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Daily Bridge in New Zealand

Maybe five aces in the pack?

40+ points.

Have you ever had one of those auctions where everyone has lost the “pass” card?! It seems there are far more high card points than there should be. Take the following auction which occurred last week-end during the Teams Qualifying of the Wellington Congress. You have nearly half the hcps and yet the bids keep coming:

     

North Deals
Both Vul

 

N

W

 

E

S

 

A K 9 8

K Q 10

A Q 6 3

J 3

 

West

North

East

South

 

1 

Dbl

1 NT

2 

2 

?

 

 

Yes, you still have 19 hcp and no-one has found the pass card yet! What now?

Let’s say 11 for the opener and if South scraped up enough for 1NT, then our partner cannot surely have that many. Coming to that conclusion can be the only reason for this apparent underbid:

Andy Braithwaite “3Diamond-small: A quiet 3Diamond-small from me- partner can’t have more than Diamond-smallKxxxxx so I can’t make 11 in diamonds and 3NT will fail on several club losers.”

Peter Newell “3Diamond-small: Not easy to decide what to do. Firstly, what do we think partner has? The opponents’ bidding suggests they have 17+ points between them (it’s pretty rare for anyone to volunteer 1NT vulnerable after a double with less than 6 hcp, or for someone to open in first seat and rebid freely vulnerable with an average suit with less than 11), which leaves partner with 0-4 hcp.

  Partner couldn’t double 1NT or bid 3Diamond-small, and would never volunteer a 4 card quite likely has the Diamond-smallK.  How likely are we to make game? I would say 5Diamond-small is very unlikely. We are almost certainly off the Heart-smallA, and 2 club tricks, occasionally heart ruffs too.

For 3NT, partner is likely to need a club stopper or 4 clubs to the 10 may be enough.  Possible but unlikely. South seems likely to have 5+ clubs, as unlikely to have 4+ spades, not many hearts or unlikely to have more than 3 diamonds – so may be lead a club against 2NT, and if not North is likely to quickly see there is little future in hearts on a heart lead and switch to a club.

 So, I will bid a quiet 3Diamond-small, and occasionally I’ll find myself talked out of 3NT.

However, others take a little more positive view of matters:

Stephen Blackstock “2NT: This must describe what I have, a balanced hand too strong for a 1NT overcall. Yes, I am concerned about clubs (South is marked with a club suit) but I don’t see a way to resolve that at this point. A 3Heart-small cue-bid just raises the level without telling or asking what I would like to know. Even if West punted with 3Spade-small over my 3Heart-small, he would usually be hoping I could show a heart stop so I would be no further ahead. The advantage of 2NT rather than 3Heart-small or the overbid of 3NT is that if West holds something like six or seven diamonds and is very weak in high cards, he can retreat safely to 3Diamond-small. With Diamond-small Kxxxxx, he should bid 3NT, and certainly with any more, so we won’t miss a good game.

 

Double is worth considering but I think is very dangerous. If North has a diamond void (quite likely), where are six defensive tricks coming from? Also, I have no surprise for North, who bid 2Heart-small knowing my heart honours and AK/A were missing. If North is competent, then 2Heart-smallx one down is the best I can expect, hardly profit enough to offset the risk of -670.

 

I am surprised that double is regarded as for penalties rather than on-going. It is not an option that anyone else suggested but I would have thought it just asked our partner to describe their hand a little further. Maybe the Panel were also nervous about -670!

 

Nigel Kearney “2NT: This suggests about 19-20 balanced which is what I have. We may have a club problem but 3Diamond-small is too much of an underbid when partner has bid 2Diamond-small freely.”

Agreed, Nigel. Others went higher:

Bruce Anderson “3Heart-small: I have a lot of points with a great diamond fit but it is possible partner has length in diamonds and 4 spades, so I am giving him/her the chance to show that hand. If partner doubled 1NT, that would be penalties, not a negative double as far as I am concerned.

Partner has shown values by making a free bid. It may be N/S are minimum for their bidding; perhaps North has 7 card suit and not much else. If partner bids 3Spade-small, I raise to game.

Fine if they do bid 3Spade-small but what if they do not? What would you bid over 1NT with 6 diamonds and 4 spades?

Firstly, though, those who bid what they have and are full expecting not to make their contract!

Michael Cornell “3NT: No doubt will get a club lead and lose the first 6 tricks! However, we are far too good for 3Diamond-small and we are looking at 3 top losers in 5Diamond-small.

Partner has room for not much more than Diamond-smallKxxxx(x) and hopefully the Club-smallQ but Club-small10xxx will also do.

 

Pam Livingston “3NT: I would press undo and overcall 1NT instead of making a double. If the undo didn't work, I would bid 3NT.  Partner can see the vulnerability and chose to freely bid 2Diamond-small.” 

For your sake, Pam, I will refuse the undo! You may not get to game if you called 1NT.

So, what to bid with 6 diamonds, 4 spades and not many high cards? Someone, surely, will bid over 2Diamond-small and then you can bid out your shape in comfort. At the table, East did bid 3NT but West carried on bidding:

 

North Deals
Both Vul

Q 3

A J 8 6 4 3

Q 10 8 4 2

J 10 6 4

9 7

K J 10 9 8 5

5

 

N

W

 

E

S

 

A K 9 8

K Q 10

A Q 6 3

J 3

 

7 5 2

5 2

7 4 2

A K 9 7 6

 

West

North

East

South

 

1 

Dbl

1 NT

2 

2 

3 NT

Pass

4 ♠

All pass

 

 

 

It would seem most routes should lead to game as West was always going to bid spades. North was a little light on high cards but would defend their 2Heart-small bid by having great shape.

happy ending 9.jpg

Without that 4-card spade suit, game would be unlikely. However, just because our (East) hand is flattish, there is no reason to suppose that is true of at least two other hands at the table. The 3Diamond-small bids and lack of any votes for double surprised me. However, all’s well that ended well and with West as declarer, 4Spade-small was secure. So, too, of course was 5Diamond-small from either side. Believe your partner. They did not hold much but what they had was well worth bidding.

Thinking of….

East Deals
N-S Vul

   

9 8 5 4 3 2

7 4

Q 7 6 4

Q

 

N

W

 

E

S

   
 

10 7

A K Q 10 9

9 3

A 6 5 4

 

West

North

East

South

Dummy

   

You

 

 

2 

2 

Pass

Pass

2 NT

Pass

3 

Pass

3 ♠

Pass

4 ♠

All pass

 

 

 

East shows up with a balanced 20-22. West transfers and then raises to game. You lead 2 top hearts and your partner shows an even number. What now?

Richard Solomon

 

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