Vulnerable versus not at rubber, South opened 1 spade. West passed, and North passed with the following: ♠ KJ9 ♡ 63 ♢ 9762 ♣ 8743.

One raises with "six" points. In the old days (50 years or more ago), that might have meant six high card points. The modern style has a more elastic definition. In this hand, I would rate the KJ as five points rather than four, because of the fit with South's hand (which included the ♠AQT84), with the "sixth" point coming from the heart doubleton.

Yet the pass has the endorsement of an expert, Frank Stewart. Would many modern experts agree, or is Stewart's view an outlier that is conservative, even for me? And could vulnerability have been a fator in the decision/endorsement?

  • Frank Stewart is generally a conservative outlier, partly because he assumes a less skilled and less aggressive opposition. Feb 6, 2023 at 17:22

2 Answers 2


This is a fairly marginal hand. I think if RHO interferes, a raise is indicated. Also, if your agreements allow you to differentiate between a weak raise and a constructive raise, I think this hand is definitely worth a weak raise. Otherwise, I think this hand is marginal, and pass is probably the better choice.

Again, if you pass and opponents enter the auction, you should bid 2S if the bid is available at your next turn.

  • Suppose the J of spades were the Q. Would the raise still be borderline in your opinion?
    – Tom Au
    Feb 6, 2023 at 17:09
  • It would be difficult for me to pass with KQ9 in trumps.
    – ruds
    Feb 7, 2023 at 3:04

At matchpoints in a decent field, I raise. In a mediocre field with a mediocre partner, I pass.

With this few points, we're never ever going to be allowed to play 1S. Since I'm going to bid 2S anyway, I might as well bid it now and make it harder for them to find their fit.

I could propel my partner into bidding 4S, but for every hand where 4S turns out unmakeable because I'm too weak, there is a hand like AQxxxx xxx AKQx void where 4S is very good, and unfindable if I start with a pass. (The hands where partner bids 4S (or an unmakeable 3S) are less likely than the hands where opponents have a fit in any case.)

(In a mediocre field, LHO might fail to balance, and partner might misplay the example hand (by drawing trump first).)

I've never played rubber.

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