Club News Sheet – No. 156   29th   Oct 2005


Mon   24th  N-S   1st    Jim(Sco)/Chuck      60%             2nd      Bjarni/Ole                     53%

                  E-W   1st    David/Kenneth       56%             2nd      Jan/Phil                         53%

Wed   26th            1st    Dave/Hans             62%             2nd      Chuck/Terry                 58%

Fri      28th  N-S   1st    Bob/Dave               62%             2nd      Jan/Tomas                    59%

          21st  E-W   1st    Mike&Angela         63%             2nd      Bjorn/Ian                      61%



Bidding Quiz                           Standard American is assumed unless otherwise stated


Hand A            Hand B            What do you open with Hand A?


AKJ7432      AJ65             With Hand B partner opens 1 and RHO overcall a weak 2,

-                   J975             what do you do?

8                   82

AJ876          Q97


Hand C            Hand D            With Hand C RHO opens 1♠. (a) what do you do?

                                                (b) Suppose you pass and partner bids 2, what do you do?

A64              94              

QJ107          106               With Hand D you open 1, LHO overcalls 2 and this is

AQ5             AQ653         passed to you, what do you do?

1076            AK106      


Hand E             Hand F             What do you open with Hand E?


A8                K2               

AJ                2                   With Hand F LHO opens 1 and this is passed to you.

AQJ108753  K108432      (a) What do you do?

K                 AJ53            (b) Suppose you bid 2 and partner bids 2NT, what now?


Hand G            Hand H            An easy one. With Hand G RHO opens 3, you pass, LHO

                                                raises to 4 and partner doubles. What do you bid?

K1043          KJ9652     

87543           A6                With Hand H you open 1 in 4th seat. Partner responds 2NT

J65                A6                (11-12), what do you bid?

9                  K84


Hand J             Hand K            With Hand J LHO opens 1 and partner overcalls 1. What do

                                                you do?

KQ4             98

K943            A8                With Hand K you open 1 and partner responds 1, what is

J86                AQJ32          your rebid?

KJ10            Q1073


Sequences L and M:                                               West          North           East          South

L:   What does the 2 cuebid here mean?               1             1                pass         2♣ ?

M:  What does the 3 jump here mean?                  1             1                pass         3?
Benjamin is the way
Board 28 from Monday 24th   


Yet another example of a hand ‘impossible’ to sensibly bid because of a system with only one strong bid. When will the Yanks come out of the middle-ages and play Benjamin?


Dealer:             AKJ7432                                    Table A (Standard American)

West                -                                                 West          North(A)    East          South

N-S vul            8                                                 pass           4    (1)      all pass      


                                                                                                        Table B (Standard American)

Q1098               N             65                         West          North(A)    East          South

KJ432            W    E          876                       pass           1    (1)      pass         2      (2)

A2                      S              97543                   pass           3   (3)      pass         3      (4)

94                                      1032                    pass           4    (5)      pass         5     (6)

                        -                                                 all pass


                        KQJ106                                      Table C (Standard American)

                        KQ5                                          West          North(A)    East          South

                                                      pass           2   (1)      pass         2      (7)

The ‘Benji’ Table                                                    pass           2    (8)      pass         3      (9)

West        North(A)  East            South                   pass           4    (9)      pass         4NT   (10)

2   (1)    pass         2    (13)    pass                     pass           5              pass         6      (11)

2    (14)  pass         3    (14)    pass                     pass           6    (12)    all pass

3   (15)  pass         4   (16)    pass

4    (17)  pass         pass (18)    pass



Table A:     (1)  What did you open with this North hand A in this week’s quiz? This hand really is a bit too good for 4. A 4 opener is pre-emptive with (usually 8 ’s). And the other reason that I don’t like 4 is that there may be a slam.

                        I prefer table B’s bid but the best solution is Benjamin.

Table B:     (1)  I too would open 1 if my partner was not enlightened enough to realise the

                        benefits of playing Benjamin twos.

