Saturday, November 05, 2005 2:21 AM

Hand Evaluation – Tactics ( Sandwich Position )



The sandwich position is a unique position in the game of Bridge as the opponents have opened & responded before you can take any action. The position is also unique to the opening side also as bidding in the sandwich position hinders constructive bidding. For the opening side,  two new bids have been invented to assist in more accurate bidding. The support double & redouble assists in showing 3 card major support instead of 4 card support . Very useful information to have in judging further competitive action .

The 2nd bid invented to clarify auctions when the opponents have bid at the two level in the sandwich position is the “good bad 2NT . Since their competitive action has taken away your ability to make invitational jumps to the 3 level , you cannot describe your opener properly. The answer is to define an old bid “2NT” to have a new meaning for the opening bidder.  2NT is “bad  - meaning that all you want to do is compete & make a nuisance of yourself. Partner must relay to 3♣ when you make that 2NT bid unless she is too strong & “breaks the relay” . Since you have all your competitive bids covered by the 2NT bid , when you do bid at the 3 level it is equivalent to hands that you would have jumped to the 3 level i.e. invitational to game.

Let’s discuss sandwich bidding by the non opening side. Some people open on 3 card minors with nothing in them . People also respond on 4 card majors like xxxx . To prevent this style from being problematic , experts define biding the responders major or the openers minor in the sandwich position as natural by your side. ♠xx Axx AQJ109xxx . The auction goes 1-P-1♠-2   2 is a natural bid. You do not need the bid as a Q bid as you have doubles & unusual NT bids to describe unbid suits. When the auctions goes 1♣-P-1♠-2  ,  you have ♠KQJ10xxx Axx xx ♣x or the like.

What about the 1NT bid in the sandwich position ?  In the “old days” of Bridge it was considered suicide to bid 1NT as natural in the sandwich position. The opener had 14 HCP’s , the responder 7 HCP so if you had 17 HCP partner has at most 2 HCP ! . Playing 1NT when there is two or less HCP’s in the dummy is not pleasant & most likely you would play it doubled. Not so in the so called “modern garbage bidders game” . Many partnerships do not care about discipline . They open non openers with 10 HCP’s with no defense & respond without the HCP’s required for a response.  You side could easily have 25 HCP’s when they have opened & responded ! The 1NT is a picture bid & allows an excellent start to an auction. Passing with 16-18 vul means you are falling prey to their nv tactics.

If we are vul & they are not , we prefer 1NT in the sandwich position to be 16-18 HCP. In other vulnerabilities , I prefer 1NT to be a weak takeout for the unbid suits.  It’s highly unlikely , vul opponents would try their non openers & non responses when they are vul & you are not. Equal vulnerability , their non openers & non responses are a silly tactic also. Sandwich NT bids  are best for the unbid suits in these vulnerabilities as they are more frequent . Since you are not vul & they are ,  you want to make a nuisance of yourself rather than describe 16-18 HCP. When they are vul , we prefer trapping with 16-18 HCP as it is a win-win situation. When they go down vul that is nice or you can double if they get too high. Bidding 1NT with these vulnerabilities quite often will just rescue them  ( misfit auction ) , so you go for a minus instead of them.

               There are special understanding for bidding in the Sandwich position when the Opponents Bid and  raise their suits. Extreme leeway is given in this position to the point where they call bidding in these situations is called “balancing in the direct position”. Experts have even given a name to this OBAR.  Quite often partner needs to get a lead director as the next bid is game by the opponents. Susan had AKxxxxx & the auction goes 1-P-2 so OBAR comes into effect. You bid 3♣ & partner will not punish you. There is also some safety in this understanding in that partner should bid 2♠ on any excuse playing OBAR  . So if 2 is passed out , you know partner does not have spades when you are considering your balance  !!