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Eight-card major fits –The Holy Grail of Bridge

If you know your partnership have eight cards in a major suit [majors over minors because game is easier – 4  , 4  v 5 , 5  ], then that suit should be trumps. Further, as soon as you know you have an eight-card major fit, you must tell partner the good news.

Hearing partner open 1  and holding a hand such as:  K982  AKQ96  82  32

I see many players respond 2 . They say they want to tell partner about their hearts. I say, ‘Why?’ At its most basic level, there are two goals to partnership bidding. Phase (1): Finding the trump suit. Then Phase (2): Deciding how high to bid in that trump suit. (1) comes before (2). If you respond 2 to 1 , partner thinks you’re still in Phase (1) [trying to find a fit] whereas you know you’re in Phase (2).

‘You say tomayto, I say tomahto’.

You should simply decide on the number of spades to bid in support of partner and make that bid. Absent any fancy conventions such as the Jacoby 2 NT, the correct number of spades to bid is 4 : after all – you’d expect to make game, facing most opening hands. Partner will probably pass, but you’ve said you think the partnership can make 4  facing a minimum, so if partner has a really good, shapely opener, he can try for slam...

South Deals
None Vul
Q 4 3 2
A K J 6 2
9 6
5 2
9 5 4
Q J 10 7
K 9 8 7 3
W   E
A 10
Q 10 8 7
8 5 3 2
J 10 6
K J 9 8 7 5
A K 4
A Q 4
West North East South
Pass 4 1 Pass 4 NT2
Pass 5 3 Pass 6 ♠
Pass Pass Pass  
  1. Not 2 . As to whether to bid 3  or 4 , I like 4 , with two doubletons and all the honours in the two long suits.
  2. A good hand has become a great one after hearing partner has four-card spade support [I doubt they’d get to slam after 1 -2  - 3 ...]. 4 NT is the Blackwood convention, asking partner how many aces they hold (to check there are not two aces missing).
  3. One Ace

Declarer won  Q lead with  K and, keen to avoid the club finesse, started on hearts. He crossed to  AK, throwing  4 and ruffed  2 (with  7). Both followed – no  Q appearing – and he now led  K.

East won  A (ducking works no better) and switched to  J. Knowing (by playing hearts early) that he could set up a long heart, declarer rose with  A, spurning the finesse. He crossed to  Q (drawing the last trump), ruffed  6, cashed  A, ruffed  4 and triumphantly led the established  J, throwing  Q. Twelve tricks and slam made.

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