The 12 Habits of Highly Effective Bidders   (November 2008)

    8.  They consider partnerís potential problems. (Part 2)

In an ideal bridge auction, one partner describes all the relevant features of his hand and his partner decides what the final contract will be. On many deals, though, you have to settle for an incomplete description because your hand isnít strong enough to take the auction higher. On others, interference from the opponents may make it impossible for you to show everything.

Sometimes, it will be your partner who stifles the exchange of information. If he bids too high too fast Ė or stops bidding too soon Ė you may be left with undescribed values and stuck in the wrong contract.

A good partner recognizes the difference between an auction where extra bids will be futile and one where he should give you another opportunity to show your full values. One of the most common ways of extending this courtesy is by stretching a bit to balance when LHOís opening bid is passed around to you. Another is in this auction:

   Partner    You   
      1D          1S   
      2C           ?

   ♠AQ64   843   108   ♣QJ62

If you were positive that partner had a minimum opener, you could stop safely in 2C. The problem with passing is that partner could hold up to 17 points for his 2C rebid Ė a hand thatís not strong enough for a jump shift and not balanced enough for a 1NT opener.

To cater to that possibility, you should try to keep the auction open with any hand that would accept a game invitation (a decent 9 points or more). Thereís some risk in raising to 3C, which could be too high when partner has a bare minimum. Thatís not necessarily a poor result, as your raise may have kept the opponents from balancing and finding their own making partscore.

Change your hand to

   ♠AQ642   843   108    ♣QJ6

and many players will choose the ďfalse preferenceĒ rebid of 2D. Theyíre willing to risk playing in a possibly inferior fit for the chance of finding a game in clubs, diamonds, spades or notrump. Note, though, that this wonít be a successful strategy if itís your partnership style to open 1D and rebid 2C with 4-4 or 4-5 in the minors.

Hereís another situation where you may have to bid past your comfort level to allow partner to show extra strength:

     LHO    Partner    RHO     You    
      1D         DBL        Pass       2D
      Pass        2S          Pass         ?

   ♠Q653   Q943   82   ♣AQ10

Your 2D cuebid wouldnít be everyoneís choice, as it should promise game-going values (or very close, if thatís your agreement). It does, however, improve your chances of getting to the right major, and on this deal, the cuebid has located your 4-4 spade fit. 

This auction isnít as easy as just finding your major and passing, though. A cuebid advance of partnerís takeout double promises another bid, even if youíve already stretched your values. You have to scrape up a raise to 3S with this hand to give partner another opportunity to bid.

The logic behind promising a second bid is clear when you see partnerís hand:

  ♠AJ104   AK7    A10   ♣J842

Your cuebid showed good strength and asked for more information, but it didnít guarantee both majors. Since partner doesnít yet know which suit or suits you hold, he canít afford to jump to 3S to show extra values. If you donít hold four spades, he needs to leave room for you to find his diamond stopper for 3NT.

   ©  2008   Karen Walker