K Q 10 6 4 3
K 5 4 2
K 4 3
A J 10 8 7 5
J 10 3
9 7 5 2
A Q 9 8 5 2
10 7 6
K Q 9
A Q 9 8 7
Today’s hand illustrates an important but frequently overlooked point in bidding theory: don’t be in a hurry to bid notrump. You can always bid it later.
Gee sits South. With a 2-3-3-5 hand, 15 points, good spots, and tenaces in the minors, the STCP™ might open 1NT. Gee knows there’ll be plenty of time to bid notrump later and opens 1C instead.
West overcalls 1D, North shows his 5+ spades, East bids 2H, and it’s back to our hero. A good spot for a Western cuebid of 3H, asking for a heart stopper? Not so fast. Gee shrewdly opts for 2NT. Geeselle, who sent me this beauty, theorizes that this is a case of “bidder’s remorse”: Gee regrets not having opened 1NT and is trying to compensate. She underestimates our hero. 2NT is tactical. Sure, 10xx isn’t much of a heart stopper, but the 2NT bid ought to discourage West from leading hearts: after all, only a moron would bid notrump in that position without a heart stopper, right? Besides, the cue would force North to bid notrump first. This would automatically wrong-side the hand, because Gee would not be playing it.
West raises to 3H and North, who figures his partner is showing a balanced hand with extras, reasonably bids the spade game. This is passed to our hero, who goes into the tank and emerges with…4NT!
Is it Blackwood? To play? Minor suit takeout? Experienced as I am in the Master’s Way I still don’t have the faintest idea. North reasons that Gee must hold a stiff spade with 1NT values — otherwise he’d open 1NT, right? — and passes, as the least of the evils. And I sympathize: I really do.
As Rommel could have told you, even the best tactics don’t always succeed. West leads a heart despite Gee’s strict instructions to the contrary, and the smoke clears seven tricks later. The churlish may notice that if Gee opens 1NT North transfers to spades at the 4-level and, even with some static from E/W, they likely play 4S, making 5. But where’s the pedagogical value in that?