(2)   I would bid 2 - bid 5 card suits from the top down

(3)   Natural and game forcing

(4)   Presumably meant as natural. The problems are that (a) it’s the 4th suit and (b) even if partner thought it was natural he would never take it for an excellent 5-card suit.

(5)   A jump in a game forcing situation – so fast arrival, indicating that that’s where he wants to play.

(6)   But South preferred ’s. Pass may be preferable, especially at pairs scoring.

Table C:     (1)  Now the current trend in America seems to be to open 2 with a hand that is

                        one trick short of game. This hand may be about 9 playing tricks but to open 2 with just 13 high card points is way too off-beat for me. We’ve met this problem before (news-sheet 152 - A 2§ Opener? – part 1) when the very same player opened 2 with a strongish 2-suiter and again ended up in a hopeless slam when his partner had a monster with the other two suits. My personal opinion is that if 2 is your only strong bid then it needs to be at least 18-19 points. Of course the only real solution is to play Benjamin twos.

(7)   A positive in basic Standard American.

(8)   Natural and game forcing.

(9)   2nd suit

(10)   Fast arrival. A jump to game in a game forcing situation indicates that that’s where you want to play.

(11)   But obviously South is pushing on if North has anything remotely resembling a 2 opening. Luckily there was an ace missing or South would have bid a grand slam.

Benji        (1)  8-9 playing tricks in this instance.

 Table         (13)  Automatic relay

(14)   Natural

(15)   2nd suit (a jump to 4 is also reasonable here, which would show a hand with playing strength in ’s but not much elsewhere)

(16)   I prefer ’s to ’s

(17)   But I have very good ’s and this is pairs scoring

(18)   OK. As it’s a mis-fit and you did not open 2 I’ll settle for 4.


And what happened? 3 pairs bid 4, the other 3 did not. 6 went minus one; it would have made on a lead and gone 2 down on a lead.

The bottom lines (assuming you play Standard American with just 2 as your strong bid): -

-         Don’t open 2with two-suiters.

-         You need to set some sort of minimum point count for 2, I would say about 19+.

-         Opening 2§ with about 9 playing tricks but few points may be standard practice in the States, but there are certainly better ways and it can easily get out of control if partner has a good hand (and a mis-fit)! I said virtually the same thing in news-sheet 152 when something similar happened.

-         Play Benjamin twos! – Then a 2opener shows a good hand but not a load of points and 2♦ shows a very strong hand with points.



A real 2 opener?


A8                    I have been going through the old news sheets as I put them up on the web

AJ                    and I found this Hand E from news-sheet 60/61. What did you open with

AQJ108753      Hand E in this week’s quiz? Way back in 2003 I opened it with 2 and

K                     received the usual criticism from Hans. Hans said that it was not good enough

                            for 2 and that he would open it 1. What’s more, Chuck agreed with him!

To this day I don’t know if Chuck was serious or simply siding with Hans as a matter of course; but there is something wrong somewhere if one opens Hand A with 2 and not this one.

Agreed? Incidentally, there’s another entertaining article on 2 openings in news-sheet 61.

I really am finding some gems going through the old news sheets and putting them on the web – and I’m compiling an index while I’m doing it – it’ll take a week or two.

There’s no negative double over a 1NT overcall           Board 9 from Monday 24th  


Dealer:             A654                                         

North               104                                             West          North         East          South

E-W vul           75432                                         -                 pass           1            1NT   (1)

                        K8                                             dbl    (2)     pass           3    (3)    pass

                                                                                                        pass           dbl             all pass

-                        N             KQ9872              

A9763            W    E          K52                     

98                       S              10                        

J109743                             A52                     






(1)  15-18 with a stop!? I guess that J10x is close to a stop but 2 is a sound alternative.

(2)  Meant as negative (showing ’s). Unfortunately negative doubles do not apply when the overcall is 1NT. Double is penalties, about 9+ points. A suit bid here (2 or 2) is natutal and non-forcing (with values West would double).

(3)  I would pass.


The bottom lines: -

-         When partner opens and RHO overcalls 1NT (15-18) then double by you is penalties and any suit bid is weak – to play.


