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Nobody vulnerable, partner, South, dealt and opened one spade. West overcalled 2C.

Sitting North, I called 2H holding (s) xx (h) KQT8xx (d) xx (c) Kxx. (All x's are 7 or lower.)

Partner bid 3d, so I bid 3S (see why below) and partner raised to 4S. He had 14 hcp points (plus a singleton and doubleton for distribution), with 5-5 in spades and diamonds and we went down one.

Partner accused me over overbidding. With 8 hcps, I would have bid 1NT, but West's overcall precluded that option. So I said that my 2H suggested a strong suit, not a "two over one" hand, and a desire to compete. Partner also expected three spades for my three spade bid, I said that this bid was a"preference" for his first suit with my two cards in each, not a desire to go to the four level.

Did I, in fact, overbid? Or did partner take my bids out of their proper context?

2

Yes, your 2H call was an overbid.

Your 2H call is showing values for a Game Invitation, and despite your nice shape you have misfit concerns, weak spots, no aces, two doubletons, and that ugly Club tripleton with no spots. Better to limit your values right away, so Partner doesn't get excited if you compete aggressively in Hearts.

It is right to compete with such a nice suit, but you must be careful of a misfit holding only 2 Spades. Make a Negative Double suggesting interest in Hearts (and possibly Diamonds) with a hand competing more on shape than strength. If partner shows Diamonds at the two level you can now bid 2 Hearts to deny both Diamond interest and the desire to make a Spade preference, showing five Hearts and suggesting that you have six Hearts:

  • You don't have 3 Spades;
  • You don't have 3 Diamonds;
  • A hand with 4 Clubs might be either silent or looking for NT; and
  • That leaves probably just 2 + 2 + 3 = 7 cards outside Hearts.

This Negative Double auction was designed for just the type of hand you have here.

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  • I wouldn't do this again today with the same hand, even though Kaplan and Ruben evaluate this at 10.75. But suppose it were (s) xx (h) KQT8xx (d) xx (c) Axx. (Ace of clubs replaces the king). I count 9.5 points including the good heart spots, not counting the 6th heart. Would 2H be more appropriate then? Thanks for your help. – Tom Au Dec 7 '19 at 19:59
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    @TomAu: Still no - the 2H call really should be promising 10+ HCP. Negative Double is designed for hands that can compete, but lack the defensive values to suggest doubling for penalties, Nothing prohibits you from starting with a Negative Double and jumping in Hearts on the 2nd round - depending on the auction - announcing really good playing strength in Hearts but short on defensive values. Now partner can make sensible Double/Continue/Pass decisions over continued competition. My style would require changing both Kings to Aces for a 2H call - but it's close. – Forget I was ever here Dec 7 '19 at 20:11
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Normally your 2H bid would show around 10 points in that situation, so the question is whether you consider your hand to have that value. You have 8 HCP, plus some bonus for the heart length; so maybe you could stretch that to a 2H overcall. I don't think I totally mind it, but it's aggressive for neutral vulnerability; and you shouldn't mind the game push by partner after it. Personally, though, I wouldn't bid it.

You do have a legitimate alternative that you're discounting, though, which is the negative double. Normally that shows 4 hearts and 6+, but it can also be used with a below-game level heart hand with more than 4. It's not an ideal bid for your hand, of course, but it keeps the auction lower. Imagine this auction:

1S - 2C - X - P
2D - P - 2H - P
2S - p - P - P

Your partner might bid 3D instead of 2S, and you'd pass that as well with no preference between the two I imagine (or you could bid 3S, clearly not wanting a game then).

Either way you stop well short of game, and you adequately describe your hand, as that's the way you bid 6-9 5+ hearts. The 2H bid after the X perfectly shows your hand, your partner knows what you have, and you end up in a reasonable contract.

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  • I'd count that as 8 hcps plus a bonus for the two doubletons= 10. It's that, as much as the long heart suit that made me bid 2H. Thanks for your help. – Tom Au Dec 6 '19 at 15:32
  • The problem with that thinking, though, is you're counting the points for the doubleton in your partner's suit (and as it turns out, both of them). xx spades is a downgrade after 1s opener, right? Either way, if you legit are okay with 4s contract from this seat then I guess it's okay - but don't blame partner for that. – Joe Dec 6 '19 at 15:33
  • I will say that I asked another (better) player, and he mostly agrees with your bidding and thinks partner should pass 3s (well, probably pass it anyway). Or just live with the unfortunate down one. He likes your points and thinks X underbids the length. I suspect this is one of those hands that just isn't perfectly biddable, and you can go conservative like me or aggressive like you and defend either one. :) – Joe Dec 6 '19 at 15:45
  • We should go back to your first idea. Normally, I would (freely) bid "2 over 1" with five hearts and 10 hcps. Here I have 6 hearts and 8 hcps, and I consider the extra heart worth 2 hcps. As you said, this appears to be an "edge" case. Most of my questions are about such cases; a representative example is something like: with 13 hcps and 4-4-3-2 distribution, do I pass, bid a four card major, a 3 card diamond suit, or 2 card club suit? – Tom Au Dec 6 '19 at 16:08
  • I mean, if you'd free bid this hand 2 over 1, then it's totally fine there to do the same I think. That's sort of the point here I guess - if you think this is a 2 over 1 hand, then by all means bid away. Your partner probably should trust you at 3s, unless they consider the 5-5 to be worth another bid, in which case you're in 4s and hopefully make it... – Joe Dec 6 '19 at 16:10

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