What & Why (23)

You are South in a TEAMS match. Dealer East, All Vul.


East opens 1C. What do you bid?

There are actually three options on offer. Each has some merit. There are those who would double, those who would overcall 1S, and some who would consider 1NT. That may seem somewhat eccentric but at least it covers two bases: the 15-18 count and also the club stop, in fact two club stops. But after that, you need to have a good partnership understanding that will uncover the five card spade suit, and most partnerships can not do that, so let’s forget about 1NT.

Those who would double do so because they have been taught that with a good hand, you double. Clearly the intention is to then bid 1S when partner makes a minimum response. But where does that get us? Probably to 1S when there could be much more in the hand if partner has any values at all, and in the right place. How to find out about that?

The answer must surely be in a simple 1S overcall, and most of my panelists would take that approach. After the opening bid and the 15 count in South’s hand there are too few points left over, and there is not going to be much bidding by West and North. If you think a 1S overcall could be susceptible to preemptive bidding by opponents, think again. The only preemptive bidding could come from North if you find a big fit.

I believe there are only three possible things that will happen after a 1S overcall. West will rebid clubs and/or North will raise to 2S, or everyone will pass. If North raises to 2S then South is in a much better position to either look for, or bid, game. There should be no mystery if North raises to 2S, at least not as far as I am concerned. The simplest way to bid is just the way you would bid had partner opened the bidding with 1S. A raise to 2S is therefore no different, same with a raise to 3S. Why try and make allowance for a possibly light overcall? And a cue bid of 2C should be reserved for a better hand. And, also to take into account, this being teams play, South’s overcall should be a quality one considering the vulnerability. Teams is not about taking undue risks, so you would not overcall with a five card suit to the queen and an eight or nine count. Partner should know that.

When North raises to 2S, is there enough hope to just punt game, or should South make a try with either 3S or 2NT? I suggest that being teams South should just bid 4S and take his chances. Vulnerable games should be bid with only 40% chance of success in terms of the statistical probabilities but there is always the likelihood, especially at our level of play, that defenders will not find the perfect defence and that you, being the great card player that you are, will find a way to make. Next, in W&W 24, you will get your chance to play the 4S contract.