The first example was that of Zia Mahmood, as recorded in Larry Cohen's "To Bid or Not to Bid." Hearing his partner bid one spade, Zia raised, with both sides vulnerable, holding

♠ K974 ♡ 82 ♢ 8652 ♣ 432

Trying to "ape" this behavior with only us vulnerable, I raised partner's one heart to two hearts with

♠ 9532 ♡ T872 ♢ 653 ♣ k6

That is, four trumps and a side king.

Zia's partner bid and made four spades with

♠ AJT63 ♡ K93 ♢ Void ♣ AQJT9

My partner bid four hearts and went down three with a hand that looks to me to be about the same strength as the one Zia's partner held.

♠ AQ7 ♡ AQJ43 ♢ K987 ♣ 8

Given that Zia was right to raise his partner, was I wrong to raise mine? If I was wrong, was it because my king was located outside, rather than inside, my partner's suit?

3 Answers 3


Switch spades and clubs in either of your hands and the game isn't hopeless though not good (even vulnerable), so it wasn't a terrible idea, but...

Yes - the king being in trump makes a significant difference. The king of trumps is guaranteed to be a useful card and likely to be an entry. Any other king has a chance (something like 50%) of being useless, as it was here.

(I do think your partner was worth a jump to game over your single raise. Are you really going to accept an game try with only both major suit kings and a diamond doubleton, when game has good chances of an overtrick?)


Zia's hand is a bit better than yours, but I think it's reasonable to raise with your hand as well, as long as it doesn't cause partnership disharmony. You'd be happier if your K was not in your shortest suit.

Your partner's hand is not as good as Zia's partner's. I think it's worth a game try, not a jump to game, particularly at matchpoints. The good side 5-card suit, a void, and Kxx are much better holdings than a weak 4-card suit, a stiff, and concentrated values in a 3-card suit not mentioned by partner.

However, Zia was also luckier than you were. Your CK ended up being wasted across from partner's stiff and your partner's shape meant you had no ruffing values. There's no way to know that will happen when you have to make your decision whether to raise.


There are times to "raise opener's one of a major with only a king and four of their suit." This might not have been one of them.

I would definitely raise with a king and four in the opener's suit if the king were one of the "four."

Change my hand slightly to ♠ 9532 ♡ T872 ♢ 65 ♣ K63, and I would consider raising because I have both a "side king" in clubs and a ruffing value in the short diamond suit.

Given a chance to do it again, I would not raise with the actual hand because the value of the king and the ruffing value of the doubleton are duplicated in one suit.

  • Actually - the hand you got is a little unusual, because the opponents have 10 clubs, the majority of the hcp, and neither of them bid. I'm not convinced Kx is less useful than Kxx overall. Sure Kx is worss than Kxx if partner has QJx in the suit (and for many other fixed distributions), but having Kx rather than Kxx increases the likelihood of partner having a 5 card second suit there. Jan 30, 2023 at 20:48

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