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16 English Bridge February 2020 www.ebu.co.uk

Raising partner in competition

Traps for the unwary by Michael Byrne

by Michael Byrne

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T

he last few months we have dwelt on the

auctions where your side has opened the

bidding and the opponents have intervened,

but now we turn our attention to the reverse. This

time we are the competitors, striving to knock the

opponents off balance with a well timed thrust.

One of the key skills to have is the ability to know

when to raise partner in a competitive auction. In

general most less experienced players do not raise

partner enough. As a rule your default position

should be to support partner unless you can see a

strong reason not to.

Let's look at a few hands you might hold, after a

simple start where the opponents open the bidding

and partner overcalls at the two-level. My friend

Sarah Bell has written about responding to onelevel

overcalls on p6. The principles are the same,

but much will be gained from reading both articles.

Sitting South, assume both sides are vulnerable so

that the stakes are a little higher than usual:

even the ™9 will prove to be a late entry.

The key thing is that, however poor your hand,

you do want hearts as trumps and you would be

happy to push your opponents up to 3´. There

isn't much danger you will get too high, partner

will normally have two or three spades himself

and won't be expecting the earth from a gentle

raise. Let's imagine partner has something like:

Playing in 3™ on a

spade lead will definitely be

better than 2´ on a diamond

lead. In practice the

opponents are likely to

compete to 3´ (they do have

23 points between them after all) which you will

have a better chance of defeating.

Game All. Dealer West.

W N E S

1´ 2™ 2´ ?

Hand 1 Hand 2

´ 8 2 ´ A 8 7 5

™ Q 9 3 ™ 10 6 2

t K J 10 8 4 t 6

® 9 7 4 ® 9 7 6 3 2

Hand 3 Hand 4

´ 8 ´ Q J 9 7

™ K 10 8 3 ™ 8 6 5

t Q 9 7 6 3 t K J 9

® 7 6 4 ® 8 7 4

Hand 1 is modest in nature but 3™ is still correct.

You have three reasonable hearts and some

possible tricks in diamonds. If partner has a

singleton diamond then your hand won't be that

useful but it may still be possible to set up some

winners and reach them with the ™Q, perhaps

´ K 7 6

™ A J 10 8 4 2

t 3

® K 6 2

´ -

™ A K 9 7 5 3

t A J 6 4

® K 9 7

Hand 2 has fewer high card points, but is still very

useful as a dummy in hearts and 3™ is the right

action. On the expected spade lead partner will be

able to win (perhaps discarding a losing club) and

lead a diamond and take a couple of ruffs in our

hand.

Even if partner does raise 3™ to 4™, I would

expect it to have a chance unless the opponents

were on good form and found a trump lead. Even

then, with partner's minor suit honours over

West, I would think it still has a fighting chance.

For example, partner might have this hand:

where he will re-raise himself

to 4™ and make it on most

days of the week;

´ J

™ A Q J 9 7 6

t K J 4

® Q J 2

or he might have this hand

where 3™ will surely be made

unless the ™K is offside and

the defence find a club ruff.

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