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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."

Next: A New Plan For Overbidding

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