Bridge World Extra! Newsletter


Kit Woolsey, director

IMPs, neither side vulnerable. You, South, hold:

S K 3 H 10 4 D K Q 10 9 8 6 5 C J 2

3 DPass3 HPass

What call do you make?

3 S10011
4 H808
3 NT807
4 D301
4 S101

Constructive bidding over our own preempts is a gray area indeed. Everybody plays a new suit as forcing (though with today's preempts getting worse and worse, maybe this isn't such a good idea), but the follow-up is unclear.

CARL HUDECEK: "Four hearts. He asked--I replied."

BORIS KOYTCHOU: "Four hearts. No problem."

AL ROTH: "Four hearts. Presume it is forcing--is that a problem?"

IRA RUBIN: "Four hearts. I opt for four hearts vs. three notrump, four diamonds, or three spades, since partner is supposed to own a six-bagger (or equivalent)."

If that were true, the raise to four hearts would be clear, but most of the panel wants three-card support for the raise. For those who didn't raise, the debate was between three spades and three notrump.

GREG MACKEY: "Three notrump. Borrowing from Italians: Three spades would ask for a spade stopper and show a club stopper; three notrump shows spades and asks North to pass with clubs (South can't have spades and clubs stopped, or a solid diamond suit). This rebid should indicate some tolerance for hearts, but no raise."

STEVE ROBINSON: "Three notrump. Since we are playing weak 'gambling' three bids, this hand is maximum. Three notrump, showing honors in the unbid suits, describes my hand. I would like to have three hearts to raise, or three spades to rebid three spades."

LEE HAZEN: "Three notrump. Since three hearts is forcing, three notrump seems a clear rebid. By implication, it indicates no singleton, and at least one side honor."

ALAN BELL: "Three notrump. Merely denies secondary heart support. South could bid three spades with a sure spade stopper as dummy. The only bids allowed are raise, three notrump, and three of side suits."

MARSHALL MILES: "Three notrump. One way of playing is to bid three spades with a spade stopper and three notrump with a club stopper, since a preemptive bidder should not have two stoppers on the side. If this were the partnership agreement, I would bid three spades."

Funny that Miles, who can keep his partner on the edge of his chair for a whole session with unexpected bids and interpretations of sequences, is unwilling to throw this one at partner undiscussed. It seems quite safe, for what other meaning could three spades have? South would hardly open three diamonds with a side four-card spade suit.

PAUL HEITNER: "Three notrump. I know that, in these situations, partner will not play the preemptor for stoppers in both unbid suits, and therefore the three-notrump bid should show clubs, three spades being reserved for hands with only a spade stopper. Despite all that, the extremely positional nature of the spade stopper, the little bit in clubs, and the absolute maximum (some would say too much) for a nonvulnerable preempt induce me to try three notrump, which sounds stronger. After all, I would bid three spades with something in spades and weak diamonds, but I would not bid three notrump with very weak diamonds, even with a club stopper."

The three-spade bidders had no doubts as to meanings.

MARTY BERGEN: "Three spades. Easy, out of a textbook."

BILLY EISENBERG: "Three spades. Keeping all options open."

EDDIE KANTAR: "Three spades. Three notrump would show a club stop and no spade stop."

RAY ZOLLER: "Three spades. Since I have preempted in first seat, pard should know my exact hand, as I would not have two outside values. I bid the one I have (denying three hearts, since I'd bid three notrump). Simple game, ain't it?"

Actually, I think it is close between three spades and three notrump. Most of the time when partner bids three hearts, he isn't really worried about black-suit stoppers--he's just trying to find the best contract. Heitner's point about three notrump's sounding stronger than three spades is a good one. However, I still choose three spades, because I have four hearts as a fallback contract if partner doesn't bid three notrump. If I had a similar hand with a stiff heart I would bid three notrump, even without a club stopper.

PAUL SUGAR: "Four spades. This is a 'weak gambling three-bid'? Four hearts is hardly adequate; four spades is only a little lie, while three spades is too big a lie. I hope the rest of the panel is imaginative, or has a better way to rectify the farce of opening three diamonds."

Oh, come on! Granted that this is a maximum three-diamond opener or perhaps a little better, you can't really object to it. I would be quite unhappy with teammates who didn't open three diamonds on this hand, giving their opponents all the room in the world, while I had to cope over the opposing preempt. As for your four-spade bid, I hope your partner has a good sense of humor.

LARRY WEISS: "Four diamonds. If either king were an ace, I would bid three notrump, but I must tread slowly."

It seems to me you may just have trodden too quickly--three notrump has been left far behind.

Clarification: In the previous edition of Bridge World Extra!, if declarer takes a spade finesse before knocking out the club king, the defender can also defeat six notrump by continuing clubs after winning with the king; only a spade shift is fatal.