DECISIONS ALL ROUND by Tony Russ
One Friday in January I played at Knysna Bridge Club in South Africa. Not in itself very interesting I admit but what if I tell you that it was nine oŐclock in the morning and there were 84 players present! The club meets on three mornings a week, always at nine, and always well attended although 21 tables was exceptional. Quite different from what we are used to in Wells but it did make me think about the viability of a morning section at the club which might be of interest to the retired community.
So we started and the first hand reminded me of what an interesting game bridge can be with each of the four players having decisions to be made.
S 6 S AJT97
H KQT972 H A843
D QT62 D J7
C A3 C 54
The dealer was North with neither side vulnerable.
North I think has an easy opening of 1D with no rebid problems. If partner bids 1H then 1S is available and both spades and clubs can be raised so 1D it is.
Now what should East do? 1S or double? 1S gets the 5 card suit into play straight away but there is more chance of finding a major suit fit by doubling. However if East doubles how does he respond if he hears 2C from partner? 2S would suggest a much stronger hand. Double should show shortage in the suit opened and tolerance for the other suits. Here we hate clubs and so for me 1S stands out as the bid. In fact I donŐt double on two suiters – partner always chooses the suit you havenŐt got – preferring to hope to bid both suits in time.
So South has heard 1D-1S. We need 9+ points to raise partner to the two level but if you donŐt bid here the club suit will never emerge and I think one should stretch to compete in a contested auction so I am bidding 2C. Pass is only for wimps and 1NT does not even begin to describe the hand.
How many hearts will West bid? Remember East only needed 7+ points to overcall 1S so there is no reason to assume either more points or that he has a heart fit so 2H it is for me. 1D-1S-2C-2H
Back to North. To raise clubs or to pass? I think itŐs clear to raise clubs. They say that bridge is a bidderŐs game – most of us play our cards well most of the time. The better players get in the correct contract more often and push their opponents into the wrong contract more often. When in doubt bid one more is my advice so 3C is automatic here. 1D-1S-2C-2H-3C
Now it is East with a problem. Should it be 3H or 4H? There seems no other option. Any bid other than 3H will eventually push you to 4H so it is a straight choice and a matter of style and a measure of how much confidence you have in partner. What clues are there to help? Firstly your overcall of 1S was a ÔgoodŐ overcall with the points in the good suits and not spread around. Secondly you have 4 card support for your partnerŐs 5 card (at least) suit. And partner made a free bid of 2H. He didnŐt have to bid and so presumably has a decent suit and some other values somewhere. So I would raise to 4H. My partner passed and I made 11 tricks when they chose not to lead a club. As an aside it is usually good to lead partnerŐs suit. ItŐs not always correct but you always win the post mortem!
There are some hands where the bidding and the play are almost automatic. You know what I mean – it goes 1NT-3NT. 9 tricks made and you open the traveller expecting to see a flat board. You hadnŐt bargained for Colonel MustardŐs revoke, Mrs Black thinking the contract was 4S or Miss Scarlet finding one of her diamonds mixed in with her hearts. In fact the board was not flat but the reasons were nothing to do with bridge! On the above hand every player had decisions to make and the points went to the players making these correctly.