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Bridge 7/5
Dabble your toe; do not belly-flop
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Newspaper Enterprise Association

    Take a look at the North hand. Your partner opens one diamond, you respond one heart, partner rebids one spade, and you jump to two no-trump. (I never found out if this was game-invitational or game-forcing. It ought to be invitational. With the values for game, bid three no-trump.) Now partner continues with three spades, showing 5-6. What would you do?
    North knows there are no rounded-suit losers. And admittedly South’s hand is not as strong as North would expect. (With a weaker 5-6, South might open one spade, calling his hand a 5-5 and not wishing to risk losing his spade suit should the opponents pre-empt the auction.) But North, with no honor cards in partner’s suits, should only dabble his toe in the slam water with a four-club advance control-bid (cue-bid). Since North cannot be trying to find a club fit, this says that he is raising to four spades, that he likes his hand, and that he has the club ace. It shows a better hand than a quiet raise to four spades. South would sign off in four spades, ending the auction.
    At the table, though, North jumped to four no-trump, which resulted in a final contract of five spades, losing three trump tricks.
    This dabble-your-toe is an important bidding concept. If you are unfamiliar with it, discuss it with your partner. If you hate partner’s suits, you jump ship with three no-trump. If you are lukewarm for spades, you raise to game. If you think a slam is possible, you make an advance control-bid.
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