ACES ON BRIDGE
Instruct them how the mind of man becomes A thousand times more beautiful than the earth On which he dwells. — William Wordsworth
In today’s deal, West has a full range opening bid with a chunky five-card major. When East raises one heart to two, South must come in now. This is a safe spot to overcall. With something close to an opening bid, plus a six-card suit, you have a little in hand for acting, especially when the opponents have found a fit.
North must now support spades. A few wild optimists might raise to game; but the cue-bid raise is a slightly more prudent action. It asks South if he has any extras; if not, as here, South can sign off in three spades. At this point, North should trust his partner and pass. Will he be justified in his caution? Watch this space.
Against three spades, West will lead the heart king and follow up with the ace. But what should he do next? If he plays a spade, diamond or heart, declarer wraps up nine tricks. And a club … holds declarer to eight tricks. What is more, if West trusts East, he should know to play a club. Why? Because of the heart spots East follows with on the first two tricks, the second of which should be significant.
Specifically, East’s heart at trick two should be suit preference. If West thinks about his partner’s small hearts, he will read the first one as attitude, but at trick two, the size of the “irrelevant” small heart should be suit preference. When West sees his partner follow with the smallest heart, he should shift to clubs and defeat the contract.
ANSWER: Facing a balancing double, you are well within the range for the response of one no-trump. You expect partner to move on with a balanced hand and extras, or to describe his hand by bidding his long suit if he has extra shape. Failing that, one no-trump looks as good a place to play as any.