By Andrew Robson
Courtesy of AndrewBobson.co.uk
If you know your partnership have eight cards in a major suit [majors over minors because game is easier – 4 ♥ , 4 ♠ v 5 ♣, 5 ♦ ], then that suit should be trumps. Further, as soon as you know you have an eight-card major fit, you must tell partner the good news.
Hearing partner open 1 ♠ and holding a hand such as: ♠ K982 ♥ AKQ96 ♦ 82 ♣ 32
I see many players respond 2 ♥ . They say they want to tell partner about their hearts. I say, ‘Why?’ At its most basic level, there are two goals to partnership bidding. Phase (1): Finding the trump suit. Then Phase (2): Deciding how high to bid in that trump suit. (1) comes before (2). If you respond 2 ♥ to 1 ♠, partner thinks you’re still in Phase (1) [trying to find a fit] whereas you know you’re in Phase (2).
‘You say tomayto, I say tomahto’.
You should simply decide on the number of spades to bid in support of partner and make that bid. Absent any fancy conventions such as the Jacoby 2 NT, the correct number of spades to bid is 4 ♠: after all – you’d expect to make game, facing most opening hands. Partner will probably pass, but you’ve said you think the partnership can make 4 ♠ facing a minimum, so if partner has a really good, shapely opener, he can try for slam…
Declarer won ♦ Q lead with ♦ K and, keen to avoid the club finesse, started on hearts. He crossed to ♥ AK, throwing ♣ 4 and ruffed ♥ 2 (with ♠ 7). Both followed – no ♥ Q appearing – and he now led ♠ K.
East won ♠ A (ducking works no better) and switched to ♣ J. Knowing (by playing hearts early) that he could set up a long heart, declarer rose with ♣ A, spurning the finesse. He crossed to ♠ Q (drawing the last trump), ruffed ♥ 6, cashed ♦ A, ruffed ♦ 4 and triumphantly led the established ♥ J, throwing ♣ Q. Twelve tricks and slam made.