In a pickle

The following hand is one of my favorites for a lesson. It originally came up in a tournament long ago, and I continually return to it again and again. I was dealt the following as North, and the auction proceeded as such:

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Whether or not N/S are playing 2/1, North will bid 1N over 1♠. In 2/1, this is the Forcing 1 NT (6-12 points). Not playing 2/1, this is 6-9 points and non-forcing.

South now makes a GAME FORCING JUMP SHIFT to 3. This puts North in a bit of a pickle. He can’t bid NT with no stoppers in the minors, especially diamonds. He has no major suit fit to speak of. What would you do?


In auctions like this, we often have to “show a preference” for partner’s first suit with only 2 of them. We have some protection here because of an inference partner will make – we (North) did not support partner’s spades straight away over 1 ♠. Thus, we likely do not have 3 of them. So, if we show spades later, we probably only have 2 (ideally an honor). South has a good spade suit, and no indication of a diamond stopper, so he should go to game in SPADES. See the full deal below to witness the success of an off-kilter bid like this:

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Remember, now, the hand with the longer trumps is the “dominant” hand – the South hand has a little heart loser than we could get rid of by RUFFING it in dummy. The opponents will take their two diamond tricks. They play a third diamond, or switch to a club. Either way, we win in hand, and play a to the K, to the Ace. Now we are set to ruff one in dummy, so we do that, using the small spade in dummy. Our hand is looking better and better, so we can get to work pulling trump. We cash the ♠ K. Note both opponents play a trump – remember we only need to count THEIR trump – they started with 6, so they have 4 more total. Play a ♣ to hand and pull the rest of the trumps – the ♠ J falls, so we are good to go. Our is good so we end up with 11 tricks.




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