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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.

Next: When To Bid Two No-trumps Over One No-trump

Previous: How Second Hand Should Bid After An Offensive Declaration

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