With only them vulnerable at matchpoints, right hand opponent opened (a weak) two hearts in third seat. I doubled (for takeout) with the following:

♠ AKT ♡ Q ♢ AKQ642 ♣ A93

After left hand opponent passed, partner bid two spades. I put him on "four and four" (four high card points and four spades) and raised him to game. I counted nine tricks in my hand (given my long diamond suit) and hoped for one from him..

Partner actually had "eight and three" (eight high card points but only three spades. We went down because his hand was:

♠ QJ4 ♡ A6 ♢ T875 ♣ JT65

I would have expected him to bid one of the four card minors, in which case I would have bid diamonds. Conversely, if he did bid spades, I would have expected four (unless his distribution was 3-4-3-3).

Did I have the right to expect that, or did he reasonably bid his three card spade suit? Was it correct to try for the higher-scoring major suit game at matchpoints, and treat my minor suit as a side suit, even though that didn't work in this particular instance?

2 Answers 2


I think you were both mistaken in this auction.

First: there are a few hand types that would cause me to bid 2S with only 3 on this auction, but this is not one of them. With 8 points, the three level isn't dangerous, so just responder should just bid their hand with 3C. Perhaps without the HA I might bid 2S - now 9 tricks look like a lot, especially if partner has only 3 clubs. With Kxx x 9xxxx JTxx I might also risk 2S at match points, fearing a forcing defense against 3D.

As to your hand, why jump to 4S? Even if partner has four spades it may not be the best contract. Imagine Jxxx KTxx x Kxxx (example 1). 4S is dicey but 3NT is a piece of cake. Alternatively, what about Qxxx xxx Jx QJxx (example 2)? Now 4S essentially requires 3-3 trumps (less likely than usual because of the preempt) and a little luck, while 5D is cold (and 6D has chances).

Your hand is right on the border between a 3D call and a 3H call. I think I would choose 3D, but change the HQ to a small one and a club spot to the CQ and I would bid 3H. With the actual hand or example 1 above, you'll get 3NT out of partner with either 3D or 3H. Example 2 is a bit trickier. If you bid 3H, responder should bid 4C, and then they'll raise your 4D to game. If you bid 3D, partner has a tough choice. Over either call, a partner with 5S and no second suit can rebid their spades.

  • "Your hand is right on the border between a 3D call and a 3H call". I'm not familiar - what exactly does a 3H cuebid promise (or demand) in this situation? Apr 4 at 9:58
  • @KarlKnechtel It shows a very strong hand; I would say that it is forcing to game in this auction. Over a minimum bid by advancer (as here), it may indicate a slam try in partner's suit or a game-forcing hand with a suit of its own, or a game-forcing balanced hand without a stopper in opponent's suit. I would say that advancer's first priority is to bid no trump with a stopper. With extras and a 5-card suit, jump rebid. Introduce a 4-card suit, or rebid your suit with nothing else to show.
    – ruds
    Apr 4 at 14:43

I'll add to @ruds fine answer that I would bid 2 NT with Advancer's hand in preference to 1 Spade. That shows a balanced hand with 8-10 HCP, no 4 card spade suit, and no five card minor suit; exactly what was held.

Further, Advancer should not bid a 3 card spade suit unless a notrump contract is feared. Here that is definitely not the case - rather it looks likely to be the best landing.

  • 1
    Good point! I completely agree.
    – ruds
    Apr 4 at 14:43

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