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May 30, 2001
Game Tries and Plan the Attack

This brief is an excerpt from an article that first appeared in Issue #8 (Sep/Oct 1995) of The Bridge Companion.

Consider the auctions that begin 1heart.gif (841 bytes)-2heart.gif (841 bytes) or 1spade.gif (842 bytes)-2spade.gif (842 bytes). Responder’s bid is invitational, showing 6-10 support points and confirming a trump fit. Opener is instructed to pass when game is beyond reach and bid game when it is clearly a game hand. Opener has clear action with both minimum and maximum opening hands. With minimum opening hands (13 to a poor 16) there is no hope for game and pass is the clear choice for rebids. With a maximum strength hand (19 to 21 points), game is assured and opener should bid it directly. It is with medium strength hands (good 16 to 18 points) that the answer to the level question is still unknown. Remember that these hand evaluations are using the recount based upon shortness. It will be the most accurate method now that a trump fit has been determined.

The most obvious and direct way of describing one of these "in between hands" is to re-raise responder (1heart.gif (841 bytes)-2heart.gif (841 bytes)-3heart.gif (841 bytes)). That is the only method taught during most beginning classes. However, other methods or ways of describing your medium strength hand are available. Opener has available four other bids, all below the three level in the agreed major suit. Each of the different possibilities allows opener to describe a little more accurately what type of hand would fit best. This whole class of rebids are known as "game tries".

Other than the obvious re-raise, what bids are available for use to opener? Remember that opener’s rebid must allow the partnership to get to 3heart.gif (841 bytes) or 3spade.gif (842 bytes) (whichever is agreed) when game is not in the cards.

Bids available after 1heart.gif (841 bytes) - 2heart.gif (841 bytes):

2spade.gif (842 bytes)
2NT
3club.gif (841 bytes)
3diamond.gif (837 bytes)
3heart.gif (841 bytes)

Bids available after 1spade.gif (842 bytes) - 2spade.gif (842 bytes):

2NT
3club.gif (841 bytes)
3diamond.gif (837 bytes)
3heart.gif (841 bytes)
3spade.gif (842 bytes)

Each of these bids would still allow the partnership to get out below game when it is determined that the partnership does have the needed 26 points. Now, opener has five ways of describing a medium strength hand. What meaning could each of these bids have? The denomination question has already been decided (our major suit fit), so what is the message?

Simple! Opener is describing a medium strength hand and also indicating where (in what other suits) that high cards will be the most valuable. You will discover that hands that fit together in more than one suit almost always play above the predicted potential. Hands that do not fit in any suit (usually called misfits) usually play below the predicted potential.

That is fine for the suit bids but what about that 2NT and the re-raise of our trump suit? Opener uses 2NT to describe a balanced (5-3-3-2 shape) without a specific side suit in need of help. That leaves 1heart.gif (841 bytes)-2heart.gif (841 bytes)-3heart.gif (841 bytes) or 1spade.gif (842 bytes)-2spade.gif (842 bytes)-3spade.gif (842 bytes). Opener should be unbalanced (or why not 2NT?) and does have a side suit to indicate.

Examples

What do you rebid with each hand as South?

West North East South
1heart.gif (841 bytes)
Pass 2heart.gif (841 bytes) Pass ???

 

#1

spade.gif (842 bytes)AJ65
heart.gif (841 bytes)AQJ43
diamond.gif (837 bytes)K5
club.gif (841 bytes)84

 

#2

spade.gif (842 bytes)K5
heart.gif (841 bytes)KQJ43
diamond.gif (837 bytes)QJ6
club.gif (841 bytes)A107

 

#3

spade.gif (842 bytes)73
heart.gif (841 bytes)KJ9743
diamond.gif (837 bytes)A
club.gif (841 bytes)AJ42

Answers

#1 Your hand values 17 points in support of hearts. With a borderline 8 point hand that contained spade honors would you not want partner to accept your invitation to 4heart.gif (841 bytes)? Bid 2spade.gif (842 bytes).

#2 Your hand values 17 points in support of hearts. You could have chosen to open 1NT but choose to open 1heart.gif (841 bytes) instead. Describe your game try to partner. Bid 2NT. You will still play the contract in hearts but this more accurate description may help partner decide what to do.

#3 Your hand values 17 points in support of hearts. With a borderline 8 point hand that contained club honors would you not want partner to accept your invitation to 4heart.gif (841 bytes)? Bid 3club.gif (841 bytes).

How does responder use this information?

Remember that you are describing a medium strength hand. Responder should bid the agreed major suit at the three level (or pass if you are already there) with a 6 or 7 point hand. Responder should bid game in the agreed major with a 9 or 10 point hand. The extra information is of use when partner has the borderline 8 point hand. With that hand responder must either round up or round down and take the appropriate action. With values in your "game try" suit responder should round up and bid game. With values outside of you "game try" suit responder should probably round down and bid only a partscore in the agreed major suit.

