Question of the Week 22

 Hi All,

Most everyone played in 3 No Trump and made overtricks on the board below. The only possible slam turned out to be 6 Clubs and no one bid it. The questions were how to get to slam and if a Forcing 2-Club bid would work.



                     ª Q 10

                     © J 7 5 3 2

                     ¨ J 10 9 6 5

                     § 8

West                                  East

ª A K 9 6                            ª J 5

©                                       © A K 10 9 8 6

¨ K Q 7 2                            ¨ 8

§ A K J 4 2                          § Q 10 9 3


                     ª 8 7 4 3 2

                     © Q 4

                     ¨ A 4 3

                     § 7 6 5


First, let's look at what happens when West opens 1 Club. Partner responds 1 Heart and West stops to think. Partner's new suit has forced him to describe his hand and he ponders 2 Spades or 2 No Trump (given East's bid).

A rebid of 2 Spades shows two of his suits, 19 or more points and forces to game. He would like to find a suit fit to make his void useful.

A rebid of 2 No Trump show values in the unbid suits and shows 18-19 HCPs. He actually has 20 HCPs and definitely wants to get to game after partner showed enough to respond. Partner would have made the same response with 6 points and 4 small Hearts and might pass 2 No Trump. This would have the danger of both missing a game and going down at 2 No Trump.

After you respond 2 Spades, East probably will rebid 4 Hearts to show his 6-card suit and 10-12 points. West now is faced with the scary choice of passing or correcting to 4 No Trump and hoping partner will know that's to play. If you haven't worked out with partner when 4 No Trump is Blackwood and when it 's to play, it's time to do so.

Second, let's consider a 2-Club opening. This has the great advantage on this hand that after 2 Clubs, 2 Diamonds, 3 Clubs, partner will know that your best suit is Clubs with at least a 5-card suit. You can both upgrade your hands and have a great chance from here to find the slam. The problem is whether that is a proper opening.

The requirements for a strong opening in No Trump or a suit were stable for many years. When the Forcing 2-Club was expanded to include both suits and No Trump, it was a great improvement for both. However it has yet to be stabilized again.

Some factions went for simplicity and required 22 HCPs to use it at all. Others included any hand that required only one trick from partner for game. These were okay but neglected distributional values. The old rules generally promised 23 points with a 6-card suit, 21 for a 7-card suit and 25 for a 5-card suit. I have felt and taught that we should use the HCPs when we have a balanced hand and expect to be in No Trump and distributional values when we expect to be in a suit.

To go back to this question, this board doesn't meet any of those criteria. Partner will expect either more Clubs or more points. As nicely as this works in this case, I would open 1 Club and jump-shift to 2 Spades. In the long term it's better to be consistent.


Question of the Week 21

 Hi All,

How do you open with 6 Clubs and 5 Spades? 

The answer, as so often happens, is that it depends. If you have the 17 points to reverse, if necessary, you can open 1 Club, then rebid Spades, then rebid Spades again. The rebid of your second suit promises a 5-card suit and your opening 1 Club promises a 6-card suit since you didn't open your 5-card major.

If you have the 15 points for a 3-level reverse, if necessary, you can open 1 Spade, then rebid Clubs, then rebid Clubs again to promise 5 Spades and at least 5 Clubs.

If you lack the points for any reverse, you can open 1 Club and, if partner responds 1 No Trump, have to rebid Clubs or pass, not being able to show your Spades at all.

You can also choose to open 1 Spade and, if partner responds 2 Diamonds or 2 Hearts, have to lie with 2 Spades or 2 No Trump, not being able to show your 6-card Club suit. 

You can see that the opening depends on your overall strength, the relative strength of your two suits and your taste for risk. The important lesson is that you should never open without considering your rebid.


Question of the Week 20

 Hi All,

Glad to be back online after the holidays. I was sent the board shown below.



                     ª 9 8 6

                     © K 6

                     ¨ J 10 9 7 5 2

                     § J 3

West                                  East

ª K 10 5                             ª A J 7 2

© J 9 8 5                             © A Q 10 7 4 3

¨ A Q 3                               ¨ K

§ A 10 4                             § Q 8


                     ª Q 4 3

                     © 2

                     ¨ 8 6 4

                     § K 9 7 6 5 2

Suppose West opens 1 Club and East responds 1 Heart to force opener to describe his hand. West rebids 2 Hearts to promise 13-16 points and at least 4 Hearts. East rebids 2 Spades, a control bid, and West rebids 3 Clubs, another control bid. 

If East now jumps to 4 Hearts, is that a stop bid or should West continue? West has clearly described his hand to East, the Captain, and East has chosen to stop short of the slam. East knows what West has and West is not really sure what East has. West must pass.

Suppose instead that East rebids 3 Diamonds, another control bid. West must rebid 4 Diamonds, another control bid, to show the Ace which greatly improves partner's King. East still sees several possible losers, but he also sees around 35 points, a good fit and all the Aces. If East isn't satisfied, he can bid 4 Hearts which would definitely be to stop, but DSS will always bid the slam.