Question of the Week - 10

 Hi All,

I was sent the following board because of the seldom seen 13-card fit. The writer was happy that they bid and scored 5 Clubs, but pondered why the opponents didn't sacrifice. Both hands were vulnerable and North opened 1 Club. How did it go from there?



                     ª 10 4

                     © A K 10

                     ¨ K 10

                     § K Q 10 9 4 2

West                                  East

ª A Q 9 7 6 2                       ª 8 5 3

© Q 9                                 © 8 7 3 2

¨ A Q 6 4 2                         ¨ J 9 8 7 5 3

§                                       §


                     ª K J

                     © J 6 5 4


                     § A J 8 7 6 5 3

East passes and South properly responds 1 Heart to force partner to describe his hand. West overcalls 1 Spade and North jumps to 3 Clubs to show his 6-card suit and 17 or more points. East passes, South raises to 5 Clubs and all pass.

East leads the 8 of Spades, West takes the Ace and Queen and then probably tries the Ace of Diamonds. Declarer ruffs and attacks the Hearts. He will probably lead the Jack from dummy to bait the Queen if West has it. He plans to win the trick and return to lead another if West plays low. West must hope that partner has the Ace or King and will put up the Queen. Declarer has both and it's over.

Now we can take the writer's invitation to ponder a sacrifice by West. He must expect to be doubled and being vulnerable must take 9 tricks to come out ahead. He knows nothing about partner except his inability to support the overcall. Can he even get to dummy? Is he sure that North can make 5 Clubs? He sees 4 very possible losers and the sacrifice might require him to take the rest with a bunch of spots. It doesn't look good.

Let's go back to the first round. The opponents have bid two suits and West has 11 cards in the other two plus a void. He counts 17 points and doubles (Big). North redoubles or jumps to 3 Clubs, but East advances 3 Diamonds. South still jumps to 5 Clubs, but now West has a better picture. He sees a good fit and they will have transportation to maximize their values. He still needs 9 tricks, but it looks more feasible.

In Diamonds, North can take the Ace and King of Hearts and wait for the King of Diamonds, but I don't see any more. Minus 200 is a good sacrifice if the opponents can make 5 Clubs for plus 600.

In Spades, North can take the King of Hearts and lead a Diamond. South will ruff and return a Heart to North's Ace and get another ruff. Minus 500 is still a good sacrifice, but harder to bid and not as good as the Diamonds. 

To sum up, I don't see the likelihood of 5 Spades in the given bidding, but if West doubles, they may get somewhere.

Question of the Week 9

 Hi All,

Everyone's doing well this week, so I'll dig out another golden oldie. On the below board, a lot of pairs bid 6 Spades or 6 Diamonds, but the writers, despite being DSS, stopped short. How should it go? 

North                                 South

ª A K 6                               ª Q 9 7 4 2

© A 6                                   © J 9 2

¨ A K J 9 7 6 2                   ¨ 10 3

§ 3                                      § K Q 3


North opens 2 Clubs with his 7-card suit and 22 points (19 HCPs) and South bids 2 Diamonds, waiting. North rebids 3 Diamonds and South rebids 3 Spades to say "I've got enough for game, but I'm not sure about the Diamonds". North rebids 4 Diamonds to say, "Don't worry about the Diamonds" and South stops to reevaluate and think. 

South decides that his two Diamonds are adequate support and make partner stronger. He figures North for 26 points or more (21 plus 5 or 23 plus 3) opposite his 8 points and he wants to get to slam. He would like to check the Aces, but 4 No Trump wouldn't be a jump and they haven't overtly agreed on a suit. Partner might take that as "to play" and pass. Being DSS, he just jumps to 6 Diamonds.

Some pairs made 6 Spades for a better score, so we need to think about that. To get there, one of them needs to know about the the 5-3 fit. Not everyone plays these hands the same way, so we must address that.

Some pairs play "Steps", but we'll ignore that since it is the worst possible way to respond to 2 Clubs. Some pairs respond with a 5-card suit and 8 points. That would make it easier to find the fit, but gets in opener's way and might make it harder to bid the slam. It's almost always better to let opener describe his hand.

Let's assume South responds with a waiting 2 Diamonds and North rebids 3 Diamonds. South is relatively certain that partner has a 5-card suit with 25 points, a 6-card suit with 23 points or a 7-card suit with 21 points. If he lacks points for game, he will pass, but with enough he will continue. He can assume 6 or more and just go with the Diamonds, but it might be wise to check first.

South wants to bid something to say that he has enough for game, but isn't sure of the Diamonds.  I think most pairs would want the opener to rebid his suit with 6 or more and switch with just a 5-card suit, so South must help partner find a safe place, if necessary.

