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Bridge 1/16

Continue to balance the available calls

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This week, we are looking at balancing. One of a suit has been opened on our left and two passes have followed. What do our various calls mean? In particular, how do they differ from actions taken in the second position, immediately over the opening bid?
    Yesterday, I mentioned that a simple balancing overcall may be made two or three points lighter than normal. But before acting, consider what the opponents might do when given a second chance. Many years ago in a national team championship with both sides vulnerable, I had an 11-count with 2-1-5-5 distribution. My left-hand opponent's one-spade opening was passed around to me. At the other table, the player with my cards sensibly passed. I balanced. The opener rebid in hearts, and his partner bid four hearts, which made with an overtrick. This cost my team the match.
    Moving on, a one-no-trump overcall in the second position is strong. But in the fourth position it is weak, showing about 11-14 points — like the South hand in today's deal. And note North's pass. Opposite a strong no-trump, he would jump to game, but not opposite a weak no-trump.
    West leads the heart queen. Declarer has four top tricks: two hearts and two clubs. Obviously, he must play on diamonds. And since the bidding marks West with the ace, South should take the first or second heart in his hand, then play a diamond to dummy's queen. Declarer continues with a low diamond from the board, playing low from his hand. Here, West has to win with his ace, giving South seven tricks.
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