Maritha Pottenger

Hands were from Adventures in Bridge, October 23, 2018.

Sue Ehrhardt joins Bob Walters, Ken Batko, Dee Willms, and Kathy Moyer with a high number of stars. Sue had 23 out of 27 today.

One of you (on this list) asked me recently when it is OK to overcall a 4-card suit? An example occurred today.

Hand #16

South: AKQ3 10765 752 J6

West (LHO) passes and partner passes. East opens 1. You overcall 1. It meets all 3 criteria for overcalling a 4-card suit: (1) you can do it at the ONE level; (2) you have 3 or 4 of the top 5 honors in your suit; (3) you do not want any other lead.

Sometimes you get lucky and keep the opponents out of 3NT when they have no stopper and think you are cashing the first five tricks in your suit. That was the case today. East was getting ready to jump shift into NT, but had J54 of spades (plus AKQJ K6 A1093). At our table, East actually bid 2NT anyway—in the teeth of my partner's raise to 2, but West ran to 3 and they played there, making four, cashing only three spade tricks.

Hand #21

North: 5 AK5 AQ9753 AQ9

South: KQJ9432 1073 K6 K

North opened 1. Opponents passed throughout. 1 by South. 3 (a game forcing jump shift) by North. 3 by South. 3NT by North. The jump shift shows the equivalent of 19-20. It could be as few as 17 HCP plus distribution—which translates usually to a long suit.

South has a source-of-tricks (SOT) suit. Even if partner has a singleton spade (likely on this auction), with normal breaks, you are bringing six tricks in your suit! Plus, fitting honors in partner's suits are worth a lot.

Purists will insist that Ace-asking with the South hand is verboten because you have no heart control, but I believe you can make a case for bidding 4 (assuming that is played as Gerber—or even as Minorwood, you don't care because you hold the K). If partner shows you three Aces, as he will, you can place the contract in 6NT, expecting that the only Ace he is missing is the spade Ace. (If it happens, he has the spade Ace, then the contract needs to be in NT to protect partner's heart holding.) If you get an answer you do not like, you can sign off in either spades or NT.

Alternatively, you could bid 4NT—a quantitative raise. Since partner has a full 19 HCP, he will carry on to 6NT. I don't like this choice because partner could have a full 19 (opposite your 12 HCP) and, on a bad day, be off two Aces.

In the open room, 4 pairs got to 6NT (making) and 3 pairs played spades (making 5 with a 4-1 spade break).

The other advantage to 6NT is that your filling Kings may make it possible for partner to run his minor suits, even if the spades end up poisoned for your side. You have more than one S.O.T. Suit available in 6NT.