East-West Vulnerable

East-West Vulnerable

Responding to two notrump with a 5-5 hand

The bidding:

North with 20 high card points and at most one doubleton opens 2 NT. South has a very minimum high card point hand but with a powerful distribution. The three powerful distributions are a 5-5 hand, a one-triple-four hand, and a six-card suit.

If South has a near-zero point hand, South transfers to the higher ranking suit first and then bids the lower ranking to play. However, South has enough for game and transfers to the lower ranking suit first. North is known to have at most one doubleton so there will be a fit.

North picks a four heart contract.

The opening lead:

There is not an obvious good lead. A trump is probably not, and neither is a minor. For a lack of a better lead, East leads the four of spades.

Declarer wins the ace of spades and plays a heart which West wins. West dutifully leads a spade back which declarer wins. Declarer knocks out the king of trump. East would have liked a diamond switch because North’s diamonds get discarded on South’s long spades.

The result:

Declarer loses two heart tricks. Four hearts makes plus one for +450.


If the contract had been spades, South would have been the declarer. With the strong hand as dummy, and the declarer known to be 5-5w or better, the contract would make +420. For that reason, had the 2 NT opener been three-three in the majors, he would have chosen hearts to get an opening lead up to the strong hand.


Warren Watson is an American Contract Bridge League silver life master and accredited teacher.

The Warfield resident created the Kootenay Jewel Bridge Club with duplicate games on Mondays at noon.