Hand of the Week #6

Today's hand is a concise reminder of priorities in the bidding. Your preference should normally be for a major-suit contract if possible; for notrump if you have no playable major fit; and for a minor only if notrump is flawed too.

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

South opens 1C, anticipating a 1NT bid at his second turn to show a flat 12-14 point hand. North has a fine hand and a fine club fit, but he has to remember his priorities in the bidding: look for a major-suit first, and then show strong support for clubs later if that doesn't work out.

If North correctly responds 1H, South rebids 2H, North raises to 4H, and it's a walk in the park. The heart finesse works, so you'll make either five or six depending if you guess who has the 3Q It would take a disaster like KJTx of trumps in East's hand and misguessing the spades to set a heart contract. If, on a different deal, South had not been able to support the hearts, North can jump to 3C at his second turn.

If North incorrectly starts with a strong raise of clubs, South, with the other three suits stopped, will bid 3NT. On a diamond lead, South can't afford to lose the lead, and he has to cash his nine winners, for only 400 points instead of the 450 or 480 that people in hearts got.

If North even more stubbornly insisted on a 5C contract, he will take the same number of tricks as the pairs in hearts. But there are two problems: 5C is one level higher than 4H, so the favorable heart break that is a bonus overtrick in 4H is needed to guarantee just making 5C... and getting lucky and making 5C only scores the same 400 as the people cashing nine fast tricks in 3NT got.

It's a basic lesson... but, when this deal was played at the Friday evening session on 15 February, there was one 480, one 400, and one -50 on the traveller.

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This page last updated 16.06.08
©2008 Gordon Bower