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Daily Bridge in New Zealand

A Fine Line….

Both between success and failure and also taken by the declarer in the final contract…..which was?

Let’s review the bidding to reach that final spot with the Panel today coming down with a vengeance against an action taken by East.

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North Deals
None Vul
W   E
Q 10 8 6
K 9 7 3
A J 5 2
West North East South
  Pass Pass 1 
2  3  ?  


It’s Teams and no-one is vulnerable. 3Club-small is a spade raise, obviously less than an opener. Do you agree with double? What now?

Well, the Panel certainly do not agree with the double.

Michael Cornell “Absolutely not. I have a huge hand for clubs. We are more likely to have 10 than 9 trumps. So why not show primary support? I would have bid 3Spade-small, 2nd choice 5Club-small. 3rd choice is 4Club-small and x does not even get a 0!”

Slightly more polite but on the same page:

Matt Brown “I would've preferred more affirmative action previously. 3Spade-small, or 4Spade-small. I don't really agree with double at all.”

Peter Newell “I don’t agree with double. I would expect double either to be a hand that planned to bid 3Club-small, or possibly lead directional.  My hand is considerably stronger both offensively and defensively than that.  It looks an obvious 3Spade-small bid showing a good club raise to me, or a 5Club-small bid against opponents who show no fear at bidding at the 5 level.”

So, what does 3Spade-small really mean?

Nigel Kearney “Prefer 3Spade-small. In a competitive auction, you want to describe your hand as well as possible in one bid in case it is too high next time. The best description of this hand is a high card raise to 4Club-small which is what 3Spade-small shows.”

Kris Wooles and Michael Ware would have bid an immediate 5Club-small, Pam Livingston 3Spade-small, Bruce Anderson 5Club-small by implication and finally strongly worded criticism from:

Stephen Blackstock “3Spade-small or 4Spade-small would have been preferable. In the former instance, West would have had the information to offer an opinion on what to do over 4Spade-small. In the latter, it would be their guess and not ours. Double was so woefully inadequate. East is looking at a strong constructive raise; unless agreed as takeout (misdirected with this this hand on this auction), double has shown little more than a polite raise of 2Club-small to 3Club-small.”

So, we are too good to just double but I really wonder why we have to record an unnecessary minus score with a hand with very defensive red suits. We do not have to have a 10-card club fit and I would rather listen to the auction than push us to the 5-level. Next time, therefore, 3Spade-small.

Yet, what now? The majority see little alternative to 5Club-small, albeit begrudgingly:

Stephen Blackstock “5Club-small: But really abstain, because the double was so woefully inadequate.”

Michael Cornell “5Club-small: Now I have no alternative as partner has no idea of my hand and this could easily be a phantom if partner has spade card(s). I hate the self- inflicted problem.”

Allowing partner to judge was the reason the second action below was taken and why an immediate 5Club-small seemed just too categorical.

Michael Ware “5Club-small: Cheap insurance and a possible make.”

Nigel Kearney “5Club-small: Often 4Spade-small and 5Club-small will both fail, but fairly often one or the other will make and since I've made it hard for partner by concealing my club support, I will try 5Club-small now.”

Peter Newell “5Club-small: a bit reluctant as it feels like often we will be 1 or 2 down and 4Spade-small will be 1 down too. On a good day 5Club-small will make e.g., if partner has a singleton heart and good diamonds, and the opponents may make 4Spade-small though I feel 1 down is perhaps more likely. My double of 3Club-small won’t have helped partner to decide what to do So, I have made it harder for myself.”

A view shared by Matt Brown. However, others were not rushing to the 5 level:

 Bruce Anderson “Pass: It is now inconsistent after partner passed 4Spade-small to bid 5Club-small, which could well be a phantom sacrifice, so I am passing.”

Pam Livingston “Pass: Having bid 3Spade-small, I think it is then West's decision whether to move over 4Spade-small and I will therefore pass 4Spade-small if it comes back to me.”

Kris Wooles “Pass: Bidding 5Club-small now makes it easier for them to make a decision. So, I’m leaning towards pass given it is Teams and the upside in bidding is not at all obvious.”

East agreed that bidding on was not that wise and threw the decision over West by doubling. West will attract much sympathy (because of the wide criticism for East’s first double) for passing leaving South with the task of making 10 tricks:


North Deals
None Vul
Q 10 8 7
A 9 7 3
Q 2
10 7 4
4 2
A 10 8 6
K Q 9 8 6 3
W   E
Q 10 8 6
K 9 7 3
A J 5 2
A K J 9 6 5
K 5 4 2
J 5 4
West North East South
  Pass Pass 1 
2  3  Dbl 4 
Pass Pass Dbl All pass


West led their singleton won in hand. A trump was played to dummy followed by a club ruff. A second trump to dummy, Heart-smallA and a second club ruff. Then a diamond to the queen and East’s ace saw a third club played and ruffed. South exited a low diamond with East overtaking West’s Diamond-small8. A third round of diamonds was played to the ace… but a heart was discarded from dummy!

West had to lead a minor suit for a ruff and discard…contract made.

well done.jpg

Meanwhile, 5Club-small had a loser in each side suit.

Conclusion? 3Spade-small in preference to double while at equal nil vulnerability, it was a real toss-up whether bidding to 5Club-small would be the right decision either over 3Club-small or indeed over 4Spade-small. At 6 tables, 4Spade-small made but at 11, it did not.

The Killer Lead

Can you find it?


North Deals
E-W Vul
K 10 7 6 5
K 10 9 8 5 3
W   E
West North East South
  Pass 1  4 
5  Pass Pass 5 
Dbl All pass    

 1Diamond-small promises at least a 4 card suit.

Richard Solomon


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