12 June 2011

The least distortion

Every so often I get blindsided by a hand that looks simple and easy until I get a bid or two in and suddenly I'm in trouble. I picked one up the other day, it's not shapely or have a lot or very few values. I think this is only a problem for those of us who play a weak NT. Here it is:
K Q J 3
8 7 5
K Q T 4

You open 1. The next hand overcalls 1; partner bids 1 and RHO passes.

You. Are. Stuck.

2 shows 5 with fewer points, 1NT needs a diamond card and 2 is bad for the rain forests. I bid 1NT hoping for a heart call from partner. That didn't happen but the overcaller with AKQTxx decided it might be good to try for a lead through Jack fourth.

Not all of us found Jxx on the table funny.


  1. What would 2D be here - "I want to bid no-trumps but can't" ? I'd like another point or two since we'll be in 2NT at a minimum, but it seems to be the smallest lie.

    Strong no-trump bidders may have had a trouble-free auction, but they'd have got an AD lead (assuming LHO could bring himself to pass...)

    Ever consider opening this sort of hand 1H rather than 1C? Before it went behind the paywall I read Andrew Robson in the Times and he's a big fan of opening majors rather than minors when 4-4. LHO will still overcall diamonds of course, but if partner can find any bid now, you shouldn't have a problem.

  2. Having some weak NT partnerships,I have been there and done that. I think your 1NT choice is best, especially if your experience allows you to make such call in tempo. Finding partner with a hand where 1S was appropriate on the first round and pass was appropriate on the second round, and finding LHO with a hand not dissuaded from a diamond lead is an unlucky parlay indeed. Hearing an overcall from LHO in an unstopped suit is a lot better than hearing an overcall from RHO in an unstopped suit, since the latter can place you in worse position than the former when some peers are playing strong notrumps.

  3. I was worried that 2D might be GF (4th suit is GF in our system) or show 3 card spade. I hadn't considered a 1H opening, early Acol systems opening 4-4 the major - maybe it's worth investigating. An unscrupulous friend of mine suggested opening 1D!

    I wish I could say I got the 1NT out in tempo.

  4. In re your first paragraph: No, it's not only a problem for the weak no-trumpers. The same hand without the club Queen produces the same auction and the same problem for the strong no-trumpers.

  5. @Ken
    My thought was it's easier to rebid 2C with 14 high. You're still short a card but there's not the danger of missing game opposite a flat 9 count.