From 48WED

The following deal gave me quite a shock when I went through the resulting contracts, not only at our
club but also all the other clubs across X-Clubs last Wednesday night.


Perhaps wrongly, I assumed that the EW pairs were playing basic Acol. Therefore, after two passes, West would have opened 1H. That would come as a surprise to North, but would certainly silence any Norths who may have had intentions of bidding hearts. Then, after North passes, East has a perfectly normal 1NT response. What should West do then? It seems obvious to me that West should PASS. West does not have to bid again if partner responds in No Trumps, and is there anywhere to go anyway?

West knows that East has 6-9 HCP but does not have four or more spades, and West has the spade suit. East does not have heart support either. What can West possibly do but PASS?

I guess things might turn out a bit differently if EW were playing “5 card majors” but most people who play that also play a stronger (15-17) 1NT opening. Therefore if that were the case, West would open 1NT and probably play there, unless North is tempted to come in with 2H, which would get the proper treatment by East. The way most people play against overcalls over 1NT is to double for takeout, as they would in normal circumstances. I don’t, I prefer the double to be for penalties, especially of a major suit overcall. But few Norths in fact played in a heart contract, so it was the EW pairs who found their way to anything but the very obvious 1NT played by East!

I would be interested in finding out why so few Easts played this one in 1NT, it is still a great mystery to me. Is it the result of bad teaching or bad learning? Write to me at

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