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Common Game 2014-05-31 Board 8
West
Q97
J8542
Q3
654
North
K108432
A97
A82
8
East
5
KQ1063
74
AK1093
South
AJ6
KJ10965
QJ72
D
8
West
North
East
South
P
1
P
2
P
2
P
3
P

Analysis by Craig Hemphill

East will normally greet North's 1 opening bid with a 2 Michaels Cue Bid Cue, or bid 2 if not playing that convention (it is not universally played, believe it or not!). Over a 2 overcall, South will bid 3 followed by a spade raise, and that might end the auction -- over to West. Applying the Law of Total Tricks is not a precise device in competitive situations, partially because counting trumps is not a science, rather an approximation. Should West bid 5 over 4? Probably not -- and certainly not if there has been room for exploratory bids by NS! If West intends to bid 5 once East has overcalled, he should do that immediately -- 1 - 2 - 3 - 5!

North should double and South should trust the double. Down 800 and a great board. But it does take a good bid by North and discipline by South to achieve the near top. It is less difficult to make a good choice by NS if given additional room. Suppose the bidding goes, instead, 1 - 2 - 3 - P; 4 - P - 4 - 5 (Johnny-Come-Lately). Now North has two winning options - double, as above, or make a forcing pass, suggesting slammish qualities along with the double fit.

Well, it makes slam, but making twelve tricks takes finding two ladies -- hooking for the trump queen and dropping the Q. A trying task without competition, considerably easier when East bids Michaels, but still safer to take the 800 and run. Left to their own devices and without competition, most NS pairs will play in a spade game and not launch into slam.

After a 2 Michaels Cue Bid, South's problems change. Now he must make a bid that describes a game forcing hand, moderate spades, a side diamond suit, and perhaps short hearts. There is not enough room for all of that, so will likely bid 4, clarifying the game forcing quality, the diamond length, and at least implied spade tolerance. Not bad, actually! If left alone, North can bid 4, treading water while South completes his definition. 4 is at least forward-going by not simply bidding 4, which would be a negative. We have seen how 5 is treated above.

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