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16 English Bridge June 2019 www.ebu.co.uk

Coping with Interference - Part 3

Traps for the unwary by Michael Byrne

by Michael Byrne

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T

he last few months we have looked at

situations where partner's opening bid has

been overcalled either at the one level or the

two level. This issue we are going to look at

something slightly different: when the opponents

overcall with a bid of 1NT.

This doesn't take up as much room as a two level

overcall but you do need to think about what you

are going to do about it, since it changes the bidding

completely.

The first thing to note is that you can't make

negative doubles of no trumps, since double is

needed as a penalty double, which is used to show

pretty much any hand of 10+ points.

Let's imagine a straightforward start of 1™ from

partner and a 1NT overcall. I am going to assume

that your opponents play a 1NT overcall as a natural

bid showing 16-18 HCPs (or a good 15) and a

stopper in hearts. Whilst there might be some

regional variations this is a pretty universal bid.

Here you hold the following hands:

down. A cautious pass is correct and you hope

your surprise spade lead is enough to take them

down.

Hand 2 has 4-card support and should raise hearts.

Don't be put off by the awful point count, you

simply must have hearts as trumps. One of the

good things about the opponents having bid 1NT

is that partner will know there is a whopping

strong no trump on his left and will show due

caution. The other subtle point is that if partner's

hearts are headed by the jack then when he plays

the hand he will lose one heart trick. If you

defend 1NT you will lead one and lose two tricks,

leading into the jaws of declarer's AQx.

Hand 3 should raise hearts of course but a feeble

2™ will simply let your opponents find their club

or spade fit. With a likely 9-card fit (partner won't

normally be strong balanced if the overcaller is)

you will be completely safe at the three level and

your singleton and tasty side suit gives you plenty

of playing strength, bid 3™.

Partner will expect you to be in the shapely 5-9

range since if you had more…..

Hand 4 does have more - how many hearts should

it bid? Would you be shocked if I told you none at

all?

The trouble with bidding 3™ is that partner will

expect a weak shapely hand, similar to other

competitive auctions. There is a slight clue as to

what to bid, you may recall the line above that

says double shows pretty much any hand of 10+

points. Yes, this hand must start with a penalty

double, it can then raise hearts on the next round

to show this sort of strength. Partner can bid

game if he thinks it will make or you can compete

safely. Starting with a double may seem to be

clouding the issue, but in the unlikely event that

you defend 1NT you will be on to a good thing.

With the opponents hopelessly outgunned, and a

nice suit to attack, your side will be getting rich

quickly.

Hand 1 Hand 2 Hand 3

´ A Q 7 5 4 ´ J 2 ´ J 9 4

™ 4 ™ K 10 7 3 ™ K 9 5 4

t Q 9 7 5 t 8 7 t Q 10 8 4 3

® J 4 3 ® 9 6 4 3 2 ® 5

Hand 4 Hand 5 Hand 6

´ K J ´ K Q 10 7 6 2 ´ 6

™ Q 9 5 4 ™ 7 6 ™ 4 3

t A 7 6 2 t 8 t K J 10 7 6 4 3

® J 3 2 ® 9 7 4 3 ® Q 9 2

Hand 1 wants to show spades or compete but there

is no satisfactory bid available. Double would be

very speculative. While you do have nine points

(which suggests the hand belongs to your side)

you have a suspicious singleton in partner's suit

and will need some spade help to get the contract

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