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July 2003
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What to bid with 13 clubs

In one of his books Terrence Reese's discusses what to do with 13 clubs, rubber bridge, dealer. Reese argued that opening 7C is a bad idea because opponents can read it for and take a save. Instead Reese preferred opening 5C with 6C as a second best choice.

Reese made the fundamental assumption that the opponents, when they hear the bid will assume that the bid is to make rather than as an advance sacrifice. Will they? Let's let Reese answer this one.

In one of Reese's books on play the bidding went 7C p p 7S [the suits don't matter.] The opener had a freak with 3 losers. Declarer had a very big hand with, of course, a void. The point of the play turned on trying to work out what the precise distribution of the prempter was.

The key point is Reese's remarks about the bidding which are very close to this: "West was unfortunate in that South actually had a hand which could essay a grand slam over his spectacular advance sacrifice." In short, when the situation actually came up, i.e. a seven opener he did not even consider the possibility that it was a bid to make.

There is a maxim to the effect that to play bridge really well you must take into account that your opponents do not know what you know. It applies here. You know that you are cold. Your opponents do not. There are thousands of hands on which you can make an advance sacrifice, one or two where you have the bid.

Saving over an opponents opening slam bid with a hand that precludes their making it unless they have a 12 or 13 card suit simply isn't sound bridge.


This page was last updated July 7, 2003.

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July 2003
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