-------------------------------------

Plan the Attack

Two hands where your job is to plan the play. I will warn you that you must be specific.

Hand A

North
spade.gif (842 bytes)A4
heart.gif (841 bytes)AJ102
diamond.gif (837 bytes)K94
West club.gif (841 bytes)J865 East
spade.gif (842 bytes)??? spade.gif (842 bytes)???
heart.gif (841 bytes)??? heart.gif (841 bytes)???
diamond.gif (837 bytes)??? diamond.gif (837 bytes)???
club.gif (841 bytes)??? South (you) club.gif (841 bytes)???
spade.gif (842 bytes)K7
heart.gif (841 bytes)Q65
diamond.gif (837 bytes)A852
club.gif (841 bytes)A742
West North East South
1diamond.gif (837 bytes)
Pass 1heart.gif (841 bytes) Pass 1NT
Pass 3NT Pass Pass
Pass

West leads the spade.gif (842 bytes)J. Where do you win the opening lead? How do you play hearts?

Hand B

North
spade.gif (842 bytes)9643
heart.gif (841 bytes)AQ
diamond.gif (837 bytes)KJ1093
West club.gif (841 bytes)AQ East
spade.gif (842 bytes)??? spade.gif (842 bytes)???
heart.gif (841 bytes)??? heart.gif (841 bytes)???
diamond.gif (837 bytes)??? diamond.gif (837 bytes)???
club.gif (841 bytes)??? South (you) club.gif (841 bytes)???
spade.gif (842 bytes)AKQJ82
heart.gif (841 bytes)43
diamond.gif (837 bytes)A2
club.gif (841 bytes)975
West North East South
1spade.gif (842 bytes)
Pass 2diamond.gif (837 bytes) Pass 2spade.gif (842 bytes)
Pass 4NT Pass 5heart.gif (841 bytes)
Pass 6spade.gif (842 bytes) Pass Pass
Pass

West leads the heart.gif (841 bytes)2. Do you take the heart finesse? Why or why not? After pulling trump, how do you play diamonds?

Answers

Hand A

North
spade.gif (842 bytes)A4
heart.gif (841 bytes)AJ102
diamond.gif (837 bytes)K94
West club.gif (841 bytes)J865 East
spade.gif (842 bytes)J10983 spade.gif (842 bytes)Q652
heart.gif (841 bytes)K4 heart.gif (841 bytes)9873
diamond.gif (837 bytes)Q1076 diamond.gif (837 bytes)J3
club.gif (841 bytes)93 South (you) club.gif (841 bytes)KQ10
spade.gif (842 bytes)K7
heart.gif (841 bytes)Q65
diamond.gif (837 bytes)A852
club.gif (841 bytes)A742

The defenders have attacked the best suit for them (spades). You will need to bring home the heart suit for four tricks in order to make the hand. Anyone can make it if the hearts are 3-3 with the heart.gif (841 bytes)K onside. The secret is to give yourself an extra chance. You can make the hand if the heart.gif (841 bytes)K is onside singleton or doubleton as well as long as you do not sacrifice your heart.gif (841 bytes)Q. Win the spade.gif (842 bytes)K and lead a small heart, taking the finesse. Return to the South hand with the diamond.gif (837 bytes)A and lead another small heart. If you allow the heart.gif (841 bytes)Q to be covered, you are going down.

Hand B

North
spade.gif (842 bytes)9643
heart.gif (841 bytes)AQ
diamond.gif (837 bytes)KJ1093
West club.gif (841 bytes)AQ East
spade.gif (842 bytes)107 spade.gif (842 bytes)5
heart.gif (841 bytes)J982 heart.gif (841 bytes)K10765
diamond.gif (837 bytes)Q8654 diamond.gif (837 bytes)7
club.gif (841 bytes)J8 South (you) club.gif (841 bytes)K106432
spade.gif (842 bytes)AKQJ82
heart.gif (841 bytes)43
diamond.gif (837 bytes)A2
club.gif (841 bytes)975

At first glance it appears that 12 tricks in spades depends on little more than one of two finesses. If EITHER the heart finesse OR the club finesse is successful then you make the hand. A closer look uncovers a 100% path to 12 tricks! Taking the heart finesse is absolutely not necessary. Win the heart.gif (841 bytes)A and pull trump. Now comes a classic loser on loser play. Cash the diamond.gif (837 bytes)A and then the diamond.gif (837 bytes)K. If the diamond.gif (837 bytes)Q drops you have 13 tricks (6 spades, 1 heart, 5 diamonds, and 1 club). If no diamond.gif (837 bytes)Q appears then lead another diamond and discard the losing heart. You lose that trick but set up two more diamond winners to take care of the club losers. Your 12 tricks will be 6 spades, 1 heart, 4 diamonds, and 1 club.

Thanks!
Gary King

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