An Enquiry’s story by Fernando Lema


Buenos Aires, July 3rd, 2014

Fernando Lema
Fernando Lema

The Facts:

On Sunday June 29th evening, I received an email from Venezuela from my friend: Master Antonio Hernandez (VEN) asking me about  a board played in a teams tournament in Venezuela.

I took the opportunity and resend the query to some friends, I greatly thank them for their answers; and because they have been so clear and precise and instructive, I want to share their answers with all our readers.

The hand in question:

AKJ9X A10xx Jxx x
The Bidding:
West North East South
    3 3
Pass 4 Pass ?

The Question: What should  South say in the second round of the auction?

Roberto Figueira de Mello
Roberto Figueira de Mello

First Answer: Roberto Martiniano Figueira de Mello (BRZ) WGM (World Grand Master); for many of us Robertinho; sent me an article called:

Competitive Bidding Decisions

a must to read!

«Receiving the bidding at the 3rd level = 3, North in practice has only one voice available to show the heart suit = 4. Consequently 4 can be made ​​with a wide range of points and with different possible distributions. Conclusion: The North hand can be very indeterminate.

The reader can easily imagine a North hand where 4 are defeated, for example:

3 K Q J 9 8 3 Q 6 4 K Q 4

and another where N/S can win 7, for example:

5 3 K Q J 9 8 3 void A 7 5 4

Now hearing 4 , South knows that he has an unexpected value for North: his fourth card support : ( A1074), adds value to the hand…

There is an obvious weakness: the lack of a diamond control, the oponenta suit, that prevents South to command the bidding asking Aces with the voice of 4NT.

As mentioned above, the North hand is very indefinite and South decision must be based on odds and also intuition, that is, to ascertain assuming minimal risk with what kind of hand 4 was said.

In my opinion the Pass voice is an inferior decision because I believe that the probability of Slam (6 or 7) is high and the probability of being defeated on 5 is low. I think South should invite showing heart support and for that he has the following options: 5 showing diamond control, and 5 denying diamond control.

In conclusion, with the South hand I would bid 5

Obrigado Maestro!

Marcelo Castello Branco
Marcelo Castello Branco

Second Answer: Marcelo Castello Branco (BRZ) WGM (World Grand Master), four world titles and one of the few players that has won the triple crown. Those who know him know that we can always consult him and learn from his wise answers, I am sure the readers will enjoy it as I did!!!.

«I think that South with ( AKJ9X A10xx Jxx x) is obliged to say 5.

Note, the word I’m using – obligation – that is, he just can not skip an effort to declare a possible Slam with A10XX support.

It is not easy or comfortable, I know; but the chance of losing the contract of 5 is very small and as South didnt say 4NT (asking for key cards) it is clear that he does not have a diamond control.

Now it remains to know: ¿What would mean 5?

 Good topic for a discussion, for me should be a cue-bid and not a natural voice, but this requires prior discussion. «
Obrigado Maestro!
Benjamin Robles
Benjamin Robles

I want to insert here the Gran Maestro Sudamericano Benjamín Robles (CHI) comment:

Hard Board. 5 shouid be natural, if I had a cue bid agreement for the sequence then it would be perfect.
 Tempting to bid one more time with  AKJ9X A10xx Jxx x, I can say 5 inviting to slam with out a diamond control.
Thank You Benja!
Third Answer: Kevin Bathurst (USA) WIN ( World International Master), one of the most important players of the american new bridge players generation whose fate is to play in the USA Team.
Kevin Bathurst
Kevin Bathurst
After the 3 opening you would take any opportunity to double with the majors instead of committing to just one suit.
So with  AKJ9X A10xx x J x x   it would be normal to double.
Here you have no tolerance for clubs so 3 spades is all you can do; although I do know some players who might risk double here too. The other player (1615) suspects that more than game might be in the cards, but there’s too much help needed to make the hand slam suitable.
The 3  overcaller’s hand is surprised to find himself facing a 4 bid, but he’s really a minimum.
In my opinion, if anyone was to take a different call it would be this hand now. Facing many 4 bids this hand is great ( xx   Kxxxxx x Axxx is a good slam). I don’t fault that player for passing. To my eyes it’s a normal bidding. The preempt often has this kind of success: when the cards aren’t perfectly aligned with the bidding methods available.
Thank You Kevin! and Thank You  Cata Robles for this and many other colaborationes.

Fourth Answer: Pablo Lambardi (ARG) WIN (World International Master) y Gran Maestro Sudamericano, a southamerican star. Pablo’s comments:

Pablo Lambardi
Pablo Lambardi
Hard hand, but I think that the consultant should say 5. Not much is needed to win 6 … the less than partner can have is 6 heart cards and something close to an opening hand.
With as little as: xx KQxxxx x Axxx the slam have good posibilities. «
N. de la R.: Watch Bathurst and Lambardi example similarity.
Here you can see, the «usual overbid» consequences: you can end up swallowing the game because you can not trust your partner to have the values he promised.
Muchas Gracias Maestro!
Nort hand was:: x KQ9xxx x AKJxx, remember to discuss it with your usual partner.