Hand of the Week #16

The month of July started off a bang at the bridge club, with lots of wild bidding at the Tuesday 01 July game. Along with three slam hands, here was a tricky five-level decision that tested both sides:

Dealer North
NS vul
H J 9 7 3 2
D A K 5
C K 9 6 5 4
S A K Q T 9 5 2
D J 7 4 2
[table marker] S J 7 6 4
H A 8 6
D 6 3
C T 8 7 2
S 8 3
H K Q 5 4
D Q T 9 8
C A J 2


My partner opened 1H, and I made a game-forcing raise of hearts, denying any singleton or void. (Playing the Yellow Card or off-the-shelf 2/1, Jacoby 2NT shows this hand. The bid I actually made at the table with Michael in our system was an artificial 3S.) West, with a long spade suit and no defense against hearts, jumps to 4S. After that is where it gets interesting.

Partner knows that our side has forced to game on high cards. Logically, we cannot want to sell out to 4S undoubled. Either our side is going to declare, or we are going to double our opponents' sacrifice. North's pass of 4S is forcing! If North knows he wants to defend, he doubles; if he knows he wants to bid on, he bids 5H; if he wants South to make the decision, he passes. His void in spades suggests bidding on, but his weak hearts and his DAK both suggest defending.

South, looking at his own hand, sees only one card, the CA, that can take a trick against 4S: on defense, the hearts are going to get trumped and the DQ will likely never set up. Therefore the decision to bid 5H is clearcut.

Normally it's wrong to bid again after you have preempted once already. But Marlene Bell judged well that we were going to make 5H, and, at favorable vulnerability, went on to 5S knowing that if her partner had one trick, she would go for 500 instead of losing 650. If her partner had nothing, she might be set 800 but our side would have missed a slam. (If East had two or more tricks there was a risk that 5H was going set - but that was very unlikely given the bidding.) Had she passed, East should have bid 5S rather than defending 5H, for all the same reasons.

North again passed the decision to bid or defend around to South. We doubled, and cashed the only three tricks we could -- the extra spades in East letting Marlene ruff her diamond losers and go down only one instead of three. But she was getting a top for any score less than 650: the other N-S pairs were all in 5H or 5HX, making.

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This page last updated 04.07.08
©2008 Gordon Bower