A commenter pointed out that the original version of this question was not as interesting as some side issues accompanying it. So I am going to ask a second question to address those "side issues."

At matchpoint duplicate bridge, not vulnerable vrrsus vulnerable, and sitting West, I held

♠ AK32
♡ J643
♢ 6
♣ JT82

Partner (East) opened one heart, South overcalled one spade with the following, a hand that I considered "light" for the purpose.

♠ Q874
♡ 973
♢ AK85
♣ 53

I raised to two hearts, North bid two spades, and there were three passes.

South's "light" overcall got them a top score on the board, and us a bottom. Was it a proper overcall, that is, was South "skillful" or "lucky." More to the point, should partner or I have bid three hearts at some point?

2 Answers 2


9 points and four cards in hearts and first round control in the opponent's suit (at this point, one opponent) and a singleton diamond… that seems mighty strong for a competitive 2H.

In a noncompetitive situation, that would be at least a 3c Bergen raise, and arguments could be made to upgrade it to 3d (both Jacks have play, the AK of spades are very nice together). The standard treatment would be 3c, though, but still at least considering more.

In a competitive situation, however, it's even stronger. AK in opponent's suit? 4 spades, led by the AK, meaning opponent is making exactly zero tricks in spades? I could come up with a hundred hands partner might have that make game with a minimum.

  • S: 65
  • H: AK872
  • D: A95
  • C: Q73

13 points, 5-3-3-2. That makes five spades fairly easily with remotely even distribution, and makes four most of the time even with perfect play on defense.

The right initial bid is probably 2S. I don't think it's a game force, but it's absolutely "limit raise or better", which is what 2S shows.

Beyond that, if you make the 2H bid, why on earth did you pass 2S? You have all sorts of undisclosed values. You've got an extra heart, you've got AK spades and now you're sure they both cash AND maybe partner gets to toss a loser on the K... what's to lose? At least compete to 3H.

The bidding should probably be...

1H 1S 2H 2S
3H P P P

If partner is very light, or

1H 1S 2S P
3C P 4H P

If partner wants to further explore things, perhaps (or Partner might just go to 4H directly). I think any positive response from partner is sufficient to jump to game - you want to show that you don't have an incredible hand, and here fast shows a weaker hand (no interest in cue bidding, since partner would have to have more like 18-20 to be thinking slam here at least). Maybe 3D would be better, depending on what it means in your partnership.

  • One nit to pick - I believe the chance of an opening Spade lead by the original overcaller is remote, given the Spades in hand, notwithstanding the raise by North.. Oct 19, 2022 at 12:09
  • 1
    @ForgetIwaseverhere I was thinking the lead would come from N, but you're right, S would be on lead in a heart contract.
    – Joe
    Oct 19, 2022 at 15:11

The opponents have advertised an 8 card fit (or better) for them, and you have a 9 card fit (or better). The Law of Total Tricks says that there will be 17 (or more) total tricks. Let's look at the possibilities:

  • You make 7 tricks and they make 10. Then you score -100 if you bid 3H, and -170 if you pass.

  • You make 8 tricks and they make 9. Then you score -50 if you bid 3H, and -140 if you pass.

  • You make 9 tricks and they make 8. Then you score +140 if you bid 3H, and -110 if you pass.

  • You make 10 tricks and they make 7. Then you score +170 if you bid 3H, and +100 if you pass.

In every single case, bidding is better than passing. You can also do the calculations with only 16 total tricks (having AKxx in their suit increases the likelihood of that slightly), and you are still almost always better off bidding if than passing (the only exception being if you make 10 and they make 6).

I'm not so enthusiastic about inviting with this hand to start with since partner could easily end up accepting based on wasted diamond values. However, once opponents compete to 2S, I would definitely bid again in balancing seat, and if I'm going to bid again, I might as well show a maximum 2H bid by inviting. My partnership agreements are usually second suit game tries in competition, so I would bid 3C over their 2S bid.

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