At what vulnerabilities should one raise partner's overcall to the level supported by the law of total tricks?

Neither vulnerable at matchpoints, I dealt and passed. My left hand opponent bid one heart and partner overcalled two clubs. I put her on six of the suit, and after right hand opponent raised to three hearts (showing a limit raise with 4 card support), I competed to five clubs and bought the contract (doubled) with the following: ♠ 6532 ♡ T ♢872 ♣ Q9842.

We went down two doubled (-300) and saved a 420 game. Partner felt that I should have made this sacrifice only with favorable vulnerability (opponents only vulnerable). I was taught to make it even at equal vulnerability (-300 versus -420 or -500 versus -620), avoiding this only at unfavorable (-500 versus -420).

Partner's fear was that we might go down three. Also, she is an older person who was weaned on Goren. But would modern experts sacrifice with what I had?

• This is going to depend a lot on how sound the 2C overcall is and how good your opponents are. Commented Jul 5, 2023 at 19:08
• Also, it's useful to know how many hearts the raise tends to promise, because the more sophisticated version of the Law of Total Tricks depends on how many hearts they have. Commented Jul 5, 2023 at 22:40
• @AlexanderWoo: Actually, partner had only AJ753 of clubs (five instead of six), but she had 14 high card points, which is enough more than "10" to compensate. The right hand opponent would have had four hearts to raise to three, and the two of them had a total of ten hearts for their 4 heart bid. Other than my partner, most members of the club are LOTT fans. We actually got a top on the board because all the other N-S pairs made five hearts (-450 to other E-Ws versus our -300). Commented Jul 6, 2023 at 0:12
• Was the "raise" 2H, 3H weak, 3H strong, 4H weak, 3C, 4C splinter, 2N, or something more exotic? Did the opponents have an agreement that your 5C bid create a forcing pass situation? (I usually play that 2H/3H/4H are all weak raises with 3/4/5 trump (though an 8hcp hand with 4 trump probably raises only to 2) and 3C is an invitational or better heart raise - with some partners I have even more ways to raise.) One of the main reasons for an immediate 5C raise is that it makes it harder for them to find 6H if that is on - are the opponents good enough for this to be a consideration? Commented Jul 6, 2023 at 0:40
• I've edited in the information from your comment. Commented Jul 6, 2023 at 4:17

Your partner's fear of "down three" is well founded. I see no basis for making your 5 Clubs call. Here's why:

1. Your stated assumption of 6 clubs in partner's hand, in order to abuse Law Of Total Tricks, is baseless. This has never been the basis of 2-over-1 overcalls.

2. Your rationalization that Partner's extra values compensate for the "missing" club is reason to not make the call, rather than to do so. They ensure that your call is not shutting opponents out of a slam, and even suggests possibility that the bad Heart split might mean a set of 4 hearts.

3. Losing Trick Count, a good means of double-checking the soundness of calls such as you have made, has your hand at 9 losers and Partner at (a distributional) 7 for a minimum overcall. Subtracting this sum from 24 yields an expectation of taking just 8 tricks, a 3 trick set and a losing board.

4. With opponents on a known 9 card heart fit and Partner holding AJxxx of clubs, the actual result of 9 tricks is presumably from:

• 5 club tricks partner's hand due to a winning finesse in the suit;
• 2 heart ruffs in your hand; and
• 2 side suit tricks in partner's hand.

However you state -450 (+450 for opponents) as the par result for this hand. Since neither opponent seems to have a club void, which almost certainly would have resulted in a 5 heart call, this means Partner stole a trick on the play: as the club ace and two side tricks aren't going anywhere on defense.

To me it seems that partner saved your *** with brilliant play, pulling a top out from ashes; and instead of congratulating her on the fine work you try to insist that her criticism of your outrageously bad call was unfounded. Frankly, you don't deserve partners of this quality.

• I now concede my partner's point that this raise should have been reserved for non-vulnerable versus vulnerable. Thanks for your help. Commented Jul 8, 2023 at 1:04
• This was the partner I visited every day in the hospital and every other day in rehab during her recent injury. So I've "earned" her partnership, just not at the bridge table. Commented Jul 8, 2023 at 16:10
• @TomAu: You are a good human being; I've never doubted that. I also realize, and appreciate, that the Bridge tag here is kept alive largely through your questions. If you are ever in my neighbourhood, I'd be pleased to sit down and buy you a drink. Commented Jul 8, 2023 at 19:01
• @TomAu: Looks good to me. Thank you. Commented Jul 9, 2023 at 2:42