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Diamonds can be everyone's best friend


Beware of holly suits




Honors are especially precious in long minor suits



Side suit quackers are questionable








Cross your suits, hope to...

What is a sensible bidding sequence with these hands?


A K 7
Q 9 8 7 x x
A Q x

J x x
K J x x
K 8 x x

First off, let's agree that we are normally looking for game in a major or 3 Notrump.  If we must resort to a 5 minor game contract, figure on 29 distributional points.  So when responder doesn't have a 4 card major, we should heed the warning flag.  And if responder has a very short major, making a 3 Notrump game looks even more threatening from responderís perspective.  Let's see how this applies to the above bidding sequence.

Opener has 15 HCP but it's difficult to count distributional points, normally 2 more points for a 6 card suit.  Do you see why?  Notice that opener's controls are in the black suits;  when promoting a suit, we can readily see the problem trying to run:

Q 9 8 7 x x x

The opponentsí might run a pile of side-suit tricks before you and partner can promote the minor suit.  Now letís look at responder's holdings?  Looks like 7 HCP is working, particularly the nice Diamond K J honor sequence. 

But the Heart J x x and singleton Spade Q initially have little value since opener isn't showing a long major.  If you are using straight forward bidding, then the auction might go:

1D - 2D;
2S - 3D;
4D - 5D

While openerís 2S rebid generally is shape showing, with this particular hand 2S works well, showing extra values, controls in Spades, and interest in a 3 Notrump game if partner has a Heart stopper.  Lacking  the Heart stopper, responder can show the apparent minor suit support, bidding 4D and opener can make the final call.

A more advanced treatment could be used  by players that use Inverted Minors and  it's sister convention - "Criss-Cross".   Those players can use Criss-Cross here:

1D - 3C;       3C = Diamond support w/6-9 points
3D Ė 4D;

Here, opener realizes that responder is long in Diamonds, game is not attainable without Heart controls (responder bypassed the majors). Had the bidding gone 1D - 2D (Inverted Minors, game force style), the partnership would know to continue bidding until game is reached.

A frequent stumbling block for emerging players with holdings as you've shown is proper hand evaluation.  Typically responders fall in the trap of counting extra points for dummy shortages, assuming the hand will be valuable for ruffing.   

Unfortunately, the recurring theme is that opener places the contract in 3 Notrump and the hand goes down.  Based on the bidding, reasonable defenders will know to lead a Heart -- assuming opponents are 5-5 (since they didn't interfere with the auction), they will take 5 Heart tricks plus 1 Diamond trick.

In summary, finding minor suit games with distributional hands are often tricky.  Hopefully this provides some food for thought.



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