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Daily Bridge in New Zealand

        But worth a mention?

Bidding with not much.

Recently, I played with a first-time partner. We had a chance to have a brief system discussion covering the main areas of bidding and, as usual, about 3.5 seconds on defence. We covered defence to 1NT which took more than 3.5 seconds and during this discussion, I was told not to take my partner’s overcalls of 1NT “too seriously”. Point noted.

So, to the first board of the evening. We were playing Teams. You want to start in a good way, to give a bit of confidence to the partnership. “No worries here”, I thought, as I eyed my collection:

 

     
North Deals
N-S Vul
 
N
W   E
S
 
10 9 7 3
J 7 4 3
10 8 6 4 3
West North East South
  1 NT ?  
       
       
       

 

No way am I going to bid here. 1NT was 15-17 and although the vulnerability was in our favour, any action would surely be suicidal even if I knew our system agreement would be “not to take the overcall too seriously”. I could have bid 2Heart-small to show the majors or 2Club-small, clubs and a higher suit. I passed… and 11 imps passed to our opponents.

 
North Deals
N-S Vul
6 5
K Q
A K Q J 10 8
9 7 2
A Q 4
A 10 9 8 6 5
9 6 2
J
 
N
W   E
S
 
10 9 7 3
J 7 4 3
10 8 6 4 3
 
K J 8 2
2
7 5 4 3
A K Q 5
West North East South
  1 NT Pass 2 
Pass 2 NT Pass 3 
Pass 3  Pass 3 NT
All pass      

 

I did not follow what the opponents’ bids meant but the end result was a very comfortable 10 tricks for the declarer. Meanwhile, after a more normal 1Diamond-small opening at the other table, our opponents found their heart fit and found a phantom dive in 5Heart-smallx over the non-making 5Diamond-small…but that dive only cost 100. Yes, on a combined 12 hcp, 4Heart-small was cold. Maybe my partner was right about “not serious” overcalls!

So, to Friday’s problem, coming from the same evening’s play. Are you, should you be there with your Michaels bid on “not much”?

Bridge in NZ.png nz map.jpg

 

     
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 ?

 

A power-house compared to the above hand! Should South bid over 1Spade-small and if not, what about over 4Spade-small? Our Panel is far from united:

Peter Newell “I would bid 2Spade-small the first time – much easier to describe bidding first time around and as partner is not a passed hand who knows what kind of fit we have?

At the 4Spade-small level I’m not so keen. It is rather riskier, bidding 4NT while showing 2 suits commits us to the 5 level. So double is a better option. To not bid over 1Spade-small but then to double back in over 4Spade-small clearly is weak with lots of shape and take-out.  However, I lean towards pass. Partner will not be sure which suits (or at least which minor) you have and so may be inclined to pass quite often, and by doubling you have also helped declarer significantly by showing wild shape and short spades. So, you have often given away a trick in the play against 4Spade-small.  Pass a little reluctantly over 4Spade-small and apologise for not bidding the first time which would have made things much easier.”

Contrast that with:

 Matt Brown “I agree with pass originally. We cannot bid with this hand promising strength we do not have as partner will never be able to get the hand right.
Now I bid 4NT. It's all a bit random but 4Spade-small has barraged partner out of the auction and they could have anything really. We know they will not act very often as they have 2-3 spades, and they will know we are likely pulling a double as we have a void spade. So 4NT - they haven't doubled us yet!”

However, there is more support for early action:

Nigel Kearney “I would bid 2Spade-small over 1Spade-small. It could work out badly but we are 6-5 with a void and some useful intermediate cards. Shape is more important than high cards and we might not get another chance.

Having passed 1Spade-small, I would pass 4Spade-small as well. It's a guess but I think the odds don't favour contracting for 11 tricks at IMPs with this hand and no idea what partner has.”

Stephen Blackstock No, I don’t agree with the pass of 1Spade-small. If we have a fit, this is a strong playing hand. There could possibly be game each way. Of course, bidding 2Spade-small is a risk, but there is a considerable risk if we don’t get into the auction too.

Over 4Spade-small I pass. Double is very wild with just a king and a jack, and forcing to the five level unilaterally with 4NT does not appeal when we might go for a big penalty against a game that may be threatened by the hoped-for bad trump break. It might be right to bid on the layout, but South presumably decided not to enter when he passed over 1Spade-small. It would be inconsistent to decline then but come in over 4Spade-small! It should not have been a great surprise that the auction is at this level at South’s next turn to bid.”

