Hand of the Week, Vol. 2 No. 31

This hand from the Friday 18 December game illustrates a basic bidding principle that a lot of newer players find hard to accept. East-West were allowed the auction to themselves:

Dealer West
None vul
S 9
H K J 9 7 2
D K 5 2
C Q 6 4 3
S K T 7 2
H 8 4
D A 6 4 3
C K 9 2
[table marker] S Q J 8 6
D Q T 9 7
C J 5
S A 5 4 3
H 6 5 3
D J 8
C A T 8 7


Does the 3D bid mean "we have a fit in both spades and diamonds, partner, so take your pick between them"? No! Two reasons: 1)once you have found one fit, your priority becomes deciding how high to go - partscore, game, or slam. 2) If you do have a fit in both suits, you should always opt to play in the higher-scoring contract, even if your diamonds are longer or better than your spades. It's much easier to make 4S than 5D, and if you stop in a partscore, 3S outscores 3D even if you can make an overtrick in diamonds.

After 1D-1S-2S, West's bid of 3C, 3D, or 3H carries a very specific message: "We have agreed on spades as trump, but I am not sure whether we belong in game. If your values are concentrated in trumps and in this suit, go on; if not, pass." On the actual cards, West could reasonably bid either 3C or 3D. With a dead minimum and half of his points in hearts, East refuses the invitation and stops in 3S.

In theory you can win nine tricks with either suit as trump. To add insult to injury, if you do play this hand in diamonds, South knows exactly how to defend it: lead SA and another spade, giving his partner a ruff. After CA and another spade ruff, a bad guess in diamonds will set you. If spades are trump the 4-1 break is inconvenient but you are in no danger of being set.

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This page last updated 27.12.09
©2009 Gordon Bower