What should I bid? (April 2013)


What should I bid? (April 2013)

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

Hand: Dealer East, E/W Vulnerable:




1 1
X* 4 ?

*X=4+ (1 would show 3 or less spades, no convenient bid).


Comments: You play 2/1, shortish club???

Andy’s Reply:

I would bid 5.

Before I outline the reasons why, I would like to point out that this is a big hole for these methods (where Dbl shows spades and a 1 response shows less than four spades). Even though I do think it’s good to play this method when you’re playing a short club, I also think it’s necessary to use a 2 bid in 1-(1)-2 to show 6+ spades because of this very auction! Sometimes even a 3 preemptive bid by the 4th seat can create havocs when opener has say a 3-1-4-5 shape because you just don’t know responder’s spade length.

Anyway on this hand, it seems intuitive that opener would just double for takeout as opener’s happy if responder removes to 4 with five spades, passes with a balanced hand etc. However, with this highly distributional hand with six clubs I think I prefer to declare. Even when our partner has a balanced hand with four spades (e.g. 4-3-3-3 or 4-3-2-4 or 4-3-4-2), a 5 contract may make or sometimes it might even be a good sacrifice against a making 4(!) which is entirely possible because the opponents rate to have a 10 card trump fit on auctions such as this and it wouldn’t surprise me if an opponent has a singleton or a void in clubs.

Even if partner has five spades I think I still prefer to declare in clubs as partner will have a lot of work to do in 4 on a heart lead – partner may not be able to ruff hearts and draw trumps at the same time. Similarly, the reason why I wouldn’t want to bid 4NT (assuming this suggests secondary diamonds) is that I also prefer to play in 5 even if we have a 4-4 diamond fit. Yes, it’s definitely possible that we have a 5-4 diamond fit but that’s a bit difficult to diagnose since if we bid 4NT suggesting secondary diamonds, our partner will most likely prefer diamonds with 4-2 in the minors, and even more so with 4-1 in the minors.

Another philosophy that I like to abide by is game before slam. Sure I know it’s possible that our side can make a slam, but that is not guaranteed nor do I think we have good odds for it (since I’m not even sure if 5 will even make!). If partner has six spades then that changes a lot of things, but if that’s the case then obviously the first change I would make after the hand is to play 1-(1)-2 to show six spades 😉



Thanks for such a thorough response. Although I agree with just about all the points you raise, I don’t agree with your final choice (and you haven’t convinced me to change my opinion) 🙂

First, you’re absolutely right that showing only 4+ is an inherent weakness of the method that definitely should be fixed. This is especially true after a short 1 opening, where having multiple ways to raise clubs is redundant (and you’ve already gained an extra way to show a minorsy hand via the 1 bid anyways). Back in the OzOne days Kokish suggested using 2 as 6+S either weak or G/F and 2 as 6 invitational, do you still play that?

I also agree that as a principle, game bidding should take precedence over slam bidding (especially in competitive auctions).

However this is less true when you’re considering a 5 level game and less true again when holding an extreme hand with a void and a solid suit. This is the kind of hand where even un-makable slams tend to roll home a lot more often than they should. Over a confidently bid slam an opponent holding extra heart length/shape might even choose to take a dive.

Give partner as little as [Jxxx xxx KQxxx x] and that the opponents need to find a spade lead to beat 6. Opposite [KJTxxx xx xx xxx] only a diamond lead beats 6 (and 6 will also often make). And if you actually give partner a good hand like [AKJxxx xxx xx x] or (Axxx xxx KQxx xx] then 13 tricks are laydown in either strain.

One point regarding doubling on a void in these auctions is that partner can also tell that the opponents usually have a 10 card fit so they can correctly evaluate that their Jxx or Qxx probably isn’t a defensive asset and that a hand like [KJxx xxx Kx 9xxx] rates to play really well in the 5/4 or 6/4 club fit.

My preference is to start with a double and then raise 5/5 to 6, bid 5 over 4NT but probably just pass 4.

Thanks again for taking the time to respond!


Hey Mike,

I think this is a tricky area where you probably need a simulation and actually look at every deal (single dummy) to see what decision comes out on top (you obviously can’t look at double dummy results since the opponents would always lead a spade when they have two cashing spades for example) but doing so would take up too much time.

I do agree with you that there are hands where we could make unmakeable slams from a wrong (heart) lead, but I’m not so sold on the opponents taking a dive mainly because we are all vul and if no opponent competes to 5 then it’s unlikely that one of them will bid 6 unless they had extreme shape.

I do have to say that the hand constructions you made were a little unfair! For me, these type of situations where a sim might be needed, it is a bit pointless to construct individual hands since I’m sure the both of us could create as many hands as we wanted for our partner to support our choice (so I won’t bother constructing any). I don’t know about you but for some annoying reason when my opps have a 1M-4M auction and I have a void, my partner will inevitably have one heart honour, be it the Q/K/A (all of your examples had partner with nothing wasted in hearts). I thought it was especially unfair when you gave the example hand of KJxx xxx Kx 9xxx – I mean, the KJ of spades (rather than the ace) and only a doubleton diamond!

With the constructions, you also have to discount some of the hands where partner has six spades because as you said if you double and your partner bids 4, you will pass that out (as I’m assuming we’re comparing 5 vs 4 and 5 vs 6m).

I think the real crux of the problem is that if you choose to double, you will need to look at the hands that partner has and see what he does. For me, the reason why I chose a 5 bid is because I think with most balanced hands my partner will prefer to defend rather than contract for a 11 trick contract. Just remember that our hand need not be this good for a double – we could have a king less or sometimes we have a 15 count with a 3-1-4-5 shape, and I consider these hands much more often and when I double, so as a result my partner will probably be passing more often too. Of course, the corollary is true that if you only double with stronger hands than the above cases, then you’d be pulling more often (but then you’d lose out on tight games if you can only double with stronger hands).

And sometimes partner has a 4-3-3-3 (ok sorry I’m going to create a hand) of AKxx xxx xxx xxx and although slam is a good bet, partner may prefer to defend with xxx in both minors since after all we can have Qxx void AQxx AKxxxx (ok that’s a second hand I created – will be the last I promise!) whereby it might be best to take the money in 4X rather than play in 5 when it’s all vul.

Anyway I do agree that doubling (hoping partner doesn’t pass!) then bidding slam has its merits. If you do double (and plan to raise partner to slam if he doesn’t bid 4), one thing that I think you should definitely not do is that if partner bids 4NT, don’t bid 5 since the opponent might then be able to find a non-heart lead and you would have reduced your chances of making a slam when you were originally partly banking on the opponents finding the wrong (heart) lead – and this can be especially painful when the slam is in diamonds when you hope to draw trumps and use the clubs for discards.

As for the auction 1-(1)-2, I’m not sure what is the “perfect treatment” but I think most people play that 2 is 6+ any* strength and 2 is a lim+ raise in clubs.

*Sometimes not “any” strength since if you have a weak hand with six horrible spades (such as 10xxxxx) then you might choose to double to show 4-5 spades instead.



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