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A Good Result from a Jack High Overcall

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We do not normally recommend overcalling a suit in which the highest card is the jack, but sometimes there is no better way to enter the auction. I played this hand with Dave Tabor, a recent addition to the bridge community and a player striving to improve his game. The auction started with a couple of passes to his right-hand opponent who opened the bidding with one diamond with only eight high-card points. This is another action we do not recommend, but many players open light in third position hoping to disrupt the other side's auction. The big problem is that it is not only the opponents' auctions that get into trouble.

In fourth seat with his collection of points, Tabor saw no alternative to the spade overcall; and it is hard to argue with his choice. The other option might be to overcall with one notrump, but he was afraid the spade suit would be lost. As responder to the overcall, I liked my spade and club honors and also the doubleton diamond holding, so I made what I think is the standard bid of three spades, a limit raise that promises four card spade support and 10 or 11 highcard points. Dave carried on to game with his 15 points, and now the light opening worked against the other side because north doubled our game contract.

Looking at his hand, we can sympathize with his evaluation: His partner has opened the bidding, hopefully promising about two defensive tricks; and he appears to have two sure spade tricks. The dummy I laid down after the diamond lead must have given him a jolt, and Tabor's play of the hand was faultless. He took the diamond trick, finessed for the spade queen by leading the jack and after losing to the trump ace, got back in and drew trumps. South in the meantime was having trouble making so many discards on spade leads and unloaded a club, so Tabor was able to discard his losing diamonds on good clubs and take the heart finesse. The upshot of the hand was that he made two doubled overtricks for a top score on the board, and perhaps a lesson to south to make firmer opening bids.

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