Nancy Evins: Let’s try to find some answers to important questions

Nancy Evins • Updated May 13, 2018 at 2:00 PM

Dear Mr. Stewart:

Recall a few months back when I used one of your answers to debate, and you asked my editor for an explanation and wanted the page number and title of the book?

I searched all my reference books and came up with an answer similar to yours and then attributed it to Alfred Sheinwold. It didn’t seem quite what I had read but was the best I could do.

Then, eureka, I found your book, “Volume 3, The Bridge Book,” co-authored by you and Randall Baron. What I had read was question two on page 12 with the answer on page 15. The question was, “What you would bid with four spades, five hearts, three diamonds and a singleton club?”

Your answer was, “Bid one spade. If you open one heart and hear a one no-trump response, you will be stuck for a rebid.”

I, in my ignorance, questioned this. I had always been taught to bid the longer of the majors. To bid spades first, indicating five, and then rebidding two hearts makes one’s partner think you have five spades and four hearts or 5-5 or even 6-4 and so on.

But there was another question. Why would you miss a spade contract? If partner had three hearts, he would raise that suit. If not, but holding four spades, he would bid one spade, and there you are. So, by figuring he can hold no more than two hearts and three spades – and maybe less – you have eight cards unaccounted for. By golly, they must be the minors.

If playing the regular no-trump response, I would pass. If playing forcing no-trump, I would easily bid two diamonds. Should he correct it to three clubs, again I would pass, knowing this would not be forcing since if he had five clubs and 10 points, he would have bid that instead of no-trump.

But I was delighted when you wrote you probably would have opened a heart to begin.

I also had difficulty understanding questions seven and eight. In both, you have a six-card diamond suit, but instead of rebidding it, you say to rebid a three-card suit. I see your book is for advanced players, and maybe I am not sophisticated enough and should go back to “Bridge for Dummies.”   

Thank you for your input,


Dear Ms. Evins,

Thank you for writing. I hope you are in good health.

The material in “The Bridge Books” was written in 1981, although the series was not published until later. Times and expert attitudes evolve, and players are apt to change their approach to certain aspects of bidding theory. I would always be reluctant to distort my distribution by opening in a four-card suit ahead of a five-carder. The hand that you refer to with A K Q 10 of spades and J x x x x of hearts is an extreme case in which I might be willing to treat the spades as if they were a five-card suit and the hearts only four, It is simply a judgment call.

As to the other two hands you cited, with long diamonds, No. 7 is too strong for a non-forcing jump to 3D, especially after it is improved by partner’s response. It is best to improvise a forcing “reverse.” The text explains why this is not dangerous. On No. 8, a slightly weaker hand, to jump to 3D would not be a bad mistake, but most experts would prefer a stronger suit to jump. A rebid of 2C would appeal to many experts because it is more flexible and keeps the bidding lower.

You are always welcome to send questions and comments.


Frank Stewart

Nancy Evins, of Lebanon, is a certified bridge instructor. Email her at [email protected]

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