Weekend Post (South Africa) - - Puzzles, cartoons & gwen - Steve Becker

1. Dou­ble. This tells part­ner that you have the val­ues for an open­ing bid and sup­port for the un­bid suits. With ex­cel­lent hold­ings in both ma­jors, the dou­ble is prefer­able to over­call­ing with one notrump, which is a rea­son­able al­ter­na­tive.

2. One diamond. This is some­what of an un­der­bid, since an over­call on the one-level more of­ten than not de­notes less than an open­ing bid. How­ever, a take­out dou­ble to show your high-card strength is not an op­tion, since your part­ner might re­spond in hearts and cre­ate an in­sol­u­ble prob­lem. (Re­treat­ing to two di­a­monds if part­ner bids one heart would show a stronger hand – usu­ally 17 or more points.) If the bid­ding de­vel­ops favourably, you plan to bid spades at your next turn and in that way be­lat­edly show both the strength and dis­tri­bu­tion of your hand.

3. Three spades. This is a pre­emp­tive bid pure and sim­ple, and in­di­cates a weak hand with long spades. It is es­sen­tially an ef­fort to de­prive the op­po­nents of bid­ding space and make it more dif­fi­cult for them to reach their best con­tract.

4. Dou­ble. This should work out bet­ter in the long run than one spade, which is the al­ter­na­tive bid. In such sit­u­a­tions, you weigh the ad­van­tage of dou­bling and pos­si­bly find­ing a heart (or diamond) fit against the ad­van­tage of over­call­ing with one spade. A ma­jor­ity of ex­perts would fa­vor the dou­ble.

5. Four spades. This leap to game com­bines the virtue of pre-emp­tion with a le­git­i­mate chance of mak­ing the con­tract. The jump to four puts a lot of pres­sure on the op­po­nents and could cause them to make the wrong de­ci­sion.

6. One notrump. This is by far the best way to de­scribe your hand. True, you have the high-card val­ues for a dou­ble, but with only five cards in the ma­jors, notrump is the bet­ter choice. The notrump over­call shows 15 to 18 points, bal­anced dis­tri­bu­tion and at least one club stop­per. That’s what you have, and you can de­liver that mes­sage in one fell swoop.

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