What did James Thurber believe is the one human achievement that made the long trip up from all fours seem well advised?

You have two four-card suits. The player on your left opens one of another suit, your partner makes a takeout double, and righty passes. Assuming you do not have enough high-card power to jump or to cue-bid, which suit would you bid first?

The question is easy to answer if one suit is a major and the other a minor — you bid the major. But what if they are both majors or both minors, like South’s hand in today’s diagram? Which would you bid now?

The answer depends upon your point-count. If you have a weak hand, bid the lower-ranking. But if your hand is strong enough to bid twice, start with the higher-ranking. Then, if the auction continues and partner does not raise your suit, show the other suit on the next round.

In this deal, you should advance with one spade. West will make a takeout double, North will pass, and East will run to two clubs or two diamonds.

Now you rebid two hearts as planned. North might raise to three hearts or, liking his great major-suit holdings, jump to four hearts. If he bids only three hearts, you would like to raise to three-and-a-half hearts!

The play in four hearts is easy, given the great fit and friendly breaks. You will lose two clubs and one spade.

James Thurber thought that art made our move from all fours to upright walking well advised.

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