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Better Competitive Bidding

Some real examples from face to face bridge at Wedmore.

I played in a face to face bridge session at Wedmore last Monday night and saw a number of examples where club players should have competed more vigorously.

The first example concerns how to handle a situation where you have a strong hand with the suit opened on your right when you can't bid no trumps.

South passed and West opened one heart. This created a problem for North who held eighteen high card points, a singleton and a good heart suit. With a singleton club, bidding one no trump is undesirable (and an underbid with 18 high card points) and bidding two diamonds is a gross underbid. Faced with this dilema two out of the four Norths passed!

This can't be right, even opposite a passed partner, since you only need a fit and seven or eight points from them and you are making game.

The correct action in this situation is to make a takeout double.

This hand doesn't fit the classic description for a takeout double - an opening hand with shortage in the suit doubled and at least three card support in the other suits. With a strong hand, however, these consideration go out of the window. You must start with a double to show your strength. If partner bids two clubs you can bid two no trumps to show 18-20 high card points. If they bid one spade you can bid two diamonds to show a hand with a good diamond suit which is too good for a simple overcall (15+) or you could try bidding two spades, again showing a strong hand with spade support, though this would suggest 4 card support you do have ruffing values.

After your double, South would bid one spade and West may make a takeout double. Whether you bid two diamonds or two spades the auction will probably end there and you will make your contract. By making the takeout double you will score points your way, not lose points by letting West make one heart uncontested.

At adverse vulnerability you should indeed be wary of making preemptive bids but that doesn't mean that you should never make one.

On board 3 we were allowed to play in two spades making when other people went off in higher contracts.

East has a suitable hand for a vulnerable preemptive bid of three diamonds, however. He is top end on points. With ten or more he should probably make a simple overcall in case partner has sufficient values to make game.

He has a reasonable trump suit, though better intermediates would protect better against a bad break. Suit quality is really important when vulnerable and the ten of diamonds in place of the 7, say, would be much better. Nevertheless, I would have preempted with a bid of three diamonds in East's seat.

You don't always have to have seven cards to preempt at the 3 level.

When North passes and East opens one heart I was happy to bid 3 diamonds with the South hand. I would not normally pre-empt holdig a four card major but partner has passed so game for us is unlikely and we are non vulnerable against vulnerable so conditions are ideal for making a disruptive bid. Undeterred, our opponents bid on to four hearts and I have sympathy for my partner who failed to find what would have been a winning five diamonds sacrifice. I don't think that I would have found it in her position. At least she considered iit, however. Had I only overcalled two diamonds I doubt she would have considered a sacrifice.

Finally, on board 10, three out of the four tables played in one no trump by West, doubled and going down by varying amounts. The problem was that East had a very weak hand with no 5 card suit.

If you are playing a weak NT then you should play some sort of 'wriggle' to find a playable fit in this situation. There are many options available, some of which involve forcing passes which are easy to forget but I favour an extremely simple wriggle that finds at least a 4:3 fit (unless partner has two doubletons).

If I have a 5+ card suit then I redouble, forcing partner to bid two clubs which I then pass or correct to my five card suit as necessary.

If I have two 4 card suits then I bid my lower suit and with 3+ cards in the suit partner passes,

If I have hit partner's doubleton, he bids his next highest suit with at least 3 cards in it. If that is my second four card suit I pass. Otherwise, I bid my second suit. Partner should have 3 cards in this suit unless he has opened 1NT with two doubletons which is not normally done.

In this case East would bid two diamonds and immediately locate an 8 card fit which would play for one off. This is better than going four off in one no trump and, even doubled, is an excellent 'sacrifice' against any of the three different game contracts that North - South can make.

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