Double is ‘automatic’                                           Board 22 from Monday 24th  


Dealer:             72                                              

East                  A432                                          West(B)     North         East(D)    South

E-W vul           K94                                            -                 -                 1            2      (1)

                        J854                                           pass  (2)     pass           pass (3)   


AJ65                  N             94                        

J975               W    E          106                      

82                       S              AQ653                

Q97                                   AK106                






(1)  Exactly why South chose a ‘weak’ jump overcall rather than 1 will remain a mystery.

(2)  What did you bid with this West hand B in this week’s quiz? Double would be negative (showing 4 ’s) and I too would pass and settle for the penalty after partner’s ‘automatic’ double.

(3)  What did you bid with this East hand D in this week’s quiz? I guess that I have not emphasised the ‘automatic’ re-opening double enough in the news sheets?


And what happened? 2 went minus two and the 100 to E-W was a near bottom for them. The 300 from 2 doubled would have been an outright top.

The bottom line: -

-         Much the same as it has been nearly every week for the past 155 news-sheets, if you play negative doubles then re-open with a double if partner passes LHO’s overcall.



When not to re-open with a double (when playing negative doubles)


As I have mentioned many times, the re-opening double is almost automatic but there are (very few) exceptions. Suppose you open 1 and RHO overcalls 2♥, love all: -


Hand A            Hand P           Hand Q          With Hand A bid 4, strong. There may be

AKJ7432      AJ7432       AJ743         slam and this hand has little defence to ’s.

-                   8                 KJ109

8                   Q                Q7              With Hand P bid 3 showing a shapely weak hand.

AJ876          KJ876        J8               This is close and I would not argue with a double.


With hand Q, pass! It really is very unlikely for LHO to have a 2-level overcall and partner to have a penalty hand. Note that your trumps really do need to be about this good for this action – you’ll be surprised at the rubbish that people overcall with these days!

Don’t leap off when it’s game forcing anyway                     Board 15 from Monday 24th  


Dealer:             A                                                Table A

South               KQJ73                                       West          North         East          South(K)

N-S vul            K109                                          -                 -                 -               1     

                        K942                                         pass           1              pass         1NT   (1)

                                                                                                        pass           3   (2)      pass         5     (3)

QJ104               N             K76532                pass           6   (4)      pass         pass

1062               W    E          954                       dbl             all pass

76                       S              854                      

AJ85                                  6                          Table B

                        98                                               West          North         East          South

                        A8                                              -                 -                 -               1         

                        AQJ32                                        pass           1              pass         2     (1)

                        Q1073                                       pass           2    (5)      pass         3      (6)

                                                                              etc to 6(7)


Table A:     (1)  What did you rebid with this South hand K in this week’s quiz? 1NT is 12-14

                        but, especially with nothing in ’s, 2is best – show your shape.

(2)   Game forcing.

(3)   And this is also bad. Partner’s 3 is game forcing and there is all the room on the world to find the best contract. Of course it’s tricky because of the unwise 1NT at (1) but 3, 3, 3(4th suit) or 4 are all reasonable – there’s no need to jump.

(4)   West knows that they have gone past 3NT and so punts the slam – that’s also what I would have done at pairs scoring.

Table B:     (1)  Life really is easier when you start off with the right bid.

(5)   4th suit, in this case just to set up a game force.

(6)   No stop

(7)   North knows that there’s a double fit (4-4 in ’s and 5-3 in ’s) and when your slamming suit quality counts, so he correctly chose ’s. I guess ’s would score more but nobody bid to 6.


And what happened. One pair bid 6 making, 6 would make but nobody bid it, two pairs bid 6 which didn’t make. Other scores were all over the place.

The bottom lines: -

-         I’m always harping on about the 4-4 fit, and it’s usually better than 5-3. But when you are in slam you need good trumps and these ’s are not slam quality (the ’s are and the ’s are).

-         Use 4th suit forcing to set up a game forcing situation. I like to play 4th suit as game forcing; it really does make life easy.

