Saturday, January 28, 2012

Third hand bidding

In an otherwise dismal robot duplicate tournament on BBO, I began with this hand in third seat (nobody vulnerable): ♠8532 AT5 AK9 ♣J85.  The first question: is this a full opener?  Well, if I was playing weak no trumps, yes obviously, especially non-vulnerable after two passes.  But I can't stretch this into a strong notrump and despite the 3 quick tricks, it is also 4333, the very worst shape.  On the Zar scale, it counts to 24 where a full opener would be 26.  So, the next question is: is it a valid third-seat light opener?  I believe that the only time you should open light in third seat is when you have (1) a half-way decent suit (or better) for lead-directional purposes (and perhaps to protect against massive penalties) and (2) where you can happily pass partner's response.  This hand certainly qualifies on the second count, but I have no suit of any credibility that would still allow a pass over partner's response.  I passed therefore, as did LHO.  This was worth 94.5% as 20 out of 23 of my human counterparts opened the hand and ended up going down in three or four spades.

The auctions varied, but this was a common one: p p 1♣ p;  1♠ p p 2♣; 2♠ p p 3♣; p p 3♠.  Their side can actually make 4♣ with a reasonable guess in hearts or with a defensive error.  Here is the full deal.

In general, I find in these robot duplicates that passing out questionable hands often reaps a reward.  It seems that the other humans just can't bear to pass a hand out when they know that they have the best hand at the table.  For more thoughts on this topic in this blog, see Light Third-hand Openers


  1. There's a shot at setting 3C. I am missing how there is a play to make 4C.

    First, let's assume that if you do open in 3rd seat, you would, since you are planning to pass any response of partner, choose to open 1D on AKx rather than 1C on Jxx.

    That choice of opening bids might well produce a diamond opening lead from partner. After you have won two diamonds, if you switch to a heart, there is chance that declarer will go wrong and lose the next three tricks to HQ, HA, and a heart ruff.

    I don't feel strongly one way or another about opening; I suspect that I would open but would not criticize one who passes. But if I do open, I would choose 1D in third chair.

  2. open light in third seat is when you have (1) a half-way decent suit (or better) for lead-directional purposes

    I've found that the robots seldom lead the suit you bid. I've even bid and rebid a suit and they've led something else for no good reason I could see.

  3. MOJO, yes the robots are quite unpredictable!

    Jeff, 3C is pretty much a lock with reasonable play, although I agree that the defense would have to be quite inept to allow declarer to take 10 tricks.