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Three Bids With No Points

  by Richard Pavlicek

When the South player picked up his cards on today’s deal, he was justifiably bemused. The end of a session of rubber bridge was drawing near, and he was the biggest loser so far. He wasn’t about to pick up any points with this kind of rubbish, so it looked like a fitting end to a frustrating evening. But little did he know!

3 NT South
None Vul
S A K 8 6 4
H A K Q 2
D A 2
C A 3

2 C
2 S
3 H
2 D
2 NT
3 NT
S Q 9 2
H 8 6
D Q 9 4
C K J 8 4 2
TableS J 10 5
H J 10 9 4
D K J 8 6
C Q 7

Lead: C 4
S 7 3
H 7 5 3
D 10 7 5 3
C 10 9 6 5

South perked up slightly when his partner opened two clubs — a strong, artificial bid (popular among modern players who play weak two-bids). He dutifully made the negative response of two diamonds (0-7 points) and North mentioned his real suit. This was forcing so South kept things going with two notrump (a kind of “second negative”).

North continued by bidding his second suit, and South was forced to bid again. What does North want from this poor guy! Lesser players have been known to pass in these situations, but South was a dependable partner — a forcing bid is a forcing bid. Lacking a fit for either of North’s suits, South ventured three notrump. And there he was.

West led his fourth-best club and South paused to think. If the spade suit divided favorably (three-three), he could set up nine tricks provided the opponents could not cash more than three club tricks. This was no problem if the clubs were four-three; but what if they were five-two?

A holdup play was likely to be futile, since East could unblock (if necessary) to allow West to win the enemy spade trick. Thinking further, South realized he could force a blockage in the club suit (East was marked with a doubleton honor since West would lead the king from K-Q-J-x-x).

Therefore, South rose with the club ace, cleared the spades, and became an instant hero. But pity those who must listen to his story: “I bid three notrump with no points and made it in a breeze…”

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© 1985 Richard Pavlicek