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Bridge 0115

A mystery to the inexperienced

    When we begin bridge, we learn about immediate overcalls, those made after an opening bid on our right. We are told that a simple suit overcall promises at least a five-card suit and usually 10-plus points. A jump overcall in a suit is weak, showing a six-card suit and some 6-10 high-card points. A one-no-trump overcall is strong, made with between a good 15 points and a middling 18. And a jump to two no-trump is Unusual, indicating at least 5-5 in the two lowest-ranking unbid suits.
    But what happens when the opening bid is on our left and two passes follow? Now that we are in the so-called balancing position, how does that affect matters? Let's cover the possibilities this week.
    First, we are allowed to bid lighter than normal. After East's one-spade opening is passed around, North's quandary ought to be "should I double, or bid two diamonds?" not "should I pass or act?"
    South, of course, had been hoping for a reopening double.
    Against three no-trump, West leads the spade five. South has eight top tricks: two spades, one heart, three diamonds and two clubs. Leaving diamonds until later, declarer should win the first trick and play the ace, king and another club. When they split 3-3, he is home for sure. If the clubs break 4-2 (or worse), though, South must bring in at least four diamond tricks. The a priori percentage play is low to dummy's 10 on the first round. But East's opening bid does affect those odds. Good luck at guessing correctly!

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