What should I bid? (January 2014)


What should I bid? (January 2014)

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


Both non vulnerable your partner opens 1* (playing standard or Acol) and your RHO bids 4.

What do you bid with this hand shown?

Regards, David.

* 3+clubs.

Hi David,

You have given one very tough problem. To be honest, anything could work. Assuming a Standard American system, partner will likely to be holding a weak NT. RHO probably has 2 of the top 3 heart honours, and in this case, partner most likely has the rest of honours in the deck, give or take a Jack.

One possible practical bid might be a ‘simple 5NT Pick-a-slam’ but the underlying problem with that is we don’t know which heart honour(s) partner has.

If partner has Kx of hearts, getting partner to be the declarer might not be enough as RHO can easily lead the A and a heart ruff if our final contract is 6 or 6, declared by partner. (Oddly enough, if partner has Kxx of hearts, then we would want to be the declarer since LHO will likely to be void in hearts.) So if partner has the king of hearts, we would probably prefer to defend 4X and take the likely 3-off for +500.

If partner has the ace of hearts, then we don’t really need to worry about right-siding the contract. Opposite hands such as xxx Ax AKx Qxxxx  or  Jxx Ax AJx Qxxxx, slam is practically laydown. If we double (for takeout), partner is likely to pass out the double to ‘take the money’ with those hands because he certainly has no reason to commit to a 5-level contract with a balanced hand.

On the other hand, what if partner has neither the ace or king of hearts? What if partner has something like  Jxx Qx AKx Qxxxx or  Jx Qx AKJx Qxxxx? Then we would do better either defending 4X or declaring in 4 or 5.

And to complete the picture, obviously if partner has a singleton (or void) in hearts, then we’d definitely want to play in a slam contract.

So what’s best? I honestly don’t know. If I choose not to double (i.e. I want to bid something), then I might have to devise a plan to get partner to be the declarer if we belong in spades. Actually, since partner rates to hold a doubleton heart (than compared to a tripleton heart), then partner will almost certainly have at least four clubs – so maybe it would be best just to bid 6. (Maybe RHO might not lead his ace of hearts, but that’s wishful thinking.)

So maybe doubling is the best/safest option? If partner removes our double, that would suggest that he has an unbalanced hand and we can raise partner to slam. If partner has a balanced hand instead, he will pass and we can take a likely +500 (probably not more than 500, since RHO probably has 8 hearts so he will be taking 7 heart tricks). But if partner passes our double when he holds the ace of hearts, then we will have probably lost a slam.

Conclusion? Sometimes double, sometimes 6 – it will probably depend on my partner’s opening style (does he frequently open balanced 11’s?) and maybe my RHO’s preempting style (i.e. does he often bid 4H with a 7-card suit? If 7-card suit is possible, then double starts to become more attractive)

By the way, all of this I am assuming that we are in a Standard American framework. If your system is Acol, then the situation changes dramatically because I can then rule out partner having a weak NT. What I mean is, partner’s 1 opening would say he is either unbalanced, or if he is balanced, he will have 15+ points. Opposite an Acol 1 opening, I will be more happy to bid 6.

Sorry for the inconclusive answer, but it certainly is a tough problem 🙂



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