Wednesday, December 03, 2003 10:57 AM

Hand Evaluation - Misfit Auctions




            Identifying a misfit  auction is a hand evaluation concept in Bridge. Recognizing a misfit auction , changes the meanings of your bids. 1-P-1♠-?  Is not a misfit auction as either one of them can have a diamond or spade fit. Therefore , experts define 2 & 2♠ by your side as natural bids. What if the auction went 1♠/1-P-1NT ? 2 & 2♠ are Michaels bids & not natural. Why enter a misfit auction in their suit ? A 1NT response denies a fit in the opening bid suit generally.  Let the opponents play the misfits.


            Misfit auctions determine the meaning of your penalty doubles . If they indicate a misfit ( bidding NT ) or otherwise , doubles of their NT bid tend to be penalty ( balancing ) . In non misfit auctions , doubles tend to be T/O or competitive. The over/under rule is handy when misfit auctions are involved. A misfit for them quite often means a misfit for your side. Do not double or enter a misfit auction directly without extra. “Shapely doubles” do not apply in misfit auctions. Partner will convert your double more often than not , so your side is in trouble. The most common example is doubling a forcing NT in the sandwich position. Partner converts for penalty & they run. The fact that they are running turn on forcing passes so you are now pretty well forced to double their escape even though you have a minimum for your initial bid . They wrap the contract doubled. I call this the “Cohen symptom” . Your urge to compete over rides Bridge basics like entering misfit auctions without the required strength. Cohen feels that competing is Bridge  is above all else in Bridge like lead directing suits , partnership discipline & entering misfit auctions. Simply not true.


            Bridge bidding is “give & take . When your style is to compete to the maximum something else has to give. Lead directing suits for your overcalls vul vrs not  , having your values vulnerable for your double , playing the vulnerability property & proper risk taking. Over competing is a synonym for bad bidding ( single handed )  & is tailored for matchpoints & weak fields. Too much of a “good thing” ( competing ) quite often turns out to be a bad thing. Losing partnership trust is a very bad thing & erodes partnership effectiveness. Misfits are for the opponents to play , not for us competing. Playing hero is a single handed action in a partnership game so needs a very tolerant partner & teammates.


            When you play D.S.I.P. competitive doubles there is another definition of a “misfit”. This occurs when they have yet to find a fit & neither has your side. When they have not found a fit yet , the over/under rule applies. When you are in front of a suit or in a re-opening position , a double is never penalty. When they have not found a fit yet and you are behind their suit , a double is penalty. 1-P-1♠-2    3-X      . This is a trump stack penalty double because you are not actively competing with a fit so the over/under rule applies.


There are some standard misfit auctions that should be understood thoroughly by established partnerships because meanings of bids change. The most common one is where opener has bid two suits with partner holding the other two. In these auctions , invitational bids by responder do not exist . Responder is forced to give some sort of preference to openers bid suits with hands in the invitational or weak range.



2♣-P-?             Kxxxx AJxxx xx ♣x       partner should just give preference to diamonds. Holding 9 or more cards in the minors , opener is not interested in your major invites. 2is a game force in most cases artificial. The godfather 2NT ( invitation you can’t refuse) helps out in these misfit auctions . If opener just rebids her minor , you can get away with a 2 bid as a one round force. This is because there is still hope for a fit. The first auction is misfit spelled out big time. Same distribution & add HCP’s to responders hand , I would bid the godfather 2NT before ever bidding 2.  KQxxx AQxxx xx ♣x is a 2NT bid & not 2 in a misfit auction. Opener will “pattern out” if she has a decent hand after the godfather 2NT so you will find you major fit that way . Recognize your misfit early.


            A 2 bid is a game force ( 4th suit )  so 3 is a splinter for one of the minors in a misfit auction.


            Another misfit auction 1-P-1-P



 What is 2 , 3 , 4 and 5 ?


