George Havas of Canberra, Australia, and Paula Schroor of Melbourne were getting ready for their Mixed Pairs date by discussing methods on the beach. There were few points where they failed to agree, and these were easily negotiated.

At one point, Paula suggested that they play weak notrumps in first and second seat and strong in third and fourth. But George demurred, explaining his theory that opening a strong notrump in fourth seat gives too much room to the opposition when fourth-hand isn’t strong enough to open 1NT. Paula thought this was quite logical, and she agreed that they would play strong notrumps only in third position. It wasn’t too far into the first session when this deal came up.

Board 17: Dlr North; Vul- None

  Q 10 5 3
10 7
A 8 6 5 3
A 9
K 9 2
J 5 3
K 7 4 2
K Q 10
  7 6
A Q 8 4 2
Q J 10
7 6 4
  A J 8 4
K 9 6
J 8 5 3 2

The first three hands passed, and it was Paula’s turn. Without the discussion, she would have opened 1, but now
she could open 1NT. And George’s words were completely vindicated. He had said that, opponents with spades have trouble coming in over notrump. And they did — the bidding from that point went All Pass.

Paula Schroor and Rena Kaplan
Paula Schroor
and Rena Kaplan

The play was uneventful — Paula took seven tricks for a total of 324 matchpoints out of a possible 388. Why so much? Because the field was playing in spades North-South — 51 made 10 tricks in spades and 37 made three.

Are you wondering why George didn’t make the ‘obvious’ transfer bid? For the same reason he like to play weak notrumps in fourth seat — too easy for the opponents to find spades.

On this deal, if he transferred to hearts, South would have an easy chance to balance in the passout seat with 2. Maybe 2 is a better contract than 1NT, but it’s a lot worse than 2.