National Post (Latest Edition) - - DIVERSIONS - By Paul Thurston Feed­back al­ways wel­come at

North was in­clined to raise her part­ner’s one-over-one ma­jor-suit re­sponses ir­re­spec­tive of whether she held three or four-card sup­port: maybe a great com­pli­ment to South’s declar­ing skills but not al­ways an ef­fec­tive way to bid.

Af­ter get­ting the good news of heart sup­port op­po­site, South re­bid two spades, os­ten­si­bly a try for game, but when North showed help for po­ten­tial spade losers and a good raise, South launched Black­wood in search of a slam bonus.

Now in this in­stance, South re­al­ized the heart Queen was miss­ing from the North-South as­sets as his part­ner­ship em­ployed Key­card Black­wood in which five hearts showed two aces but no trump-suit Queen.

“No prob­lem” thought South: “Part­ner prob­a­bly has four hearts so the Queen is very likely to fall and even if she only has three, it might still fall”.

Of course, there’s a wide gap in prob­a­bil­ity be­tween “very likely” and “might” and good slam bid­ders will usu­ally avoid con­tract­ing for twelve tricks when miss­ing four trumps in­clud­ing the Queen when the to­tal com­bined point count makes an­other non-trump loser very likely.

Proof of the pud­ding: one in­tractable trump Queen and an un­avoid­able di­a­mond loser.

Back to the draw­ing board: de­spite North’s re­luc­tance to re­bid­ding one notrump with her bal­anced min­i­mum and only three-card hearts, re­sist­ing mak­ing im­me­di­ate raises of one-over-one re­sponse with only three-card sup­port will make sub­se­quent bid­ding far more ac­cu­rate.

Yes, some pairs have elab­o­rate schemes for ask­ing part­ner if she’s made such a raise with three or four-card sup­port but it seems far more ef­fec­tive to, as the French pre­scribe, re­quire four cards in the first place.

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