Useful Agreements 3

Last month we began to investigate how to advance sensibly after an opponent has interfered with a two-suited overcall, where both of his suits are known. Based on the method widely known as Unusual against Unusual, this is where we left off:

RHO You LHO Partner
1S
2NT ?

 

Double Defensive – to be discussed further
2NT As yet undefined
3C (lower cuebid) – As yet undefined
3D (higher cuebid) – primary spade support and at least invitational values
3H As yet undefined
3S Defensive raise – a hand that would normally raise to 2S
4C/4D Splinter raise – spade support, game values and a shortage
4S Preemptive

As you can see, so far we have dealt only with how to advance when you can support your partner’s suit. Sometimes, though, you will hold the fourth suit. Look at these hands:

Hand A
S J 2
H Q J 10 9 8 3
D A 8 2
C 9 2
Hand B
S Q 2
H A J 10 9 8 3
D A 8 2
C 9 2
Hand C
S K 2
H K Q 9 8 3
D A Q 3 2
C K 2
Hand D
S A 2
H A Q J 10 8 6 3
D A
C 9 5 2

 

RHO You LHO Partner
1S
2NT ?

When your long suit is hearts, the fourth suit, RHO’s intervention has robbed you of much-needed space. With no systemic methods available, you would have to choose between bidding 3H (is that invitational or just merely competitive?) and jumping to 4H. You have only to look at the range of heart hands that you might hold to see that it is impossible to describe them all with just two bids.

Let’s start by comparing Hand A and Hand B. Holding Hand A, you certainly want to introduce your suit, but you will need partner to hold some significant extra values to make game a good proposition. You may be thinking that you can pass at your first turn and then back in with 3Hwhen LHO’s minor-suit preference is passed back to you, but what do you propose to do if he jumps to 4C?

RHO You LHO Partner
1S
2NT pass 4C pass
pass

Yes, it might easily be right to bid 4H. It could equally well be ridiculous. Either way, you have left yourself with a unilateral decision. By making a competitive 3H bid immediately,

RHO You LHO Partner
1S
2NT 3H 4C ?

you involve partner in the decision. They will know the type of hand you hold and will be able to do the right thing much of the time.

That all seems fine. But do you also have to make the same 3H bid with a full-fledged invitational hand such as Hand B? Indeed, if pushed to do so, you might well prefer a jump to 4H with Hand B for fear that partner will not raise because he feels that you are rather weaker. With the enemy cards already known to be breaking badly, though, 4H has the potential to be disastrous when LHO holds most of the remaining hearts and a fair number of the missing spades.

The good news is that you do not have to commit yourself to game on a marginal hand. Go back to the table at the start of this article and you will see that there is still one cuebid available — the cuebid in RHO’s lower-ranking suit. My suggestion is that this cuebid should be used to show an invitational or better hand with the fourth suit. Thus, holding Hand B, you would cuebid in clubs:

RHO You LHO Partner
1S
2NT 3C pass ?

What are partner’s options?

Most of the time, they will be happy to play in hearts and will choose an appropriate level. If they have  a minimum opening bid, he simply corrects to 3H. This says, “If you had bid an invitational 3H I would have passed.”

With a little better than a minimum and three-card heart support, he can jump to 4H. This tells you that he would have raised an invitational 3H bid to game, but it does not show significant extra values.

Just occasionally, they will have a minimum hand with very short hearts and a decent spade suit. On this he is allowed to bid 3S.

On most other hands (i.e., when they cannot be sure where they wants to play), they can make an artificial relay bid — in this case, 3D.

RHO You LHO Partner
1S
2NT 3C pass 3D
?

(Note that because we are using the lower cuebid to show the fourth suit, there will always be a three-level cuebid in the enemy’s other suit. However, that cuebid will not always be below three of your suit.). What this repeat cuebid essentially says is, “Tell me more about your hand.”

There are hands on which opener will request more information. Indeed, it is the best way to start when you hold Hand B, C or D.

Initially opener should expect no more than an invitational hand with six hearts (Hand B), but he should cater to the other two major hand types also.

The first of these is Hand C – values for game with a five-card heart suit. Yes, you could simply jump to 3NT with Hand C, but it is not difficult to construct layouts on which 4H is much the better contract.

Hand C
S K 2
H K Q 9 8 3
D A Q 3 2
C K 2
Partner
S A Q 6 5 4
H J 7 6 5
D K 7
C Q 5

Where would you rather play: in 3NT, needing spades to break 3-3 (when RHO has shown at least 10 minor-suit cards), or in 4H, which rates to have 11 easy tricks (or 10 if things break really badly)?

RHO You LHO Partner
1S
2NT 3NT pass ?

Are you really telling me that you want your partner to remove your
3NT to 4H here?

On this pair of hands, I would expect the auction to go:

RHO You LHO Partner
1S
2NT 3C pass 3H
pass 3NT pass 4H
all pass

Yes, partner might elect to jump to 4H at their second turn, but with the minor-suit honors wasted he might treat their hand as a sub-minimum opening and bid just 3H. When you then continue with 3NT, you are showing a 3NT bid with five hearts and he has an easy correction to the suit game.

The third hand type you might hold for your 3C cuebid is one where you are simply too strong to make a limit bid. Looking at Hand D, you are clearly too strong for a direct jump to 4H. Constructing a layout on which slam is cold is easy.

Hand D
S A 2
H A Q J 10 8 6 3
D A
C 9 5 2
Partner
S K Q 7 6 4 3
H K 4
D K 9 6 2
C 6

Even opposite a minimum opening bid, there are 12 top tricks in hearts. The keys, of course, are finding the HK and the singleton club opposite. The auction might go something like:

RHO You LHO Partner
1S
2NT 3C pass 3H
pass 4D pass 4NT
pass 5C pass 5D
pass 6H all pass

Partner bids just 3H to show the minimum opening, but when you make a self-agreeing cuebid you show slam interest with a very strong heart suit. Partner can now see how good his once-moderate hand has become. Blackwood confirms that you hold three aces and the HQ.

Let’s fill in some gaps in our table:

RHO You LHO Partner
1S
2NT ?

 

Double Defensive – to be discussed further
2NT As yet undefined
3C (lower cuebid) – Invitational or better with at least five hearts
3D (higher cuebid) – primary spade support and at least invitational values
3H Competitive only with at least a decent 6-card suit
3S Defensive raise – a hand that would normally raise to 2S
4C/4D Splinter raise – spade support, game values and a shortage
4S Preemptive
2017-12-17T16:45:29+00:00 By |Categories: Bidding Systems and Theories, Marc Smith|Tags: |0 Comments

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