Bridge World Extra! Newsletter


Eric O. Kokish, director

IMPs, North-South vulnerable. You, South, hold:

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

PassPass1 D1 H
1 S2 H3 D3 H

What call do you make?

4 D10018
3 NT604
5 D300
3 S200

Consider this partnership...

AL ROTH: "Pass. Is this a problem? Are we going cuckoo?"

MARC JACOBUS: "Four diamonds. A slight underbid, but partner, under pressure, might have overbid at his previous turn."

Or this one...

LARRY COHEN: "Pass. I assume this is a minority (and conservative) action. But the opponents should have only eight hearts (no weak two, and no preemptive jump raise), so partner should have two hearts. On almost all such constructions, both three hearts and four diamonds will go down. The Law of Total Tricks suggests 17 total tricks, and we don't bid four over three with a total of 17. Even opposite a very suitable hand with a stiff heart, like:

S x x H x D A K Q J x x C A x x x

we haven't made four diamonds yet."

JOSH PARKER: "Four diamonds. Those who use the Law of Total Tricks and pass are misguided, because of the very real possibility of a two-suit fit."

The panel voted overwhelmingly in favor of some sort of action, but the passers have some wise words . . .

PETER PENDER: "Pass. Not an easy call in tempo. Partner might bid three spades on his own, which I would convert to game. Although one should strain to bid three notrump when this may be your side's last chance to bid it, partner needs eight tricks, or seven with the spade ace. With the spade ace and heart king, three notrump would be automatic. Three spades and four diamonds are just plain overbids. See what I mean about passing in tempo?"

IRA RUBIN: "Pass. Four diamonds (partner may carry on to five, where a heart lead will leave the entry position tenuous), three notrump (which 'can't' produce nine tricks), and pass (denying great interest in a diamond contract) all have many detriments. Since my diamond holding (if I had the ten, I'd try four diamonds) and hand don't add up to much, I consider pass the most sensible action."

In Bridge World Standard, North is most unlikely to hold three spades. As Friend points out, South would tend to double one heart with only four spades. South might have four excellent spades (looking for the four-three fit), and North might have a very diamond-oriented hand with three-card spade support. Still, a sound four-spade contract is not to be expected on the bidding we have heard so far.

There were many voices raised against a bid of three notrump over three hearts, not all of them based on North's failure to cue-bid three hearts if all he required was a heart stopper with a smattering of high cards. However, there were four three-notrump bidders. Fry stated flat out that he would, "run fast if doubled."


ROBERT WOLFF: "Three notrump. Proud of this I'm not! But my second choice of four diamonds won't get the plus 300 I'll get against four hearts doubled."

Hamman suggests that North-South would be allowed to declare three notrump only when it is going set.

EDGAR KAPLAN: "Three notrump. Is it unreasonable to hope for:

S x x H x x D A K x x x x x C A x

And North might even have a little more."

JOHN LOWENTHAL: "Three notrump. The auction reeks of stiff honors all around the table (no weak two, no third-seat opening). In many such constructions, both five diamonds and three notrump make. However, if North happens to hold the stiff king of hearts, there are some variations where five diamonds goes down on a spade ruff. Hence, three notrump is the percentage call."

Elementary, my dear Watson, as anyone with a nose for reeking auctions could discern for himself.

For various reasons, four diamonds was the big vote-getter.

KIT WOOLSEY: "Four diamonds. The three-diamond bid in competition has a wide range, so the simple raise to allow partner to evaluate is best...the odds seem to point to the suit contract..."

TOM HAMMOND: "Four diamonds. Three notrump requires too many things. Four diamonds allows partner a four-spade call with honor doubleton, on the way to five diamonds."

Many of the four-diamond bidders point out that some of the miracle hands that make three notrump make five diamonds also. That's all well and good, but just what does four diamonds mean?

Is it competitive or seriously invitational? Its fuzziness, I believe, takes something away from it.

GAIL GREENBERG: "Four diamonds. Three notrump could be right, but five diamonds is the more likely game if partner can bid it."

All this suggests to me that if North-South can make exactly four diamonds, it will often be difficult to stop North from bidding five. Alternatively, if five diamonds is a good contract, North will often pass because he feels that he is not being invited to bid on.

Which brings me to what I believe is the winning answer:

BILLY EISENBERG: "Double. Nothing is clear. Double can't be pure penalty; it is card-showing, as my hand is unknown in strength, and we are really out of room."

Oh, maybe this is something akin to a maximal-overcall double, but that's an unnecessary label. Double leaves all avenues open, and I like it. A lot!