What should I bid? (April 2017)


What should I bid? (April 2017)

The best submission for April came from Susan Lipton. She wins a voucher of $30 funded by TBIB, toward any purchase made at the Bridge Shop or Paul Lavings Bridge Books.

Dealer:W none vul.



West North East South
Pass  1 1 ?

How should the bidding go? South has no stopper and only 3.


Hi Susan,

This is definitely a problem that arises sometimes (but not all that often). If I was faced with the problem, I would probably bite the bullet and just bid 1NT, hoping my 10873 of hearts is a stopper. The reason I chose 1NT is because quite often, partner will have a heart honour and my 10873 of hearts will become a stopper anyway. Even if partner’s hearts was Jx doubleton, that is more than enough for it to be a stopper.

I find that bidding 1NT to show some values and promising a stopper is more important than passing (as partner may think that we have a weak hand) as we may then have trouble competing in the auction later.

An even tougher problem would be, say, if our hearts were 5432! Now we would be in a huge pickle and I have no idea what the best thing to do is. Now, I would not want to bid 1NT as my hearts are very bad. Originally I was able to rely on 10873 becoming a likely stopper, but now without a stopper, I definitely would not want to bid 1NT since if I end up declaring the NT’s, my LHO will be on lead and the heart lead will go through partner’s stopper such as Kx doubleton!

Because of this problem, some expert players like to employ this gadget:

Usually after an auction of 1-(1)-?
We double to show exactly four spades and bid 1 with 5+spades.

Because of the above problem, some players like to play instead that X shows four or more spades, and bidding 1 is an “anti-negative double” showing 0-3 spades (i.e. the problem hand that we have). You can reverse that too, whereby X shows 0-3 spades, and 1 shows four or more spades – it doesn’t matter much which way you like to play it.

This can certainly be a useful gadget to play, but remember, as gadgets/conventions may be fun to play, it is more important that both partners can remember them!! Because if someone forgets, for example someone forgot that 1 was showing 0-3 spades (and instead took it to show 5+spades), then you can get into all sorts of trouble! In that instance, it would be better off not to play that gadget at all and hope you can get by on that hand!

This problem hand that you gave, is, I would say, not that common. For example, when you have four hearts, quite often you will have an honour in hearts to be able to bid 1NT, or as you had, 10873 which we can treat that as a stopper also.

Hope that helps!

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