Hand of the Week #32

Today's Hand of the Week is a lesson in making the most of the information you and your partner exchange in the bidding. Board 9 from the Tuesday 02 December game:

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

As South, you know your side has values for game as soon as North opens 1D, but you don't know if hearts, diamonds, or notrump will be best. Here is how the bidding went at my table:


Start with a simple 1H. After the 1S rebid, denying 4-card heart support, your first choice of contract is 3NT, but only if North has a club stopper. The right second bid depends on your system. In simple old-fashioned Standard American, you can jump to 3D, promising a 13+ point hand and forcing to game, but denying club control by inference since you didn't jump in notrump instead. Many modern players, especially those who play 2/1, have agreed that a 3D bid shows 10-12 and is not forcing; they would instead use the "Fourth Suit Forcing" convention, and rebid an artificial 2C, asking North to show a club stopper or 3-card heart support. Over either inquiry, North's third bid should be in hearts. Having failed to raise once already, this must show only 3-card heart support. Knwoing North has real diamond and spade suits and 3 hearts, South can place the contract. You can bid 5D, which you will easily make, but at matchpoints, the way to get a top here is to choose to play in the 4-3 heart fit, trusting partner to be short enough in clubs that you can ruff at least one of your club losers.

Since everything breaks so well, you will win 12 tricks if a club is led and 13 if anything else is, whether you make diamonds or hearts trumps. With worse breaks, hearts may play a trick worse then diamonds does -- but 420 in 4H still beats 400 in 5D.

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This page last updated 07.12.08
©2008 Gordon Bower