Bridge

Daily Local News (West Chester, PA) - - YOUR DAILY BREAK - by Phillip Alder

AT WHAT LEVEL SHOULD YOU OPEN?

Henry Ford said, “Any­one who stops learn­ing is old, whether 20 or 80. Any­one who keeps learn­ing stays young. The great­est thing you can do is keep your mind young.”

Yes­ter­day, I men­tioned the rule of 20, which some play­ers, what­ever their age, use to de­cide be­tween an ini­tial pass and a one-level open­ing bid. As I ex­plained, I be­lieve that that is a bad idea. How­ever, if you have a long suit, it is a use­ful guide­line for de­cid­ing whether to open one or to pre-empt.

Look at to­day’s South hand. What would you open, and how would your auc­tion pro­ceed? As­sum­ing South ends in four hearts, how should he plan the play after the de­fend­ers take two spade tricks, then shift to di­a­monds?

For the rule of 20, you add high-card points to the num­ber of cards in your two long­est suits. So, to­day’s South hand is worth 20 (11 plus 9). It should be opened one heart, not three hearts. North should re­spond two no-trump, the Ja­coby Forc­ing Raise, and South should jump to four hearts to in­di­cate a min­i­mum open­ing with no sidesuit sin­gle­ton or void. (If South did open three hearts, prob­a­bly North would raise to four, more in hope than ex­pec­ta­tion, but that is be­side the point!)

South is faced with four losers: two spades, one heart and one di­a­mond. If he im­me­di­ately starts on trumps, he should lose those tricks. As I am con­fi­dent you no­ticed, de­clarer must win the third trick with dummy’s di­a­mond ace and play three rounds of clubs to dis­card his sec­ond di­a­mond. Then he can ta­ble his trumps and claim.

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