-         Don’t rebid 1NT to show your points if you have a more descriptive bid available.

-         There’s no need to leap off if you’re in a game forcing auction, take it nice ’n easy.

Bidding after partner balances                            Board 23 from Monday 24th  


Dealer:             J53                                             Table A

South               98654                                         West(C)     North         East(F)     South

Both vul            9                                                 -                 -                 -               1     

                        9842                                          pass  (1)     pass           2    (2)    pass

                                                                                                        3NT  (3)     all pass

A64                   N             K2                       

QJ107            W    E          2                           ‘Expert Table’

AQ5                   S              K108432              West(C)     North         East(F)     South

1076                                  AJ53                    -                 -                 -               1     

                        Q10987                                      pass  (1)     pass           2    (2)    pass

                        AK3                                           2NT  (3)     pass           3NT (4)    all pass




Table A:     (1)  I hoped you passed with this West hand C(a) in this week’s quiz? There’s nothing you can say.

(2)  What did you do with this East hand F in this week’s quiz? Two players passed, it looks like a fairly clear 2 bid to me. I would make the same bid in the balancing seat without the A. Note that 3 would be a strong bid (there’s no such thing as a weak jump overcall in the balancing seat).

(3)  What did you bid with this West hand C(b) in this week’s quiz? Somebody asked me on Monday, 3NT is an overbid – you may be punishing partner who has balanced on 8-9 points. Remember, partner in the balancing seat is bidding 3 of your points. An invitational 2NT is correct.

‘Expert’      (3)  An invitational 2NT is correct.

 Table         (4)  And East has easily enough to raise to 3NT. He knows that the K is useful as

                        partner has promised a stop.


And what happened? They scored a top at table A as nobody else bid 3NT! There was 1 passed out (twice), 2NT and 3 (twice).

The bottom lines: -

-         You do not need 11+ points to overcall at the two level in the balancing seat.

-     Be aware that partner has ‘borrowed’ a king from your hand when he makes a balancing bid and don’t leap about with 13 points.


KISS – Keep It Simple, Stupid                            Board 7 from Wednesday 26th  


Dealer:             AJ85                                          

South               62                                               West(G)     North         East          South

Both vul            Q1072                                        -                 -                 -               3     (1)

                        J54                                             pass           4   (2)      dbl   (3)    pass

                                                                                                        4♠!    (4)     all pass      

K1043               N             Q96                     

87543             W    E          AKQ10               

J65                      S              AK8                    

9                                        1086                   


                        J9                     ­                                

                        943             DUMMY                



(1)   Now some people may not like this 3 opener but I have no problem with it. Give it a 7th and it would be too good for 3!

(2)   This North reads the news-sheets and raised the anti – excellent. Make it difficult for E-W.

(3)   A clear-cut double. You cannot promise both majors when you double a minor and with no stop 4NT (to play) is out.

(4)   Now this West also ‘reads’ the news-sheets. If the bidding was at the 3 level he would have bid 4 - asking partner to choose the major. But at the 4 level he had to decide. What did you bid with this West hand G in this week’s quiz? Obviously 4 I presume – but not this West! He knew that partner may well have only 3 ’s and so chose the ‘4-4’ fit. – he knew that 4-4 is better than 5-3 and maybe better than 5-4. He was a little bit too ‘clever’ to realise that he might end up in a 4-3 fit!


And what happened? Everybody else ended up in a part-score by E-W. And at this table?


J                                           North led a and West ruffed the 2nd round.

South               -                                           He successfully finessed the 9 and led a trump

Both vul            Q1072                                  to the K and A.

                        J                                           North switched a which was won in dummy.

                                                                                                Declarer led a trump to the K in the vain hope

-                        N             -                     that they split – they did not. 

875                 W    E          A10                North led another won in dummy and Declarer

J65                      S              AK8               led the Q leaving North with the last trump.

