Question of the Week - 16

 Hi All,

Only one question this week. A lot of pairs got to 4 Hearts and some make an overtrick. It also makes 6 Diamonds, but no one bid it. The only question was about the general approach to the hand.

W Dlr
N-S Vul


                     ª 109653

                     © 3

                     ¨ K5

                     § KQ976

West                                  East

ª K84                                 ª 2

© 98                                   © AKJ6542

¨ 9862                               ¨ AQJ3

§ A1052                             § 8


                     ª AQJ7

                     © Q107

                     ¨ 1074

                     § J43

At the writer's table, East opened 4 Hearts and all passed. At another table, East opened 1 Heart, West responded 1 No Trump and East jumped to 4 Hearts. Finally, the writer pondered a 2-Club Forcing Opening and asked for my thoughts.

1. I will start with the worst of these approaches and take them in order until I get to the best. East's hand has 19 points, 15 HCPs and 8 sure tricks. None of these meet any criteria for a 2-Club Forcing Opening. It would probably go 2 Clubs, 2 Diamonds, 2 Hearts, 3 Hearts (promising extra values) and East might try for slam, hopefully stopping at 5 Hearts. Even then, not everyone made 5 Hearts. More importantly, why lie to partner?

2. Next comes the opening 4 Hearts. It get's them there, but East has no idea what partner has. Opener's first responsibility is to describe his hand and East has told partner that he has 7 sure tricks when he has 8. He has not told partner that he has a second suit. He is way too strong for a preempt. West will always pass with his 7 points, but with a different 7 points, slam could be laydown. Again, why lie to partner?

3. At last, East opens 1 Heart. If West can't respond, game is unlikely. When West responds 1 No Trump, East jumps to 4 Hearts. Perfect? No! West has 6-10 points, but some 6-10 points are better than others. East hasn't really given partner any info to evaluate his hand and make decisions. Again, he hasn't even shown his second suit.

This jump would be excusable if he had no forcing bid and had to bid what he hoped he could make. That is not the case here. Why not give partner as much information as possible, so that he can contribute?

4. Finally, East opens 1 Heart, West responds 1 No Trump and East describes his hand with a jump-shift to 3 Diamonds. Now, West can see two suits and 19 or more points in partner's hand. They're forced to game and both can contribute. West has already told partner that he doesn't have 3 Hearts, so raises to 4 Diamonds to show the fit. Now they are in good position to find the best contract and their trust in each other is undamaged.


Question of the Week - 15

 Hi All,

Another question about basic bidding on the board shown below.



                     ª K 8 5 2

                     © K 10 5 3

                     ¨ K 5 3

                     § 7 3

West                                  East

ª                                       ª A Q J 9 7

© Q J 9 6 4                         © 8

¨ 9 8 7                               ¨ J 10

§ Q 10 9 5 2                       § A K J 8 6


                     ª 10 6 4 3

                     © A 7 2

                     ¨ A Q 6 4 2

                     § 4


West dealt and passed, North passed, East opened 1 Spade and all passed. East made 1 Spade for 80 points, but other E/Ws bid part scores in Clubs for 90-130 points. East had two questions:

1. Should he instead have opened 1 Club?

2. Should West have responded 2 Clubs over his 1 Spade?

1. No. Our Lesson 2 prescribes opening the higher ranking of two 5-card suits regardless of relative strength. To do otherwise makes it impossible for opener to properly describe his hand. Stick with that!

2. No. A response of 2 Clubs would be a gross overbid, promising 10 or more points. West can't take points for his void in partner's suit; Partner may just rebid it. If he does respond 2 Clubs anyway, East will see a good Club fit and 10 or more points opposite his 18-20 points. Any red-blooded East would describe his hand by jumping to game and would go down for an even worse score. 

Assuming that they wouldn't do either of those things, how did some pairs get to 2 Clubs? I can see only one somewhat reasonable sequence. West's pass is justified, but, if he is uncomfortable with his void in partner's suit, he may keep the bidding open with 1 No Trump. The rules most of us follow say that you must respond with 6 points, but they don't say that you can't respond with a reasonable 5 points.

This is risky and they will go down at 1 No Trump, but in this case East will surely rebid 2 Clubs. As long as they don't get carried away to game, they should make par.

Good luck and stay well, Dave