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Tales of Akarana

Game Values: Part-Score Played!

So, you open a weak 12-14 1NT with a standardish mid-range 13. Your partner has an unbalanced 12 count with a 5- card major opposite opener’s doubleton. 25 high between the two hands. You would normally be in 3NT for better or worse. Let’s see if they can defeat you. Sometimes, they should but cannot.

Yet, it seems much harder to reach the same game when one of the opposition opens the bidding at the 1 level. That does seem to be the situation if one can draw a conclusion from results on Board 4 at Akarana this week.

Let’s work in reverse by looking at all four hands and the final contracts:

Board 4
West Deals
Both Vul
A Q 8 7
6 3
K J 3
K 8 4 2
K J 4 3
7 6
A 10 9 7 3
W   E
10 9 6 5
J 8 7 5
10 9 8 5
A 10 9 4 2
A Q 4 2
Q 6 5


In a no-trump contract, Declarer has four diamond tricks and two in spades thanks to an almost marked successful finesse thanks to West’s opening bid. There is only one quick heart trick but the rather uninspiring club pips take on great interest were West to lead Club-small10 or East to start with potentially helpful Club-smallJ. Remember, the declarer only needs one deep club trick to go with the one they must get in order to score 9 tricks.

The danger to 3NT would seem to be if South attacked hearts by playing a heart to the Heart-small9 on the first round. Yet, surely you would like to be in 3NT? The results indicate this was not the popular contract.

Only two out of 14 pairs reached 3NT, with the pair who made it receiving the very helpful Club-small10 lead. Three pairs played in a no-trump part-score with most of the rest either playing a heart partial or defeating their opponents in a black suit part-score. Indeed, since 2Club-small went 4 down (vulnerable) and 2Spade-small 3 down, one could say that there was more than one way to get a reasonable score on the board without bidding a semi-difficult to make game.

Yet, how should this 3NT be reached? Were West to open 1NT, East would take fright and use Stayman to find the spade fit. If South were to produce a negative double, North could pass with prospects of at least 500 following a heart lead and trump switch.

However, what happens after a 1Club-small opening from West? North has the wrong shape for a take-out double and with only a four card 1Spade-small as an alternative, will pass. East has no desire to play in 1Club-small nor to go exploring, at least not before a penalty double threatens. So, it will be left to South to call 1Heart-small.

Where to from there? West should by now know this is not his hand, especially when North calls 1Spade-small (Partner could have 4 spades along with 5+ hearts.). 2Diamond-small from South does not particularly excite North who must realise that their partnership is at least close to if not has game values. Has South overcalled on a 10 count or an opening hand?

West              North            East                South

1Club-small                  Pass                Pass                1Heart-small

Pass                1Spade-small                 Pass                2Diamond-small

Pass                ?

It comes down to what value would North have to bid 2NT at this stage in the auction or indeed over South’s initial 1Heart-small bid? The answer to both should be a minimum opening hand, not 11/12 as in the traditional sense. This will cater for the situation when South balanced on a 9/10 count.


Therefore, 2NT in the above auction would describe the hand our North had meaning that South, with a full opener themselves, should raise to game. Game bid…not so hard. Game made? Maybe, but you need to be there to take advantage of a friendly lead. After all, we are playing Teams, even those who scored 120, 140 or 150.

Richard Solomon



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