-                                         10                  The ’s were led from dummy in this position

                        -                                           and for some reason North did not ruff till the

                        -                       ­                  last one, he had thrown his J(!) and was now

                        943             DUMMY           end-played and had to lead from his Q.

                  A73                                     With a little help West made the atrocious contract

                                                                                                for a clear (well-deserved??) top!

The bottom lines: -

-     5-4 plays better than 4-3! 4 is an easy make; KISS.

-     A contract that requires a finesse of the 9, North to mis-defend and North to have the Q is somewhat against the odds.

-     North should have easily defeated the contract of course, but didn’t West do well?

‘Dig Up’ a Minor                                                 Board 18 from Wednesday 26th  


Dealer:             KJ9652                                     

East                  A6                                              West          North(H)    East          South

N-S vul            A6                                              -                 -                 pass         pass

                        K84                                           pass           1              pass         2NT   (1)

                                                                                                        pass           3    (2)      pass         pass   (3)

108                    N             Q743                    pass

KQ95             W    E          J73                      

10753                 S              QJ94                    

QJ3                                    62                       






(1)  N-S play ‘2-way Reverse Drury’ – no, I’m not joking – and so South could not bid 2 as both 2 and 2 are artificial here. Anyway, no problem as 2NT is 11-12.

(2)  What did you bid with this North hand H in this week’s quiz? The problem is that 3 is a weak bid and 4 may be a bit unilateral. I believe that 3 is the best bid here, I would play any bid other than 3 as forcing. Apparently North considered 3 but did not bid it because he was afraid of a 4 raise by South. Obviously he does not know his partner well enough, take it from me that South would never raise 3 to 4 if 3NT is a remotely viable alternative. Anyway, with this hand North could bid 4 over a possible 4 by South.

(3)  South is has described his hand and decided to trust partner who may well have a crappy 11 count with 6 ’s.


      And what happened? 3 made +2. Game was bid at 3 tables; 4 twice and 3NT (+2) once.


The bottom lines: -

-         Don’t make a weak bid with game-going values.

-         Very occasionally you may have to ‘dig up’ a minor suit – that is just another reason why I will very rarely go past 3NT into a minor in situations like this.

‘A Limit Raise or Better’


Now most people know how to invite game when partner opens 1/; normally a raise to 3/ is invitational. But when partner overcalls 1/ things are different. To start with partner may have anything from 7-16 points and a jump to 3/ may well be to high. Also, jumps to the 3-level are normally played as pre-emptive. The solution? – After a 1/ overcall from partner a cue bid of the opened suit shows a ‘limit raise or better’ – i.e. a sound raise to at least the 3-level. We had three instances on Wednesday: -


‘A Limit Raise or Better’ – part 1                      Board 21 from Wednesday 26th  


Dealer:             AKJ                                            Table A

North               K1084                                        West          North         East          South

N-S vul            9865                                           -                 1              1            pass

                        Q3                                             4     (1)     all pass


Q8754               N             109632                 Table B

63                   W    E          AJ5                      West          North         East          South

AK2                   S              Q73                      -                 1              1            pass

1082                                  AK                       2     (1)     pass           2NT(2)    pass

                        -                                                 4     (3)     all pass





Table A:     (1)  With 10 combined trumps West is prepared to bid 4 (The Law) but I prefer the bidding at Table B.

Table B:     (1)  A limit raise or better. This hand really is a bit too good for a direct 4.

(2)   With a sound overcall East is going to game (2 would be weak) but with all of his points outside ’s he suggested 3NT as an alternative contract as partner has only promised 3 ’s.

(3)   Obviously West bids game in the 5-5 fit.


And what happened? Every table but one bid 4 and all lost the obvious 4 tricks – very unlucky. One pair managed to stop in 2 and got a lucky top.

‘A Limit Raise or Better’ – part 2                      Board 16 from Wednesday 26th  


And here we see how ‘limit raise or better’ allows you to stay low when overcaller has a lousy hand: -

Dealer:             KQJ92                                      

West                984                                             West          North         East          South

E-W vul           K105                                          1              1              pass         2      (1)

                        93                                              pass           2    (2)      all pass


1087                  N             A6                       

AJ1062          W    E          5                           (1)  A limit raise (maybe a bit pushy)

AJ6                     S              9874                     (2)  I have a minimal overcall

Q4                                     KJ7652               


                        KQ73               And what happened?   2 made exactly and so a 3            

                        Q32                  raise by South would have worked out very badly.



