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Copyright 2003 by John Strichman (all rights reserved)

John Strichman is the author of
by JohnGalt Strichman

Valley Publishing - Richmond, Virginia

What’s to Gain?

It’s a little unusual when the game situation calls for the first seat bidder on a Last Hand to make a bid which is dictated totally by the score. I played a game recently where this was the case, and where the opps lost the game because South did not thoroughly think through the “what ifs” of his possible bids.

What would you bid sitting first in this situation?

Score: Your Team 424
Opps 451

    North 0      
West 0         East 0  
    SOUTH ?

4 6 J A
9 Q
5 9 A
2 4 10 A
Your team is 30 points behind, and if you don’t pull ahead fast (most likely on this hand) you will lose the game. Your team needs all of the points that it can get, and your hand presents a fairly straight forward, and relatively safe looking 4 bid.

The score of the game, however, tells a different story….

If this turns out to be a hand where nobody bids Nil, your team will need to outscore, and therefore outbid, the opps by 30 points. That means that, when it is your pard’s turn to bid, if West does not bid Nil, unless your pard is going to bid Nil he must bring your team’s total bid to 8 tricks. This will force East to either bid Nil, or take his team bid to 6 (a 14 bid hand) making it a must-set hand for both teams.

If it is not clear to you why your pard must force East into a at least a 13 bid hand, please see my previous column, When is a 4 Not a 4? Therefore, in this scenario, your partner should bid your team to 8 tricks no matter what you bid, and especially no matter whether you bid 3 or 4 with your hand.

Does it make any difference, then, whether you bid 3 or 4?

It sure does!

Look at what happens if your pard bids Nil.

If neither of the opps has bid Nil, a bid of 3 by you and Nil by your pard would give your team 130 points on the hand.

Even if East took his team to a bid of 10, if your team made its bids you would win the game 554 to 551.

If your pard bids Nil, you will need to win only 3 tricks, while covering the Nil, in order to win the game.

If you were to bid 4, and your pard bid Nil, you would wind up needing to win an extra trick for no reason, and increasing your chance of either not covering the Nil as a result of having to take greater risk, or getting set yourself.

Another benefit of the 3 bid is that, if East bids Nil along with your pard, you will then be under less pressure as you make the mandatory attack on East’s Nil.

When this hand was played, South made the mistake of bidding 4 instead of 3. His partner did bid Nil, and East took our team to 8, indicating a desire to set the cover bid. The 8 bid is high enough to make that communication, and still leaves a little wiggle room in case either we set the Nil or North decides to sacrifice his own Nil in an attempt to set us.

In protecting the Nil, South was able to win only 3 tricks, and got set on his 4 bid. We won the game 533 to 484. South lost the game for his team when he bid according to the cards in his hand rather than according to the score of the game.

Sooooo…… what is the answer to the question

What’s to Gain?

In this case, other than a catastrophe, it was NOTHING by bidding 4 rather than 3.


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