These days it is considered fairly normal to open one no-trump when you are in the right range even if you have a five-card major. This may be “normal” for most people but my bridge partner, Nicola Smith, has a bit of a bee in her bonnet about it. Accordingly we have developed our bidding system to avoid this. At first I thought she was a bit eccentric, but as time progresses I have begun to appreciate the advantages of such a style.
Neither vulnerable, Dealer East
When our opponents were North-South, North opened one no-trump and after Stayman reached three no-trumps. East led a top spade and the contract was soon two down. (I did hear that at some tables East led the jack of spades, but there is still no way for declarer to succeed.)
With just about as weak a five-card major as it is possible to hold, I was very nearly tempted to do the same thing, but I decided to respect my partner’s wishes and open one spade. She responded one no-trump and this was passed round to East who doubled, asking for a spade lead. With her super-maximum hand it was easy for Nicola to redouble and then double West’s run-out to two clubs.
We started with three rounds of hearts and then Nicola switched to her singleton spade. Declarer won and tried the jack of clubs, covered by the queen, king and ace. I gave Nicola a spade ruff and there were still two top diamonds and a trump to come, for a 500 penalty.
Last week’s problem
West is declarer in six spades on the six of hearts lead. Dummy’s jack is covered by the queen and king. South shows out on the first trump. Can you see any chance?
You must guess North’s distribution and reach a position where his last four cards are trumps. He must have at least three hearts and three diamonds (or you will need the club finesse), so play him for 5-3-3-2. Cash both minor-suit aces and the king of hearts, ruff a heart, cash your diamonds pitching clubs, and ruff a club. Now play your last heart and North can only take one trick.