Hand of the Week, Vol. 2 No. 2

With the bridge club back in operation, I no longer have to dig through my files for interesting hands we played a year ago. This week's deal is from the Friday 16 January game, a simple lesson in not overbidding:

Partner passes, RHO opens 1D, and you hold

S K J 9 4
H A K T 2
D J 3 2
C A 7

What do you do? No bid is perfect. With a balanced 16 HCP you would open 1NT as dealer. Now that your opponent has bid diamonds, you ought to have a diamond stopper to propose notrump. With both 4-card majors, a takeout double is also appealing. For that, you ought to be short in diamonds, and have better support for clubs. If you had only 14 points it would be reasonable to pass, but that feels awfully timid.

The key point is that whichever of these options you choose, do not get in over your head. If you double and your partner responds 2C, bite the bullet and pass. Partner's bid promises a very weak hand with clubs as his longest suit. What you do NOT want to do is double and then pull 2C to 2NT -- that promises a 19- or 20-point hand (with a diamond stopper), too strong to overcall 1NT immediately, and invites partner to go on to 3NT.

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

One pair wound up in 3NT by North, going down three, and I suspect that's how it happened. Another pair got up to 3C in the south, going down. I got an undeserved top for nervously and unhappily doubling and leaving my partner to rot in 2C. (Clubs can be held to seven tricks with clairvoyant defence, but will probably make eight, since West has no sane reason to lead a spade.) Incidentally, most of the "convenient minor" school always opens 1C with 3-3 in the minors; West's decision to open his better 3-card minor was a little bit unusual.

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This page last updated 21.01.09
©2009 Gordon Bower