This is the advantage of having a regular partner. They could agree, for instance, that when I bid a new suit over your rebid, I have a decent 5-card suit and you may raise with adequate support. When I bid 3 No Trump over your rebid, I have no obvious suit and you can pass, rebid your suit, bid another suit or raise No Trump. 

In this case, South would probably bid 3 Spades, North would rebid 4 Diamonds with his 7-card suit and South would raise to 6 Diamonds. If he had better Spades and worse Diamonds, he might try the Spades again.

Would I change my system, because the Spades scored better this time? No way!

Question of the Week - 8

 Hi All,

The following board was sent to me by South, who wanted to know how they could have done better. North dealt and E/W were vulnerable.                                         


                     ª A 2

                     © 5

                     ¨ K Q 9 7 6 5

                     § A Q J 9

West                                  East

ª Q 7                                 ª K 10 8 5 3

© Q J 2                               © K 10 9 8 7 6

¨ J 9 4                                ¨ 10

§ K 7 6 4 3                          § 10


                     ª J 9 6 4

                     © A 4 3

                     ¨ A 3 2

                     § 8 5 2

North opened 1 Diamond and East bid 2 Diamonds, the Michaels Cuebid, showing his two 5-card majors and either too little or too much to overcall. South raised to 3 Diamonds to show his support. West bid 3 Hearts to select the suit and North raised to 4 Diamonds to show his 6-card suit. East competed to 4 Hearts,  South passed and North competed to 5 Diamonds. East competed to 5 Hearts and they went down two, vulnerable. North/South gained 200 points, but missed their 400 point game.

Where do I start? Competitive bidding is always hard, but when I step back and look at this, I see a lot of bidding. 

North's 1 Diamond and East's Michaels Cuebid are straightforward. I'm trying hard to justify South's 3 Diamond raise, but a 3-level raise with a flat 9 points and 3-card support when partner may have a flat 13 points with a 3 or 4-card suit gives me the willies.  

Nevertheless, after South raises, I think West should pass. If partner has 17 or more points, he could bid again and if he's weak, 3 Hearts is too high. North reevaluates to 22 points with partner's promised support and should jump straight to 5 Diamonds. East has no business bidding at all after his weak Michaels and all should pass.

If South instead passes, West must bid 2 Hearts to choose a suit. North will jump to 4 Diamonds to show his 17 or more points and 6 or more Diamonds. (He could also jump-shift to 4 Clubs, but hesitates to force game when partner has already passed and might have nothing.) East must pass and South will see his 9 points and Diamond support opposite partner's 20 or more points and will raise to 5 Diamonds.

North/South will get to 5 Diamonds regardless, but when the opponents stumble into 5 Hearts vulnerable, they should accept the gift by doubling for at least 500 points.

Ah! Competitive bidding.  Dave

Question of the Week - 7

Hi All,

I received the below hand this week and South wanted to know how they could have done better.      

North                                 South

ª A K Q 5 3                         ª 10 8 6

© Q                                    © 9 5 4 3

¨ Q J 6 4 3                          ¨ A 7

§ A Q                                 § 9 8 7 6

West opened a marginal 1 Club in first seat, North overcalled 1 Spade (limiting his hand to 11-16 points) and East and South passed. West rebid an ugly 2 Clubs, North rebid 2 Diamonds, East passed and South corrected to 2 Spades. They made 10 tricks and scored poorly.

When West opens 1 Club, North must double (Big) to be able to describe his big hand. East will pass and South will advance 1 Heart. West should pass and North will rebid in Spades to show his suit and 17 or more points. Less discerning Souths might pass, but all of you would remember the "or more" and raise to show support for the suit and some points. North would then go to game.

If the partners have discussed these situations, North could double and then jump to show even more values and make South's decision easier.

Good luck and stay well.  Dave

Question of the Week - 6

 Hi All,

I was sent the following board and South asked for help. They let the opponents play 3 Spades and scored poorly. 

    North       East      South      West

♠️   8              AQJ9     54          KT7632

♥️   AKQT842    3         J6          975

♦️   752          KT98     A643       QJ

§   K5            Q843    AJT96      72

East opens 1 Club (a Diamond is better) and South passes. West responds 1 Spade and North must stop to think. He is way too strong for 2 or 3 Hearts. He decides his Hearts are self-supporting and counts 20 points. He sees two options. 

If North wants to try to shut out the opponents, he can jump to 4 Hearts with his favorable vulnerability. Partner would know that he has 7 sure tricks if they play Rule of 2 or 3, but would have no idea if they disdain that for "Modern Preempts". If the opponents were to compete to 4 Spades, he couldn't bid again and partner might not see 11 tricks.

