Hand of the Week, Vol. 3 No. 7

On this hand from the Tuesday 16 March game, your challenge is to avoid getting in over your head by getting your partner too excited.

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

If North decides to pass as dealer, East-West might have an uncontested auction: 1C - 1D - 1NT (or perhaps 1C - 1S - 1NT if West is a serious "four-card majors first always" devotee.) On perfect defence (after a major-suit lead) this can be held to six tricks, but on a diamond lead, it will make.

If North decides to open, on the other hand, North-South might have an uncontested auction too. I prefer 1C - 1NT, bidding notrump immediately as South with both majors stopped and no shape, but 1C - 1D - 1H - 1NT gets you to the same place. Again on double-dummy defense South's 1NT can be beaten, but on the normal leads, DK or a spade, it will make.

Disaster strikes if North opens 1C and East takes action. Pass is the textbook bid with as many as 14 or 15 HCP if you have values in opener's suit and no long suit of your own to bid. Passing on the first round and coming back in with a 2C overcall on the 2nd round (an immediate 2C bid would be artificial in almost everyone's system) will get you down two for -200. Starting with a hideously offshape takeout double is likely to inspire West to take two bids, getting you to either 2D or 2S, down two for -200.

A word of caution about not running foul of the bridge laws, too. You do have the right to ask for an explanation of your opponents' system. But many people get into the dangerous habit of asking "is that a short club?" or "What does that 1D opening show?" every time they have 5 or 6 cards in opener's suit and wish they could bid the suit themselves. Remember, if your opponents play an artificial or a could-be-short club, they are required to tell you. If your opponent opens 1 of a minor and there is no alert or announcement, that means his opening is standard, and you have no need to ask about it. After repeatedly "asking when you have the suit and not asking when you don't," your partner will pick up on the pattern, and your (legal) question to your opponents becomes an (illegal) announcement to your partner what you have. If your partner uses that unauthorized information during the bidding or play, your opponents can and should call the director to have the score adjusted. And playing "1C - no question - 2C is Michaels, 1C - asking a question - 2C is a club suit" is outright cheating.

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This page last updated 26.03.10
©2009 Gordon Bower