Real Deal #36 from Audrey Grant Magazine

Author: Larry Cohen
Date of publish: 05/16/2022
Level: General Interest

Dlr: South
♠ Q872
♥ 963
♦ AQ74
♣ J7
♠ 9654
♥ J42
♦ K3
♣ K1083
  ♠ J103
♥ A108
♦ 9
♣ AQ9542
  ♠ AK
♥ KQ75
♦ J108652
♣ 6


  West    North    East    South  
 Pass 1♠  2♠   Pass
3♠   3♠ All Pass   

This real deal was dealt by Sharon Jeffers, the award-winning author of two books on mystic science. 


The First Round of Bidding

South deals opens the bidding 1♠. After West passes, North responds 1♠. Even though the spades are poor and the diamond support is excellent, it is imperative to introduce a four-card major in this situation. If North-South have a 4-4 major suit fit, they find it via responder’s initial one-of-a-major response. East has opening bid values and a nice 6-card suit. He should overcall two clubs as shown.


The Second Round of Bidding:


What about opener's rebid? Had there been no overcall, he would have to do something; the response of one spade is 100% forcing. But, after the overcall, he is no longer required to bid. In fact, with a minimum, and a so-so suit, I see no reason to volunteer a two-diamond bid at this point. With a much better suit or better hand, a free bid of two diamonds would be acceptable. Surely, South can not show the hearts at this point, because that would be a reverse showing a very good hand. After South passes, West should raise the clubs. He doesn't have much HCP strength, but a raise here shows approximately 6 to 10 in support. With a beautiful four-card club holding the raise is automatic. It is not that West is so interested in inviting his partner to game, but more he wants to take away bidding space from the opponents. One of the most important principles of competitive bidding is to support with support. In this case, North isn't bothered much, because with his excellent diamonds, he has enough to volunteer a raise to three diamonds. Is the opener guaranteed to have at least four diamonds? On this auction, yes. The only time the opener won't have four diamonds for a one-diamond opening is if he is exactly four-four in the majors, and 3-2 in the minors. Surely, South can't have this shape or he would have raised the spades. After North’s three-diamond raise, East has a nice hand, but not really enough to compete further (especially since he is vulnerable and risks minus 200). South is happy to have been supported, but doesn't have enough to consider trying for a game. West has already said his piece, so North-South rest in a partscore of three diamonds.


The Play in Three Diamonds


West has no reason to spurn his normal lead of partner's suit. After the club lead, there is not much to the defense or declarer play. As soon as he gets in, declarer should draw trump (there is no reason not to). How should he play the trumps? With 10 cards missing the king, the odds favor the finesse. True, East is likely to have more of the missing high card points, but not enough to significantly change the odds into playing for the drop. After the trump finesse wins, declarer will finish drawing trump and play hearts from dummy towards his hand. Declarer must make sure to keep/use diamond entries to dummy for heart plays towards the king-queen. With the heart ace onside, he loses only one heart trick. In all, declarer loses only the aces in hearts and clubs and makes 11 tricks.


Did we Miss a Game?


Did something go wrong with the bidding? No. It was very lucky that both key red-suit cards were onside. If you switch the location of the diamond  king and heart ace, declarer would make only nine tricks. When you play duplicate bridge, the hand record print out will usually be available and tell you what everybody can make. On this deal it would say that North-South can make five diamonds. But, that is telling you only what can make. Not what should be bid. I would expect that a diamond partscore making 11 tricks is the most normal result on this deal.


Lesson points


1. It is a priority for responder to introduce a four-card or longer major into the auction.

2. Opener does not have to rebid when his right hand opponent makes an overcall.

3. The most important concept in competitive bidding is to support with support.

4. When missing three (or more) cards including the king, the odds favor the finesse.

5. Hand records and double dummy analysis show what can make. Not what's supposed to be bid.