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That Old 4441 Syndrome

I wonder how many of the pairs that were overboard on this one tried to blame it on the “4441” syndrome? Amazing how many players find the 4441 hands difficult to bid to the optimum contract. Take a look at:

Board 3 from Thursday 22/03/2018
Dealer S NS Vul

Board#3 22/03/2018

This is a typical situation that occurs when dealer has an opening hand and 4441 shape. Which of the four card suits to open? If you have read my book “Tips and Quips” you will have read my recommendation to open whichever MINOR suit you choose, and base this on your rebid, which will have to be a lie.

South can open 1♦ and rebid 2♣ which North would interpret as showing five diamonds and 4+ clubs; or South can open 1♣ and when North bids the anticipated 1♠, South can rebid 2♣ and show 5+ clubs. In this deal, it should not matter which minor South opens. As anticipated, North bids 1♠ and South now bids 2♣. Next, North can make one of three bids: a raise to 3♣, PASS, or rebid 2♠. No, the 2♠ rebid does not show any extra values and is to play, but possibly justified at the match point game. South should pass whatever bid North makes next, there can be no reason to do anything else. Where some partnerships may go wrong is in South’s opening bid and subsequent ‘reverse’ by bidding 2♦ or 2H when North responds with 1♠. That will inevitably launch NS into 3NT one way or another, and that is not a great spot. A quiet 3♣ is where NS should be.

In our session, over half the NS pairs were in 3NT and most of them were at least two down, though it is possible, if you are the very clever computer programme “Deep Finesse”, to make eight tricks. But why should you worry about that if you can sensibly bid to 3♣ and easily make it, or make four if you can guess the winning way to finesse clubs.

If you have not read my book “Tips and Quips”, a limited number are still available, for $30 including postage. Many favourable comments about it so far, and something for everyone, from novice to expert. Or, if you would like to take the journey into the more esoteric, you can subscribe to “Thirteen Tricks” which is available only via email. For more information contact me on or check out here.

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