Join Bridge Winners
Out of the Box
(Page of 7)

In a semi-final match in the Senior Trials, you face an unusual evaluation problem.

Both vul, South deals. As South, you hold:

South
A7542
A104
Q83
A2
W
N
E
S
?

Your 1NT range is 14-16.

Your call?

South
A7542
A104
Q83
A2
W
N
E
S
?

Your hand strength is definitely in your 1NT range, and the hand is balanced. The question is whether to open 1 or 1NT.

1 of a major is the boss opening bid in Precision. It is very well-defined, 11-15 with 5+ in the major. Responder can often jump right to 4 of the major, which he might do with a weak hand or a strong hand. In general, auctions flow smoothly after a 1 of a major opening. You want to open 1 of a major when you can.

There are two reasons to open 1NT with a 5-card major. The first is that there are potential rebid problems if you open the major. The second is if the hand has notrump written on it even though you have a 5-card major.

What will happen if you open 1? Suppose partner responds a semi-forcing notrump. You are clearly too strong to pass, since your balanced range is assumed to be 11-13. You will have to rebid 2. Rebidding a 3-card minor isn't the end of the world, but you would rather not do so if it can be avoided. Suppose partner responds 2 of a minor. You will have to rebid 2NT due to the balanced nature of your hand. This is somewhat of an underbid, and may cause you to miss a slam. There are definite rebid problems.

Does the hand have notrump written on it? Yes, it does. Spade suit weak in intermediates. Honors in every other suit. It looks like opening 1NT is best.

You open 1NT. The bidding continues:

W
N
E
S
1NT
P
2
P
?

2: Transfer

If you wish to pre-accept, your call would be 3 which shows a doubleton honor (ace or king) in clubs.

South
A7542
A104
Q83
A2
W
N
E
S
1NT
P
2
P
?

The transfer to spades was unexpected. You have a great spade holding. But otherwise, your hand isn't so good. You are minimal in point count. You don't have a source of tricks. In a sense, your 5-card spade holding is duplication. You would probably be better off with 4 spades and a strong 4-card side suit. This hand is not worth a pre-accept.

You bid 2. The bidding continues:

W
N
E
S
1NT
P
2
P
2
P
3
P
?

Your call?

South
A7542
A104
Q83
A2
W
N
E
S
1NT
P
2
P
2
P
3
P
?

At first glance it seems clear to accept the invite with your good spade holding and side aces. But let's look more closely at typical hands which partner might hold and see how good game really is.

Partner almost certainly has 6 spades. He probably doesn't have a singleton, since with a singleton he wouldn't be giving you an evaluation problem you couldn't solve. He would make the decision himself whether or not to play in game. He knows they still pay that vulnerable game bonus, so he would bid game if it is close. He has a hand which doesn't figure to have much play for game if you are rejecting the invite.

A typical hand for partner's sequence might be KJxxxx of spades and a side king. Something like: KJxxxx xxx Kx xx. Opposite that hand, game has no play. If his tripleton happens to be in clubs then game would be great, but he will have the right tripleton only a little over 1/3 of the time. He can't have any more than this, or he would have driven to game himself. He could have a little less, or he could have more stuff in spades which wouldn't be so good. Imagine him holding KQJxxx of spades and a side queen. Even if he has doubletons in both red suits, his ideal shape, game still won't have much play.

So passing appears to be the percentage action. But wait! It is true that there are probably only 9 tricks available in spades. But there is a game contract where only 9 tricks are needed. If you can overcome the reflex to automatically play in an 11-card major-suit fit, it becomes clear that 3NT is likely to be the winning action. KJxxxx of spades and a rounded king come to 9 quick winners. Even if partner doesn't have exactly the right hand, the opponents might miss on the opening lead giving you time to establish the ninth trick.

You choose to pass, ending the auction.

W
N
E
S
1NT
P
2
P
2
P
3
P
P
P

West leads the king of clubs.

North
J109863
K52
K6
106
South
A7542
A104
Q83
A2
W
N
E
S
1NT
P
2
P
2
P
3
P
P
P

How do you play?

North
J109863
K52
K6
106
South
A7542
A104
Q83
A2
W
N
E
S
1NT
P
2
P
2
P
3
P
P
P

There doesn't appear to be much to this hand. Your best plan is to win the ace of clubs and cash the ace of spades. Whether the spades split or not, you will exit with a club and hope that the opponents make an error.

You win the ace of clubs and cash the ace of spades. To your annoyance, the spades are 1-1. You exit with a club. West wins, and shifts to the 9. Now what?

North
109863
K52
K6
South
7542
A104
Q83
W
N
E
S
1NT
P
2
P
2
P
3
P
P
P

If the 9 is West's highest diamond, you have a chance for a squeeze. You will need East to have not only AJ10 of diamonds but the only heart guard as well. Not likely, but possible. The plan is to go up king of diamonds, forcing East to win the ace. This corrects the count. You will win the likely diamond return, and run all your trumps. If East has the only heart guard, he will be squeezed on the last trump.

You go up king of diamonds. East wins the ace, and returns the jack of diamonds. You win, and run your trumps. West has Jxx of hearts and holds onto them, so there is no squeeze and you make 10 tricks. The full hand is:

West
Q
J63
97542
KQ43
North
J109863
K52
K6
106
East
K
Q987
AJ10
J9875
South
A7542
A104
Q83
A2
W
N
E
S
1NT
P
2
P
2
P
3
P
P
P
D
3 South
NS: 0 EW: 0
K
6
5
A
3
1
0
A
Q
J
K
3
2
0
2
Q
10
7
0
2
1
9
K
A
3
2
2
2
J
5

Do you agree with North's bidding?

West
Q
J63
97542
KQ43
North
J109863
K52
K6
106
East
K
Q987
AJ10
J9875
South
A7542
A104
Q83
A2
W
N
E
S
1NT
P
2
P
2
P
3
P
P
P
D
3 South
NS: 0 EW: 0
K
6
5
A
3
1
0
A
Q
J
K
3
2
0
2
Q
10
7
0
2
1
9
K
A
3
2
2
2
J
5

It looks right on target. Many players would just blast to game, not willing to risk missing a vulnerable game. But that is not necessary. South can see the vulnerability also, and if there is any doubt South will bid the game. If South rejects the invitation it is likely that game will have little or no play. The actual hand where the king and queen of spades were missing with an 11-card fit was very unexpected.

At the other table, South opened 1 and North just blasted to game. His luck was in for a 10 IMP gain.

One really has to be thinking out of the box to find the 3NT call. When North transfers to spades, all South is thinking about is what the hand is worth for play in spades. The thought of playing in some other strain just doesn't occur.

133 Comments
Getting Comments... loading...
.

Bottom Home Top