North instead decides to double (Big) to try to get information from partner in case the opponents compete or there's a chance for slam. East raises to 2 Spades and South jumps to 4 Diamonds to show his best unbid suit and 9-12 points. 

Now North can rebid 4 Hearts and if the opponents compete to 4 Spades, he can compete to 5 Hearts and make it easily. 

Good luck to you all and stay well.   Dave

Question of the Week - 5

 Hi All,

In today's hand, East/West want help with the below hands.

   West               East

♠️  109                 AK743

♥️  AKQ1073         85

♦️  A52                 QJ109

§ K9                   A7

East opens 1 Spade and West responds 2 Hearts to show his 5 or more Hearts, 10 or more points and to force partner to describe his hand. East rebids 2 No Trump and West raises to 3 No Trump. They easily take 12 tricks and want to know if there was a way to bid the slam. Where did they go wrong?

I think the key here is East's rebid. West has a lovely hand, but 2 No Trump is a real turn-off. West has shown at least 10 points and 5 Hearts, so East would surely bid 3 No Trump if he had 15-16 points and liked No Trump. West can't do much opposite the supposed minimum hand with only 5 Spades, so will pick a game.

East must reverse to 3 Diamonds to show his 15-18 points and two suits. West can then reevaluate to 18 points (if he considers the Hearts to be self-supporting, he can call it 21) opposite 15 or more. He has no forcing bid, so can't bid anything that partner could pass. He must jump to 4 No Trump (Blackwood) to check the Aces. When partner shows both Aces, he'll stop to ponder 6 Hearts or 6 No Trump. Fortunately, when the Hearts run, he can make either 7 Hearts or 6 No Trump. 

We must all remember that when opener is forced, his sole duty is to describe his hand. Partner is the Captain and will make the decisions until he limits his hand.

Keep playing and stay well,  Dave

Question of the Week - 4

 Hi All,

I received the below bidding sequence and the writer (South) was puzzled with East's 3§ rebid. Was that a cue bid? What did it mean?

North  East   South  West
           1♥️      2§         2NT 
   p       3§        p        4♥️
  p        p       p

I don't have the hands and I don't know what East really meant, but, if I were South, I'd review the types of cue bids. 

Cue bids have been the name for a bundle of different bidding conventions for at least a hundred years. They've been simplified a little bit by separating out the "Control Bid" and the "Michaels Cue Bid", but that still leaves at least three common usages called merely "Cue Bids". 

The first occurs when partner opens, RHO overcalls and you bid the opponents suit. This means that you have support for partner's suit and either invites or forces game, whichever you have agreed.

The second occurs when LHO opens, partner doubles, RHO either bids or passes and you bid opponent's suit to force to game. You are saying that you have enough for game, but aren't sure where. You want partner to bid his best suit and continue until someone is sure of the best contract and bids game.

The third occurs at any other time in the bidding. You have enough for game, but aren't sure where. If the opponent's have bid, you bid their suit to force partner to keep bidding until someone is sure of the best contract and bids game.

In the example given, 1 Heart is a normal 5-card major opening and 2 Clubs is a simple overcall, promising at least 6 Clubs and 13-16 points. West's 2 No Trump response promises at least one Club stopper and 11 HCPs. East's 3 Clubs promises enough for game, but isn't sure where. He probably would have raised to 3 No Trump if he had the other suits stopped. They should keep bidding until one of them sees the right contract and bids game. West apparently thinks that he has adequate Heart support and bids that game. If that wasn't right, they need to talk.

Stay well, Dave

Question of the Week - 3

Hi All,

I got a question this week, but I'm still waiting to see if my answer was helpful. In the meantime, I'll go to my file of golden oldies.

North           South 
♠️ AK95         7
♥️ 8              A953
♦️ AQ10        J85
§ 96532      AKQJ5

North opens 1 Club and South responds 1 Heart. North rebids 1 Spade and South stops to think. He wants to be in game and doesn't know anything about Diamonds, so 3 No Trump is out. He has no forcing bid, so may just bid 5 Clubs with his support and 17 points opposite 13-16. 

Desperately Seeking Slam (DSS) may want to make a try for slam. If he jumps to 4 No Trump, partner won't know what he wants for trump, so would just answer with Aces whatever form of Blackwood they play. South figures if partner responds 5 Clubs, he'll pass and if he bids 5 Diamonds or 5 Hearts he'll go to slam.
I think most would settle for 5 Clubs. To try for the slam, South has to accept that partner may respond 5 Diamonds with the Ace of Spades and two Diamond losers. DSS is undeterred, of course, and gets it right this time.