I don’t like to rabbit on about how terrible the bidding can be when a very basic system is being played, but sadly, it happens all the time. Sometimes it results in disaster when you have competent opponents, sometimes you can get lucky and be gifted an undeserved top when opponents are incompetent. This deal illustrates just that.
Board 3 from Thursday 05/07/2018
Dealer S EW Vul
West has a fairly standard weak 1NT opening, which is what I expect all Wests did open. The sequence after that should be very basic whether you play transfers or not. With no transfers, East bids 3S which asks West to bid game in spades with 3 or 4 card support. With transfers, East bids 2H, West transfers to 2S, and East bids 3D which shows a second suit, and is a trial bid and forcing. West can now bid 3S with a minimum, or 4S with a maximum and three spades or 3NT with only two spades. Very basic, surely?
But the actual contracts at the Hutt club were quite unbelievable, not one EW pair in 4S in our session. Some in 2S by East (East did not know how to force and just bid 2S), others in 3S, but most Wests in 3NT! Worse was to be seen, in the defence. A low heart lead gave one declarer an overtrick once he realised that the queen had won the first trick in dummy. Another North started with the ace of hearts and switched to a low club, declarer played low from dummy and South had to win the ace and return a heart. At least no overtrick!
As you would read in my series of “Evil Acol”, the recommended opening lead is the ace from a three or four card suit, which allows South to signal encouragement or discouragement. That gives the defence time to change the attack, and North should switch to the QUEEN of clubs, resulting in 3NT down two. Nothing like than can happen in the cast-iron 4S contract that no pair managed to bid. How did it all happen?