Love that Ninth Trump

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Is the Ninth Trump important?

By Pat Harrington
On 30 April, 2012 At 19:45

Category : Beguiners, Beguiners 2
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Pat-Harrington
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Source: ACBL

Yesterday, we saw a deal where game was reached with only 20 HCP between declarer and dummy. Here is another bidding problem for you. You open 1♥ and partner makes an immediate limit raise to 3♥. Will you accept the game
invitation holding ♠9 4 ♥A K 7 5 3 ♦K Q 7 5 ♣6 3?

The best agreement to have is for partner’s immediate raise to 3♥ shows a good 10 to 12 total points and at least four hearts. Although you have only 12 HCP and one length point, I suggest you accept the game invitation at any form of scoring. However, if partner makes a limit raise showing the same number of points and only three hearts, I would stop in partscore.

Without a big fit, your point count is a more accurate judge of how high to bid. Here is the complete deal:

  ♠ A 7 6
♥ Q 6 4 2
♦ A 6 2
♣ J 7 5
 
♠ Q J 10 3
♥ J 8
♦ J 10 9 8
♣ K 10 9
  ♠ K 8 5 2
♥ 10 9
♦ 4 3
♣ A Q 8 4 2
  ♠ 9 4
♥ A K 7 5 3
♦ K Q 7 5
♣ 6 3
 

 

Losers are one spade, two clubs and one diamond, but dummy will have a heart left to ruff that diamond after trumps are drawn. Make one small change to give partner only a three-trump limit raise, and you will not be able to make 4♥:

  ♠ A 7 6 2
♥ Q 6 4
♦ A 6 2
♣ J 7 5
 
♠ Q J 10 3
♥ J 8
♦ J 10 9 8
♣ K 10 9
  ♠ K 8 5
♥ 10 9 2
♦ 4 3
♣ A Q 8 4 2
  ♠ 9 4
♥ A K 7 5 3
♦ K Q 7 5
♣ 6 3
 

 This doesn’t seem like a big change, but now declarer is going to use up all of dummy’s trumps to draw trump. The fourth diamond can no longer be ruffed. If declarer plays diamonds before drawing trump, East will ruff one of declarer’s
winners. Yes, 4♥ would make if diamonds split 3-3 or if the player with only two diamonds also had only two hearts. You also need hearts to split 3-2, and the whole package happens less than 40% of the time, not often enough for you to want to be in game at any form of scoring.

North’s point count is the same on both deals. The only way declarer can make an educated decision about bidding game is for North to bid differently with the second hand. With only three trumps, North makes a two-step limit raise instead of the immediate limit raise made with four trumps. The first step of the two-step raise can be any forcing bid –probably 1♠ here. North will then rebid 3♥ to show a three-card limit raise.

Knowing there is only an eight-card fit makes South’s distribution look less desirable for continuing. Opposite an
immediate limit raise showing four trumps, South adds extra for his distribution and continues on to game. You will bid more good games if you accept partner’s immediate limit raise with a minimum as long as you have distribution. Without that or opposite a three-card limit raise, rely on point count. Here are some 1♥ opening hands. Which hands will accept a four-card limit raise? Which will accept a three-card limit raise?

1. ♠A 5 3 ♥A Q 7 6 3 ♦K J 4 ♣9 2
2. ♠Q 5 3 ♥A Q 7 6 3 ♦K J 4 ♣9 2
3. ♠Q 5 3 ♥A Q 7 6 3 ♦K J 7 4 ♣9

Hand 1 accepts any limit raise based on points.
Hand 2 passes both invitations. The bid is called invitational for a reason.
Hand 3 accepts an immediate four-card limit raise but passes a three-card limit raise.

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