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Plan Ahead

It is apparent that many of our Wednesday players are still not completely au fait with the weak 1NT opening or how to proceed when they are the partner of the 1NT opener.

Board 11 from Wednesday 16/01/2019
Dealer S Nil Vul

Board#11 16/01/2019

If you play Acol with a weak 1NT, you have no option but to open the South hand with 1NT. What should North do then? North has 11 high card points, and with 11 points opposite a 1NT opening you normally invite game. If you choose to do that, there are ways to do it whether you play transfers or not. We will revisit these options some other time. North should see that the potential of the combined hands is game in one of the majors. Why? Because North should know that, if South has opened 1NT, South must have at least three cards in one of the majors. North’s hand is easy to bid if North decides to bid game: first, North bids 3S, which is game forcing with EXACTLY a five card suit. Then, if South does not raise to game in spades but bids 3NT (only two spades), North can confidently bid 4H because South must have at least three hearts. As it happens, the moment North bids 3S, South will bid 4S to end the auction without either partner knowing there is a heart fit as well. But that doesn’t matter, does it?

Why are 11 HCP enough to bid game in this instance? Because of North’s great shape (5-5 in the majors), and a brief consideration of the number of possible losers. If NS are playing transfers, North bids 2H as a transfer to spades and when South follows the transfer request, as South must, by bidding 2S, North bids 4H next. South now knows North’s shape and can choose which game to bid. It does not seem that these sequences were often followed, because 4H was played by South a number of times and spades played only twice, at the TWO level! Plus, one hapless South in 3NT, the ensuing result proving that with shapely hands and 5-3 or 5-4 major suit fits, 3NT should be a definite NO-NO.

More on bidding such hands later, your feedback is welcome.