q 4 3

 

West

North

East

South

Pass

3 

Pass

?

It’s Teams and the opponents do not seem to want to bid. So, what do you do as South here?

One might expect answers like the following:

Andy Braithwaite “3NT: Partner must be very aggressive to bid in second seat with such a poor suit even at this vulnerability.

I only need an ace and a half stopper in hearts to make 3NT so will try for that. Passing is an alternative but at Teams, I must give game a go.”

 

With a poor suit, there is some likelihood that partner does have a real pre-empt…and by that I mean a 7-card suit with outside values and if so, then 3NT would have fair chances.

Agreeing, with our partner in second rather than first seat is:

 

Leon Meier “3NT: The first thing to consider is pre-empt style. I'm in favour of fairly constructive- leaning pre-empts at second seat, even favourable vul. Therefore, if my partner hasDiamond-small QT9xxxx, then they'll have something outside, probably an ace or king. If they have an outside ace, I'd like to be in 3NT but if they have the Heart-smallK, then it is not the greatest game if they lead a heart, but fine if they lead a black suit. On balance I'd take the marginal game and bid 3NT here but if partner was first seat, I would pass instantly.”

Here is another reason to bid:

Wayne Burrows “3NT: It will make occasionally and sometimes will talk the opponents out of 4Heart-small, to which we do not seem to have much defence. Despite the colours, partner should not be broke very often in second seat so I expect something. However, it is going to go p 3dDiamond-small p p; 3Heart-small or p 3Diamond-small p p x fairly often here and we will have to push over their 3-level bid. I prefer to bid in front of them before they find their fit.”  

Yet, we are looking for cards in our partner’s hand which they may well not have. They need a well placed heart honour, bearing in mind that their hand goes down as dummy…and yet, that is still only 8 quick tricks. They need a black ace, too.

We are also not vulnerable so that the gain of a lucky game is not as great. For the rest of the Panel, it is not just a case of making a part-score but of keeping the opponents quiet. That may seem strange when we hold the majority of high card points. Staying very quiet are:

Michael Ware “Pass: Not enough aces to bid.”

Nigel Kearney “Pass: We could have a game if partner has the right cards but the odds seem well against it. 3NT is going to need him to have a heart stop plus a black ace along with the Diamond-smallQ. 5D might need a bit less, especially if they choose the wrong lead. If I could invite in diamonds (e.g. using an artificial 4Club-small) I might do that.”

Agreeing is a new member of our Panel. Welcome Brian:

Brian Mace “Pass: With no side aces, not enough quick tricks for 3NT.  They might back in but I will take the push to 4Diamond-small.  They might bid to 4 of a major but I will take that risk as I have lots of defence.”

Concentrating on making it hard for one’s opponents are:

Michael Cornell “4Diamond-small: This all depends on a partnership’s style. At this vulnerability, I expect partner to have a very weak hand so I bid 4Diamond-small and I am still not optimistic that we can beat 4Heart-small.
I just hope the opponent’s points are evenly split and we buy it for 1 down. I could bid 3NT as a joke but prefer to try something that cannot go down much and will make on a good day.”

 

Bruce Anderson “4Diamond-small: Obviously, our opponents have a heart fit but given both have passed so far, it is likely the E/W points are relatively equally divided, so the chances of buying the contract in 4Diamond-small seem good. Passing 3Diamond-small makes it that much easier for E/W to find their heart fit by balancing.

An unlikely balancing double by either East or West over 4Diamond-small could see their side reach 4Heart-small. In that event, I will sacrifice in 5Diamond-small, rather than take the risk we have sufficient defence to beat the heart game.”

 

Stephen Blackstock “Pass/4Diamond-small…"maybe the latter as it is Tuesday!  "Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays I pass, other days I bid 4Diamond-small.

This is not a hand for a constructive move, 3NT would need a miraculous layout; 5Diamond-small needs  a singleton heart and a side ace, and even then may not be cold. (A second seat pre-empt with bad trumps and a side ace would be far from textbook).

 

The issue, then, is how to keep the opponents quiet. 4Heart-small their way is possible from the little we know, and -50 in 4Diamond-small is better than -140 against 3Heart-small. 4Diamond-small raises the bar but tells them that Diamond-smallxx is no issue and might encourage them to enter. Pass can be more intimidating as you are marked with values, and my length in spades makes it more possible that LHO doesn't have an attractive T/O double. I could live with either.”

 

The pendulum has swung from our trying for a possible game to keeping the opponents out of theirs. Indeed, the majority of our Panel were correct as there was only one side who should make game…and that was the side who as yet, had not spoken:

West Deals
E-W Vul

8 2

K 8

Q 10 9 7 6 4 2

J 7

A J 5 4 3

A 9 6 3

5 3

5 2

 

N

W

 

E

S

 

Q 7

Q J 10 4 2

8

A 10 9 8 6

 

K 10 9 6

7 5

A K J

K Q 4 3

 

West

North

East

South

Pass

3 

Pass

?

It is perhaps another interesting debate as to whether East should bid 3Heart-small opposite a passed partner. A great deal, perhaps, for those who have a weak opening bid showing both majors. That is not the issue here. 4Heart-small needs just one out of 2 finesses to make and as you can see, does make.

 

Meanwhile, 3NT will make for North-South unless West leads their shorter major. Out of 22 tables in an Open tournament, it did make 7 times and failed just once. The majority of the other tables failed by one or two tricks in 4Diamond-small/5Diamond-small. No pair got to play in hearts, game or part-score.

 

The deal proves you as South need not just a good fit to make 3NT but also side-suit quick tricks. That is why generally it seems wrong for South to try to make 3NT. Unless you were unlucky enough to have Brett Glass on lead, this time proved the exception of trying for a quick 9-trick game with those South cards. Did your 16 count turn to custard?

 Richard Solomon

 

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