Wednesday, July 11, 2012

How to bid in the direct seat over a weak 2


There's a lot in this column, so bear with me.
Your RHO opens 2 Spades. Here's your hand:
K972
KT32
Q5
A75
What's your call? Many experienced players, counting the points and seeing opening hand values, will take action by making a takeout double. When this occurred and the player with the actual hand doubled,  doubler's partner jumped to four diamonds (the jump showed at least 10 HCP), the only suit for which doubler did not really have support, so he passed. Here's the entire layout:

                 North
                 6
                 QJ654
                 T953
                 J98


West                           East
K972                        Q8
KT32                        A8
Q5                            AK842
A75                          KQ32

                 South (Dealer)
                 AJT543
                 97
                 J7
                 T64

EW didn't find their cold games because they didn't bid in a way that would allow them to bid over the weak 2, so the weak 2 did what it was created to do, squeezed the bidding range so opponents failed to communicate. There are many different methods of bidding in the direct seat over a weak 2, so I'm going to tell you the one I use and I think it's the best.
The key is that if your RHO opens a weak 2, you only make a call if you have extra values, which means at least 15 HCP. With less, like with a typical opening hand with 12-14 HCP, you pass.
This means that if the weak two opening is passed around to 4th seat, the player in the 4th seat must make some kind of call with at least 10 HCP. With 9 HCP or less, she passes. With 10 HCP she must take action to protect partner who may have passed a minimum opening hand.
So here, after South opens 2S, West must pass with his 12 HCP. Here's how the bidding should go:
West          North         East  South
                                         2S
P               P               Dbl    P
3H             P               4D*   P
5D             P               P       P
* at least 17 HCP
I have to digress here to discuss takeout doubles. Generally, if a player doubles an opponent's opening bid, she promises either 1) one unbid four card major with shape or near opening values and support for all three unbid suits, or 2) a big hand if she doubles and then bids her own suit. So an auction of 1H-Dbl-P-2C-P-2D would mean that the doubler had at least a five card diamond suit and at least 17 HCP.
But savvy players today play that a double in this instance and then a bid of new suit shows one of two hands, either the big hand referenced above, or a simple opening hand with one four card major and a five card minor. If partner bids the four card major, doubler will either pass or support the major, depending on the strength of his hand. If doubler bids a new minor suit, he's promising no more than an opening hand with five cards in the suit he bids.

The point of the double is to discover whether or not partner has the same four card major that doubler has. If he doesn't, then doubler bids his five card minor. He could still have the big hand, but he might not. You won't know unless you continue bidding. However, this bid does not absolutely promise at least 17 HCP.
In this hand, East's double of the major suit opening of 2S, and subsequent bid of her own suit after partner bid the other major, hearts, showed a hand of at least 17 HCP, so West, with at least 29 HCP points between them (his 12 and partner's 17), can go to 5D with only two diamonds, since one of them is the all-important queen.
What if the East and West hands had been reversed with West holding the 18 HCP hand:

                 North
                 6
                 QJ654
                 T953
                 J98


West                           East
Q8                            K972
A8                            KT32
AK842                       Q5
KQ32                        A75

                 South (Dealer)
                 AJT543
                 97
                 J7
                 T64

West          North         East  South
                                         2S
3D             P               3N     P
P               P              

West would bid 3D over South's weak 2S opening bid, showing extra values. Since East knows that West is showing extra values, and since East has four cards in South's suit, including the King, it's pretty much a no-brainer to bid 3N, since you have at least 27 HCP between you (West's minimum of 15 and your 12). This is the great value of only bidding in the direct seat if you have extra values.
Assuming South leads the Jack of Spades, Declarer takes it with the Queen in dummy. Declarer knows that his RHO is out of spades at this point because if South had six to make her weak 2, Declarer and dummy have six between them, leaving only one in North's hand, so she need not worry about losing a trick to North and having a spade led back through her King. She tries the diamonds and finds that North has four diamonds, so she leads the AKQ and then throws North in with a diamond, setting up her fifth diamond in dummy. Clubs split, so she gets four clubs, four diamonds, two hearts and one spade, making five.
Either way, this hand must be in game and using this technique ensures game being bid. One important proviso. This is a special method of dealing with this problem and you must have a clear understanding between you and your partner. It won't work if one person isn't playing the same system.


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