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The “Rule of Three”

If the opponents open the bidding, you and partner become the overcalling side. Though opening points are not required in order to enter the bidding, a suit should not be bid without at least five cards. The happy corollary to this is that only three cards are required to support an overcall.

This week's hand - a run-of-the-mill part-score - is a good illustration of effective overcalling tactics.

East Deals
None Vul
7 4
A 7 6
A J 9 6 4 2
6 4
K J 10 8 3
9 3
Q 10 8
Q 9 7
N
W   E
S
A 6
J 10 5
K 7 3
A K 10 5 2
 
Q 9 5 2
K Q 8 4 2
5
J 8 3
West North East South
    1 ♣ 1 
1 ♠ 2  Pass Pass
Pass

 

Study the bidding. South is worth the 1  overcall in spite of his lack of points - even if partner cannot support the s, he has indicated the suit he wants partner to lead. After West's 1 ♠ bid, North correctly prefers to support s - the known fit - rather than introduce his suit. East's is prevented from making his normal rebid - 1 NT - and is shut out of the bidding. Likewise West has no clear bid - though perhaps 3 ♣ is an acceptable alternative to the rather timid Pass.

West led ♣ 7 to East's ♣ K and East cashed ♣ A, switched to ♠ A, and followed with ♠ 6. South covered with ♠ 9 and West won ♠ 10 and returned ♠ 3. Declarer correctly discarded a from dummy, East trumped with  5 and returned  J. Declarer won  Q, crossed to  A and trumped  4. He crossed to  A drawing the two remaining trumps, trumped  6 observing the 3-3 split, trumped ♣ J, and cashed an established winner discarding ♠ Q. His last card was a trump and he had made the last eight tricks - pinching the part-score from the opposition.

THE RULE OF THREE: Support an overcall with three cards.

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