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Bridge into the 21st Century
Test Your Fourth Seat Bidding

What do you bid on the following hands, nil vulnerable, after the following bidding:

   (1 Hearts)Pass(Pass)?
1.  SpadesA Q 7 2  Hearts8 6  DiamondsJ 10 7 2  Clubs10 8 2
1. Double. In the balancing seat, you’re bidding partner ’s hand as well as your own. Expert practice is to re-open all the way down to an attractive six-count.
The tradition in fourth seat is to add two points to your hand, and your partner in second seat deducts two points when responding. Nowadays deducting and adding three, or even four points, is more realistic.

2.  SpadesK 7 4  HeartsQ 7 4  DiamondsA K 6 2  Clubs10 9 5
2.  1NT. In fourth seat, a protective 1NT is 11-14, since you will balance with a lot less than you would overcall 1NT in second seat. When you double 1 Hearts or 1 Spades, and partner replies at the twolevel, 2NT seems a lot to bid on your own with only 15-16 HCP. Some partnerships play 1NT as 11-14 after 1 Clubs or 1 Diamonds, but over 1 Hearts or 1 Spades, the fourth seat 1NT is a little stronger, at 11-16.

3.  SpadesA K 2  Hearts10 7 4  DiamondsQ 8 7 6  ClubsK 6 5
3.  1NT. This is one of those positions where bidding notrumps in competition does not show a stopper, as opposed to (1 Hearts): 1NT, and 1 Clubs: (1 Hearts): 1NT. Remember you are balancing, partner could have passed over 1 Hearts with up to 14 HCP and a healthy stopper in the opponent’s suit.

4.  SpadesK Q 10 8 7 2  Hearts7 2  DiamondsJ 3  ClubsK 8 6
4.  2 Spades . Should the weak jump overcall be a better hand in fourth seat? I don’t see why. You don’t want to let them play 1 Hearts when you hold this hand, but you still want to describe your hand in one bid. If you have 11-15 with six spades you can overcall 1 Spades , and cuebid the opponent’s suit at your next turn. hand or better, and an overcall shows less than an opening hand. Nowadays, most of us have worked out that the best way to develop a hand is to bid your suit first, and save the double, or cuebid of opponent’s suit for later.

5.  SpadesA Q 9 6 5  Hearts8 7  DiamondsA K 7 2  ClubsA 7
5.  1 Spades. There has always been a school of thought that in fourth seat, a double shows an opening hand or better, and an overcall shows less than an opening hand. Nowadays, most of us have worked out that the best way to develop a hand is to bid your suit first, and save the double, or cuebid of opponent’s suit for later.
Let’s say you double first on this hand, and opener jumps to 3 Hearts. Now you either have to double, suppressing your five-card spade suit, or bid your raggedy spade suit at the three-level. You have painted yourself into a corner. Now go back and bid 1l, and opener jumps to 3 Hearts. When the bidding comes back to you, a double expresses your values perfectly.

6.  Spades5  HeartsQ 2  DiamondsQ J 5 2  ClubsK Q J 10 7 2
6. Pass. If Sherlock Holmes held this hand, he would be asking himself: “Where are the spades?” Your partner did not overcall 1 Spades, so either partner has spades and is too weak to overcall, or does not have spades. Perhaps responder has passed 1 Hearts with  SpadesQJ10xx,  Heartsx,  DiamondsQxxx,  Clubsxxx, and opponents can make a partscore or game in spades. There are many examples from World Championships where an opening bid of one was passed out, with slam available in a different suit.

7.  SpadesA K 10 9  Hearts7 3  DiamondsJ 5  ClubsJ 10 8 5 3
7.  1 Spades. It’s against my religion to overcall a fourcard suit, but you are not in the overcall seat, you are in the balancing seat the end of the line. You don’t want the opponents to get away with playing in 1 Hearts, and 1 Spades is the only bid that makes any sense. If you double, a 2 Diamonds response from partner would be awkward.

8.  SpadesA K 10 7  Hearts7 5 2  Diamonds6  ClubsK Q J 9 8
8.  2 Clubs. You have good playing strength, sufficient to bid both your suits. Better to take the slight risk of missing your spade fit and start with 2 Clubs. At your next turn you can bid 2 Spades, thus describing your hand to a tee.

9.  SpadesA J 8  HeartsK Q 10 7 3  DiamondsJ 9  ClubsK 6 2
9. Pass. Your hand is much better for defence, and there is no chance partner has passed with a good hand, being short in hearts. 1 Hearts will surely be their worst contract.

10.  SpadesK Q 10 9 6 5 4  Hearts---  DiamondsA Q 9 6 4  Clubs4
10.  2 Hearts. An overcall is impossible, and double is poor since partner will pass for penalties around 10% of the time. You have no wish to defend 1 Hearts with this freak. Likewise, if you leap to 4 Spades you may miss a laydown slam. My plan would be to Michaels Cuebid first, thus taking control of the auction. Then jump to 4 Spades, or cuebid 3 Hearts or 4 Hearts if partner shows any sign of life.

Paul Lavings, Paul Lavings Bridge Books & Supplies.