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Open an Apricot Sundae?


This is in response to your question: Should I open the bidding with

S --
H Q J x x x
D A x x x x x x
C x x

My recommendation: Pass your Apricot Sundae

While you didn't mention the Vulnerability and type of scoring, I'll try to provide a generic answer. Actually, whether you should initially bid or not with this type of hand is somewhat a matter of style and partnership agreement. Some aggressive and "busy bidders" believe they must immediately enter the auction with this hand, owing to the fact they have 6-5 distribution -- they'd even recite the quote "Six-Five, come alive!"

But let's be realistic.  Since you have 7 HCP, that leaves 33 HCP between the three remaining players, or 11 HCP per player on average. This leaves your side with 7 + 11 = 18 HCP and 22 HCP for the opponents. While I grant you that suit distribution will
probably play an important factor on this hand, at this point we are clueless who will find the best fit.

Initially, let's assume you are bidding in the first seat. Later on, I'll discuss third-seat bidding.  Let's begin by taking a pragmatic look at your distributional hand. You have 7 HCP and it's not yet clear you will have a partnership fit; so it's unwise to count distribution points yet. The same is true for modern evaluation techniques such as Losing Trick Count (LTC).

It's quite likely that opponents will have a Spade fit here, but it's also most likely your partner will have a long Spade suit.  That could certainly hurt their chance to make a game.  Secondly, since you have a very unbalanced hand, it's most likely at least one other player will be unbalanced, too.  This will become apparent during the subsequent bidding.

It would be very dangerous to open the bidding at the 1-level, as 1 Diamond. This would give your partner the impression you have an opening hand. Also, how would you handle an auction where your partner is strong and has long Spades like:

1D - 1S (You shouldn't open 1H here, with more Diamonds)
2D - 3S (You can't bid 2H here, the reverse shows 17+ points)

We wouldn't want to be caught unprepared for this, would we? Even if partner rebids 2 Spades, we'd be sorry when partner can only use the Ace of Spades and maybe the Queen of Hearts from our hand.

Perhaps you were thinking of making a preemptive bid, such as 2 Diamonds. This would be very risky, since you may have a Heart fit with partner and never find it.  While some players will not preempt with a 4-card Major, may top players agree this is overly restrictive.  However, I recommend that you do not preempt with an Honor in the 4-card Major. Notice how your hand has two honors in Hearts -- a really bad time to preempt.  And with 5 Hearts, I'd say a preemptive bid is out of the question. Let's say the bidding went:

P - (1S) - X - (any)

Here, your partner is showing a takeout in Hearts (showing 4).  That would be great news and now you are ready to vigorously show Heart support with a big trump fit!

I won't go through other auction scenarios, but suffice it to say that depending on how everyone else bids, you'll still have time to make a bid -- and it will better reflect your hand to your partner. If you and your partner play Weak Jump Shifts, Unusual Notrump and Michael's Cuebid, or Responsive Doubles, you still have a good chance to show your distributional hand later.

One final point -- another important factor in the auction is your relative when the bidding came around to you. So while I suggest you Pass in first or second seat, I would definitely recommend that you make a preemptive bid in third seat.   Since your partner and Right Hand Opponent have passed, now is the time to make a Preemptive bid -- perhaps 3 Diamonds, depending on the Vulnerability.

I was a bit curious about what the results would look like by using the hand you described and randomly dealing the remaining cards to the other three players. So I entered your hand in a Bridge hand simulator and had it deal and play 200 random hands.   Using the
best suit fit (Hearts or Diamonds), here's the averaged results:


Tricks Made

7 8 9 10 11 12


76% 65% 47% 27% 16% 4%

 So, in most cases, it's unlikely you are going to find a Game suit fit with your partner.  And as I mentioned above, if you bid at the 1-level in first or second seat, your partner may very well put you in a Game contract.

Of course, these results would be more meaningful if we could see what would happen if the opponents' bid. So I next ran the identical hand through the simulator again, this time assuming the opposition bid their contract in Spades:

Tricks Made

7 8 9 10 11 12 13


84% 70% 55% 31% 15% 5% 1%

So while opponents quite possibly will find their Spade fit, their opportunity to make a Spade game isn't certain.



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