Questions and Answers


Question 3

Imps, NS Vul

    S K x x x x
    H J x x
    D A J x
    C x x

West North East South
pass 1 S 2 H
?

What call should West make, and why? Do you think this is a close decision or clearcut? If you invite and the opponents then bid 4H, what do you do then?
   This is my personal analysis. "The law" (in simple-minded form) says "10 trumps = 10 tricks", but 5332 plays crummy if pard also has 5332 (you can ruff a lot except there's nothing to ruff) and you have 3 losers in the opponents' suit. So personally I'd invite rather than jump to game. (Most people probably play 3S = weak these days so the invitation would probably be a cue bid rather than a jump to 3S, but I'm sure every pair has some way to invite.) Also, I suppose if the opponents bid 4H I'd bid 4S (too chicken to let them play a vul game) even if pard passed by invitation or passed over LHO's hypothetical 4H.

Robert Geller
Tokyo


Answer

We agree with your valuation. This hand is worth an invitation only. Assuming your 9 HCP are 8 WP, we will reason like this.
   We know that our SST will be at worst 5. But that only happens if North has 5-3-3-2 with the same doubleton as you. Since expecting that is overly pessimistic, we assume that our SST will be 4 or less (partner is twice as likely to have a doubleton diamond or heart than a doubleton club). To make a game then, partner needs 15 WP or more. Alternatively, he may have a red suit singleton, so that our SST will be 3. Then, a minimum opening will be enough for game. In both cases, partner will know that he should bid 4S. No need for us to bid his cards.
   If you should bid 4S over a potential 4H is not so clear. True, 4S won't be very expensive, but going -100 (or rarely -300) instead of +100 (or +200 if you dare to double), is costly at any form of scoring. Heart bids by the opponents increase the chance that East has a singleton there, but then why didn't he bid 4S all by himself? Suppose his reason for passing over 4H was that he had wasted values in their suit. Then, your jack of hearts may play a big role on defense against 4H.


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