When To Overbid A Partner's No-trump

When the Dealer bids one No-trump and the Third Hand holds five or more

of any suit, one of the most disputed questions of Auction presents


The conservative player believes that with five Hearts or Spades,

inasmuch as but one more trick is required to secure game, it is safer

to bid two Hearts or Royals, except, of course, when the Third Hand, in

addition to a five-card suit, has the three remaining suits stopped.

The theory is that if the combined hands are very strong, the winning

of the game is absolutely assured with the suit in question the Trump,

but may possibly be lost in the No-trump by the adversaries running a

long suit. The chance of a hostile suit being established is

unquestionably worthy of the consideration of the Third Hand whenever,

with great strength in Hearts or Spades, he allows his partner's

No-trump to stand. Five adverse tricks prevent a game. In the majority

of cases, the leader opens a five-card suit. When it is not stopped,

the game is saved by the adversaries before the powerful No-trump hand

can get in; if it be stopped but once, the game is still in grave

danger unless the Declarer take nine tricks before losing the lead.

With a Heart or Royal declaration the adversaries are not apt to take

more than two tricks in their long suit, which, at No-trumps, may

produce four or five (in rare cases six), and yet the Trump bid

requires only one more trick for game.

It is unquestionably true that, with great strength, the game will be

won nine times out of ten with the No-trump declaration, but in every

such case it is absolutely "cinched" by the Heart or Royal call.

It is further argued that, when the combined hands are not quite so

strong, a game is more frequently won with the Trump declaration, as

the small Trumps are sure to take tricks, but the long suit may not be

established in the No-trumper.

The believers in taking a chance, however, view the situation from the

opposite standpoint. Their argument is that the game requires one more

trick, when a Trump is declared, but does not count as much, that the

original declarer may be weak in the suit named, yet strong in all the

others, and therefore, with a good hand, it is wiser to leave the

No-trump alone.

It is possible that the question is one rather of the temperament of

the player than of card judgment. It is susceptible of almost

mathematical deduction that five or more cards of a long suit are of

greater trick-taking value when that suit is the Trump than when

No-trump is being played, and it does not require any argument to

substantiate the proposition that the slight difference in the score,

between the total in the trick and honor columns netted from a game

made without a Trump and a game made with Royals or Hearts, is so

infinitesimal as not to be worthy of consideration. Nevertheless,

players possessed of a certain temperament will, for example, refuse to

overbid a partner's No-trump with Ace, King, Ten, and two small Spades,

King of Hearts, and Ace of Diamonds, on the ground that the hand is too

strong, although the No-trump bid may have been thoroughly justified by

such a holding as Ace, Queen, Knave, of Hearts; King, Queen, Knave, of

Diamonds; and Queen, Knave, of Spades. In that event it is practically

sure the adversaries will open the Club suit and save the game before

the Declarer has a chance to win a trick. This and similar situations

occur with sufficient frequency to make them well worthy of

consideration, and when such a hand fails to make game, it certainly

seems to be a perfect example of what might be termed "useless


In spite of all this, however, probably as long as the game lasts, in

the large proportion of hands in which the taking-out does not make any

difference, the Declarer will say, "With such strength you should have

let my No-trump alone"; or the Dummy will learnedly explain, "I was too

strong to take you out."

It would be in the interest of scientific play, if, except when all

suits are stopped, the theory, "Too strong to take the partner out of

the No-trump," had never been conceived, and would never again be


The same comment applies with equal force to the remark so often heard,

"Partner, I was too weak to take you out."

This generally emanates from a Third Hand who has a five- or six-card

suit in a trickless hand. He does not stop to realize that his hand

will not aid his partner's No-trump to the extent of a single trick,

but that in a Trump declaration, it will almost certainly take two

tricks. The Trump bid only increases the commitment by one, so it is

obviously a saving and advantageous play. Furthermore, it prevents the

adversaries from running a long suit. It, also, in Clubs and Diamonds,

is a real danger signal, and, in the probable event of a bid by the

Fourth Hand, warns the partner away from two No-trumps.

The advocates of the weakness take-out realize that in exceptional

instances the play may result most unfortunately. When the Dealer has

called a border-line No-trump, without any strength in the suit named

by the Third Hand, and one of the adversaries has great length and

strength in that suit, a heavy loss is bound to ensue, which may be

increased 100 by the advance of the bid from one to two. This case is,

indeed, rare, and when it does turn up the chances are that the

Declarer will escape a double, as the holder of the big Trumps will

fear the Dealer may be able to come to the rescue if he point out the

danger by doubling the suit call.

The fact, however, that a play at times works badly is not a sufficient

argument against its use, if in the majority of cases it prove

advantageous, and that is unquestionably true of the weakness take-out.

The strength take-out, above advocated, applies only to Spades and

Hearts. With Diamonds and Clubs, at a love score, the distance to go

for game is in most cases too great to make it advisable, but the

weakness take-out should be used equally with any one of the four

suits, as it is a defensive, not an offensive, declaration. With a

score, Clubs and Diamonds possess the same value that Hearts and Spades

have at love, and should be treated similarly.

When To Make A Trump Declaration When To Overbid One No-trump With Two No-trumps facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail