TEST SYSTEM

All News

Daily Bridge in New Zealand

                Egg on One’s Face?

Some bidding situations seem easy. Others are a wee bit harder and then there are those which seem much worse! Opposition pre-empts are well-known for creating the second two situations. Today’s problem seems to fit nicely into all three categories.

Bridge in NZ.pngnz map.jpg

 

     
West Deals
Both Vul
 
N
W   E
S
   
 
A J 4
J 9
9 8 7 4
Q 9 5 3
West North East South
3  Dbl Pass ?

 

You are playing Pairs. Double is a normal take-out style double. What would you bid? Any different if you were playing Teams?

We know that a wrong decision at Pairs gives you a bottom, does little for your final score but is not terminal. However, a missed vulnerable game or doubling the opponents in a making part-score at Teams can have a disastrous effect on your result at Teams scoring.

We have an 8-count, not quite enough to jump to game but more than we would necessarily have for a simple response. Yet, our four-card suits are in the minors and who wants to play 4 of a minor?

Matt Brown “4Club-small: Probably best. It gives partner maximum freedom to bid something more, and I don't think we can ever bid 3Spade-small or 3NT with this collection... If partner bids 4Diamond-small we are able to raise rather than have them guess to raise our 4Diamond-small bid, and we may just have a better club fit, so I bid those first.”

Despite lack of a raise from East, 3NT hardly appeals. A bit of honesty (or modesty!) from Nigel and the same bid:

Nigel Kearney “4Club-small: I could try to be a genius but that hasn't worked well for me in the past. Sometimes it's better to bid the higher ranking four card suit in response to a takeout double so you can bid the other one later. But here my diamonds are bad and anyway I intend to bid 4Spade-small if partner continues with 4Heart-small. I would do the same at IMPs.”

Michael Cornell "4Club-small:I will definitely bid. I cannot see why there will not be 9 tricks in hearts. (7hearts and 2 outside?)We might set it one trick which would be a top at Pairs but I would not contemplate a pass at Teams.

 

I will bid 4Club-small which I expect has 9-10 tricks unless partner has something special .”

 

When you respond with an unbid major, your partner is entitled to place you with “a little something” and will raise to game with any holding just a tad above minimum though I am not sure that applies when your first bid is a minor. A second bid from partner would be nice but might not be forthcoming leaving us perhaps with -100, a nice +130 or a frustrating +150. 

There’s another way of getting a better or worser score as Michael hinted at:

Bruce Anderson “Pass: with some trepidation as partner may have very strong single suited hand which he/she wants to show by doubling first. Then the decision to pass will not be a success. But if partner has the more likely hand of 15/18 points with only four spades and a singleton heart, game for our side will be problematic, to say the least. The alternatives are unpalatable: 4Club-small shows a weak hand when I have 7 working points. And 3Spade-small appeals even less.

The fact there is no easy solution to this problem is the reason why sound pre-empting is a good idea (I am presuming West is not a lunatic). I would make the same decision at Teams.”

 

Peter Newell “Pass: At Pairs. We probably cannot make game. So, let’s try for +200 or better which will beat all the part scores.  As East will often raise with 3 card heart support, it looks like partner has 2 or 3 hearts probably with no stopper or a bad one like Qxx which also makes bidding less attractive, particularly since I don’t have an attractive bid. I don’t like guessing a 4- card minor as it is fairly unlikely that partner has at least 4/4 in minors and playing in 4-3 fits in a minor part-score at the 4 level are not usually Pairs winners. I would probably guess to bid 3S rather than 4 of a minor if I did choose to bid, but partner does have only 3 spades from time to time, and if they have 2-3 hearts that prospect increases…

At Teams Passing is less attractive, then it becomes much closer, but I would probably pass more often than not.”

 If there is merit for the Pass at Pairs, I just do not buy it at Teams. An ace and a well- placed king are all East needs to provide their partner and the score is – 730.

 Stephen Blackstock “Pass: at Pairs. Yes, occasionally you will collect -730, but if we have no game then +200 will be excellent. They may have seven trump tricks but two more will be hard to come by. If we have a game, then +800 might be available. Of course, pass is in part prompted by the lack of an attractive alternative: the only way to ensure the right strain is to cue-bid, and these cards are not worth that.

At IMPs, 3Spade-small to take -730 off the table. Pass may still be percentage as +500 in exchange for our game is fine, but I’m not brave enough to risk a disaster. If partner has extras, he will bid again and we should reach a playable game contract (North will raise with four spades, bid 4minor with a minor or cue-bid; 4NT from me will then be both minors).

This problem type has been done to death in other publications. There seems to be a majority expert view that, at Pairs at least, with no good alternative, pass is the best option. Perhaps we have a better spot but too often we won’t reach it.”

Julie may find the right denomination but there will be times when the level is wrong:

Julie Atkinson " 4Heart-small:If partner has only an opening hand with the double, then I would expect them to have very good shape. If they have a stronger hand, then it would seem that all we are looking for is which game.

 I will bid 4Heart-small and pass partner's game response. At least I will know we are not playing a 3-3 fit in 4Spade-small this way.  Same for Pairs and Teams.

 

There have been several references to bidding 3Spade-small. Partner is favourite to have 4 and our high spades make us reasonably well-placed to handle a 4-2 break in the trump suit. +140 is better than the making (on the nose) 4 of a minor though there is the capacity for “egg on one’s face”.

 

Kris Wooles “3Spade-small: playing Pairs and probably the same at Teams. I have played a 3/3 major fit in game successfully. Richard, you might remember it.”

 Kris went on to explain. It occurred after opposition pre-emptive bidding though not a pre-emptive opening:

 “Partner hit with a trump suit of Heart-smallQxx opposite my Heart-smallAKx. Without recalling the detail, I drew 3 rounds of trumps which “broke”. Then the contract came down to finding the Diamond-smallQ which I did by playing the opener to have it.”

Happy endings. Here, would North with a strong hand but without 4 spades raise to the spade game? Stephen Blackstock would not (4Club-small) but at the table, North did:

West Deals
Both Vul
K Q 2
8
A K 10 5
A K 7 4 2
9 7
A K 7 6 5 4 2
6 3 2
10
 
N
W   E
S
 
10 8 6 5 3
Q 10 3
Q J
J 8 6
 
A J 4
J 9
9 8 7 4
Q 9 5 3
West North East South
3  Dbl Pass ?

 

A high heart lead and club switch did not leave South well-placed. Only one heart ruff in dummy was available and trumps did not “break”! The ruff, three rounds of trumps, and five minor tricks added to one down.

Meanwhile, 4Club-small struck a very good note for North who would surely raise to game and could record a lucky 12 tricks available thanks to the diamond position. The passers of 3Heart-smallx survived with 7 heart tricks and a diamond ruff producing -200 for West.

one swallow does not make a summer.jpg

This day, only those who chose 3Spade-small and who were raised to game failed. “One swallow does not make a summer” and I am not sure that 3Spade-small will always produce such a poor and 4Club-small such a good outcome.

Double Shot?

 

     
East Deals
Both Vul
 
N
W   E
S
   
 
J 10 9 7 3
K 10 5 4 3 2
J 6
West North East South
    1  Pass
4  Pass Pass ?

 

You are playing Teams. Do you agree with South’s pass of 1Spade-small? And now in the pass out seat?

Richard Solomon

 

Go Back View All News Items

Our Sponsors
  • NZB Foundation
  • Ryman