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Daily Bridge in New Zealand

How Good is my hand?

Quite good!

Your partner makes a take-out double of the opponent’s pre-empt and you have modest values but a void in the pre-emptor’s suit. How high do you want to go because the opponents have gone to game themselves?

Bridge in NZ.pngnz map.jpg


North Deals
N-S Vul
   
8 7 4 3
Q 10 8 4
K J 7 5 3
 
N
W   E
S
   
West North East South
  3  Dbl 4 
?      

 

You are playing Teams. The bidding reaches 4Spade-smallquickly. Are you a bidder or a passer?

The Panel are united in that some action needs to be taken and are almost united in what that action should be:

Michael Ware “4NT: two places to play. I am swayed by my void in spades to bid.”

Pam Livingston “4NT: Partner, we are not defending 4Spade-small - you pick a suit.”

 

We must have a fair chance of bringing home a game contract if we bid. Let’s be absolutely sure what 4NT means. Julie confirms:

 

Julie Atkinson “4NT: asking partner to bid their best suit. Doubles at the 3 -level don’t always have the perfect shape and I want to play in our best fit. I will pass partner’s response. If I wanted to be in slam, I would be bidding 5Spade-small. I don’t see that 4NT is asking for aces.

 

Bruce Anderson “4NT: for take-out, seeking out best fit. I was required to bid at the 4- level regardless of the fact I may have little or no high card strength. And partner has undisclosed strength behind them. Therefore, he/she must have a strong hand with a shortage in spades.

So long as we have a fit, and it is hard to imagine we don’t, game must be a great chance. If partner has a double then bid hand with hearts and bids 5Heart-small, I will raise to six. Our opponents are vulnerable. So, unless they are lunatics, they will have a huge fit and distribution. Therefore, passing for penalties is not an option.”

 

While that is all true, I would not seek out hearts as trumps as South could have a nasty surprise for us in that suit. Not quite agreeing though is:

 

Peter Newell “4NT – Takeout at least 2 suits – generally expect partner to pick better minor. If partner is doubling for take-out and I’m void in the suit, one expects them to have a lot of spades, and while they may not have many points, they are likely to have shortages in each hand and so will often make 4Spade-small.

  Bidding gains when it’s a sacrifice, and we must have chances of making a 5-level contract.  So, 4NT is clear-cut. I cannot think of a second choice. While the bid is clear-cut, one is faced with a decision over a 5Diamond-small bid from partner. It seems natural to pass but it may well be right to “correct” to 5Heart-small showing Heart-small+Club-small as partner is slightly more likely to have a heart suit than a diamond one.”

Michael may even have higher ambitions.

 

Michael Cornell “4NT: We have a big fit somewhere and I have a void spade so should be very close and in fact will make slam opposite a very good hand. Not good enough to show the void so have to settle for playing the right strain.

Nigel Kearney “4NT: A bit thin but the void makes bidding attractive. Double is not for penalties but I'd expect partner to pass it with a relatively balanced hand and I don't want that here.”

 

Double. Who mentioned “double?”

Stephen Blackstock “Double: Take-out. An easy decision as partner may have 5+ in any suit so I don’t want to exclude any strain. I will be nervous if East passes (N/S seem to have a lot of spades) but the automatic trump lead may leave 4Spade-small a trick short. It’s hard to think of a rational alternative.”

best choice.jpg

Interestingly, neither Peter Newell nor Stephen Blackstock can see any alternative to their different actions, even if their bids basically mean the same. Stephen’s answer throws up the option for the best East-West score at the table:


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

 

Were West to double, East has the option of converting to a penalty double which would give the defenders a very comfortable +500 and a wrong diamond guess by North, a chance for +800.

Meanwhile, everyone else is scrambling to score +400 from 5Club-small. It would be normal to take the club finesse through South (that theory of vacant spaces being put into practice with North having more spades than South). Fortunately for East, they cannot go wrong in the diamond suit.

Also, a slam would indeed be reasonable if East’s Spade-smallK transformed itself into the Diamond-smallK. Not today but “double” seemed to have more to gain as a take-out this time than 4NT.

Life in the Fast Lane


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

 

A delightful auction so far. 2NT was both minors and less than an opening hand while 5NT was natural. Are you “game” to try for grand or are you going to extract whatever penalty you can from your frisky opponent?

Richard Solomon

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