Hand of the Week, Vol. 2 No. 22

This hand from the Saturday afternoon pairs game of the Farthest North sectional was a good refresher course in basic matchpoint bidding.

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


Only five of the thirteen tables reached game in notrump. Two pairs reached a reasonable 6C (and one of them made it on misdefense), and two others stopped in 5C. The other four pairs somehow got stuck in partscores!

South's hand goes down in value after the 1S overcall. But even if you "feel like you don't have an opening bid anymore" after spades are bid on your left, partner's new-suit response is still absolutely forcing. Passing out 2C is a beginner's mistake. 2NT is the most descriptive rebid, showing your spade stopper and limiting your hand to 12-14, much better than a misguided 2D "to show a 5-card suit." A 2D rebid implies six diamonds and no spade stopper.

North, hearing that South is limited to a bare minimum opening bid, should probably give up slam ambitions. More importantly, North should be delighted to play in a notrump game, holding a second spade stopper. The seven-card club suit will provide just as many winners in notrump as it will in a club contract - at 30 points a trick each instead of 20. In a good matchpoint field, +400 for making 5C would be a near-bottom, beating only the pairs who had bidding accidents. Even if clubs produces more tricks than notrump does, remember that 3NT making 3 ties 5C and 3NT making 4 beats 5C making 5 or 6.

North also needs to remember that a 3C rebid, repeating his own suit, is not forcing, and a minimum opener will frequently drop you there. If you are looking at 15 HCP and a good suit and your partner has opened, it is your job to make sure you don't give your partner a chance to bail out short of game.

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This page last updated 17.08.09
©2009 Gordon Bower