Polling You #55: Contract Bridge Dangerous Opponents #4, March 21, 2011

Polling You 55: Contract Bridge – Dangerous Opponents

Beware the Dangerous Opponent!  So what makes a Bridge opponent dangerous, anyway?  Now that’s a “tricky” question (sic).

The dangerous opponent is the player who, when on lead, can leverage their position to win extra tricks.  So is that the opponent with a long suit, the opponent who can lead into that long suit, the player with tenaces behind our broken honors, or the opponent who can lead a suit to give partner ruff/s.  Answer: yes, Yes, YES, YES-SIR!

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Happy Bridge Trails and Tales,



  1. Charles says:

    You really need to know the level of the contract and whether it is a suit contract or a NT contract, and even what the rest of the hand is, to decide which answers are correct. For instance, answer #4 “You hold KJ…and…Q10…Assuming a 5-4 split, both opponents are dangerous” is moot in a suit contract and may not make any difference in a 1NT or 2NT contract (or even a 3NT contract if you have eight more tricks without giving up the lead).

    • BridgeHands says:
      Hello Charles,
      Thank you for helping to better qualify the questioin and response. By all means, additional factors should be considered before making a determination of a dangerous opponent. The question would have better stated assuming a 3 Notrump contract.
      Warm Regards,
  2. warrenwolff says:

    Not your best day! My head hurts after reading the Poll questions.

  3. Joe says:

    Learning to use transfers. Tonight my partner North opened 2nt east passed I had 5 points and a 5 card spade suit to the Jack I bid 2hearts (i know I needed more pts to bid) and partner completed transfer with 2 spades. I passed and contract remained 2 spades, When I saw his beautiful 21 point hand partner had only 6 of spades. I was sick. What should I or partner have done.

    • Jeff Holst says:

      First, it seems you made an insufficient bid, unless you meant that you had bid 3 hearts.

      Was your partner’s 6 of spades singleton or just the highest card in his suit? If the former, he has misbid his hand, as a NT bid shows a balanced or sumi-balanced hand. That means no singeton or void. If the latter, read on.

      Transfering requres no points, so you are incorrect to say that you needed more points to bid. A transfer is often simply an attempt to get to a contract where our weak hand has some value due to the ability to ruff losers.

      Opener has typically shown 20-21 HCP for his 2NT bid. (This may vary with partnership agreements.) If you add your 5, you are very close to game. At this point you might want to evaluate the quality of your hand and not just the HCP. If your 5 HCPwere the spade J and a couple of queens, I would bid as you did. Were it instead a 5+ card spade suit headed with KQ, I would bid game by bidding 3NT with 5 spades ot 4S with 6. (Actually, I would have used a texas transfer of 4H in the latter case, but you might not have that at your disposal.)

      Aside from the presumed insufficient bid, it is not clear that either you are your partner did anything wrong. Sometimes you just get unlucky. That’s bridge.

    • BridgeHands says:
      Hello Joe,
      Assuming the auction went:
      2N – (P) – 3H – (P);
      3S – AP
      Yes, your initial bid was fine using a Jacoby Transfer with 5 HCP and Jxxxx in Spades. However, after the transfer must players would upgrade their hand to 6 points and then signoff in 4 Spades.
      When your partner opened 2 Notrump, it showed a balanced 20-21 point hand and should not have a singleton in a suit – certainly never a major suit! And as your partner learned, doing so will often backfire with partner transferring to that exact suit! Some advanced players will open 2 Notrump with a 4-4-4-1 shape and a singleton King in the minor suit but that’s an entirely different situation where a hopefully clever bid may allow the partnership to find a 4-4 major suit fit on an otherwise difficult hand to bid.
      In your partners situation, the correct call would normally be to open at the one level, with the auction probably passing out unless the majority of the 14 point were held by the player in the passout seat.
      Warm Regards,
  4. BridgeHands says:
    Hello Bridge Polling Friends,
    In today’s question, we asked which is true from the following list of suspects and received he following votes:
    3 percent: You hold 32…and…K4…..North is the dangerous opponent
    1 percent: You hold…KJ4…and.32…North preempted 3 Clubs. South is dangerous
    11 percent: Both of the above
    4 percent: You hold KJ…and…Q10…Assuming a 5-4 split, both opponents are dangerous
    81 percent: All of the above
    So for those who read the question as it was intended (playing a 3 Notrump contract with opponents silent in the auction where your side cannot immediately run 9 tricks), most pollsters agreed each of the situations were dangerous. In the situation where your side holds a disappointing K-J opposite a mirrored Q-10 doubleton hand, it is likely that:
    1. The doubleton suit will be led
    2. Seeing the dummy, the opponents will continue playing the suit if they get in on a side-suit
    3. Assuming their holding do not get blocked, they will continue winning at least 4 cards in the suit plus one in the side suit. In this situation, whichever player wins the side suit has the opportunity to become “dangerous.”
    Incidentally some advanced players after opening a major suit will rebid a two-card minor suit to give opponents the appearance the suit is 4+ cards in length, thus making a “lead inhibiting call.” Another shenanigan by crafty declarers who realize the contract is doomed (perhaps having 4-4 in a minor suit and missing the Ace), will bravely and smoothly return a card in the doubleton suit, hoping the opponents will then shift to another suit – enter more Bridge skulduggery! Ah, that’s Bridge for ya…
    Happy Bridge Trails,
  5. doriander says:

    it is not recommended by many books to use stayman wirh a 4 3 3 3 distribution
    you should deduct a point and opp might also x asking for a club lead
    if responder has about 13 points with combined 28 points at least and stoppers 3nt is also recommended
    now even after 1nt 3nt opp might use the fisher x or the elwell x
    i think that the main reason for NOT using stayman with 4 3 3 3 is that you have no ruffing value


  6. BridgeHands says:
    Yes Doriander, valid points and excellent reasoning. And as always, there’s the “it depends” on various factors such as the type of scoring format and likelihood your partner might have opened 1 Notrump with a 5 card major – I still recall the sting partner gave me when she opened 1NT with a 2=5=4=2 shape and we missing a 9 card major fit! (me with a 3=4=3=3 shape) But more likely and importantly, when playing Rubber Contract or IMP scoring format, settling for an easily makeable 3 Notrump contract indeed makes better sense than worrying about an overtrick in Match Point Duplicate Bridge scoring.
    Happy Bridge Trails, Michael

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