How often does your postmortem begin: "Partner, I guess we should (or should not) have played that one at no trump"? If the words sound familiar, then this quiz is liable to be a tough one. To keep it simple, let's assume that you open four-card major suits and use the normal two-club response to locate a major suit fit following a 16-to-18-point no-trump opening. Par for the course is 100. If you score better, your net results at the table should generally show on the plus side. If you score less, maybe we have uncovered a weakness in your game and can help set you on the right track. For all hands both sides are vulnerable.

1

[King of Spades]
[8 of Spades]
[5 of Spades]
[4 of Spades]
[Queen of Hearts]
[10 of Hearts]
[2 of Hearts]
[Ace of Clubs]
[Queen of Clubs]
[8 of Clubs]
[Ace of Diamonds]
[King of Diamonds]
[Jack of Diamonds]

As dealer, what do you bid?

2

[King of Spades]
[9 of Spades]
[5 of Spades]
[4 of Spades]
[Queen of Hearts]
[10 of Hearts]
[6 of Hearts]
[Jack of Clubs]
[10 of Clubs]
[8 of Clubs]
[King of Diamonds]
[10 of Diamonds]
[5 of Diamonds]

NORTH
1 N.T.

EAST
PASS

SOUTH
?

WEST

What do you bid?

3

[King of Spades]
[Queen of Spades]
[8 of Spades]
[6 of Spades]
[4 of Spades]
[Queen of Hearts]
[10 of Hearts]
[2 of Hearts]
[Ace of Clubs]
[Queen of Clubs]
[Ace of Diamonds]
[Jack of Diamonds]
[8 of Diamonds]

SOUTH
1 [Spade]
?

WEST
PASS

NORTH
2 [Spade]

EAST
PASS

What do you bid?

4

[9 of Spades]
[4 of Spades]
[3 of Spades]
[10 of Hearts]
[2 of Hearts]
[Ace of Clubs]
[King of Clubs]
[10 of Clubs]
[9 of Clubs]
[7 of Clubs]
[3 of Clubs]
[7 of Diamonds]
[4 of Diamonds]

NORTH
1 N.T.

EAST
PASS

SOUTH
?

WEST

What do you bid?

5

[Ace of Spades]
[Jack of Spades]
[Ace of Hearts]
[King of Hearts]
[Queen of Hearts]
[9 of Hearts]
[3 of Hearts]
[King of Clubs]
[Jack of Clubs]
[2 of Clubs]
[King of Diamonds]
[10 of Diamonds]
[4 of Diamonds]

As dealer, what do you bid?

6

[Ace of Spades]
[Jack of Spades]
[Ace of Hearts]
[King of Hearts]
[Queen of Hearts]
[Jack of Hearts]
[7 of Hearts]
[3 of Hearts]
[Ace of Clubs]
[Queen of Clubs]
[King of Diamonds]
[10 of Diamonds]
[4 of Diamonds]

As dealer, what do you bid?

7

[King of Spades]
[Jack of Spades]
[10 of Spades]
[4 of Spades]
[9 of Hearts]
[Queen of Clubs]
[5 of Clubs]
[4 of Clubs]
[Ace of Diamonds]
[King of Diamonds]
[Jack of Diamonds]
[9 of Diamonds]
[3 of Diamonds]

NORTH
1 N.T.

EAST
PASS

SOUTH
?

WEST

What do you bid?

8

[9 of Hearts]
[6 of Hearts]
[4 of Hearts]
[3 of Hearts]
[10 of Spades]
[8 of Spades]
[5 of Spades]
[4 of Spades]
[Jack of Diamonds]
[5 of Diamonds]
[4 of Diamonds]
[3 of Diamonds]
[2 of Diamonds]

NORTH
1 N.T.

EAST
PASS

SOUTH
?

WEST

What do you bid?

9

[Jack of Spades]
[9 of Spades]
[6 of Spades]
[5 of Spades]
[4 of Spades]
[2 of Spades]
[3 of Hearts]
[2 of Hearts]
[5 of Clubs]
[4 of Clubs]
[King of Diamonds]
[9 of Diamonds]
[2 of Diamonds]

NORTH
1 N.T.

EAST
2 [Heart]

SOUTH
?

WEST

What do you bid?

10

[10 of Spades]
[5 of Spades]
[4 of Spades]
[2 of Spades]
[Ace of Hearts]
[King of Hearts]
[Queen of Hearts]
[7 of Hearts]
[5 of Clubs]
[3 of Clubs]
[7 of Diamonds]
[4 of Diamonds]
[3 of Diamonds]

NORTH

1 [Diamond]
2 [Club]
3 [Club]

EAST

PASS
PASS
PASS

SOUTH

1 [Heart]
2 [Diamond]
?

WEST

PASS
PASS

What do you bid?

11

[Queen of Spades]
[9 of Spades]
[8 of Spades]
[3 of Spades]
[2 of Spades]
[King of Hearts]
[7 of Hearts]
[6 of Hearts]
[7 of Clubs]
[Ace of Diamonds]
[King of Diamonds]
[3 of Diamonds]
[2 of Diamonds]

SOUTH

1 [Spade]
?

