Friday, March 12, 2010

More fourth suits

Continuing my series on forcing bids (see Fourth Suit Forcing) I thought I'd reproduce a couple of situations where Barry Rigal recommends bidding the fourth suit.

In the second story, Hardly Worth Mentioning, we are dealt this collection: ♠AJ3 9753 K72 ♣J62.   Opponents remain silent.  Partner deals and the auction goes as follows:  1♣ – 1NT – 2 – 2♠ – 3♣.  At this point (since you bid 2♠) you're in a game force (partner has reversed and you've bid a new suit).  You now bid 3 (fourth suit).  It happens (as it often does) that you have four of them.  But you're not suggesting hearts as trumps – you're asking partner for a stopper.  To quote Barry, "I think it would be quixotic to bid 3NT without checking up on whether partner has a heart stop."

There are some interesting things about this auction.  You bypassed four hearts originally.  This implies that your partner is a sentient being and can figure out your problems later.  You'll also have some explaining to do if partner has ♠T97 AKQ8 64 ♣KQ84 and you miss 4!  But this is not very likely.  Note also your 2♠ call at your second turn.  This is what Karen Walker might call a boon (bid out of nowhere).  You've already denied spades by bidding 1NT so you can't be showing four of them now!

Here's another example where frankly I would not have thought of using the fourth suit but where it makes good sense.  From Repaying his Trust, you deal yourself ♠J52 AKT763 T4 ♣A5 and obviously open 1.  Partner responds 1♠ and you rebid 2. Partner bids an almost game-forcing 3♣ (he could pass your 3 rebid) and you show delayed spade support with 3♠.  He now tries 3NT but, on the principle that the later you bid 3NT, the less certain you are that it's the right contract, he obviously isn't 100%  sure.  You decide that you want to be in a major but you aren't certain which is the best one.  So, now you bid 4 (fourth suit again) to force partner to pick a major.  Brilliant!  Why isn't 4 a control-showing bid looking for slam?  Because of the Horizon principle.  You already told partner that you have a minimum with your rebid of 2.  Nothing partner has done has suggested that he has a moose.  Slam is therefore not on the horizon.

These typical auctions from Barry's book are are not the type of auction you're likely to hear much at the local bridge club.  They require a level of expertise and partnership understanding that are in the expert realm.  The contracts he gets to also require a fair bit of expertise to pull off.  But wouldn't it be nice to be playing this kind of bridge with your favorite partner?

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