What should I bid? (April 2018)

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What should I bid? (April 2018)

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

Bd 2
NS Vul
E Dealer

10 9 8 4 3 2
A K J 5 3
J 8
 
A K 5
A J 5
10 9 6
K 9 6 4
[ 2 ] J 10 9 7 6
Q 6
Q 8 7
Q 3 2
  Q 8 4 3 2
K 7
4 2
A 10 7 5
 

West North East South
    Pass Pass
1 1 1 2 1 Pass
2 Pass Pass 3
Pass 3 4 Pass 4 5
X All Pass    

1 E/W play 16-18 for 1NT
2 Overcall – strong suit
3 Meant for penalties
4 Thinking the X was takeout
5 Panic bid

Not good bidding but what should North’s first bid be?

Basic System: Standard American.

North has been taught that an overcall must be a solid suit and therefore did not consider Hearts.

South did not believe that X after two passes would be read as take out and realised that North had bid thinking it was for take out. Consequently he did not see North as holding 6 hearts.

Many players got this hand wrong – other bids were 2NT (W), 2 (N), 3NT (W), 3 (E), 4 (N), 3 (N), 2 (E). Only successful contracts were – 2 (making 10 tricks) and 2 (making 9 tricks). What should North bid?

Hi Warwick,

Some interesting points here on this hand.

– Firstly, 1-level overcalls don’t require suit quality. This is because the aim of the overcall is to try to find a fit. Because the level is so low (at 1-level) no one really doubles for penalties, so sometimes it is important to overcall a bad 5-card suit if you have enough “strength” – meaning at least 8+HCP. For example, you might have 13 HCP and a bad 5-card suit, you definitely would not want to pass so you have to overcall in your bad 5-card suit.

Because suit quality isn’t that important, the lower your HCP is (say 8), then you should have either a good distribution or a good suit to compensate for the lack of strength. The more HCP you have, then you don’t really need extra distribution nor a good suit.

However, this only applies for 1-level overcalls. For 2-level overcalls and higher, suit quality now probably comes the most important factor to consider for overcalling!

Thus, with North’s actual hand, I would definitely overcall 1 as it is the longer suit (due to the 6-5 distribution, it is still possible that a potential 4 game could be makeable!).

– South’s double can be quite murky as it is a bit of a convoluted auction, and I doubt many players would have discussed what this double means. One clue that you can gather from this is that South did NOT double (or make a bid) over East’s initial 1 bid. This means that South did not have any sort of Takeout type of shape. As a result, when the 2 bid came around to East, this double should probably be played as penalties. Even if North was not sure about what the double was, North’s spade void should have been a clue that South has a bucket load of spades!

– Having said the above, South however should NOT double for penalties (even if the double was understood as penalties by both partners). Why? Well, North only made a simple 1 overcall. It’s true that South has five trumps, but those aren’t great trumps – Q8432 might only be just two trump tricks on defence, and even with the A and K coupled with the strength from the 1 overcall, the defence might just scrape taking down 2X by only one trick: Is turning +50 into +100 worth it? No it isn’t, because that’s usually the best case scenario, but in many other scenarios 2X will make and sometimes with an overtrick! If the spades were Q10987, then that would be an entirely different story!

– Note that after the misunderstanding of the X, North had now bid 3. Imagine if North had overcalled 1 first. Now, when the misunderstanding of the X occurred, North would’ve now bid 3, to which South will then correct it back to 3 (preference to the first suit) and you would have landed in a 6-2 fit. That’s another reason for North to overcall 1, not 1, as it is always important to bid your longest suit first (or the higher ranking suit first with 5-5).

My suggested auction would probably be:

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

Hope that helps,
Andy

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