            2 is easy as that is 4th suit forcing to game . Can not have an invitational bid in responders suits opposite a misfit , so 3 is a splinter implying club support. 4 is exclusion Blackwood implying clubs . So what is 5 ? Partner has bypassed 4 so she is not interested in spade preference. Probably a freakish hand with very long diamonds ,  not enough to force to game originally. 2NT is the godfather 2NT an invitation you cannot refuse when you play that understanding.


            Things are different with the semi-misfit auctions. These are defined as openers one suiters opposite  responders two suits. Opener rebids a suit , you have the two other suits. There is still hope for a fit on these auctions so invitational bids by responder apply. A jump by responder in her second suit is invitational probably 5-5. On an auction where partner rebids her minor , the other minor is forcing to game & may show a big hand with a preference. The auction





should be discussed . Since 3 is invitational , 2 should be natural & forcing one round. A strong hand in the majors or a weak two suiter hoping for a preference. If partner does not give preference , the auction dies at 3 of her minor.


            If you have agreed to play “ recovering the SJS” by responder , A jump rebid by responder ( own suit ) is a strong hand with a good suit in any auction. We do not need these jumps as invitational as a simple rebid is invitational since we play direct jumps by responder after a minor opener as a WJS. With the majors opened , we have the 2/1 non forcing to game to handle the invitational hands.


Quite often on these hands , responder must bid the godfather 2NT ( one round force ) instead of 2 with invitational hands with the majors. Opener must help with these auctions out by choosing to rebid 1NT initially instead of 2 of a minor with the appropriate hands. Partner should go as far as rebidding 1NT with a stiff spade as there are far more sophisticated systemic ways to stop in a partial after that rebid. My guideline for 1NT rebids on a stiff spade is predicated on where my points are located . If the points are well dispersed , I rebid 1NT. If they are concentrated in my two minors , that’s what I bid .


My partners &  I have a special understanding in one specific auction. After a club opener & rebid with  a spade response , 2 hearts is allowed to be passed. We can get away with this , due to a 2 bid available as a “forcing noise”. The 2 bid can cover the game forcing heart hands. We have no such agreement after a diamond opener & rebid . With a spade response , 2 is a one round force & 3♣ a game force. The 3♣ bid is considered as “4th suit forcing” so may show strong diamond support.


            The style of rebidding NT with all balanced hands help identify misfits. This means after partner opens a minor & rebids a major naturally , you have 9 or more of those cards identified. With misfits , you need more HCP’s to make game or slam so putting on the breaks is in order. You have Kxx AKxxx KxxxK , partner opens 1♣. You respond 1 & partner bids a spade. What has this auction told you ? You have 9 red cards & partner has shown 9 black cards. You are 3-1 in her suits & partner has 4 or less cards in your suits. Time to bid 3NT as the chances of slam are remote with no fit so if slam is in the cards, partner will bid over 3NT as that bid shows 15-17.


            Identifying misfits is one of the most important hand evaluation skills in Bridge. You use patterns when the opponents are in the bidding to get a “lie of the land”. The most basic axiom in Bridge is if there is a misfit , let the opponents play the hand preferably doubled. “Fools rush in where experts fear to tread , where misfit auctions are concerned. The most obvious example of misfits is when the opponents overcall & you hold their suit. They overcall 2♣ , most of your hand consists of ♣AJxx of their suit. This holding brings out the pass card especially if they are vul & you are not. XYZ identifies misfits at the one level very well with responders 2♣ bid keeping invitational hands at the 2 level.


            They are vul , you are not & partner opens 1♣. They overcall 1 , you make a negative double with Axxx xx KQxQxxx   . LHO passes & partner bids 1NT . They bid 2 so what do you bid ? Use the opponents & patterns to determine your bid. Partner bidding 1NT is the first indication of a misfit hand. RHO has advertised 10 red cards so where are the black cards ? Before the opponents bid , supporting clubs might have been a good idea. However,  this is a misfit with probably 9 or 10 black cards to your left. Let the opponents play this one & double. You were right as LHO had 5 clubs & 4 spades , so LHO goes for 800 against nothing. Again , another valuable use of thinking in patterns. Identifying misfits !.