‘A Limit Raise or Better’ – part 3                      Board 10 from Wednesday 26th  


Here we see how the ‘limit raise or better’ treatment gets to a decent game contract which was missed at most tables: -


Dealer:             KQ4                                           Table A

East                  K943                                          West          North(J)     East          South

Both vul            J86                                              -                 -                 1            1

                        KJ10                                          pass           2    (1)      all pass


8752                  N             J1093                   Table B

J8                   W    E          Q10                      West          North(J)     East          South

74                       S              AKQ95                -                 -                 1            1

Q9742                               85                        pass           2    (1)      pass         3(2)

                        A6                                              pass           4    (3)      all pass





Table A:     (1)  What did you bid with this North hand J in this week’s quiz? It’s best to play 3 and 4 as pre-emptive. Not knowing about the ‘limit raise or better cue bid’, North simply raised to 2 as South only promises 7 points for his overcall.

Table B:     (1)  A limit raise or better.

(2)   A decent hand on the border. South invited North with 3, he could just bid 4.

(3)   And North has easily enough to go to game.


And what happened? Only one pair bid 4; everybody made 10 tricks in ♥’s.


The bottom lines (for the last 3 deals): -

-         When partner overcalls in a major suit, play the cue bid as ‘limit raise or better’,

where by ‘limit raise’ I mean a sound raise to the 3 level.

-         Thus a direct raise to 3 or 4 of partner’s major is pre-emptive.

-         And so note that in this situation the cue-bid is not asking for a stop although overcaller may wish to bid NT if he is accepting the game invitation with points outside trumps.

Bidding Quiz Answers


Hand A:     1 if playing Standard American or 2/1 with 2 as the only strong bid. I require much more in the way of high card strength for a 2 opening. Playing strong twos then open 2 and playing Benjamin open 2. I don’t like 4 (or 4♦ playing Namyats) too much as it’s a bit good, wrong shape, and you may miss a slam.

Hand B:      Pass. And pass partner’s ‘automatic’ re-opening double when you play negative doubles. I think that this is the best chance for a good score; double (showing 4 ’s) is not a good bid as it’s not strong enough for the 3-level. Settle for the money.

Hand C:     (a) Pass. It’s too flat for double and there’s no bid but pass.

(b)   2NT. Partner’s 2 is in the balancing seat and he may have as few as 8 points, so an invitational 2NT is quite sufficient. Partner will bid game with 10+.

Hand D:     Dbl. ‘Automatic’ playing negative doubles.

Hand E:      2. (or 2 if you play Benjamin). Clearly worth your strongest bid.

Hand F:      (a)  2. Looks fairly clear but two players did pass on Monday. 1NT (10-13) is

                        also possible I suppose. Note that 3 here would show a much stronger hand as it’s the pass-out seat.

(b)  3NT. Your initial 2 was in the pass-out (balancing seat) and could have been as few as 8 points and partner has around 13/14 – so accept.

Hand G:     4, obviously.

Hand H:     3 or 4. I would bid 3 (a partner who reads the news-sheets is unlikely to raise to 4 and go past a possible 3NT). I prefer 3 to 4 as 4 is a bit unilateral if partner has a small singleton . 3 is a weak bid, I would take any bid other than 3 here as forcing.

Hand J:       2. Showing a sound raise to 3 or better (limit raise or better). 2 is not enough and 3 and 4are best played as pre-emptive.

Hand K:     2. Show your shape rather than 1NT.



Sequence L:     A sound raise to 3 or better (‘limit raise or better’). It is not asking for a stop when partner has overcalled in a major.

Sequence M:    Pre-emptive. With an invitational hand one would use the ‘limit raise or better’ cue bid.