February 2020 English Bridge
Hand 3 should bid 4™, not necessarily to make it
but just to up the ante. The trouble with a slower
route of bidding 3™, and then wondering
whether 4™ will be a good save against 3´, is that
you make life too easy for the opponents. By
bidding 4™ you offer them the choice between
playing 4´ or passing out 4™, as they won't be
able to double with any confidence when your
trumps are so strong. If they do bid 4´ then
partner will be well placed to know what to do -
most of the time he will pass and try to beat it, but
if he is also very shapely he might bid on to 5™,
either as a sacrifice or with the option of making.
He will only double 4´ if he has it beaten in his
own hand, as our raise is pre-emptive and
promises nothing in defence.
Hand 4 is the odd one out. This hand should pass
2´, not because of the bad trumps or poor shape
(although both of those are a factor) but because
it has huge defensive prospects and no playing
strength at all.
Although raising to 3™ will sometimes be right, it
will just lead partner into a trap. For starters your
spade holding can't possibly be of any use when
partner is marked with shortage. (Occasionally
Acol players might have a 4-3 spade fit for this
sequence when the opener has a strong no trump
type hand, but this is pretty rare in a competitive
Even if the opponents help you by leading a spade
from an honour the defender in 3rd seat will
probably win and will be well placed to switch to
a club. Your hand lacks entries to try and ruff
anything out even if the hand on lead has led
from Kxx for example.
The biggest danger on this hand (by far) is that
partner will over-compete, thinking that (for
some reason) you actually want hearts as trumps.
If the next hand bids 3´ you will be glowing with
pride at having pushed them up, until you see
with horror partner reach into the bidding box
and bid even more hearts.
The best thing to do on this hand is pass, and if
2´ comes round to your partner he can double
for take out if he does hold a fair hand with (the
expected) spade shortage. Then, when you take
out into 3™, if the opponents bid on to 3´
partner will not expect you to have anything and
will know to defend.
Imagine partner's hand might be similar to one of
´ 2 ´ 8 ´ -
™ A K J 9 7 ™ A Q 10 7 3 2 ™ K J 9 7 6 5
t Q 9 3 t 8 7 6 t A Q 2
® K J 9 6 ® A K J ® K 9 4 2
then he will compete further over 2´ and all will be
well. But, if he has something like this:
´ K ´ K 3
™ Q 10 8 6 5 4 ™ K Q 10 8 4 2
t Q 10 2 t Q 2
® A Q J ® K 5 3
Then he will pass out 2´ and that will very much
prove to be your best score.
The Dos and Don'ts of raising partner in
Do support partner as your default action, it is a
normal part of duplicate bridge to compete
vigorously and not sit there paralysed by the
fear you will go down.
Do trust partner to make the right judgement
once you have given him the right
information about your hand, if he
doubles for penalties after you have made
a pre-emptive raise then pass.
Don't raise partner when your hand is entirely
composed of defensive assets. If you can
see it is wrong for your side to play the
hand then leave the competition up to
Don't overcall at the two level on balanced
hands! A six card suit or, (if your suit is
hearts) a shapely hand with five and good
playing strength is required, since partner
will be raising you more often.
Have you got it? Try Michael's quiz online,
page 69 when you've finished the article