When To Overbid With Strong Clubs

The question of whether the Third Hand, with strong Clubs, should

overbid his partner's No-trump has aroused considerable discussion. The

argument in favor of such a declaration in Clubs, which does not apply

to any other suit, is that the difference between a strength and a

weakness overbid can be made apparent by calling three and two

respectively, and yet the show of strength will not force the Dealer

higher than two No-trumps, when his hand is such that the announcement

that the Third Hand holds strong Clubs, but nothing else, makes the

return to No-trump advisable.

On this basis of reasoning some believe in calling three Clubs whenever

an otherwise trickless Third Hand contains five or more Clubs headed by

Ace, King, Queen. This, it is conceded, only results advantageously

when the No-trump has been called with one suit unguarded, and Clubs is

one of the protected suits. When the No-trump has been declared with

such a hand as

Spades Ace, King, X

Hearts X

Diamonds Ace, King, Knave, X, X

Clubs Knave, Ten, X, X

the employment of such a system of declaration is exceptionally

advantageous; as the game is assured in Clubs, while if the No-trump be

left in, the adversaries will probably save it by making all their

Hearts before the Declarer secures the lead.

It is admitted that this case is somewhat unusual, but the advocates of

the system, conceding this, argue it is advantageous to have this bid

in the repertory, and, in the exceptional instance, to obtain the

benefit, which is bound to ensue from its use. The contention is that

it can do no harm, with such a Club holding, to force the partner to

two No-trumps, if he have all the other suits stopped, and the fact

that three Clubs is called with strength more clearly accentuates the

principle that the two Club takeout means nothing but weakness.

Admitting the force of this argument, and conceding that the system

advocated should be universally adopted were there not a wiser use for

the three Club take-out, first brings forth the question of whether the

case does not more frequently arise in which the long Club holding of

the Third Hand is headed by King and Queen, and is it not much more

probable, when the Third Hand has long Clubs, that the No-trump

maker has the suit stopped with the Ace than with four headed by

Knave, Ten?

It must be remembered that the three Club take-out with Ace, King,

Queen, at the head of five or more, is only advantageous when the

No-trump has been called with a hand in which only three suits are

stopped, of which the Club is one. If the Club be the suit unstopped,

the call merely forces an advance in the No-trump.

If, however, the convention be to use three Clubs to overbid the

partner's No-trump only when holding an otherwise trickless hand which

contains either at least five Clubs headed by King, Queen, Knave, or at

least six headed by King, Queen, would not the number of instances in

which the call proves of benefit appreciably increase, and would not

every reason applicable in the former case be even more forceful in the


It cannot be questioned that the partner having called No-trump, the

Third Hand is more likely to hold either five Clubs headed by King,

Queen, Knave, or six headed by King, Queen, than five or more headed by

Ace, King, Queen. The greater probability that the Dealer will have the

Ace than four headed by Knave, Ten, is just as obvious.

Take such a No-trump declaration as

Spades Ace, King, Knave

Hearts X, X

Diamonds Ace, King, Knave, X, X

Clubs Ace, X, X

and the advantage of the proposed system becomes apparent. The game,

which is almost sure to be lost by the Heart lead in No-trump, becomes

almost a certainty with Clubs Trump. When this plan is used and the

Dealer has the other suits stopped but has not the Ace of Clubs, he can

easily decide whether to go to two No-trumps, as he can estimate from

the length of his Club holding whether he can establish the long Clubs

or the adverse Ace will block the suit. When the latter is the case, he

should not bid two No-trumps unless his own hand justify it, as the

Third Hand has announced the absence of a reentry.

Take such a No-trump declaration as

Spades Ace

Hearts Ace, King, X

Diamonds Ace, King, X, X, X, X

Clubs X, X, X

and suppose the Third Hand hold one or two small Diamonds; six Clubs,

headed by King, Queen, Knave, and no other face card.

In such a case Clubs is the call most likely to produce game.

Another and possibly the wisest theory of the three Club take-out, is

that it should be reserved, not for any one particular holding which

may not occur once in a year, but for any hand in which the Declarer

wishes to say, "Partner, my cards are such that I believe we can go

game in Clubs; with this information, use your judgment as to whether

or not to return to your more valuable declaration."

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