What should I bid? (April 2016)

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What should I bid? (April 2016)

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

You’re third to act with:

Axxx
Axxx
KQT
Qx

Partner, dealer in first seat with:

Q
Jx
AJxxx
AKJTx

Auction is:

West North East South
1 2  Dbl Pass
3 Pass 4NT All Pass

Should anyone have bid differently?

How strong is 4 after the double of 2?

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Hi Max,

Initially I thought 3 was a bit of an annoying bid since it doesn’t really say anything about anything (i.e. could be all sorts of hands, such as both minors, or single suited diamonds, balanced 18-19 without a spade stopper, or maybe even a strong hand with hearts), and with the singleton Q and doubleton J, you can usually make-do with 3. However, the hand is a nice 5-5 and quite often you’ll make nine tricks in 3NT opposite many minimum hands of 9-10 points so as a result, the annoying 3 bid has to be done.

Over the 4NT bid, I think opener should rip it to 5 to reveal that his hand is a minimum (with more opener can jump to 6 or bid 5NT as a “Pick a slam”) and with both minors (likely 5-5 because he may not rip to 5 with a 5-4). The 5-5 shape is probably good enough to take the contract from 4NT to 5-minor, and it gives responder a good description of opener’s hand. Once responder has more information from the 5 bid, he will then have an easy time forcing to slam (at least), possibly trying for a grand slam along the way with a 5 or 5 bid in case opener has x Kx AJxxx AKxxx.

The next question is, should responder have bid something other than 4NT (natural and invitational)?

It all comes down to trying to visualise the type of hands opener has for the 3 bid. Firstly let’s discount opener having a strong raise to 4 since we’ll find that out no matter what we do anyway. So opener must have at least 15 points, and the hand types he will have is either (a) 6+, or (b) both minors, and (c) likely no stopper in spades (else opener might’ve bid 3NT instead).

With (a), he will likely be unbalanced since he might’ve opened 1NT (15-17) with a 6322 hand (knowing partner’s style of whether he would open 1NT or not might also be helpful). So if he is a 6331 shape, his singleton is likely to be in spades, so maybe he has x Qxx AJxxxx AKx, or maybe the Q is the K? Worst case is when opener has the Q and slam is on a finesse (a bit better than a finesse since we are playing the partner of the preemptor to hold the K).

With (b), he will have more strength if opener is a 5-4 shape rather than a 5-5 shape. So maybe opener might have xx Qx AJxxx AKxx ? Or is it the partnership’s style to open 1NT (15-17) with this hand? Also, with such weak diamonds, perhaps opener will have the K instead or maybe with the addition of the J to justify a 3 bid(?).

With a 5-5 maybe opener has x Qx AJxxx AKxxx or maybe Qx x AJxxx AKJxx ?

With responder’s hand, he actually has a very nice clue to help him out – that is, from the holding in his minor suits (KQT and Qx), particularly from the diamonds. Responder can visualise that in order for opener to have his 3 bid, he will either have a good (diamond) suit, or with an average suit he will have a stronger hand. Since responder can see that opener’s diamonds is at best AJ9xx(x), lacking the king and queen of diamonds means that opener should be a little stronger in terms of his strength to compensate for the lack of suit quality in the diamonds.

What I’m trying to say is, if opener has a diamond suit of AKJTxx, we can then see that it won’t take much for opener to bid 3 (maybe with 13-14 points?) and hope to take nine easy tricks in 3NT. But lacking the king and queen of diamonds, we know opener should be stronger for the 3 bid.

In all of these examples above, opener will almost always have five or more diamonds. In that case, I think it’s probably best for responder to actually force to slam in diamonds. Responder has very nice cards, both major suit aces, the KQT as well as the Q, pretty much all cards are working 100%. Thus, I think it’s probably best for responder to simply jump to 6 over 3.

If the form of scoring is matchpoints, maybe responder can toy with the idea of bidding 5NT “Pick a slam” in case opener has 18-19 balanced, with, say, xx KQx AJxx AKJx ? Over the 5NT opener will probably bid 6 even with 4-4 in the minors, but then responder will pull it to 6, hoping to offer the choice between diamonds or NT? Maybe if opener has the Q such as Qx Kxx AJxx AKJx we’ll need opener to be the declarer in diamonds (or NT) and we certainly wouldn’t want opener to correct to 6NT with that, so maybe we shouldn’t bid 5NT as a “Pick a slam” in case opener misjudges.

Actually, thinking about it further, there’s a chance that opener may have a good hand with 5-5 in the minors with the 3 bid, so responder shouldn’t make the final decision with a jump to 6. Over 3, if responder bids 4, that sounds non-forcing so I think responder should probably bid 4. We can see that with this 3 followed by a 4 bid, the auction is going to get very murky, but at least responder will have in mind that the partnership is not stopping below 6.

As for “How strong is 4 after the double of 2?” I would think it is definitely game forcing, but because you are bypassing 3NT, it should really be at least a 6-5 shape. If opener has a good 1=2=5=5 hand, you might not always want to bypass 3NT particularly if responder just has an ordinary hand with, say, a 4=4=3=2 or a 3=4=2=4 shape with a minimum

Hopefully all of this doesn’t sound way off track, but those are my thoughts.

Cheers,
Andy

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