DEC_EB_p38-39 Debate 15/11/07 12:02 pm Page 38
in the black suits
Two World Champions debate a hot bridge topic. Tell us whose
Michelle Brunner argument has won you over by e-mailing the Editor at firstname.lastname@example.org
WHAT is so special about opening a hand introduce your club suit economically on distribution. See what happens when you
which is 5-5 in clubs and spades? Holding the next round. Of course, this only start by opening 1♣ with the following
any other 5-5 combination it is customary indicates a 5-4 distribution and unless hand: ♠AQ654 ♥4 ♦A3 ♣KQJ76. The
to begin with the higher-ranking suit with partner has a good hand you may not get auction proceeds: 1♣ – 1♥ – 1♠ – anything
a view to bidding one’s second suit twice, a chance to confirm your actual shape. – 3♠, and whilst still below the level of
if space permits. Aye, there’s the rub! Every Ideally, the auction will progress some- 3NT you have bared all!
bridge player knows how difficult it can be thing like 1♥ – 1♠ – 2♣ – 2♦ (fourth suit I mentioned earlier the possible pre-
to describe fully one’s assets and while, forcing) – 3♣ – 3NT. Imagine, now, an emptive benefit of selecting an original
occasionally, one has to suffer the conse- initial response of 2♦ and this time you spade opening, but qualified that with sug-
quences with some 5-5 combinations are forced to rebid 2♥ (as you need 16 HCP gesting a refusal to be intimidated and kept
when one is weak and forced to conceal to effect a reverse) and your beautiful club out of the auction if I were to stick to my
the lower-ranking suit, the age-old rule of suit is temporarily, if not forever, buried. antediluvian methods and open 1♣. Well,
opening 1♣ with the black suits serves to Such is bridge life: you will be frequently now it’s my turn to advocate modern trends
avoid this fate. Many moons ago, when unable to complete the precise picture of and ask you to consider the notion of re-
bridge became part of my national curri- such hands unless either you have 16 or entering a competitive auction either via a
culum, this issue was never contentious more HCP, or partner is blessed with ‘double’ or by bidding the spades later.
and, indeed, has become a tradition which invitational (or better) values. Notwith- First of all, it’s time to wake up the oppo-
has stood the test of time – until now, I standing, remember too that when you do sition and get some competitive action!
hear Heather saying! These days, some have the luxury of expressing your 5-5 Again, you hold ♠AQ654 ♥4 ♦A3 ♣KQJ76
modern theorists advise differently and pattern, you will be doing so at the three and I know that if I were to make the
while I agree that on the odd occasion the level. ‘mistake’ of opening 1♠ with this collection
pre-emptive quality of opening one spade Turning our attention back to the black- I would feel very uncomfortable about the
with both black suits will be a successful suited debate and, again, with no oppo- prospect of defending against a red-suit
gambit I aim to explain convincingly why sition bidding, how does one describe: contract (either red-suit, doubled or un-
I’m still a creature of habit. ♠AQ654 ♥4 ♦43 ♣KQJ76, if you start by doubled) if I had concealed my rather
If bridge can be described as an exciting opening 1♠? Should partner respond in useful second suit during the bidding.
game, then there is definitely a thrill to either red suit, your rebid has to be 2♠ Surely the beauty of this hand lies in
picking up the spade suit! In owning a suit which, mercifully, in this example, is a suit discovering a fit and I have potentially
with which you can outbid your oppo- of reasonable quality. Try opening 1♣ and end-played partner in the auction if it
nents (and partner!) at every level, one has you are prepared for anything and every- remains unmentioned.
to respect this magical quality. Hence, thing! Admittedly opponents are not always Call me old-fashioned and, even, dare-
while nominating the club suit at my first obliging but given a free run your auction devil but if I elect to open 1♣, I do not
turn allows my opponents plenty of room will often allow you to show your five-card propose to remain silent even if someone
to overcall, no-one can stop me bidding spade suit at the two level: 1♣ – 1♥ – 1♠ steals my bidding box! 1♣ – (1♥) – 2♦ –
my spade suit later – and I’ll take my – and if partner rebids 1NT, 2♣, 2♦ (2♥) – ? Do you have any agreement with
chances if the level is a trifle high when I (fourth suit forcing) or 2♥, you can bid your partner about the meaning of double
do so! Am I being totally reckless? I think your spades again at an economically sound or bidding 2♠ in this position? Fortunately
not, but to prove it I need to go back to level without promising extra values! I do, and that means I can safely describe
basics and illustrate my theory with some Strengthen the previous examples to the illustrated example hand with a rebid
examples. house 16 or more HCP, and whereas you of 2♠, reserving a take-out double for
You pick up: ♠4 ♥AQ654 ♦43 ♣KQJ76 may now be able to show your second suit doing battle with just a four-card spade
and sensibly open 1♥. So long as partner by way of a high-level reverse, you are, as suit.
responds 1♠ or 1NT, you will be able to yet, unable to confirm any more than a 5-4 Perfect! I rest my case.
38 English Bridge December 2007 www.ebu.co.uk