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What is this hand worth in support of hearts?

Steve Robinson
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Source: Washington Bridge League Solver’s Club

  Matchpoints 

  Vul: None 

  South Holds 

 A K 9 4 3
 10 6 5  
 10 9 4 3
 K 
  The Bidding Thus Far 
  South    West    North    East  
  –     Pass     1     1   
  ?

What is this hand worth in support of hearts? Forcing raise? Limit raise? Simple raise? Since partner figures to be short in spades, the King of spades is going to be wasted. If partner has at least two spades, you either have to draw trumps or lose the king to a ruff. The king of clubs might not be worth anything. Something to consider is what if LHO raises spades. The last thing you want to happen is for partner to bid 4 based on his spade void.

Three experts agree with me and don’t think this hand is worth a limit raise. Two experts don’t even raise hearts.

King: “2—Again it is important to protect a plus score. The King of spades is probably not pulling its weight on offense and my trumps are bad. Underbid now and then if partner makes a move towards game you can be happy to cooperate. I don’t want to defend at the one-level with eight hearts between us.”

One expert goes for the throat.

Hopkins: “Pass—I intend to pass a reopening double (of maybe even 2). If partner reopens with a suit, including rebidding hearts, I intend to raise hearts.”

One expert takes a strange view but it could work out.

Cole: “1NT—It’s not right to play for penalties with eight hearts. The problem with raising hearts is how much to bid. If over 1NT partner passes, you may survive. If partner bid 2 showing six, you have a great hand. If partner bids 2, bid 3. The club King is working. Over 2, you have the wrong kind of two-suited fit and just bid 2. When counting points the AK of spades is worth only six HCPs. You would rather have an AK in partner’s long suit. Singleton King is worth two HCPs, not three and singleton in eight-card fit is worth only one point.”

Six experts overbid.

Parker: “2—I never get rich at the one-level. I believe in showing a fit as early as possible. We can never catch up if they bid clubs and partner doesn’t double.”

I agree strongly about showing a fit. What I don’t agree with is that this hand is a limit raise.

Kerns: “2—Cuebid. I still want to give a ten-point limit raise, and prevent West from bidding 2 or 2. It seems that anything that East leads through my dummy should help partner. Also, if spades are breaking this bad, so are other suits. Plus, when partner bids 3 with a minimum, East would need to bid 4 at the four-level if he has that suit. My bid makes it difficult for opponents to bid and compete.”

Woolsey: “2—As always, the first order of business is to establish a trump suit and give partner an idea about our strength. After that, we are in better shape to get to the right contract or deal with enemy competition.”

Warren: “2—Showing a limit raise. My partner will only have one or two spades in this auction. I will wait to see what his response is to my limit raise. If he just bids 3, I pass, but if he bids a new suit, I’ll take him to game.”

Schwartz: “2—Don’t like to pass for penalties with trump support. Just 2 could be right since either your spade values are wasted or the opponents could threaten a ruff, but have to try to outscore the not unlikely +300’s.”

This problem is hand evaluation. How can this hand be worth any more than a six to nine single raise?

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