WEST
2 [Diamond]

NORTH
3 [Diamond]

EAST
PASS

What do you bid?

12

[King of Hearts]
[Jack of Hearts]
[10 of Hearts]
[7 of Hearts]
[2 of Hearts]
[King of Clubs]
[Queen of Clubs]
[Jack of Clubs]
[3 of Clubs]
[Queen of Diamonds]
[10 of Diamonds]
[9 of Diamonds]
[2 of Diamonds]

NORTH

1 [Spade]
2 [Spade]

EAST

PASS
PASS

SOUTH

2 [Heart]
?

WEST
PASS

What do you bid?

13

[Ace of Spades]
[Queen of Spades]
[Jack of Spades]
[9 of Spades]
[3 of Spades]
[King of Hearts]
[10 of Hearts]
[2 of Hearts]
[Queen of Clubs]
[10 of Clubs]
[9 of Clubs]
[King of Diamonds]
[10 of Diamonds]

SOUTH

1 [Spade]
?

WEST
PASS

NORTH
2 [Spade]

EAST
PASS

What do you bid?

14

[King of Spades]
[Queen of Spades]
[Jack of Spades]
[9 of Spades]
[3 of Spades]
[King of Hearts]
[10 of Hearts]
[2 of Hearts]
[Queen of Clubs]
[10 of Clubs]
[9 of Clubs]
[King of Diamonds]
[3 of Diamonds]

SOUTH

1 [Spade]
2 [Spade]
?

WEST

PASS
PASS

NORTH

2 [Club]
3 [Spade]

EAST

PASS
PASS

What do you bid?

15

[Queen of Spades]
[9 of Spades]
[5 of Spades]
[4 of Spades]
[Ace of Hearts]
[Queen of Hearts]
[8 of Hearts]
[King of Clubs]
[Jack of Clubs]
[6 of Clubs]
[King of Diamonds]
[Jack of Diamonds]
[6 of Diamonds]

NORTH

1 [Club]
3 [Spade]

EAST

PASS
PASS

SOUTH

1 [Spade]
?

WEST
PASS

What do you bid?

THE ANSWERS

1

1[Club]—10 1[Diamond]—8 1[Spade]—5 1 N.T.—minus 1

When you open one no trump you notify partner that the upper limit of your hand is 18 high-card points. You must also count your distributional points, if any, to make sure that it does not exceed 18. If partner holds fewer than eight points, he will know that your combined total will be less than the 26 required for game. If you bid one no trump with more than 18, partner will pass with many hands that offer a reasonable play for game. We prefer a club opening followed by a two-no-trump rebid over any one-level response, including one no trump. Since your jump to two no trump shows 19 to 20 points, partner will continue bidding with anything more than a six-point minimum.

2

3 N.T.—10 2[Club]—7 2 N.T.—4 pass—1

Although you have only nine high-card points and your combined total may be only 25, you hold such fine intermediate cards that you should have a good play for game even opposite a 16-point minimum. With no ruffing values, there is little point to bidding two clubs in search of a spade fit; however, you may be intending to bid three no trump next anyway, so the award schedule gives two clubs the benefit over a timid two no trump. The point for a pass reflects my holiday spirit and is also a sop for the one time in 10 that three no trump might be defeated.

3

2 N.T.—10 4[Spade]—7 3 N.T.—6 3[Spade]—2

With such excellent holdings to be led up to in the unbid suits, your hand is apt to produce as many tricks at no trump as it is at spades. You should therefore attempt to get this message across to partner by trying for game at no trump. Two no trump gives partner three options: three no trump, three spades and four spades, any of which you will pass. Of the two slight overbids given credit, the jump to game at spades is more justified by the extra point for your doubleton club. And the two points awarded three spades is to cover both the diffidence of lady partners and the caution of buck passers who know that their partners sometimes bid much too much. A pass, however, is too craven for any credit, even at Christmas time.

4

3 NT.—10 2 N.T.—3 pass—minus 1

This is the time to make a commonsense bid. The "book" says that you may raise with only seven high-card points if you have a good five-card minor suit. But a six-card suit facing a one-no-trump opening is very likely to produce as many as six tricks. Two no trump gets a bone because there are times when partner will be able to bid three and times when, unluckily, he won't be able to make nine tricks. A two-club or three-club response can only cause confusion and gets no marks here. As for a pass, the minus award speaks for itself.

5

2 N.T.—10 1[Spade]—5

The fact that you hold a good five-card major is no bar to opening two no trump; in fact the long suit allows you to shade your requirement from a 22-point to a 21-point minimum in high cards. One heart will often lead to a sound result, but if the eventual contract is to be no trump it will probably play better from your side. Furthermore, this hand will often produce nine tricks at no trump facing many a holding (such as [10 of Spades] [x of spades] [x of spades] [Jack of Hearts] [x of Hearts] [Queens of Diamonds] [x of spades] [x of spades] [x of spades] [Queen of Clubs] [x of Clubs] [x of Clubs] [x of Clubs]) that would properly pass a one-heart opening.

