Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Strut Your Stuff

For the Newton Swiss last evening, Len and I found two very capable and pleasant Russian gentlemen as teammates, Izrail and Boris. We hadn't met them before. There were 8 flight A teams in a strong field. We ended up 3rd after winning three of our matches in generally close competition.

There were two hands of particular interest, that's to say we lost a bundle of imps on them, and came away with some lessons learned.

In the first hand only we are vulnerable and you pick up: ♠A5 AKJ5432 ♣KQ62.


What should you bid? I believe that with a strong hand, you should mention every biddable suit as soon as possible. In this case, clubs are eminently biddable and so I think that 3♣ is right, followed (assuming it isn't passed out) by 4. Over the opponents ultimate 4, partner (that would be me) might just take with push with ♠JT98 7542 QT ♣J84, knowing that while the values are meager, they are at least working values. We went plus, at least, to the tune of 50. I don't know what the auction was at the other table but our opponents bid the 5, were doubled and made it for 750 after the ♣A lead. It's not cold but according to Deep Finesse, it can always be made.

So, I have a new principle, to go along with my principle of "stuff", which, briefly, states that if pass is a possible action, a bid (or rebid) of a suit shows real values in the suit. The new principle might be called the principle of strutting: if you have a good hand with good suits, strut your stuff!

The other lesson was really a reminder that when partner passes over a bid, he can still have a good hand. This was the auction (they are vulnerable this time) that unfolded:


Your hand is ♠2 2 J965 ♣AQJ9752. Who has the best hand at the table? And how many clubs should you bid? I chose to bid 4♣ which seemed about right given that both of my opponents were in the auction with the majors, in which I was unreasonably short. Partner raised to game which ended the auction. Yes, he had the best hand at the table: ♠T AKJ65 AQT8 ♣K86. After the ♠A lead and the K onside (as it almost surely was), twelve tricks were there. At the other table, the RHO hand passed with his three hcp and it was more apparent to my counterpart that it was likely our hand. She simply bid 2♣ and they got to the reasonable slam.

The lesson here is that while pressure-bidding is all very well opposite a hand which has voluntarily passed, it isn't necessarily right when partner has passed over a bid.


  1. I would call 3H at my second turn with the first hand. It's practically a 2C opener to begin with.

  2. Now you come to mention it, the hand _is_ a 2C opener - there are only three losers. But I agree, having underbid the opener, now is the time to show the great hand!