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Trump support? Is that all, partner?

Minimal Support…for less experienced players and others.

There are times in bidding when you have to raise your partner to game with very little support for the intended trump suit, even occasionally with no cards at all in that suit. North faced such a dilemma on the hand below because there were options:Bridge in NZ.pngnz map.jpg


A K 8 7 4 2
Q 7
K J 10 2
West North East South
Pass 2 NT Pass 3 
Pass ?    


2Heart-smallwas a Weak 2, 6-10 and a 6-card suit. 2NT was the Ogust convention asking your partner what type of hand they had for their opening bid. 3Spade-small said the suit and the hand were good.

What is your choice of final contract? Both sides are vulnerable and it is Pairs.

It looks like you have a choice of playing in your 6-card spade suit or partner’s 6-card heart suit, where you can contribute just one trump, albeit a good one. While sometimes no-trumps is the place to be with 630 being better than 620 if you are in no-trumps, deciding on 3NT here would be very risky with such a poor diamond holding. Also, communication between our two hands would be potentially difficult because of our singleton heart.

So, 4Heart-small or 4Spade-small? We do not know and cannot find out how many spades our partner has. Unless partner produced Spade-smallQ, we are likely to have a trump loser. However, it is not a time to speculate. Your North hand with its spread of honours will be much more useful to your partner when hearts are trumps than their heart suit, no matter how good it is, will be if we made spades the trump suit.

In short, play in the weak 2 opener’s suit if you can and with your partner announcing a “good suit”, you should definitely choose hearts. Take a look:

South Deals
N-S Vul
A K 8 7 4 2
Q 7
K J 10 2
9 6
8 7 2
10 8 4 3
Q 8 7 6
W   E
Q J 5
A 5 3
A K 9 2
9 4 3
10 3
Q J 10 9 6 4
J 6 5
A 5
West North East South
Pass 2 NT Pass 3 
Pass 4  All pass  


With spades as trumps, you will definitely (against sound defence) lose a spade, Heart-smallA and two diamond tricks.

Meanwhile, with all suits breaking fairly evenly and South indeed having strong hearts, there should just be three losers in 4Heart-small. It will be easy if West leads either minor suit. A club lead will allow a diamond discard on the third round of clubs.

However, after a major suit lead (say a spade), South does not know that East has both high diamonds. South may choose to play Heart-smallK which is likely to be ducked and then the other high spade and then ruff a third round of spades ruffing high. A second round of trumps leaves East unable to play either minor suit to their advantage and therefore can only exit a trump. In fact, at that point when in with Heart-smallA, East needs to cash their high diamonds to hold the contract to 10 tricks.


Little needed…best choice

So, if your partner opens a Weak 2, or indeed a pre-empt, think very seriously about playing game in their suit even if you are rather short in trumps. When you put down dummy and have no cards to put down where trumps go, you can look sheepish and say a void in dummy is useful for ruffing losers! Let’s hope partner appreciates your humour!

Defenders should plan too


North Deals
None Vul
10 6 2
A 8 7 6 2
A 10 2
8 2
Q 9 3
7 6 5 4
Q J 9 5 3
W   E
West North East South
you dummy    
  Pass 1  1 NT
Pass 2  Pass 2 NT
Pass 3 NT All pass  


1NT might have been a “comic no trump” though South “owned up” to a proper strong no-trump overcall with their response to the 2Club-small enquiry.

With no great love of your partner’s suit, you decide to start with your “secret weapon”, a low club. This goes to your partner’s king which wins the trick. Partner returns Club-small7 with declarer again playing low (Club-small4 then Club-small6). You win with Club-small9 and continue Club-smallQ, your partner throwing a low spade.

Next comes Heart-smallK, followed by Heart-small3, Heart-small2 and your partner’s Heart-small10. Declarer’s next card is Heart-small5.

Plan the defence.

Richard Solomon



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