Bridge Puzzle


PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 30 June, 2015, 3:20pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 16 August, 2018, 9:52pm


You are South, both sides vulnerable. The bidding has been:
West North East South
1 ♣ 1 ♠ Pass ?
What would you bid with each of the following hands?
1. ♠ Q853 ♥ AQJ64 ♦ 72 ♣ 95
2. ♠ J5 ♥ AQ ♦ AQ973 ♣ KJ84
3. ♠ AJ72 ♥ KQ832 ♦ 96 ♣ A3
4. ♠ A8652 ♥ 7 ♦ AK9843 ♣ 5

1. Two spades. Before going into the answers, it might be best to first clarify the meaning of partner’s spade bid.

Generally, an overcall on the one-level indicates a good five-card or longer suit, and about eight to 16 points in high cards. It is most often intended as a competitive bid aimed mainly at achieving a partscore, and at depriving the opponents of bidding spaces.

The partner of the overcaller responds accordingly, bearing in mind that the overcall may be based on as little as eight or nine high-card points.

With this hand, the proper action is a single raise in spades, which invites partner to continue bidding if he has significantly more than a minimum overcall.

It would be wrong to bid two hearts, which is not forcing and might be passed all around.

2. Three notrump. It is highly likely that game can be made, and the surest way of getting there is to take the direct route. Whatever the nature of partner’s spade bid, your hand figures to produce a game opposite it.

Partner might have bid largely on distributional values, in which case he is free to correct to four spades, but if he accepts three notrump as the contract, it will probably be made.

A jump to two notrump would not be forcing, and would show a lesser hand. Nor is there any point to bidding diamonds with a hand so pre-eminently satisfactory for notrump.

3. Four spades. Regardless of the type of hand partner has for his overcall, game must be undertaken.

It is hard to imagine a one-spade bid opposite your hand that would be likely to lose four tricks. Three spades — a mere invitation to game — would not be sufficient with a hand of this magnitude.

4. Four notrump. Despite West’s opening bid, slam is a distinct possibility with this hand opposite partner’s overcall.

How many high-card points partner actually has is not important, but whether he has an ace is. The best way to determine this is via Blackwood.

If partner responds five diamonds, showing one ace, you plan to bid six spades.

Partner may have as little as
♠ KJ973 ♥ A52 ♦ 75 ♣ 862, and yet even this sad collection is a strong favourite to produce 12 tricks.

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