Non-system Bidding Issues V by Frank Stewart


Source: ACBL

My Bridge and Yours: Non-system bidding issues — part 5

I believe that the current emphasis on conventions and systems is unhealthy. Players neglect the development of skills such as hand evaluation, planning the auction, maintaining discipline and visualization.

Visualizing your partner’s hand is a method of judging the auction, especially when you have an unbalanced hand and need partner to hold particular cards. A principle: If a suitable minimum holding for him will make a contract odds-on, bid it.

If you hold: AJ75 AK8543 K3 3 and partner raises your 1 opening to 2, imagine that 4 will be excellent if he has the K 2 and J 9 7 2 — and he may have more.

The corollary: If you’re considering a contract for which partner needs perfect cards, forget it. After 1–Pass-2, slam is barely possible — he might hold: 43 10762 A76 A864 but such specific optimism seldom pays. If the bidding were 1–Pass-3 (limit), to try for slam would be fine because an average limit raise such as:
3 10762 A76 A8642 would yield a play for 6 .

You visualize partner’s hand more than you realize. If a 1 opening at your left is passed to you, you balance with: 4104 J54 AK64 KJ106. Your partner has some points since the opponents stopped low. Since he
failed to act over 1, he may have heart length and at least one honor. Bid 1NT.

875 AJ52 J842 62 

Partner You
1 1
1NT ?

How many diamonds does partner have? Since he doesn’t have four hearts or four spades, he must have four or more diamonds. Even at matchpoints, I’d take a 2 preference.

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

AQ104 5 A843 10974

Bid 4 . North has a good hand; to act with a weak hand between two bidding opponents would be risky. He is marked with a singleton diamond and five hearts (East-West presumably don’t have an eight-card heart fit), yet he did not overcall 1.  He must have weak hearts, so his points lie in the black suits. He will have help for your club losers.

West North East South
    1 Pass
2 3 3 ?

8652 A763 AQ 106 7 Both vulnerable.

Consider bidding 6 ! A raise to 4 would be timid. Give partner: K109542 J92 A852, and he’s a favorite for 13 tricks since the diamond finesse through the opening bidder should win.

West North East South
    1 Pass
1NT 2 3 ?

West North East South 1* Pass 1NT 2 34 ? 4AQ6 K63 8652 863 Both vulnerable. North should have six hearts and probably has four spades. West, who responded 1NT, doesn’t have four, and East passed up a chance to bid an economical 2 at his second turn. A spade finesse, if North needs it, should win, and his fourth spade will be a winner since spades are breaking 3-3. Moreover, if North’s hearts are A–J-9-5-4-2, he will pick up the trumps by playing East for a singleton. Bid 4 .

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

K10763 Q A105 Q974

Visualize before you pass from fright. North has a decent hand, yet he failed to overcall 1 . His hearts cannot be strong, and East may have heart length if West has the minors. Perhaps you should try 2NT.