Wednesday Play at The Hutt (12)

Two very interesting boards in a row! These did not occur on a Wednesday, yet are nevertheless of such interest that I have been asked for my thoughts on both of them. They occurred on a Friday afternoon, Friday 19/03/2021. The only hands of interest are the East-West ones.

Board 15 Dealer S NS Vul


West has what looks like a perfectly normal 3C preempt. Apart from the four card heart suit on the side. Some teachers may insist that you should not preempt if you have a four card major suit as well as your seven card minor. I don’t think that would have made any difference, but let’s look at both situations, firstly when West opens 3C, then when West passes.

When West opens 3C, that is the last thing East wants to hear, but at least East knows enough now not to have any slam ideas! East should also know that if East were to play in No Trumps at any level, East would do that on their own, with dummy out of reach in all probability. East can hope for nine tricks from their own hand, so could bid 3NT. At least West has put paid to any thiought of slam, but what is the best GAME to bid? If West has nothing but a seven card club suit, the best game to be in is surely 5C. There is a way for East to extract more information from West after the preempt, but I noticed that there were a number of Easts playing in 3S, clearly those Wests did not think a bid by partner after their preempt was forcing!

If you and your partner play preempts, you must also treat bids in response as 100% forcing, otherwise you won’t be able to bid such hands properly. It should be reasonably easy to reach a sensible contract that way: 3C-3S-4C-4D at which stage West has been asked to choose between spades and diamonds. West can now bid 4H to say: “I have no help for you at all, but I do have a four card heart suit along with my seven clubs.” That should make East’s decision easy now, knowing the exact situation. There is now a 4-3 heart fit and lots of tricks outside, with NO communication between the hands in No Trumps, but lots of potential tricks in a heart contract. Sadly, there was not one pair in 4H in this session, but some in 4S. 4H would have made five, 4S makes only four on best defence, and No Trump contracts get what they deserve. Deep Finesse also tells us that 6C is makeable but let’s not discuss that because it involves a play that is a) risky and b) against the odds. If West passes and East opens 2C, as East should, the bidding might be similar, 2C-3C-3S-4C-4D-4H.

I doubt that that would be the case any time these hands are played!
Board 16 Dealer W EW Vul


I was asked whether West should open 1C or 1D. The suggestion was to open 1D because West would have to ‘reverse’ after opening 1C, and partner will expect “17+ points”, i.e. a stronger hand from West. Therefore, lie about your exact shape and open 1D then rebid clubs twice to show a 5-5 or 6-5 hand. There are times when you should do that, but to open 1D here is too much of a distortion shape wise, and as well as that, West’s hand IS good enough to reverse, as it is equivalent to about a 17 count in terms of tricks and losers. So, I suggest opening the West hand 1C and then bidding and rebidding diamonds as far as the four level, which would get the shape and strength of West’s hand across to partner.

What should happen is that West opens 1C, East bids 1S, West 2D and, because this is a REVERSE, East needs to bid only 3D to be in a game forcing situation. What happened in reality was that most Souths came in with 2H when East responded 1S. That should not deter West from bidding 3D and that may lead to a excellent 6D slam.

Bid your shape whenever possible and try to assess the real value of your hand by looking at the distribution AND the potential losers, both of which should be evaluated as the auction progresses.