Hand of the Week, Vol. 4 No. 5

Many people habitually overbid with strong hands, and underbid with weak hands, instead of thinking of their hand in the context of what they have already shown. This deal, from the Friday 04 March club game in Idaho Falls, got several overbidders into trouble.

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

(1) - artificial, waiting, promising at least a king

Yes, North has a fine hand. 21 HCP, 4 losers, and a six-card suit; it's clearly worth a 2C opening. But, among hands which open 2C, a 4-loser hand is a minimum hand. North must now simply show his heart suit, and leave the decision whether to explore for slam in responder's hands.

If South shows interest in slam -- say via 2C-2D-2H-3H, bidding only 3 in a game-going auction -- North cooperates, but must not be the one to drive past game. You might cuebid 3S, and help South upgrade his SK and SQ, so South will know which 8-point hands are worth getting excited about. If South has 10 or 12 HCP he will drive on toward slam himself.

But if responder shows a minimum fitting hand for hearts by jumping to 4H, opener must respect that decision and pass. If responder shows a 0-3 bust hand, opener has to be willing to stop in a partscore in hearts.

If opener has a 2- or 3-loser hand like SAKx HAKQxxx DAxx CA or SKQJx HAKQxxx DAx CA, he can insist on game opposite a bust, or try again for slam after 2C-2D-2H-4H.

The actual cards sat perfectly to reward good bidders and punish Blackwood addicts: on the normal DQ lead, N-S are held to ten tricks. (If East doesn't lead a diamond, North has time to set up a long spade for his eleventh trick, thanks to both majors breaking evenly.)

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This page last updated 05.04.14
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