Saturday, December 8, 2007

When to Exit the Asking Bids

A discussion on line recently induced a thought. I think that there is great importance in agreeing with partner when pattern completion ends and cuebidding begins, if you use pattern bidding.

The discussion focused on a Jacoby 2NT response to a 1♠ opening. Opener rebid 3♣, showing a balanced hand. 3D asked for more info, and 3♥ showed a minimum. Responder then bid 3♠, which was the point of discussion. Should Opener introduce a four-card suit with 5422, or bid 3NT with 5332 or 6322? Would 4♣ after 3NT ask for spade length, with perhaps 4D showing 5332 and 4♥ showing 6322? Maybe we could even work out a method for showing the doubleton when 5332 or the three-card suit when 6322?

The problem on the hand was that Responder needed to know if Opener held (1) both minor Aces and at least the heart King, or (2) one minor Ace and the heart A-K, or perhaps, if brave, (3) one minor Ace, the heart Ace, and the spade Queen (50-50 slam that way, about).

You can ask for pattern all you want, but you will never find out about specific cards unless you eventually start cuebidding.

On the actual deal, cuebidding from the very start would have worked better. However, it is not necessary to force that issue forward. What seems necessary, however, is for partnerships who do embark on pattern asking bids to have some point in the auction where someone can change the focus. In the discussed sequence, that point was with a 3NT call rather than a 3♠ "waiting" call, apparently. That's workable.

If you do have pattern bidding as part of your approach, I advise that this topic be discussed.

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