Bridge Deal of the Week (October 25 2017)

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The Auction:

West North East South
  4♠ Pass ?


North has opened the auction with 4♠. Should South respond?

North`s 4♠ is a preemptive bid, promising a strong 8-card suit of spades and less than opening count.


Vulnerable: both

Contract: ?


South has a singleton spade. That won't be a problem, as North has an 8-card suit of spades so all together North/South have a 9-card trump suit.

The prerequisite of the four-level opening bid is a solid suit. Solid means at least two of three top honors. Even if North misses the ♠A, spades will provide seven tricks with a reasonable split.

South has a strong hand (17 HCP), but let’s forget about the HCP and concentrate on trick providing capacity. The K is not a solid fortification, although after an opening lead of A, it will provide a trick. South can count on the ♣A – 1 trick and at least three tricks in diamonds. Depending on the splits diamonds might provide even six tricks after trumps are drawn. So South`s hand is good for 4-7 tricks, plus the 7 tricks North`s spades should be able to win.

Although the rules declare that when responding to the partner`s preemptive bid, the most important word to keep in mind is “Pass”, with his hand South should ask for the aces.

So lets assume South asks for aces. After South`s 4NT North responds 5♠ – promising two keycards and the trump queen and South declares 6♠.

East leads the A (trick 1) and then the 10. Dummy`s K wins this trick (trick 2) and the declarer gets a chance to discard a small club. North can then lead the ♠9 from dummy`s hand and play three rounds of spades (tricks 3, 4, 5). After drawing the trumps North has to lead a small diamond to dummy`s Ace (trick 6), then lead the K from dummy (trick 7). East shows out, so diamonds are split 4-1, but that doesn`t matter as dummy has higher diamonds. The declarer can take two more tricks with the Q and J (tricks 8, 9) discarding two clubs and claim – as he holds four spades in his hand.

 104 Deal  J32
 QJ87  A1094
 10982  6
KQJ  109875

4-level preemptive bids are meant to take up bidding space and disrupt the communication between the opponents. The playable range of the 4-level opening bid starts with 5 HCP – the hand consists of an 8-card suit with two top honors – the KQ.

On the other end of spectrum there are hands which are only relatively weak in high card points. With these hands, containing a solid 8-card suit plus for instance an Ace or King in a side suit – which gives a borderline point count (9-10 HCP) – there`s always the question: whether to open at the four-level or start with an one-bid?

Opening at the four-level might shut off the auction effectively – as the responder knows you have already overbid by 2-3 tricks. But the same goes for the 1 /♠ opening – the responder probably does not have support for the opener`s suit and the auction might be swiftly finished with a signoff in NT.

With these borderline hands, using the 4-level opening is still better because:

- it prevents the opponents from finding their best contract

-if you can`t make it, it might turn out to be a good sacrifice

- the 4-level opening bid gives a good description of the opener`s hand. If the responder has a really strong hand, a good description helps to find a slam.

Par Contract Analysis

The par contract on this deal is 6NT by North.

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