Nancy Evins: I was a young thing and could not leave my mother

Nancy Evins • Updated Nov 4, 2017 at 2:00 PM

About a century ago, I was playing bridge with my mother in Oak Ridge…a talented group of players. They were, and we weren’t.

I had a 16-point hand with five spades…A K J 10 9 8, and I opened one no-trump.

My mother responded two no-trump, and I placed it at three.

The husband of the husband-wife partnership was on lead, studied awhile and finally led from the queen, three small.

I could understand his reasoning. He knew I could hold both four card majors, and when mother didn’t bid Stayman, knew she had no four-card major herself. So we could only, at best, have a four-three major “fit.”

What he didn’t know was mother didn’t know Stayman.

Of course, his lead set up all five of my spades, and I made the contract. 

The man was furious. He turned to me and said, accusingly, ”You had a five-card major.” 

I smiled sweetly and said, “Yes, and I could not have made the contract without your lead.”

Of course, that infuriated him ever further, and he stood and stomped out of the room.

His wife, still sitting there, said mildly, “Most people don’t bid a no-trump with a five-card major.”

I nodded, again sweetly and said, ”I know,” which was not exactly true.

Well. Nowadays, they do.

Larry Cohen, bridge expert and author, said it’s is the No. 1 question for bridge instructors, and if they got a dollar every time it is asked, they would be wealthy.

He continued that there is no right answer, which is probably why it is getting asked all the time. All you can ask for is an opinion.

He pointed out the problem with this example:

You are holding: 

(S) Q 10 

(H) A Q 10 4 3 

(D) K J 5 

(C) K J 5 

If you open one heart and partner bids one spade, what is your next bid?

If you rebid one no-trump, you are showing 12-14 points. If your bid is two no-trump you show 18-19 points.

However, there is another side. If you open one no-trump, you may miss out on a five-three fit in the major.

Actually there are several schools of thought on this matter. One advantage is that it is sometimes more difficult for the opponents to bid over the one no-trump opening. Plus it’s more disciplined and it is allowed by ACBL rules

Or, perhaps, there are people like my father. One night at a game in Norris, the director got up and said, “I want to make an announcement. When Mrs. Alley opens with a major and Mr. Alley bids one no-trump, it doesn’t mean he has no support for Mrs. Alley. He just likes to play no-trump.”

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


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