March 31, 2023 – The Mercury News

Opening the bidding (“striking the first blow”) may be beneficial for both offense and defense. But skimpy opening bids impede accuracy in constructive bidding.

In the Soloway Knockout Teams at the Fall NABC, both Norths opened one diamond with sub-minimum high cards and a hand bereft of winners. The resulting four-heart game with a combined 20 HCP and a shaky trump suit was an underdog.


At one table West led a trump, and East took the ace (not best) and returned a spade to the ace. West then cashed the ace of clubs and led a club to dummy. Declarer picked up East’s queen of trumps and ruffed a club in dummy to set up the suit. Plus 420.

In the replay, West led the ace of spades, then a low club (not best). South might have guessed right. If to have a chance he assumed East had the A-Q of trumps, he could have given West the ace of clubs for his overcall. (South could have played East for specifically Q-x in trumps and the ace of clubs.) But South played low from dummy and lost four tricks.


You hold: S A 9 8 4 3 H 7 5 D J 8 6 C A 10 8. Your partner opens one heart, you respond one spade and he bids two diamonds. What do you say?

ANSWER: This case is close. Your hand is almost worth inviting game with a bid of 2NT, especially since the ten of clubs may provide a second club stopper. If your jack of diamonds were the queen, you might choose that call. As it is, bid two hearts and hope your partner can find a third bid.

North dealer

Neither side vulnerable


S K Q 2

H 10 6 2

D K 9 5 4 3

C K 4


S A 9 8 4 3

H 7 5

D J 8 6

C A 10 8


S J 10 7 5

H A Q 9

D Q 10 7

C Q 6 3


S 6

H K J 8 4 3

D A 2

C J 9 7 5 2

North East South West
1 D(!) Pass 1 H 1 S
Dbl 2 D 4 H All Pass
Opening lead — H 5

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