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Bidding Judgment by Andrew Kambites

Getting Involved

ACOL IS a freewheeling bidding system, different context. Suppose you are South

notable for light opening bids. However, after this auction. Hand C Hand D

light opening bids (or overcalls) must ´ 8 ´ A

have a purpose. West North East South ™ 76 ™ Q6

1® 1´ 3® 4´ t Q J 10 6 5 t J 10 7 6 5

Opening and Overcalling Light 5® Pass Pass ? ® A J 10 4 2 ® J 10 4 3 2

Firstly, if you are considering any off- Take note that partner hasn’t doubled 5®.

centre opening (including pre-empts) you Can you make a sensible contribution Before answering that, try to estimate how

are introducing a randomising effect. If towards beating 5®? you would feel if you bid 2NT and the

you slightly mislead partner the real cost is Holding Hand A, you actually have bidding continues:

if partner is very strong. You don’t want to negative defensive values! Your only

lose your game bonus by encouraging him assets are the ´A-K and because you West North East South

to bid a poor slam. The worst time to have so many spades there is a high Pass 1´ 2NT 4´

randomise is second in hand. Partner is probability that partner’s spade lead will 5® Dble.

unlimited, and the fact that one opponent get ruffed at trick one. Bidding 5´ seems

has passed increases the possibility of obvious; the only risk might be that you I would feel intensely relaxed if I held Hand

partner being very strong. push them into a making slam. Still, C. Presumably partner thinks 5® doubled

The best time to indulge yourself is partner must have something outside will be cheap in comparison to 4´ making.

third in hand. Since partner has already spades for his overcall, so I would bid 5´ I have quite good offence in the minors and

passed he is unlikely to push you and take the risk. no defence to a major contract.

skywards, and there is an increased chance Holding Hand B, I have two obvious I would be feeling extremely appre-

that the fourth hand, who is the only defensive tricks: the tA-K. I would hensive with Hand D. My playing strength

player at the table who hasn’t passed, is happily double 5®. is weaker than partner expects, leading to a

strong. substantial penalty. Worse still, in the ´A

So let us look at potential light opening and ™Q I have unexpectedly good defence

bids third in hand. Principle: If the auction becomes to 4´. Certainly the balance between my

How would you feel about opening the competitive, high cards in your trick-taking potential in 5® and my

bidding at Love All with Hand A or Hand long suits suggest bidding on, defence against 4´ is very different. Note

B? whereas high cards in your short that the queen of hearts may be a defensive

suits suggest defending. value; for example, the heart layout may be:

Hand A Hand B ™ K 10 7 4

´ AKJ65 ´ 97654 The point of this is that it can be slightly N

™J32 W E


™ J 10 9 8 2 ™ J 10 9 8 2 misleading to talk about how ‘good’ a S

t 87 t AK hand is. You need a context: are you ™A985

® 3 ® J talking about playing in your agreed suit

or defending an opponents’ contract? West cannot be confident that ™J-3-2 is a

Failure to understand the difference useful defensive value. Equally, East can-

Opening 1´ is obvious with Hand A. between offensive and defensive values is not see exactly how ™Q-6 will be vital

Players quite rightly point out that you the cause of many wrong decisions in against 4´. However, the two of them

want a spade lead if you lose the auction; competitive auctions. With only North- combine perfectly to give a guaranteed

however, with the high cards concentrated South vulnerable the auction starts as defensive trick, whereas this combination

in the long suits, Hand A has more playing shown below. Should East use his beloved will be of no use to you in a club contract.

strength than Hand B. Opening 1´ with unusual 2NT to show 5-5 in the minors The point is that you have no way of

Hand B is not really sensible. with Hands C and D? finding out the heart layout. It is pointless

So, is A a better hand than B? Certainly torturing yourself by mentally constructing

it has more playing strength if partner has West North East South possible layouts. Best to just regard the

a fit in a major suit but now look at it in a Pass 1´ ? heart queen as a general defensive value. I

40 English Bridge October 2012


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