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The very first board, and a number of pertinent points crop up.

Board 1 from Wednesday 4/09/2019
Dealer N Nil Vul


Q.1 What is North’s opening bid?
Q.2 Should East overcall if North opens 1D?
Q.3 If North opens 1D and a) East passes, should South bid? b) East overcalls 1H, should South bid?
Q.4 If East passes and South bids 1S, what should North bid next?
Q.5 If North does bid 2H and everyone passes, what should East lead?

North has a semi balanced hand and that means it is not a 1NT opening bid. With two suits that can be bid North should open the longer, 1D. But if South bids 1S, North must not bid the other one, hearts, because that would be a REVERSE and show at least 17 HCP.

If North does bid 2H, North will strike trouble, because Easr will pass,as will South, and West will double, showing extra values and a willingness to compete. East would be delighted to pass for penalties. But even if EW have no definite way to penalise North and do pass the hand out in 2H, EW will score a top if they defeat 2H by THREE tricks (+150), whereas if they defeat it only by two, EW will get a poor score.

That is the cut-throat nature of match point bridge, and as the reader can see, EW can make 2H and hence that would be equivalent to defeating North’s 2H by three.

Two opposing sides playing in the same contract is generally not advisable, but much can happen on defence, so the potential +110 can turn into only +100 if North bids sensibly and rebids 2D, which certainly won’t be doubled.

And that brings me back to Q1: should East overcall 1H if North opens 1D? The nature of match point scoring makes such overcalls necessary in my view, the fact that the East hand is in effect rubbish should not matter at this vulnerability. If West has the top hearts, West will bid on; if West has outside points, West might also bid on. And in this instance, I suggest that an intelligent West will realise that, after North’s opening bid and South’s 1S bid, East will be the one with the poor hand, and compensate accordingly, by either bidding 1NT or raising East quietly to 2H, East’s opening lead if North has bid 2H? East no doubt has more trumps than declarer, so should lead a low trump and then defend carefully to take as many tricks on defence as possible.

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