Thursday, April 1, 2010

Do You Know When Gerber is Alertable?

Last time out at the bridge club, my partner and I were defending and one of the top 3 pairs in the room had the uncontested auction: 1C*-1S; 2D-3S; 4C-4D; 4D-5S; P. My partner was on lead with something like: xx, xxxx, xxx, Axxx. What would you lead? 1C was alerted as and 16+hcp and there were no other alerts. I guess most of you would ask some questions about the bidding but we didn’t. I think that without any alerts, it’s safe to assume that 3S indicated a self-sufficient suit, 4C, 4D, and 5D are cue bids, in which case, this bidding clearly calls for a heart lead, to get partner’s trick in the suit before it goes away on diamonds. Another possibility is that 4C is natural, 4D a preference, and/or a bidding misunderstanding. Regardless, that auction also indicates that a heart lead is best because you don’t want to set up dummy’s second suit. In both cases, the club trick(s) may go away if you don’t take them now because they are quite likely to have two running 6 or 7 card suits.

Anyway, dummy came down with 20 hcp including Qxx of clubs and on the heart lead there were 13 top tricks. Had we been properly informed that 4C was Gerber, and 5D to play, I’m fairly certain my partner would have lead the ace of clubs and another club to hold it to 5. It turned out -450 and -510 would both have been worth 5 out of 6 matchpoints because most were letting 3NT make 7.

So, 4C as Gerber in that situation, as long as they do in fact have an agreement that it is Gerber, definitely should be alerted. Actually, it should be a delayed alert, which you announce at the end of the auction. According to the ACBL alert procedures: Any variety of 4NT Blackwood over a suit bid and 4C over a NT bid are not alertable. All other ace-asking bids (which would include Gerber over something other than NT) are alertable. Beginning with opener’s second call, an alertable bid above 3NT is a delayed alert, and all ace-asking bids at 3NT or below require an immediate alert. With that said, I think the score should have been adjusted to making 5 instead of making 7 because the failure to alert clearly steered my partner away from the winning club lead.


  1. I believe the ACBL rule is that after the reaoinder's first bid, anything above three o the trump suit is NOT alertable, however before the first lead, they must disclose if there was an ace asking bid in the auction and which bid was the ask. This is to make sure there is no UI between the bidding pair in situations o kickback or exclusion.

  2. Yes, that's what I said (a delayed alert).