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About Me

H. Anthony Medley is an Attorney, an MPAA-accredited film critic, and author of Learn to Play Bridge Like A Boss,Sweaty Palms: The Neglected Art of Being Interviewed, and UCLA Basketball: The Real Story. He is a Silver Life Master and an ACBL-accredited Director and the author of a bridge column for a Los Angeles newspaper.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

All Red Hand

Here’s the hand I was dealt in a team game:

I was in first seat. I had a one loser hand with 16 high card points and two voids. There are three possible ways to bid this hand.

  1. Open 2 Clubs. This is a one loser hand. You will rarely see a more powerful hand. In normal bidding unless partner has a five card suit headed by 2 of the top 3 honors, she’ll respond with a 2D waiting bid. What’s your next call? Normally with a heart suit like this you would jump to 3H next, which says “hearts is trump,” asking partner to bid her aces and kings up the line. That lets out finding a diamond fit. As the cards actually lay, partner would respond 4C, showing the ace of clubs. That’s meaningless to you so you would probably close out in 4H or 6H. And that assumes no bidding by opponents.
  2. Another way to bid it is to open 1 Heart. With only 16 high card points, it’s extremely unlikely that it will be passed out. If partner has 5 points or less, that means that opponents have at least 19 HCP between them. Somebody is going to make a call. But what’s your next bid? Do you ignore your hugely strong heart suit to jump shift into diamonds? If partner has 3 diamonds and 2 hearts, she’ll support diamonds when the hand should probably be in Hearts. Do you jump to four hearts? Another downside to either 2 Clubs or 1 Heart is that it allows opponents an opportunity to find a 5-5 or better fit in the black suits. If you get into a competitive auction, they could sacrifice at 6 spades (maybe it won’t be a sacrifice; it might make) and force you to choose whether to defend with a hand that doesn’t have that much defense if they have major fits in both black suits, or go to seven, which you might not make.
  3. I didn’t want opponents to communicate, so opened 6H and it was passed out, even though opponents did have a 10 card spade fit.

Here’s the layout:

It’s cold for 6 hearts and 7 diamonds. 7 diamonds is hard to find if you open 2 Clubs. However, if you open 1 Heart it’s possible with the following bidding:

Me    Partner
1H    2C
3D    4D
4H    5D

Do you bid 7 diamonds? Partner could only have 3 diamonds without the queen, which means you have to find the queen. There’s really no way to tell that partner has 4 diamonds. One way would be to give up on hearts when you find a diamond fit and bid 4N, roman key card blackwood. No matter what partner responds (you don't care about aces or the king of trump), you bid the next higher suit, asking for the queen. If partner responds with the queen, you could then bid 7. But you still don't know that she's got four diamonds, which is important because you might have to trump out the hearts if they split 4-1, which they do. You would be in a dilemma because you would have to pull trump before running the hearts and if she only has three, you might have to play all three to pull trump and then you'd have a heart loser.

But, of course, you don’t know this when you’re in first seat and know that there’s a possibility of a huge spade or club fit for opponents. I didn’t want them to communicate, so shut them out with my 6H bid, which won the day since at the other table they opened two clubs and ended in 5 diamonds, making 7.

Comments welcome, but please add them to the blog, not via email. Thanks.


  1. Tony - this hand is indeed very interesting. You said you opened 6 H and made it. If, however, you opened 4H (promising 9-10) tricks), and your partner, having 3 sure quick-tricks, wouldn't she take you to 6 H anyway?

  2. Opening 4H is a weak bid, generally promising a fairly good 8 card suit and nothing outside, certainly not 9-10 tricks. If you can take that many tricks, you can open 2 Clubs, strong. With my partner's hand, she should pass a 4h opening bid because she's got three losing diamonds and 3 losing spades, along with a singleton heart which won't help much.