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Ask Jerry: Support with Support?

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Dear Jerry:  Could you help me resolve the conflicting advice I have received on how to bid in this situation:
My partner opens 1 I have enough to respond, and I hold four spades and three hearts. Experts say that the best bid
you can make is to raise a major suit, so raise immediately. On the other hand, experts also say that a 4-4 trump fit almost always plays better than a 5-3 trump fit, so you must immediately show your spade suit. So which maxim do I follow? Should I «support with support»? Or should I «ferret for the 4-4 fit»?

Dear John

It is true that a 4-4 fit usually plays as well as a 5-3 fit, and is often better. Despite this potential superiority, the answer to your question can be found in an often cited Jerry-ism:

»Always plan a second bid before you choose the first. «

Anytime there is a bid available that both secures a major-suit trump fit while simultaneously bracketing your values, that action is usually best. Simply put: With one-bid hands, «support with support» should be the priority. With invitational or game forcing values, introduce the four-card spade suit. A few examples will illustrate this point. Say partner opens 1 and RHO passes, and you hold: AQJ5 432 983  762

Although 100% of your high-card strength is located in the spade suit, a raise to 2 is the superior choice. This shows 6 to 10 points and threecard or longer support. If you assured me the opponents would pass throughout, I would listen to the arguments supporting a reply of 1. How would you feel, however, if you replied 1, and the auction continued:

Partner   RHO  You  LHO

1           Pass    1   3

Pass         Pass    ?

It seems that you would want to acknowledge the known eight-card or longer heart fit, however, if you were to now bid 3 your partner would certainly be inclined to play you for more than a flat 7-point hand. Ahhh the benefits of choosing a limited bid the first time.

AK85 K96 102  8743

With 10 HCP and a ruffing value for a heart contract, you clearly hold game-invitational values. Respond 1, planning on supporting hearts at the three level whether in or out of competition.

 KJ105 AQ6 A7 9874

With game-forcing values, respond 1, then, depending on how the auction develops, show heart support in a forcing manner on your next bid.

Ferret: (v) To deeply investigate a matter. (n)

1. A person who persistently investigates or searches for something.

2. A small domesticated weasel like animal.

I am not trying to beat a dead ferret, but at times I have ferret-like tendencies. Thanks for helping me discover my true inner self.


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