Thursday, July 21, 2016

Invitational v. Competitive Bids

Here’s the auction:



Here are two hands:

Hand 1                  Hand 2
QT9832           AQT983
♥ QJT                ♥ QJT
♦ AJ42               ♦ AJ42
♣ Void               ♣ Void

In hand 1, you have a simple overcall. You don’t want to sell out to 3C with six spades, even though you are missing 3 of the top 4 honors.

In Hand 2, you have a full opening hand and are interested in game. So what do you call?

Most people would probably call 3S on both hands. But in hand 1 you want your partner to pass, regardless of whether or not your LHO raises to 4C, since she has just given you a simple raise, promising 3 trump and 6-9 HCP. In hand 2, you are interested in game. How do you differentiate between the two?

There is a simple way to do this. It is called a "game try bid," and it says nothing about the suit called. If you play this, in hand 1, you may freely raise to 3S without worrying about partner going forward with minimum support. This is what is called a “competitive raise.” It says, “partner, I don’t think we have game, but we have at least an 8 card trump fit (your partner doesn’t know you have 6 spades) and I don’t want to sell out to 3 Clubs. If they compete to 4C, let them have it.

In Hand 2, however, because you are interested in a possible game bid, you make a "game try" by asking her about her hand. You do this by bidding a new, unbid suit. In this instance, you would bid 3D. This says to partner, “Partner, I know we have a spade fit. How is the rest of your hand? If you are at the top of your bid, bid game, 4 spades. If not, just close out in 3 spades, or, if my LHO has bid 4 clubs, pass."

 Please note that this bid says nothing about diamonds (some higher level players play something called a "help suit game try," but that's beyond the scope of what I'm saying here). In this case the hand actually does have a good 4 card diamond suit. But all my hands in my columns are based on actual hands I’ve played, so this is the hand I used. But you would make this bid with absolutely nothing in diamonds because its only purpose is to show that you have a game going hand if partner is at the top of her bid.

If you have this understanding, then you may freely overcall 3C with 3S in Hand 1 without worrying about Partner bidding 4S, regardless of what your LHO does.

In fact, the actual hand held by partner was:

♥ A94
♦ T95
♣ K86

So in response to the 3D invitational bid for Hand 2, she would probably try for game with 9 good points, 1 ½ quick tricks and four trump. But with a 3S competitive bid in Hand 1, she would pass, regardless of what her RHO did. In fact, in the actual hand, Hand 1 made 3 spades, losing 2 spades, a heart and a diamond. I think that Hand 2 has an excellent chance to make 4 spades.

Here’s the four hand layout:

          ♠ K7
          ♥ 632
          ♦ K843
          ♣ 7432
West            East
QT9832    J654
♥ QJT          ♥ A94
♦ AJ62         ♦ T95
♣ Void         ♣ K86
          ♥ K875
          ♦ QT
          ♣ AQJT95