A few con­ven­tions are worth­while

Cecil Whig - - & & - By Phillip Alder

Stu­dents of­ten ask which con­ven­tions they should use. I typ­i­cally an­swer, “As few as pos­si­ble.” But some, which we will study this week, I con­sider in­dis­pens­able for a pair who com­petes in a club du­pli­cate or would like to win in a friendly game with neigh­bors. First, look at the North hand in today’s diagram. Part­ner opens one no-trump; what should North do? In the old days, North would have re­sponded three spades, show­ing five spades and game-go­ing val­ues (or six-plus spades and thoughts of a slam). Af­ter South had raised to four spades, East would have led the heart queen, and the de­fend­ers would have taken three hearts and one spade.

Now, though, trans­fer bids into the ma­jors are ubiq­ui­tous. North re­sponds two hearts, show­ing five-plus spades and at least zero points. Here, South has a close de­ci­sion; he prob­a­bly just com­pletes the trans­fer with two spades, but he might jump to three spades, a su­per­ac­cept in­di­cat­ing four-card sup­port, a dou­ble­ton some­where and a max­i­mum (which is why, with only 15 high-card points, it is ques­tion­able). Over two spades, North re­bids three no-trump, of­fer­ing a choice of games, and South re­treats to four spades. Over three spades by South, North raises to game. Against four spades, West leads the di­a­mond queen. Now South must re­sist the temp­ta­tion to lead a trump, be­cause East can win and shift with ef­fect to the heart queen.

As no doubt you have no­ticed, South should im­me­di­ately run clubs and dis­card two hearts from the dummy on the third and fourth rounds. Al­though East can ruff the last low, de­clarer has only three losers: two spades and one heart.

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