The Shift

Holding six or more of a suit, headed by Ace, King, Queen, some writers

have very properly called it an Auction "crime" to double. The question

arises, however, "What should the Second Hand do under such

circumstances?" A bid of two in his solid suit will eliminate any

chance of the No-trump being continued, and an adverse call of two

No-trumps is just what the holder of the solid suit most desires, as he

can double with comparative safety, being assured both of the success

of the double and of the improbability that the Declarer will be able

to take himself out.

There has been suggested to meet this emergency a declaration called

the "Shift." It consists in bidding two of a suit in which the Declarer

has little or no strength. For this purpose a suit of lower value than

the solid suit, should, if possible, be selected. The theory of the bid

is that either the original No-trump declarer or his partner, having

the suit securely stopped, will bid two No-trumps and that the double

can then be effectively produced. The advocates of the Shift urge that

should the worst happen, and the declaration be doubled, the player

making it can then shift (this situation giving the declaration its

name) to his real suit, and that no harm will ensue.

The trouble is that a double under such circumstances is not the worst

that can happen. When the Shift was first suggested, players were not

familiar with nor on the lookout for it. Success, or at least the

absence of failure, therefore, often attended its use. Now, however, it

is generally understood, and players will not either overbid or double

a declarer they suspect of it. They merely allow him to meet his doom

attempting, with weak Trumps, to win eight tricks against an adverse


While, therefore, at long intervals and under advantageous circumstances,

the Shift may be successfully utilized, against experienced players it

is a dangerous expedient, especially for any one known to be fond of

that character of declaration.

The conservative and safe course to follow with a holding of the

character described is to pass the one No-trump.

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