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Daily Bridge in New Zealand

Avoiding Disaster.

Well, it was not total disaster because our North-South pair did get a plus score but the plus should have been so much bigger.

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K J 8 7 5 2
A K J 7 4
West North East South
1  2  2  Pass
Pass ?    


1 promises at least 2 clubs. It’s Teams. What now?

There are those who prefer 4-card openings and others who are very comfortable their 1♣ opening promising fewer cards, three, even two. There are advantages and disadvantages in both approaches. One immediate advantage in this deal is that the opening bid will confirm a good club fit. North has game values and while especially playing Pairs, hearts may well be a higher-scoring option, game and slam can be explored more easily.

That is not the case above. We are playing Teams and our 1♣ opening can be very short. Our Panel offers a variety of options. One key factor is whether 3♣ would be forcing:

Nigel Kearney “3♠:  I'm assuming neither 3♣ nor 4♣ is forcing. If partner bids 3NT, I will continue with 4♣ and from there we can play in either hearts or clubs.”

Julie Atkinson “3♠: Partner surely has 3+clubs since they do not have four hearts. 3♠ sets up game force so I can show clubs and be in a forcing auction if partner doesn't show heart support.

I am comfortable that 3♣ would not be forcing but 4♣? I would think that must be forcing to game.

Michael Cornell “4♣: which Ash and I would certainly play as forcing and obviously pretty distributional as we have bypassed 3NT.

I expect partner to bid 4♦ or 4♠ if interested in clubs as 4♥ would be natural but most unlikely to be three unless a very poor hand.

Even if partner has four spades, they are virtually marked to have 3 if not 4 clubs so slam simply requires some aces.”

Both Julie and Michael indicate correctly that without four hearts (no heart raise), our partner must have at least three clubs to open 1♣. Indeed, for those who play support doubles, South’s pass of 2♠ may indicate very short hearts and almost certainly then 4+ clubs.

Peter Newell “4♣: Given partner hasn’t raised hearts, partner must have at least 3 clubs, and probably more. So, 4♣ must show a good 2 suiter and with only 3 clubs, partner would have 2 maybe 3 hearts and so will bid 4♥. With a singleton heart, partner must have probably 5+ clubs.  4♣ gets across the playing strength and the 2- suited nature of the hand.”

Bruce Anderson “4♣: supporting partner’s minor, even if the suit may be short, at the 4 level is forcing, and my partners agree. If partner does not have partial support for hearts, surely, they have length in clubs and can bid game, or try for greater things with a good hand. They may be able to bid 4♦ holding both red aces, and then a slam can be bid.

Pam Livingston "4♣: minorwood or whatever else it might mean, agreeing clubs and forcing.  I am picking that the pass by opener denies three hearts. Many play support doubles there.  I presume that opener now has 4+ clubs having denied 3 hearts and did not open 1♦.

Not everyone agrees about the non-forcing nature of 3♣:

Kris Wooles “3♣: natural forcing and developing (revealing) my hand.”

Stephen Blackstock “3♣: Since 1♣ does not show a suit, 3♣ must be natural and forcing. When you have a two-suiter and opening values, it would be odd not to show both suits. Double is remotely possible. Partner may be keen to defend 2♠x but at this vulnerability we are not getting rich. Partner will never expect 6-5 shape from a take-out double, and in any event my hand may be a disappointment in defence if South holds a real club suit.”

Stephen is an acknowledged hater of the short club approach. Rather prophetically, he foresaw the disaster waiting to happen. At the table, North did try a negative double and South was delighted to convert to a penalty double:

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

North led a high club. The defence managed three trump tricks, two heart tricks and the ♦A for a nervy one down. Meanwhile, with the ♥AQ falling quite quickly on a cross-ruff, 12 tricks in clubs would be relatively easy to get. At the very least, game in clubs would be much more profitable than defending 2♠x.

Interesting conclusions could be drawn about the length of South’s club suit from their failure to support hearts. You and your regular partner would need to know whether 3♠ is forcing in the above sequence. Once that is established, then the appropriate number of clubs can be bid and slam can be explored and hopefully reached.

poor performance.jpg

Poor performance

Not one out of the 18 North-South pairs in a strong Open field found the club slam with some being in contracts they would rather forget.

It’s Jan’s Day: so, plan the play!

South Deals
N-S Vul
Q 3
J 6
9 8 4 2
A K 10 9 3
W   E
A 7 5 2
A Q J 10 5 3
West North East South
1  3  Pass 4 NT
Pass 5  Pass 6 
All pass      


5♦ showed one ace (or key card).  West led ♥3. Over to you.

Richard Solomon

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