Useful Agreements 4

We have been investigating how to advance after an opponent has interfered by making a two-suited overcall where both of their suits are known. Based on the method widely known as Unusual against Unusual, we have made it this far:

RHOYouLHOPartner
1S
2NT?

 

DoubleDefensive – to be discussed further
3C(lower cuebid) – Invitational or better with at least five hearts
3D(higher cuebid) – primary spade support and at least invitational values
3HCompetitive only with at least a decent 6-card suit
3SDefensive raise – a hand that would normally raise to 2S
4C/4DSplinter raise – spade support, game values and a shortage
4SPreemptive
4NTAs yet undefined

So far we have dealt with hands that have either support for partner’s suit or length in the remaining unclaimed suit. This month we will deal with other hand types on which you want to take action. Take a look at these hands:

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

 

RHOYouLHOPartner
1S
2NT?

Holding Hand A, should you introduce your hearts via a 3C cuebid? I would suggest not: it’s not a good idea to try to reach an eight-card major-suit fit when you know suits are going to break badly. This is a losing strategy, particularly when there is a sensible alternative — i.e., game in notrump.

Alternatively, perhaps you should play for penalties with four likely defensive tricks in RHO’s suits. Again, though, this rates to be losing tactics with only three trumps in whichever suit the enemy choose. Even against vulnerable opponents, you should bid to what looks like your best spot and take your non-vulnerable game bonus. After all, RHO knew the vulnerability when he came in!

Of course, you might catch LHO with 5-5-2-1 shape and miss an enormous penalty. More likely, though, he’ll hold four clubs and only a doubleton diamond, and you’ll need partner to hold two defensive tricks that stand up just to beat 3C when you have an easy game your way. On a particularly bad day, 3C doubled will roll home.

With Hand A, your best option is to bid 3NT. Note that you cannot double, hoping partner will double LHO’s runout to a minor. For a start, the odds that he can do so are negligible. Even more importantly, if they passe 3Cor 3D back to you and you then bid 3NT you will be showing a better hand. An immediate 3NT shows a limited hand — something like 12-16 HCP, which leads us nicely to Hand B.

If an immediate 3NT shows 12-16 HCP with stoppers in both minors, how do you describe Hand B? I suppose you could jump to 4NT (assuming that partner will understand this to be natural and not Blackwood agreeing spades). But with suits bound to break badly, wouldn’t it be sickening to bid 4NT and find that the limit of the hand is nine tricks?

Fortunately, RHO’s Unusual 2NT overcall allows you to show your extra values and still stop in 3NT. The way to do this is to start with a double of 2NT, ostensibly showing an interest in penalizing the opponents. When LHO bids 3C or 3D and this is passed back to you, or when your double is passed back to RHO who then removes to a minor, you can bid a delayed 3NT, showing extra values.

Note that you cannot hold something such as Hand D (a hand that wants to double one of the enemy’s suits but not the other) for this delayed 3NT. You are showing good stoppers in BOTH minors and extra values.

And, for the record, because you can show extra values in a balanced hand via double/3NT, an immediate jump to 4NT is available for use as Blackwood agreeing opener’s suit. Yes, you could agree his suit with a 3Dcuebid and then bid Blackwood at your next turn, but adopting that approach assumes that LHO will not leap to the five-level in one of the minors. If all you need to know is how many key cards partner holds, bid Blackwood immediately before the opponents have a chance to remove that option.

As mentioned above, a double of 2NT ostensibly says that you want to penalize at least one of RHO’s suits (although of course you may be intending to change that message by bidding 3NT at your next turn). Even so, partner is invited to double with trump length and a suitable defensive hand. Hand C is perfect for a double of 2NT. Not only do you have the prospect of a large penalty, but there is no guarantee that your side can even make game. With length in both of RHO’s suits, most of your points in his suits, and a shortage in partner’s suit, this hand screams Defend!

When you double 2NT, you create a forcing auction.

RHOYouLHOPartner
1S
2NTdbl3C?

