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JUST BRIDGE...

 

THE POWER OF THE FOUR-CARD
MAJOR IS WORTH CONSIDERING

 

by Beverly Kraft -Eric Kokish

 

 Kokish: Once upon a time in the world of bridge every East would have opened the bidding with 1. Then came the doctrine of the five-card major. It soon became far more fashionable to start with 1, even in third seat, where four-card majors were acceptable with minimum-range hands. We have no soapbox here but we feel that it's time the wretched four-card major received some recognition.

 Kraft: At one table in the 1999 World Junior Championship Canada2's Erin Anderson opened 1
and China-Hong Kong's South doubled, considering his hand too strong for a simple overcall. Erin raised Ian Boyd's 1 to 3. South volunteered 3, then impeccably sold out to 4, a good contract that ran into some bad luck. Spade to the ace, 4 to ruff out the king, club switch to the ace, and a third spade, North overruffing with the 9, the setting trick.

East-West vulnerable, West deals

  8
9 6
J 7 6 5 4 3

8 7 5 3

K 7
8 7 5 4 3
9
K 10 6 4 2
9 5 3 2
A K J 2
A K 8 2

9

  A Q J 10 8 4
Q 10
Q 10

A Q J

 

West North East South
  Heller   Wolpert
Pass Pass 1 1
4 Pass Pass Dbl
Pass 5 Dbl Pass
Pass Pass    



 Kokish: At our featured table, the Hong Kong East opened 1
. Gavin Wolpert preferred a heavy 1 overcall and completed his two-step plan by doubling when 4 came back to him. This approach is more flexible than doubling first, then plunging in with 4 under duress, but South's reopening double suggested not only a strong overcall but also fair support for the unbid suits. Josh Heller took out the double to 5, doubled by East, down 1100. Canada2 lost 15 IMPs. Sure, South might have sold out quietly to 4, hoping for a small plus, and North might have passed the double with his "defensive" singleton spade, but both their battlefield decisions had an upside. It was that innocent 1 opening that gave North-South the chance to go wrong.

 Kraft: In Norway vs Australia, both Souths doubled 1
, sensibly showed spades at the three-level, then, far less sensibly, bid 4 over 4. East doubled and could read the opening lead of the 9 as a singleton. The Norwegian East cashed three more high red honours, then led his club. Declarer finessed and soon ran into a crossruff. Another 1100-point set. Hey, Mr. Old-fashioned! I don't suppose you'd give East's "modern" 1 opening any credit for that nice plus, would you?