Linda Lee — My personal bridge blog

What to do when you are in zone 3

I was commenting on a match yesterday and at my table the poor East-West pair seemed to be star crossed.  Here is one example:

s_thumb AJ7
h_thumb AJ62
d_thumb AQ108
c_thumb K10


You are sitting South playing in the Geo Cup final, a round robin team game. Your partner opens 1d_thumb which can be short.  Be patient during the auction, your turn will come.

His hand is limited to 17 HCP (Precision style).  You bid 1h_thumb and partner raises to 2h_thumb.  You have some bids for this situation.  You bid    2s_thumb which sets a game force.  Partner bids 2NT, natural and you have a bid for this.  You bid 3c_thumb asking and partner bids 3h_thumb which shows 4-3-3-3.  You bid keycard and partner shows you two missing the queen.   Your turn.  What do you bid now?

I think there is an argument for bidding 6NT.  There is a risk that if partner does not have the h_thumb10 you might have two heart losers on a 4-1 split.    Still there is some chance that you might need a ruff to get your trick total to 12.  What do you think?

I was thinking 6NT but then I was looking at all the hands.  Anyway our hero bid 6h_thumb and partner produced this hand.

s_thumb K109
h_thumb K1083
d_thumb KJ6
c_thumb AJ6

It still isn’t clear what is the best contract.  Anyway you get a spade lead which you win cheaply in dummy.  Your play.  Perhaps there might be some tiny argument that suggests that you should lead a heart towards dummy now rather than to your hand.  West might have lead a trump and he didn’t.  But who expects trump to be 5-0.  It was 5-0 today and West had the void.

You now have two inevitable heart losers.  There is no miracle distribution.  The cards are not playing fair.  Now it is possible that your opponents will duplicate your actions but even assuming they reach the same contract they just might cash the right heart first.

There were several more hands along the same vein and by the end of the first five boards it would later turn out that the score was 35 opponents and nil for you.  From my own experience I have noticed that in these situations the best thing you can do is not to push.  If you have a choice between bidding one more or letting the opponents play a hand, then let them.  If you have a close shot at a slam don’t bid it.  Go easy.  The next board was a simple and flat 3NT making five.  I thought that was good, settling.  Now you get this hand sitting North. 

s_thumb KQ975
h_thumb void
d_thumb J10863
c_thumb KQ10

All vulnerable you are third to speak.  Partner passes and LHO opens with a surprise, 1s_thumb.  It seems prudent to pass and LHO bids a forcing notrump.   Partner doubles, takeout of spades.  West bids 2h_thumb and you venture 3d_thumb.  4h_thumb is passed back to you.  Do you bid or pass?  At our table North thought for a very long time and passed.

That seems right to me even without the “zone” problem.  You know partner has hearts (of course so do the opponents).  Your spades are likely to be more useful on defense than offense.  It was touch and go but 4h_thumb went one down.  5d_thumb which would no doubt have been doubled goes at least one down.  This was the first imps for your team.  Here was the whole deal:

  s_thumb KQ975
h_thumb void
d_thumb J10863
c_thumb KQ10
s_thumb J6432
h_thumb A1042
d_thumb Q94
c_thumb A
  s_thumb A10
h_thumb K8763
d_thumb 2
c_thumb J8532
  s_thumb 8
h_thumb QJ95
d_thumb AK75
c_thumb 9764


Maybe I am wrong.  Maybe it is better to take the save on such a tight contract.  All I know is that sometimes it just seems to work better to pass.  In the end North-South won 22 imps to 1 in the remaining boards.  Not enough to win this segment (4 of 7) but enough to improve things a lot.  And subconsciously or on purpose they played the rest of the match cautiously.  I have notice this works for me too.  I don’t know what this means exactly.

I also want to send my thanks to everyone who has sent me squeeze hands for the Love download.  I really do appreciate it and the more the merrier.

Leave a comment

Your comment