Unit 225 - East Texas
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Talking Hands
What a Rock!
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From Charles Ford:

Here is an interesting hand that I had the other day.

♠ KQ   A   AKQ9432  ♣ AKJ

You are South and pick up this rock. ..........

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What to do?

You're North, and you're dealer.  You pick up your cards and see:

♠  K



♣  KQ642

How do you bid this hand? Since there is a singleton, can it be opened in NT? Years ago the answer would be no.

Then “experts” started opening hands that had a face card singleton in the appropriate number of NT.

Years passed and the ACBL put out the word that this would be legal.

With this in mind, North would open the hand with 21 HCP in 2NT. South would transfer to Spades by bidding 2 Hearts.

Even though North has only one Spade, North must take the transfer and bid 3 Spades. South completes the bidding by bidding 4 Spades. Again North gulps a couple of times and passes. As can be seen, the hand makes 4 Spades.

Here's the entire hand:


When to Revalue Your Hand


Many of us would look at the East hand and yawn. Two jacks and a square hand - not much to be excited about.  

Your partner, West, opens one spade and North overcalls two hearts. What do you do?

You would like to raise partner with 4 card support. Let’s examine what might happen.

Partner goes crazy and jumps to 4 spades. Would your partner West be happy with your hand? I don’t think so.

You simply sit quietly and pass. South passes. Partner bids 3 clubs,  North bids 3 hearts and now it’s your bid.  All of a sudden the value of your hand has increased.

When partner bids 3 clubs on her own, she has shown a pretty good hand. Your two jacks and 4 cards in each of your partner’s suits has increased the value of your hand by a factor of at least 4.  There are no wasted points in your hand. Every card is valuable.  

Don’t be a wimp and pass, even though you have “only” two high card points. Be bold and bid 3 spades. As you can see the hand makes 4 spades. The lesson is "Learn to revalue your hand as the bidding progresses.” As can be seen North/South can make 3 hearts. By bidding 3 spades, even if East/West go down two tricks, they are ahead of the game, minus 100 vs minus 140.

Follow-up Bidding After Transferring to a Minor
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 After a 1 no trump opening, many of us use 2 spades to relay to clubs. This bid comes in handy when responder has less than 7 hcp’s and a long minor suit. This bid should never be used with only 5 cards in length. ..........

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What is the Benefit of Roman Key Card


Charles Ford

I have been asked several times "What are the advantages, if any, of Roman Key card over regular Blackwood?" This hand is a perfect example to answer that question.

West opened 1 Club, North and South pass every time, East bid 1 Heart, West raised two Hearts. At this point East was interested in slam and cue bid 2 Spades. A jump to 3 Spades could have been a mini-splinter, showing shortness in the suit bid and interest in slam. West cooperated by bidding 3 Diamonds, showing the Ace of Diamonds. At this point East trotted out 4 NT, Key card- 1430.

DEFINITION: There are 5 key cards - the 4 aces and the King of trumps. 

Using Roman Key Card, the possible responses are: 

  • 5 clubs - "I have 1or 4 key cards." 
  • 5 diamonds - "I have 0 or 3 key cards."
  • 5 hearts - "I have 2 key cards without the Queen of trumps."
  • 5 spades - "I have 2 key cards with the Queen of trumps." 

USING BLACKWOOD, West would respond by bidding 5 Clubs, showing 1 or 4 key cards.

East knows partner could not have 4 since he has 4. The partnership has all 5 key cards, but the slam is not a given since East does not know about the Queen of hearts.

How does East ask about the Queen? By using Roman Key Card with partner, he is able to bid 5 Diamonds. Partner understands, and knows that he is asking her (West) if she has the Queen of trumps? 

Her possible replies are: 

  • 5 Hearts - "No I do not have the Queen." 
  • 6 Hearts - "Good news, I do have the Queen!"
  • 6 Clubs - "Really good news! Not only do I have the Queen of hearts, but I also have the King of clubs, if you are interested is bidding 7.

In this instance, East is not interested in bidding 7 so bids 6, which will make easily as long as the hearts break 3/2.

After calling trumps:

  • The losing diamond is discarded on the 4th club.
  • The Ace of diamonds takes care of one diamond and a diamond is given to North/South. 

Eddie Kantar has written a book on Roman Key card, which can be bought on Amazon. If you do not wish to go into that much detail, just google it and several articles will pop up. Have fun with our favorite game


The Power of a Pre-empt


At two tables, the auction went:

1  2♣  2  3♣ 
3  4♣  4  5♣ 
P P P  

One table made 5♣ . One table went down 1 trick.

At another table:

1  3♣  3  4♣ 
4  5♣  5 


P P P  

E/W went down 2 tricks.

At the last table, the bidding went all the way to 6 clubs. N/S went down 1 trick.

Now the question is: How high should North bid the first time around? as Alfred Sheinwold said in his Five Weeks to Winning Bridge, "If you are going to pre-empt, pre-empt to the max in one bid."

As the Preacher said, "If any one objects, speak now or forever hold your peace."

North should bid 5 clubs and then forever hold his peace. After the 5 club, would East then bid 5 diamonds, vulnerable with only 9 points?

Remember if you are going to pre-empt, go all out in the one bid!  Make the opponents bid at a high level. Take up all the bidding room in one bid.  I hope all of you thought this hand as interesting as I did!