X-Clubs Play 25

“Thou shalt not transfer” is one of my commandments. But there is an addition to that: “when it can be avoided if need be”. The unfortunate thing about this deal is that the NS hands were as they were. Had South had North’s hand and vice versa, the results would have been totally different for all EW pairs where West played the hand, be it in 3NT or 4S or a slam in either spades or No Trumps. But let’s take a look at the hands as they were dealt by a benign computer.

Board 8 from Tuesday 26/07/22
Dealer West Nil Vul


Some questions: would you open 1NT as West? If West does open 1NT, would you transfer as East, or do you have another way you might bid the East hand? And if you were West and East transfers to spades and then bids either 3D or 3NT, would you then bid 4S or 3NT? How do you play a jump to 3S if West opens 1NT?

I believe that West’s doubleton spade is as good as three, and hence West should prefer to play in 4S rather than in 3NT. Apart from possible blockage in spades, the lead through East’s heart suit could be fatal, even in 3NT not to mention any slam.

In our “Evil” system, West would open 1NT but then East would bid 3S, which is an immediate key card ask: West bids 3NT with a doubleton spade (but not AK, KQ, AQ doubleton which is treated as a three card suit) and 4C, 4D, 4H, 4S are all key card responses, with somewhat different meanings than with ordinary 4NT key card because West cannot have more than three key cards. Worth thinking about this, also other jumps to the three level. And then again we have the “Evil 2NT”. We might consider bidding 2NT with the East hand: “Do you have a weak suit, partner?” The idea being that if West has nothing in spades, West will bid 3S and this will probably encourage a spade lead from North, not at all unhelpful for declarer in either 3NT or 6NT, with the hope of split spade honours if needed to make 12 tricks. And should West have a weak HEART suit, then East can ask for aces or key cards and happily bid 6S knowing that West’s spade, diamond and club cards are working and East’s heart king is protected from the opening lead.

Scoff if you like, or if you would like to know more about the “Evil responses to 1NT” I’m happy to answer any questions. Email me at villyn@xtra.co.nz