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Daily Bridge in New Zealand

The Right Start!

Today’s deal features a bidding sequence that went wrong and ultimately left one of the players with a guess which proved not to be the right one. It would seem that both players could have saved the day. With our Panel, we are going to “begin at the beginning” and see how they would have started describing one of the hands:

Bridge in NZ.pngnz map.jpg

8 3
A K 9 5 4
K 8
K Q 4 3
West North East South
    2  Pass
2  ?    


2Diamond-small is either a Weak 2 in a major or 20-22 balanced with 2Heart-small being “pass or correct” style.

The options for North here seem to be “3Heart-small, Pass or Double” 2NT without a spade hold would seem to be unwise and unnecessary.

Nigel Kearney “3Heart-small: I have a full strength 3Heart-small overcall of a weak 2Spade-small. You need good agreements, but undiscussed I think pass then 3Heart-small next time would suggest less high card strength. Double should be take-out of hearts and 2NT from the wrong side when LHO leads his spade suit doesn't look right either.”

Almost agreeing is:

Pam Livingston “3Heart-small: I'm not happy about it but I will be more unhappy if the bidding comes back to me at 3Spade-small. That is possible at this vulnerability when 2Heart-small tends to show a preference for spades rather than hearts.  Double in this position would be take-out of hearts and I can't bid 2NT.  Second choice is pass.

I love multi twos.  All the best stuff ups (on both sides) happen with them.  Makes for good stories.”


Well, there will be no great story from this deal though if by chance, and there is a chance, that the opponent’s Weak 2 is in hearts, you will be rather sorry that you bid the suit first.


With that thought perhaps in mind, come the “passers”:

Andy Braithwaite “Pass: and then double 2Spade-small for takeout- double here would be take-out of hearts and 2NT lacks a spade stop, whereas 3Heart-small looks a bit better suit to me.”

Kris Wooles “Pass: What else really? If East now bids 2Spade-small back to me, I’d bid 3Heart-small.”

Julie Atkinson “Pass: I am expecting to get another bid here. I have no call available that makes any sense. If this is passed out, then I doubt we have game and I certainly have defence.

Stephen Blackstock “Pass: Nothing fits so all I can do is hope my options will be better on the next round (likely balancing over 2Spade-small from East, but if anything else happens I will be pleased I passed).

For me double is take-out of hearts or strong, plainly suicidal here, and 2NT has an obvious flaw with East’s potential spade suit on lead. 3Heart-small does not appeal. I lack the suit length and playing strength, and hearts may yet be East’s suit. Of course, if East bids 2Spade-small, passed back to me, I will have trouble catching up, but any positive action I take now will be misdescriptive and highly risky. Two passes followed by a balancing double from South would be nice!

Throwing 5% confusion into the mix is:

Michael Cornell “Double: which I play as either take-out/ or penalty of hearts. (95 % of the time opener’s bid or pass tells partner which one it is).”

Bruce Anderson “Double: to show a good hand with hearts.”

So, there you have it, the majority for Pass and then action next time if appropriate. The hand must almost be strong enough for one of Stephen Blackstock’s 2 "double" options but opposite a passed hand, or a hand not able to bid over 2Diamond-small, Pass seems to me more sensible than conservative.

The villain of today’s hand was perhaps West as many would bid a Pass or Correct 2Spade-small on their hand which had decidedly better hearts than spades. To some extent, though, the same issues would remain except that over 2Spade-small, North would surely double or bid 3Heart-small.

However, let’s see what actually happened:

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


South certainly felt they had the strength to push on to game but which game? Even playing Lebensohl where 3Diamond-small would show value (around 7-11 hcp), South felt they were too strong and hence forced to game with 3Spade-small. All would have been very well had North produced a spade stop but this was not that day.

4Heart-small left South in a real dilemma. Did their partner have a really strong hand with long hearts? If not, then this was not the game to play. Yet, 4Spade-small and 4NT now would agree hearts leaving South to guess which minor game to play. Passing seemed wrong whichever hand-type their partner held but South’s guess proved unlucky when the defence took two spade tricks and West awaited a certain diamond trick.

bad choice 3.jpg


Meanwhile, 5Club-small was a secure contract as long as declarer played two rounds of trumps before ruffing a diamond or else ruffed the third round of diamonds high in dummy. 4Heart-small had no play.

It would seem North would get to show their club suit second time round had they started with a 3Heart-small overcall or indeed had they passed and bid 3Heart-small second time round. South too could have bid clubs had they chosen to bid diamonds first time round.

A hand of if-onlys leading to a poor end result. Would your system have coped?

A special thanks at this time of year to our Panel who always respond promptly and willingly to the bidding questions posed. We have not had many united Panels, though.

and for those of you who have done all your Christmas shopping (is anyone still left?) here is an opening lead problem for you. You are playing Teams and the auction is simple, with 1NT showing 15-17 hcp.

East Deals
Both Vul
K 7 6
A 5 2
9 7
J 10 9 7 3
W   E
West North East South
    Pass 1 NT
Pass 3 NT All pass  


Come on, last choice before Christmas.

Richard Solomon

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