Hand of the Week, Vol. 3 No. 10

Choosing the right trump suit is important. At IMPs or total points, this usually means choosing the most secure contract; at matchpoints it often means choosing the highest-scoring contract.

The process of finding the right suit is easier when both partners work together to discuss the possibilities, rather than when one partner insists on his first choice. This deal from the Friday 18 June club game is a prime example. You are South, fourth to act, and the bidding is 1C - Pass - 1H to you:

S Q J 8 5
H A 4
D A K J 9 7 6
C 9

What is your call?

Yes, diamonds is your best suit. A 2D overcall may look obvious to you. But diamonds might not be the partnership's best suit. Consider the alternative of starting with a takeout double. If partner bids spades, great, you can raise him; if he doesn't, you might bid diamonds on your own at your next turn. This might still be possible after a 2D overcall -- if it were to continue 2H - Pass - Pass, you could try 2S at your second turn to offer partner a choice. But the bidding might get uncomfortably high before your next turn, or -- as happened at the table Friday night, you may not get a second turn.

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

Two Souths got dropped in 2D; one played in 3D presumably after bidding and rebidding his suit. But, after a takeout double, North is going to show his spade suit. It's difficult for N-S to realize how strong their hands are, after their opponents opened and responded on such minimal values; but even if you play a partscore in spades, your +170 or +200 will outscore +130 in diamonds. On a hand where suits break badly, +110 in 2S can beat +90 in 2D. Especially at matchpoints, you cannot afford to get stuck in diamonds.


The posted auction is reasonable, if E-W do not play support doubles (for most experts, a 2H bid promises 4-card support, while 1C-P-1H-2D-X or 1C-P-1H-X-XX would artifically show 3-card heart support.) If West chooses to pass over South's double, the auction is likely to grind to a halt in 2S rather than 4. The key to scoring well on this deal is finding spades, any number of spades, rather than 2D.

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This page last updated 21.06.10
©2009 Gordon Bower