Seven Notrump

In which some people who play bridge blog about it.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Bidding quandaries

Last night I got a run of hands that gave me a few moments' head-scratching. First:

♠ A K J 9
♥ J 9 5 4
♦ 9 8 6 3
♣ A

This one seems straightforward, and I had high hopes for it, until my partner opened 1C and opponent overcalled 1S. Suddenly my hand was revalued. What would you bid?

The very next deal, I received this one:

♠ Q 8 5 4
♥ A 10 6
♦ K 9 7
♣ A 6 2

Nice and balanced. My right-hand opponent opened 1S. A 1NT overcall would show 15 points, a double would show shortness in the opponent's suit, and a minor-suit overcall would promise five cards in that suit. What would you bid?

Then, a few hands later, I held 21 points and the opponents' preempt nicely stymied my bidding:

PassPass♠ Dbl
Pass♥ Pass?
♠ A K
♥ A Q 10 9 4
♦ A 10 8
♣ A 6 2

My double had forced my partner, so I didn't know if she held zero points or a decent number. Should we be in slam? A Blackwood sequence would be unhelpful, since I knew exactly where the aces were. 5H would have been a good invitational bid, but I didn't think my partner would understand what I meant by it -- even more so with 3S. So I settled in the safe 4H contract, and partner made two overtricks.


  At Wednesday, July 11, 2007 3:12:00 PM, Anonymous Ryan O. said:

With the first hand, you have 13 opposite your partner's 13, and have the opponents suit stopped. I'd be tempted to just jump directly to 3NT. LHO is almost certainly going to lead spades into you, so you may very well bring in all four of those. I might settle for a negative double, showing the 4-4 in the unbid suits and letting partner decide where to play.

We just recently took a class at our local club on balancing, and this second hand is exactly the sort of situation that class addressed. You don't have a convenient bid because your length is in the opponent's suit, so you pass. If LHO passes, your partner can infer from the bidding that you have some values, and can overcall or double a bit weaker than he might have in the direct seat. (He's essentially bidding assuming you have some values but no good bid.) We didn't get a handout after the balancing class, but this page seemed to match a lot of what the instructor taught us. That said, I'd probably double with this second hand. My takeout doubles with partner don't promise more than three card support in the unbid suits, and you certainly have that. So double tells partner about your thirteen points and the basic shape of your hand. You can let him take over from there.

As for the last hand, preempts sure are annoying, aren't they?

  At Wednesday, July 11, 2007 3:41:00 PM, Blogger Paul said:

Interesting! Those are good suggestions.

On the first hand I was too concerned about the weak red suits to bid 3N, and a negative double to me promises an unbid major suit with too few points to name it outright. Probably a safe mistruth. I wound up bidding hearts and we made a game there.

The second hand I passed, as your class suggested. Partner passed too and the opponents' 3S contract went down doubled. A takeout double may well have been a better move.

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