Article 7A10 Main

Disclosure vs. Concealment

 by Richard Pavlicek

From time to time, bridge articles appear showing the advantage of disclosing a secondary suit after a major-suit fit has been discovered. Suppose you are South with neither side vulnerable:


2 H

2 S

3 H
1 S
S A Q 9 8 2
H 4
D A K J 5 4
C 4 3

Many experts recommend a bid of 4 D, not for the purpose of trying for slam (which is relatively obscure), but to enlighten partner as to the nature of your hand. The contention is that partner will be in a better position to judge whether to double or bid 5 S in the event East-West persist to 5 H.

I disagree. While the argument of disclosure has merit, arguments in favor of concealment are more important in my view. The debate is complex and will not be solved in this article or probably any other. Nonetheless, I am a “concealer” and wish to make points on that behalf.

I recommend a direct bid of 4 S. Should you become declarer (certainly likely), this will be an advantage in the play. The defenders will have no clue as to your side-suit lengths, so the chances of a defensive error are increased. Revealing the diamond suit would tip off the defense.

Another point is that concealing the diamond suit will make it more difficult for the opponents to decide whether or not to sacrifice. The enemy will have less information on which to determine the degree of fit of their hands. Keeping partner in the dark also keeps both opponents in the dark.

A third advantage is that a 4 D bid (or any other new suit beyond three of the agreed major) can be recognized as a legitimate slam try. Knowing that your basic strategy is “concealment” makes partner aware you are trying for more than just game.

This article barely touches on the subject. With the myriad of possible auctions, and different vulnerabilities, the better strategy (disclosure or concealment) might vary from situation to situation. In general, though, I believe that concealment is the proper course. I could introduce examples to illustrate my point, but any such deals would be biased because I chose them. Indeed, one could make almost any point convincing by choosing the right deals.

Advantages of Disclosure

1. Aids partner in the decision whether to bid further or double if the opponents sacrifice.

2. Aids partner in the defense (sometimes, the opening lead) should your side end up defending.

3. On rare occasions might lead to a slam based on the discovery of a tremendous double fit.

Advantages of Concealment

1. Aids declarer in the play of the hand by giving the enemy no clue as to his side-suit distribution.

2. Avoids aiding the opponents in their decision whether or not to sacrifice.

3. Should you and partner be defenders, avoids aiding the opposing declarer in his play of the hand.

4. Allows the use of a bid in a side suit as a legitimate slam try.


Players must weigh the considerations, pro and con, then decide which course to follow; but regardless of choice, the most important point is to discuss it with partner to avoid misunderstandings.

Article 7A10 MainTop Disclosure vs. Concealment

© 1997 Richard Pavlicek