 

Silent forever is:

 Pam Livingston “Pass.  I like Michael's to be constructive.  Although "6 5 come alive" is a great philosophy, the suit quality is poor (especially in the major) and the redeeming feature of an extra card in the minor doesn't compensate.  And we don't have the boss suit. If we had spades and they had hearts, I would be tempted.  If the auction dies out at a low level I will come to life.

Over 4Spade-small I am still passing whilst feeling I am missing out!.  But if I can't make the Michael’s bid and allow partner to decide at that level, then I'm not going to put my head on the block and ask them to decide at the 5 level.

 

Along mainly with:

 Kris Wooles Marginal to bid 2Spade-small. I like the Michael’s style as it is so descriptive. Sometimes I play it as weak or strong and other times intermediate.  As I said it is marginal to bid even a weak Michael’s committing to the 3 level but maybe 3/4 days out of 10, I’d do it.  

Having not bid 2Spade-small on the 6/7 days I do not, I am slightly regretting it now but feel I have to pass.”

 But in Matt Brown’s camp:

 

Bruce Anderson Agree with the initial pass as notwithstanding the 6/5 shape. I play Michaels as an opening hand. Obviously, those who play the bid as either weak or strong have the option of bidding 2Spade-small over the opening bid.

Having passed I now take a risk and back in with 4NT showing either the minors or hearts and a minor. Provided partner has a fit for one of my suits, we will have a worthwhile save. And who knows, if we have a big fit, our opponents may be reluctant to penalize; instead, they may ‘take the push’ and go down at the 5 level.”

 

Michael Cornell "I don’t play weak Michael’s so I can’t bid on the first hand.I don’t know whether or not to bid on the 2nd round because you have omitted to explain opponents’ system.

 It could be very dangerous against a big club system. I have seen Meckwell bid 4M on balanced 12 counts so I would chicken out against them but against natural methods 4Spade-small would be pre-emptive,often 5+spades so I am a bidder. 4NT (2 suits ) is the obvious choice with the chance of finding a fair fit being high. We could even have a big fit."

 

Julie Atkinson “I play Michaels as intermediate due to the substantial information generally given to Declarer when you have a weak 5/5 hand.  I pass the first time. 6-5 hands are meant to be played rather than defending. I hate balancing opponents to game, let alone slam, but they haven’t tried for slam. So I will bid 4NT- two places to play.”

 

The success or otherwise at the 5 level would depend this time on which red suit your partner chose as trumps:

 

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

 

 

     
     
   

 

If North chose diamonds, they would be well rewarded with 11 very comfortable tricks. Even if North chose hearts, East will need to be on the ball to record a plus score. +500 is available (two diamond ruffs) if East starts with Diamond-smallA but after a spade lead, the defence will have just one chance to record a plus score when in with the Heart-smallA.

 It looks like East has enough in the red suits to compete to the 5 level had their partner bid 2Spade-small. It is perhaps fortunate for N/S that it is South who would be on lead to a spade contract, even 5Spade-small, since two high clubs would not assist the defence!

no action poor results.jpg

No action: poor results!

 

So, are you any keener about bidding on “not much” now? I am sure that I would be writing an apology note to partner and teammates before I saw my dummy in 5Heart-smallx on the first of the two hands above had I shown both majors with my overcall. Indeed, it would be just as well my hand would not be exposed in 5Heart-small!

 

At least, the second had some playing strength. I am kind of getting convinced that my first-time partner had a point…on some days!

 

Choices!

 

 

West Deals
Both Vul
10 4
J 7 6 4
K 10 7 2
K 5 2
   
N
W   E
S
   
 
Q J 9
K 2
A Q 8
A 10 9 8 7
West North East South
Pass Pass Pass 1 NT
All pass      

 

You are playing Teams. Your strong no-trump opening ends the auction. West leads Spade-small8 with East winning with the Spade-smallK. Next came Spade-smallA and then Spade-small6, West following to all three spades.

 You lead a club to dummy and West plays Club-smallJ. You win and play a second club and play…?

 

Richard Solomon

 

 

 

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