6

3 N.T. 10 2[Heart]—7 4[Heart]—1 (2[Club]—10)

With the lead coming up to this hand the surest game is at three no trump, despite the six-card major. If partner happens to hold a Yarborough and answers a forcing two-heart bid with two no trump, there is some danger that, with the lead coming through you, eight tricks may be the limit of the hand. The award for two clubs—if you use that as a forcing bid with a two-diamond bust response—is conditional; take only seven points if you did not honestly intend to rebid three no trump following a two-diamond response. The award for four hearts goes to commemorate the time my partner passed me out in a forcing two-bid; I don't really expect anyone to earn or deserve it.

7

3[Diamond]—10 2[Club]—6 3[Spade]—2

When partner bids one no trump, you are entitled to assume a fit for at least one of your two suits and so you can give full value to your singleton, as if yours were the supporting hand. This valuation brings the combined hands close to the slam range—33 points—even if partner holds a minimum. You intend to show your four-card spade suit next, so there is no need for an initial two-club response, which will make it difficult to describe your strength and distribution later. As for three spades, at least it is better than some other bids I can think of.

8

2[Club]—10 2[Diamond]—3 2[Heart]/2[Spade]—1

Normally you need at least seven to eight points to make a conventional two-club response to partner's no trump. However, this hand is an exception; worthless to partner at no trump, it will produce a few tricks at a suit contract. Partner is, of course, required to show a four-card major if he has one; otherwise, he must bid two diamonds. You will naturally pass any response partner makes and at worst he will play a combined seven-card diamond fit (if he happens to hold 3-3-2-5 distribution), which nevertheless should prove more profitable than a contract of one no trump.

9

2[Spade]—10 4[Spade]—2 pass—1

When partner's one-no-trump opening has been overcalled all nonjump responses are merely competitive and are not forcing, just as they would be if the intervening player had passed. Thus two spades here is simply an attempt to buy the contract at that specific denomination. The award for four spades is in honor of Christmas miracles and to emphasize that just about anything is better than a pass.

10

3[Heart]—10 3[Diamond]—7 4[Diamond]—6 3 N.T.—2

Partner has at least 10 and possibly 11 or 12 cards in the minor suits and a good hand. (With a minimum he would have passed two diamonds.) However, it is not yet clear whether your values in hearts are going to be useful to him. Having already given him a preference, and by implication denied a good five-card or longer heart suit, you now try to pinpoint your strength. If partner is void in spades, you might make four hearts on a 4-3 fit. The most important point is that you don't have the spade strength to justify a no-trump bid.

11

3 N.T.—10 3[Spade]—4
You are not overjoyed at bidding no trump with a singleton club, but you must try to indicate your diamond strength before the bidding gets out of hand. If partner's next offering is four clubs, you will rebid your five-card spade suit then, anemic though it is.

12

3[Club]—10 3[Heart]—7 2 N.T.—5 3 N.T.—3 3[Diamond]—1

In spite of the lack of a spade fit you still could have a game either at no trump or at one of the minor suits that partner might have been planning to rebid had you not prevented him from showing it economically on the two level. You might also make a game at hearts if partner has Ax Qx or xxx. Three no trump is far too aggressive, two no trump is nondescriptive and three diamonds unilaterally shuts out the possibility of finding a fit in clubs on the three level.

13

2 NT.—10 3[Spade]—7 4[Spade]—5 pass—2

Although you have only 15 high-card points and your partner cannot hold more than 10, there are still many hands where—if partner has a maximum raise—you can produce game. Since the same tricks available at spades may come home at no trump, it is best to make a game try by indicating your all-round strength. Four spades is better than a pass, but three spades gets a higher mark because whenever partner's raise is maximum, he will continue to game either at the suit or at no trump.

14

4[Spade]—10 3 N.T.—6 4[Club]—1

Partner has invited game and, with more than a minimum and a fit for his clubs, you should accept. Bidding the game in no trump would be a mistake, for partner is certain to have a weak holding in at least one of the red suits, and the chances are you will not be able to run nine tricks immediately. Four clubs can get you to four spades but may tip off the opponents to the best defense.

15

4[Club]—10 4 N.T.—8 3 N.T.—6 4[Spade]—3

In view of partner's strength-showing jump raise you have far too good a hand to be satisfied with a conservative bid of three no trump. The information that you have the filler for his club suit, plus a good hand, may be all that partner needs to proceed toward slam. Three no trump gets a higher award than four spades because there is a good chance that partner will bid again and give you another opportunity to move in the slam direction. Four no trump, the Blackwood inquiry about aces, should get you to slam if partner has the three aces you are missing. However, even then you can't be sure you want to be in slam opposite three aces, or out of slam opposite only two.

PHOTO ILLUSTRATIONASDUR TAKAJIAN

HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
OUT
HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
IN
Eagle (-2)
Birdie (-1)
Bogey (+1)
Double Bogey (+2)