But, Larry Cohen Says… – The Gee Chronicles
Jul 252002

N/S Vul
Dealer: West
Lead: DQ

S A Q 6
H A 6 4 3 2
D A 3
C Q 8 2
S 9 7 2
D K 10 8 6 4 2
C A K J 6
[W - E] pkchance
S J 10 5 3
H K Q J 9
C 10 7 3
S K 8 4
H 10 8 7 5
D 9 7 5
C 9 5 4
1 D
4 C
1 H
4 H
3 H


Yesterday’s lesson in hand evaluation continues. Today we see the other side of the coin.

Although many players might double with the North hand it is difficult to quarrel with the heart overcall. Some players would bid 1NT with East’s hand, but he thought it more important to show the four spades with a negative double, and again this is difficult to fault.

Gee, sitting South, holds what appears at first blush to be an eleven-loser hand with four small trumps and no ruffing values whatsoever. But on closer inspection, the hand reveals itself as eleven losers with four small trumps and no ruffing values whatsoever. Some players might venture a raise to 2H; more conservative players might pass. But Gee knows the Law: four hearts plus five hearts make nine hearts. He raises to 3.

Sure enough, his brilliant gambit pays off, as West bids 4C. Four of either minor is off 2 on moderately alert defense. But North bids 4H, alas. She envisions a South hand like Kxxx Kxxx xxxx x — here the heart game is cold unless trump are 4-0 — or even Jxxxx KQxx xxx x, where it is an underdog but has chances. Of course East, who has been laying the weeds with three heart tricks, promptly doubles, and North finds the dummy somewhat, shall we say, disappointing. The usual result would be -500 or -800 (against an E/W partial), but the catastrophic trump split produces seven tricks for the defense, down 4, for a score with which we are all, by now, distressingly familiar.

Yet it is the mark of the expert to extract something from every disaster. After the hand Gee asks his partner gently if she understood that 3H was a weak bid. Her reply is unrecorded, but clarifications like this cannot help but improve partnership understanding for the future.

  3 Responses to “But, Larry Cohen Says…”


    This is a Janine disaster. Even if G had made a standard weak 3H bid I have a 6 loser hand and should not expect him to have the exact 3 cover cards that I need to make 4H. I guess par would be -200. I take responsibility for the minus score.


    It is true that the best score for N/S is defending 4DX and that 4H is likely -200. This, however, leaves 900 points unaccounted for. Janine is being very generous.


    Have to agree with J. 3H “worked”, got them to the 4 level & a positive NS score. J has too much defense at the 4 level, a flat hand and a lousy suit for a vul overcall.

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