Non-system Bidding Issues IV by Frank Stewart

Frank Stewart

Source: ACBL

My Bridge and Yours: Non-system bidding issues — part 4

Foreseeing the play

Have you heard the expression, «Bidding is mental play»? A good player places the cards around the table as the bidding proceeds. He imagines how the play will go in a contract he is considering. Suppose partner opens 2 and you respond 2 with: 8 6 3 2 Q5 4 5 4 3 8 6 3.

Partner rebids 2NT, showing 23-24 balanced high-card points. You may have 26 points between you, but partner’s high cards will be worth less than usual. He can’t reach your hand to lead toward them. Pass. It’s easier to make game with 13 points opposite 13 than with 24 opposite 2.

West North East South
    Pass 1
Pass 1NT Pass ?

(a) AK4 KJ1094 A53 K4

(b) A54 AK654 KJ10 K4

Raise to 3NT on (a), which has more prospective winners. Because partner has denied a heart fit, 2NT is enough on (b). Prefer your intermediates in your long suits, your fast tricks in your short suits.

West North East South
2 2 Pass ?

(a) AKJ852 AQ3 65 K3

(b) AKJ852 AQ3 K5 43

The positional value of honors can change. After West’s overcall, devalue the K in (a). Pass or bid 2NT. With (b) you can try 4.

West North East South
  1 2 ?

(a) Q3 KJ3 J953 A954

(b) 54 A43 Q75 3 AJ54

In (a), your heart honors sit behind the overcaller, and the Q is a working card. Leap to 3NT despite the possible deficiency in high card points. In (b), the heart holding is poor for notrump. The defenders may knock out the A quickly, especially if the opening lead comes up to your hand. (If North has Q—x or J—x—x, he should be declarer.) To bid notrump would be antipositional; for the moment, prefer a negative double.

West North East South
Dbl 2 Pass ?

(a) Q10643 AQ4 AQ4 K2

(b) A10843 AKQ A94 94

Prefer (b) to try for game. Since West will have most of the missing high-card strength, the red queens and the K in (a) lose some of their value.

West North East South
    1 1NT
Pass 2NT Pass ?

(a) QJ83 A93 K62 AK7

(b) AK2 A93 K62 QJ83

Prefer (a), where you have slow tricks in East’s suit. That leaves you with 14 points elsewhere to set up more tricks. Imagine how the play will go with (b). The defenders push spades, and you must spend 7 HCP to win two spade tricks. Meanwhile, the defenders have more points for entries to set up the spades.

West North East South
  1 2 ?

(a) 9642 Q62 AQ5 K54

(b) K5432 Q62 654 Q3

Both sides vulnerable. Prefer (a). The diamond honors are important because if North has a second suit, it will be diamonds. The K in (a) is probably a good card, but the value of the black suit honors in (b) is ques-tionable. You have too many spades for the K to be useful. Either North or West has a singleton.

The late Paul Soloway held (a) in a Vanderbilt and jumped to 4:

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

Although South’s hand was minimum, 4 made. The 3-2 trump split was favorable, but everything else developed as Soloway foresaw.