Hand of the Month


After a too-long hiatus, we are back with another hopefully interesting hand.

As dealer, playing match points, no one vulnerable, you pick up:

♠ J 9 2
♥ 10 7
♦ J 10 4 2
♣ A K Q 3

You're playing Standard, by the way. You pass, LHO passes, and partner opens 1♥. RHO passes, and it's up to you.
Well, what do you say? The "book" bid on these cards is 2NT. By a passed hand, this shows about 11 HCP, balanced, without support for partnerís suit. Thatís what you have ... but look again. Do you really have any desire for the opening lead to run up to your hand? Surely not. For one thing, your hand contains no tenaces, so having the lead run to you wonít help much. For another, most of your points are concentrated in one suit. That leaves the likelihood that at least one of the two remaining suits - spades and diamonds, here - will have a serious weakness. Instead of making the book bid, bid 2♣ (bidding your 4-card suits up-the-line). If partner has a fit for clubs, he can raise, or pass with a shabby third-seat opener. If he has six hearts, he can rebid the suit and you can pass, knowing you are in an eight-card fit. If he happens to have four diamonds, he can bid the suit, and you can pass or raise the suit as you think best. Finally, if partner has a balanced hand thatís a legitimate opener, he can rebid 2NT himself, and the contract will be played from the correct side.
At the table, North did bid 2♣ and partner - with a less than stellar opening bid - properly passed. Down came

♠ 4 3
♥ A J 9 8 2
♦ A
♣J 10 9 8 5

It made four for a great matchpoint score (two red aces and eight trump tricks on a cross-ruff). 2NT goes down one. You have seven top tricks in notrump, but thatís it. Before you can set up a heart trick, the opponents will take one diamond, one heart, and four spades - at least. More on a diamond lead. The only way to make 2NT is if the opponents are kind enough to lead hearts for you at trick one. Not likely!

Sometimes, it pays to back your judgment. But you had better be right ...


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