East-West vulnerable. North deals. NORTH ♠ K7 ♥ J5 ♦ A Q J 10 ♣ K Q 10 5 3 EAST ♠ J53 ♥ K942 ♦ 8654 ♣ A8 SOUTH ♠ A Q 10 9 4 ♥ 863 ♦ K73 ♣ J7
The bidding: NORTH EAST SOUTH WEST 1 ♦ Pass 1 ♠ Pass 2 ♣ Pass 2 ♠ Pass 3 ♠ Pass 4 ♠ All pass
Opening lead: 2 of ♠
Off-shape no trump openings are becoming more and more common. Hands with 5-4-2-2 or 6-3-2-2 distributions were not supposed to open one no trump in the good old days, but things are changing. The results are not always good.
Today’s deal was played at the recent South American Championships. Many players opened one no trump with the North hand and the result never varied. South transferred to spades and rebid three no trump, ending the auction. A club lead and a heart shift ended matters quickly. It may seem harder for the defence on a heart lead, as West must shift to a club after four rounds of hearts, but North had to discard a club or two on the run of the hearts, helping the defence find the winning shift. Note that East cannot cash the ace of clubs at trick two before returning a heart, as declarer might hold three hearts to the queen.
Some players refused to open one no trump with this distribution. They opened one club and reversed into two diamonds if they judged the hand strong enough, or they bid as in the given auction.
They all reached four spades needing only for the jack of trumps to fall in two or three rounds. This was quite a reasonable chance for success, as opposed to no chance at all in three no trump. The old school wins! Bob Jones welcome readers’ responses sent to Tribune Content Agency, LLC., 16650 Westgrove Dr., Suite 175, Addison, TX 75001. Email responses may be sent