xmlns:w="urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:word" xmlns="http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40"> Mountnessing Bridge Club

Mountnessing Bridge Club



Board 13: Inverted minor raises - and opening leads and signals!



Hand played on 

12th July 2007

Board number 13

Red Section





Submitted by

Alaric Cundy / Tim Prior


































































I 'kibitzed' on this hand at two different tables, and Tim Prior provided comments from a third table.


The rather aggressive auction shown occurred at the first of those tables.  North will have been planning to show his / her hand as a 16 HCP No Trump hand, expecting to follow up the 1 opening with a 1NT rebid.  North / South were playing the inverted minor style, and though personally I would expect South's bid to show 4-card support, it was certainly effective in that it put West under pressure.  With a singleton in partner's suit, in my view West was rather brave to introduce a new suit at the three-level, but then struck gold, finding partner with good support.  South's second bid was really aggressive, but it had the effect of pushing the opponents into a hopeless and doomed contract.  


At the second table, the bidding was more calm, South choosing to pass on the first round, and that action allowed West to introduce the spades at the one level.  Now the bidding finished at 3 by West.  


Against East / West's spade contract the defenders have one obvious trick in each suit - but can they improve on that?  North will clearly start on diamonds.  I think that the best play is to take the Ace at trick one and immediately lead a heart towards Dummy.  This play will put North under pressure, and the Ace must be taken, else an overtrick presents itself.  A diamond continuation and then force Dummy with a third diamond looks to be the best play.  Now Declarer will hope to give up a club, and then to ruff one club, and park one club on the King of hearts, to restrict the losers to four tricks. 


Though the play didn't go quite like this at either table I watched, all roads seem to lead to Rome, and one West claimed a score of +140 for a shared 'second top', whilst the other conceded -500 for a 'bottom' score.


So what might have happened differently?  Personally I think that at the featured table South's original 3 bid was very effective, but a bit 'off-beat' with only three card support.  However, the 5 bid offered East / West a chance for a good score that they didn't take .  Played in Diamonds by North, this hand looks destined for at least three losers, and if East starts with the singleton club it could fare even less well.  The only pair to play the hand in diamonds were held to 9 tricks.


In the modern style, I would have preferred a 1NT bid from the South hand after the intervening 1 bid.  Never mind that singleton spade - all the bid shows is some semblance of a heart stop plus a few values, but not enough to introduce a new suit at the two level.  The bidding may well have died there, and in normal play, after an initial spade lead, it will probably result in a score of +90 to North / South, but possibly better if West starts with a heart.


Tim Prior also gave me an account of this hand from a third table.  There the bidding was as follows:

1   1  2  No

2NT  End


Playing standard methods, South's 2 is an overbid - 1NT would be more descriptive and 2 could work out well.  Traditionally a '2 over 1' change of suit shows at least 8 HCPs, but many partnerships now adopt 9 or even 10 as the minimum requirement.  That approach means that you sometimes find yourself responding 1NT on some strange hands, such as South's here.  North tried 2NT, which many partnerships treat as game forcing after a '2 over 1' change of suit, but this bid ended the auction.

East reviewed the evidence before selecting a lead: partner had not raised hearts and the North hand bid NT. These points both suggested a heart would be a poor choice. [Indeed a heart gives declarer his 8th trick.]  South had not made a negative double and North had not bid spades, thus it seemed quite likely West might have something useful in spades.  East led the Jack of spades, which was allowed to hold the trick as West contributed a small one.   This hand also illustrates the pitfalls that can befall the use of standard 'attitude' style of signalling - playing such a style, West would play the 9 on the first trick, thus increasing the chances of a blockage.  Either the 'count' style (play the lowest card to show an odd number in the suit) or the 'inverse attitude' (play the lowest card to request continuation of the suit) considerably reduce the chances of blocking the spade suit.

The Defence was now straightforward for East: North could not hold the Queen of Spades unless he was playing a very deep game, so it must be right to play another spade.  North couldnít hold more than four spades, having opened in diamonds and re-bid in No Trumps. But it would be lazy to play the 8 to partnerís known queen and the wait for more tricks.  There are four spade tricks for the defence unless the suit gets blocked.  East should continue with the KING of spades and then play the 10, preserving the 8 to avoiding blocking.  Sooner or later West gets in with the Ace of diamonds, and cashes the last two spades, and plays the heart.  This defence leads to one off. 

Some lessons (drawn from the experiences at three tables):