Saturday, February 15, 2014

In which partner makes a thoughtful bid ...

The most annoying mishaps are those where partner makes a thoughtful bid and I fail to take advantage of the information proffered.  After the disastrous board, when I go back and look at all four hands, I realize that all the clues were there thanks to partner's excellent bid.  Too bad I was clueless at the table where it counted.

Take this hand I played online in a matchpoints tournament. I picked up, vulnerable against not with partner (East) the dealer:

Partner opens 1S and South overcalls 2C.  What's your bid?  In competition, we play pretty much Robson-Segal's system (Partnership Bidding at Bridge). These are your choices:
  1. 2S is a minimum raise
  2. 3C is a limit-raise or better
  3. 3S is preemptive with 4 spades.
Not on the table are 2NT (which would be natural, non-forcing, showing stoppers in clubs and denying support in spades) or any diamond or heart bid which would be negative free bids (at the 2-level) or fit jumps (at the 3-level).

It's a close call between 2S and 3C. I do have a 4th trump, but the quacks are not pulling their weight.  So, I go the low road, and bid 2S.  It gets passed to South who competes with 3D.  Now, do you bid 3S, to show the 4th spade? I decided to pass, reasoning that the 3D bid has just made my hand worse (agree?).  If South has 5 clubs and 4 diamonds, then partner probably is 5-3-3-2.

 But partner now makes a thoughtful 3H bid.  What's that about?  What's his hand?

Obviously, he has 4 hearts, but is 3H a game-try? Of course, not. He passed the previous turn.  He wants to be on the 3-level, so he has no defense against 3D, but wants to suggest where his points lie.  So, what's his hand?  He must be 5-4-1-3 to wish to compete (5-4-2-2 and he'd probably pass).  The bid is more about what to do if the opponents compete to the next level.

I bid 3S, of course and now, North bids 4D.  Back to me.  What's my bid now?

At the table, I failed to take the inference offered by partner's heart bid.  The opponents have a 10-card fit in diamonds.  They are going to be cross-ruffing clubs and hearts. I need to pass, but instead, I doubled to "protect our equity".  Disaster ensued, of course.

This was the complete deal.


  1. Just bid 3S the first time. Your hand is worth three tricks. Tell your story at once and be done with it.

    1. 3S is an underbid. Partner with AKxxx KQxx Kx xx will never bid the game if I bid 3S whereas after 3C he would. After 2S, he might make a game try with 3H.

    2. Your comment prompted me to post this as a poll on Bridge Winners.

    3. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. OK, the public has spoken. :)
    I have to admit that I am struggling to see what you would consider "weak enough" to ever bid 3S. Maybe if your minor suits were reversed?

    1. Something like KJxx xxxx Qx xxx would qualify for 3S.

      It would have to be a hand that:
      (1) has 4-7 hcp and most of it offensive in nature
      (2) can not make game opposite 16 hcp with partner

      I would bid 3S with Jxxx xx KQxx xxx but would bid 2S if I had as little as a Q more Jxxx Qx KQxx xxx because of the possibility that partner can make a game try in diamonds or hearts.

  3. Should 4DX make? Assume trump lead (marked ... as you indicated, hand will be crossruffed). Also assume that the, unlike the shown defense, the HA is not wasted. First few tricks might be D lost, H won cheaply, high S won, CA won, D lost.

    The opponents' bidding seems odd, but your side's bidding seems OK to me.