Page 0006

WHEN the auction begins with two passes, top

players love to open the bidding in third chair, even

with hands they wouldn't consider opening in any

other position. Why?

If you are the third player after two passes and

have a barely average hand, then it is fair to assume

that your opponents own the deal. So make it hard

for them. Opening the bidding will surely put them

on the back foot. It is much harder to reach the

correct contract as the overcalling side than the

opening side: overcallers tend to think they are

bidding destructively not constructively. Even if

your opening bid is summarily dismissed, you have

given partner a lead.

The reason why you can be (even) more aggressive

opening light third-in-hand at pairs is that you can

afford the odd disaster, as long as your bid works

most of the time. Always remember - it's frequency

of gain not amount of gain that's all important at

match-point scoring.

The bidding goes Pass - Pass to you, neither side

vulnerable. What would you do with these hands?

Hand A Hand B Hand C

´ A K Q 4 ´ K 9 3 ´ A Q 8 5

™ 10 6 ™ K J 10 8 4 ™ A Q 6 2

t 10 5 t K 4 t J 6

® J 9 4 3 2 ® 9 4 2 ® 9 5 3

Hand A. Open 1´. You are desperate that partner

lead a spade and are also keen to remove bidding

space from the fourth-in-hand bidder. You could

not open 1´ in first or second seat, because partner

might drive to a failing game with, say, 12 or 13

points and because you do not remotely have a

rebid if he/she changes the suit (although rebid you

must, of course). It's different in third seat, for you

can pass partner's response. Passing 2t/2™ may not

work out brilliantly, but partner will certainly hold

five hearts for 2™ and is very likely to hold five

diamonds for 2t (he'd bid 2® holding four clubs

and four diamonds).

Hand B. Bid 1™, preparing to pass any response of

partner. It may very well be that left-hand opponent

bids 1NT as an overcall, raised to 3NT - how glad

you are to have got your hearts into the game now,

so partner can lead one.

Hand C. Open 1™. You certainly might open 1NT

- as you would have done in first or second seat. But

give partner an oh-so-likely flattish 8-point hand

with a four-card major and you'll play in 1NT rather

than the 4-4 major fit. So open 1™ to facilitate

finding either 4-4 major fit. Should part ner respond,

say, 2®, then you can pass, confident that you do

not hold a 4-4 major fit. Note that this gambit is not

possible in first and second seat, because you are

stuck over a 2® response (you have to bid again as

partner is unlimited). It is fair to say that you should

open 1™ at teams/rubber in third seat too, partly to

avoid being doubled in 1NT.

Game All. Dealer South.

´ A Q 8 5

™ A Q 6 2

t J 6

® 9 5 3

´ 10 7 4 ´ J 9

™ 10 9 5 ™ K J 8 7

t 8 7 5 t K Q 10 3

® A Q 7 2 ® K 10 8

´ K 6 3 2

™ 4 3

t A 9 4 2

® J 6 4

West North East South

Pass

Pass 1™ Pass 1´

Pass 2´ All Pass

1NT - had North opened it and played there -

would have had no seventh trick. And even if North

6 English Bridge February 2015 www.ebu.co.uk

N

W E

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Tactical Third-in-hand Openers by Andrew Robson

Pairs TacticsPairs Tactics

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Index

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