Hand of the Week, Vol. 2 No. 32

We close out our 2nd year of Hand of the Week with a troublesome 21-point monster. This hand from the Wednesday 23 December game exposed the weaknesses in East-West's bidding system at both tables.

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

West has a lot of high cards, but there is no 8-card fit for anyone on this deal. If you can see through the backs of the cards you can make 6C or 6D but you wouldn't bid either contract on purpose. I posted this deal on an internet forum and solicited experts' opinions on how best to bid it. You may be surprised by the auction that the overwhelming majority of them chose:


West's hand is strong enough to meet the definition of a 2C opening, but two-suited hands are often difficult to describe after opening 2C. Beginners get giddy with excitement at the prospect of being able to open 2C, but strong players look hard for reasons not to open 2C if they can possibly avoid it.

If you do choose to open 2C, you might still land on your feet, playing "2D waiting." Here is the #2 choice of the internet experts (and the way Mike and I would have bid it):


Being overly eager to show your long suit as East crowds the auction: if it goes 2C - 3C - 3S - 3NT, West will probably pull this to 4D. If East tries to show both his suits it's even worse: what can West do after 2C - 3C - 3S - 4H?

Despite their popularity in Fairbanks, step responses to 2C to show responder's HCP are so universally shunned in the greater bridge world that they aren't even mentioned in recently published bidding books. This hand is one example why they have been abandoned by serious players: playing steps, the auction begins 2C - 2S, and opener's 3S rebid is the first descriptive bid of the auction - leaving no room below game to discuss which suit should be trump. At the club Wednesday, both tables got to "enjoy" playing 4S in a 5-1 fit. Oops!

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This page last updated 31.12.09
©2009 Gordon Bower