Hand of the Week, Vol. 2 No. 12

This week's featured hand came from the Tuesday 09 June game. It's a reminder that it's frequently right to play in notrump rather than a minor, especially with matchpoint scoring:

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

My suggested auction isn't one that actually happened at any of the five tables in play that night:


East has the easiest hand to bid. He has a simple textbook weak two-bid in hearts.

South has a more difficult problem - a takeout double could go sour if North has a weak hand with diamonds, but a 3C overcall risks missing a 4-4 spade fit, and can easily be a disastrous 5-1 fit on a bad day. On balance the double is the much better bid.

Most Wests passed without a second thought. Yet, with a weak hand and a support for partner's suit, this is the perfect time for a cooperative preempt, making it harder for N-S to have a constructive auction. An obstructive raise to 3H is clear. (If E-W were not vulnerable, even 5H shows a profit, going down 500, provided you are playing against opponents who will always reach their game.)

With or without a 3H bid from West, North has to make the key bid of 3NT. He knows that his side has points for game, and he has two stoppers if the opening lead is a heart. He doesn't know for sure that his diamonds will set up. On a bad day, 3NT will go far down while ten or eleven tricks can be made in diamonds. But the diamonds will set up much more often than not. Looking just at North's cards I would expect to make 3NT about 75% of the time on this auction.

This time the cards lie very favorably, and North racks up twelve fast tricks... scoring 690 in 3NT, 620 in 5D, and 170 in a timid 3D.

Corrected 08 July 2009. Originally distributed as N-S vulnerable rather than both vul.

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This page last updated 08.07.09
©2009 Gordon Bower