With 25 points, you gotta get to game

The team of John “Unlucky Louie” Walston and Jim “Mr,. Defense” Giuliano left no doubt who’s boss, beating Jason “Thumbs” Cohen and Joan “Generally Not Miss Timid Anymore” Rightnour by a total score of 1,600 to 370 at the Friday luncheon meeting of our office bridge club.

“Louie” and Jim took the only completed Rubber, two Games to none, with a Game in a major and two partials, while they also scored the only Game in the unfinished second Rubber, a 3 No-Trump contract made on the nose.

Jason and Joan missed their only chance to score a Game in the unfinished second Rubber on the featured hand of the day. They had a 3 No-Trump or a 4 Hearts Game, and maybe even 5 Clubs with the sharpest possible play, but they didn’t get to Game in the auction, stopping at 3 Clubs and making an overtrick, with both partners missing ample opportunities to nail down the Game.

Jason opened a Club and Joan, who had 12 points, responded a Heart. Jason then bid One No-Trump, and Joan, who had four Clubs in addition to her five Hearts, said 2 Clubs. Jason then raised to 3 Clubs and Joan passed, thinking that Clubs was the only possible trump suit and that 5 would be too high.

It was a case of timid bidding by both and both missed opportunities to push more aggressively for Game. In the most sophisticated bidding system, Joan’s hand would have replied 2 Clubs to Jason’s 1 Club opening, indicating Club support and a near-opening hand in the so-called “inverted minors” bidding system. This sets out the expectation for going to Game right away and leaves the bidding room to explore whether 3 No-Trump, 5 Clubs or a Game in an as-yet-unbid major suit is the best fit.

But there was more than one way to skin this cat. After hearing Jason’s 1 No-Trump bid, knowing that her partner wasn’t void in anything or had a singleton that he was really nervous about, Joan might have jumped straight to 3 NT. She knew between her and her partner, they had the required number of points (13 plus 12 makes 25), she had two Spade stoppers, good long Hearts and Club support — it was partner’s responsibility to have the fourth suit covered and he did with the Diamond Ace. A jump straight to 3 No-Trump had the additional advantage of robbing the opponents of the opportunity to find out what the one unbid suit was and pinpoint their weakness.

Joan could also have rebid her Hearts to tell her partner it was a five-card suit and not just a  timid four-card major support bid. But Jason might also have invited to Game with a 2 No-Trump bid rather then raise in Clubs, which told partner that he’d really rather play in Clubs than in No-Trump, in effect running away from his own first rebid in No-Trump.

The point is that when your partner opens and you have 12 points, you should be looking for a Game contract fit somewhere — and not stop till you find it.

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