Partner does not need to bid in front of you to show extra values – their pass is 100% forcing. Your double invites him only to pass (to allow you to double) or to double (showing trump length). This caters for hands on which you want to double either of RHO’s suits (Hand C) and only one of them (Hand D).

Only with exceptional shape (perhaps a concentrated 5-5 but more often at least 6-5 in the majors) should partner bid in front of you. And if he bids 3H (showing at least a five-card suit), are you that disappointed when you hold Hand C? Of course not — 4H will be a fine contract and your nine-card fit drastically reduces your combined defensive potential. (To remove to 3S, partner should have at least a good seven-card suit and most likely an eight-bagger.)

Note that if partner does bid 3H at their second turn, he shows a minimum opening bid, so there is no need to get excited on Hand C — just raise to game. With extra values and 6-5 in the majors, partner should pass 3Caround to you and then pull your expected double to 3H.

RHOYouLHOPartner
1S
2NTdbl3Cpass
passdblpass3H
pass?

Now with Hand C you can cuebid in search of a slam despite your minimum double.

Most of the time, of course, partner will have some more balanced hand type — 5-4-3-1, 6-3-3-1, etc., and you will simply double 3C and collect a decent penalty.

The final hand type looks something like Hand D — you can double one of the enemy suits but not the other. Of course, most of the time when you hold Hand D, LHO will bid 3D. There is no guarantee, though, that he will not be 2-2 or even 2-3 in the minors — partner is allowed to be 4-1 or 4-0 in those two suits. And it is when this layout exists, and thus RHO has chosen the wrong time to come in, that you will really catch your opponents for a big penalty. Often you cannot even make game your way because of the bad breaks.

Holding Hand D, you will be very happy if LHO bids 3D and partner can double. Most of the time, of course, he will be unable to do so, and you will have to find a bid.

RHOYouLHOPartner
1S
2NTdbl3Dpass
pass?

Okay, so the opponents have escaped. Yes, partner might have three diamonds and defending might then be the right thing to do, but there is no way to know. Most of the time the enemy will have found their nine-card fit and you have to bid your best game. Clearly you cannot bid 3NT — this not only shows 17+ HCP, remember, but it also shows at least one and probably two diamond stoppers. Jx certainly does not qualify.

You now have to scramble to find your best game — RHO’s intervention has done its dirty work and made life tough for you. Chances are you will hold either four hearts (as you do on Hand D) or three spades.

With four hearts, simply bid the suit at the three-level. Partner should not expect great hearts for this — you could have shown a five-card suit via a cuebid over 2NT. If he cannot raise hearts, he will rebid his spades with a six-card suit or bid 3NT with a diamond stopper. (Remember he knows you have good clubs. Your double guaranteed that you could double at least one of the enemy suits or that you were bidding 3NT yourself to show extra values.)

Without four hearts, six spades or a diamond stop, partner will just have to rebid his spades on five and play in a 5-2 fit.

Note that if you do not hold four hearts, you will usually be forced to bid 3S. This suggests three-card support but does not guarantee it (you might be 2-3-3-5). With only five spades and a diamond stopper, partner should bid 3NT to offer the option of playing there. With three-card spade support, you will usually correct to spades unless you can judge there are nine running tricks in notrump. Remember that partner will most likely produce only one diamond stopper.

Now we can fill in the remaining gaps in the table.

RHOYouLHOPartner
1S
2NT?

 

DoubleDefensive – showing the ability to double at least one of the enemy suits OR to bid a natural 3NT with extra values (17+ HCP)
3C(lower cuebid) – Invitational or better with at least five hearts
3D(higher cuebid) – primary spade support and at least invitational values
3HCompetitive only with at least a decent 6-card suit
3SDefensive raise – a hand that would normally raise to 2S
4C/4DSplinter raise – spade support, game values and a shortage
4SPreemptive
4NTBlackwood agreeing spades
2017-12-17T16:45:38+00:00By |Categories: Bidding Systems and Theories|Tags: |0 Comments

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