Overcall at the One Level

Play Bridge; Tips and tricks for bridge players new to experienced

The bidding: South, with sixteen high card points, can open either one no-trump or one diamond. If he had Kx in both doubletons, he would have wanted his LHO (left hand opponent) to make the opening lead and he would have opened 1NT to ensure that.

However, that was not the case and South opens one diamond. North replies one heart and East makes a one-level overcall. This bid tells partner to lead a spade which will give declarer nothing he won’t discover on his own. It is a better lead than the other suits.

Eight points is sufficient for such a one-level overcall. A new suit at the two-level always needs at least ten points. South jumps showing a strong hand and North bids spades asking partner for another spade stopper. South has the ace, so he bids three no-trump.

The contract: Three No-trump by South

The opening lead: The nine of spades

1.   The play: Declarer wins the first trick with the ace and then takes the heart finesse into East’s hand. East wins the king and plays a diamond. East wants West to lead another spade through dummy’s queen. South does not oblige and wins the ace of diamonds. He then takes another heart finesse and is able to cash four heart winners. South wins one spade, four hearts, two diamonds and two clubs, making his contract.

The result: Three Notrump making three for +400.

2. An alternate line of play: South holds up with his ace of spades and wins the third spade trick with the ace. He then plays the jack of clubs to the king and takes the diamond finesse into West who no longer has any spades. West wins the queen and returns a heart. South takes the ace of hearts and plays a club back to his hand. He wins one spade, one heart, five diamonds and two clubs, making his contract.

The result: Three No-trump making three for +400.

3.   A third possible outcome: I prefer the first line of play in 1 above because it gives East the opportunity to cash the king of spades when he gets in with the king of hearts. This will give South ten tricks and one overtrick.

The result: Three No -rump making four for +430.