Join Bridge Winners
A Diversion
(Page of 8)

In a semi-final match in the Senior trials for USA2, you face an evaluation decision.

Both vul, East deals. As South, you hold:

South
93
KJ1092
Q6
A765
W
N
E
S
P
?

2 would be a weak 2 in one of the majors

Your call?

South
93
KJ1092
Q6
A765
W
N
E
S
P
?

You open light. However, you have to draw the line somewhere. This hand looks to be just below that line. Your 5-4 shape and your heart suit are good, but the queen-doubleton isn't pulling full weight. If you instead had two small diamonds and AQxx of clubs, this would be a fine 1 opener.

What about opening multi? There is no such thing as a hand which isn't strong enough to open with a 1-bid but is too strong to open multi. If the hand were otherwise perfect for a multi, you would go one way or the other. This hand isn't perfect. A 5-card suit is permissible, of course, but second seat both vulnerable you would much prefer a 6-bagger. Opening multi is okay, but passing is probably better.

You pass. The bidding continues:

W
N
E
S
P
P
2
X
P
?

2: 6+ clubs (usually), 10-15 points

Your call?

South
93
KJ1092
Q6
A765
W
N
E
S
P
P
2
X
P
?

You could just invite with 3. But partner isn't doubling for his health. He heard you pass initially, so he should have some game interest. All your cards are working well. You have no wastage in clubs, good shape, and a strong trump suit. You are vulnerable. This is not the hand you want to risk bringing back +170 lose 10 to the comparision. You must bid game.

You bid 4, ending the auction.

W
N
E
S
P
P
2
X
P
4
P
P
P

West leads the king of spades:

North
AQ86
AQ5
J432
QJ
South
93
KJ1092
Q6
A765
W
N
E
S
P
P
2
X
P
4
P
P
P

You win the ace of spades, East playing the 5 (UDCA).

How do you approach this hand?

North
Q86
AQ5
J432
QJ
South
9
KJ1092
Q6
A765
W
N
E
S
P
P
2
X
P
4
P
P
P

If there were no enemy bidding, this hand would not be a problem. You would take a club finesse, and if it loses you would ruff a club in dummy and claim.

The opening 2 bid warns you away from that approach. While West might open 2 in third seat on some hands with a 5-card suit, the suit would surely be better than K109xx. You can assume that the clubs are 6-1, and taking a club finesse would lead to instant defeat.

One possibility which comes to mind is to try to ruff 2 clubs in dummy. That might result in 7 trump tricks, 2 spade tricks, and a club trick. If you are going to try this you may need to start immediately, as otherwise the opponents can draw 2 rounds of trumps. The problem is that your trump spots, strong as they seem, might not be strong enough. You will have to ruff both clubs high to avoid being overruffed, as ruffing small would succeed only if East has the miracle 4-3 doubleton holding. Meanwhile, you will have to get back to your hand to take those 2 ruffs and eventually draw trumps.

Let's suppose you play ace of clubs and a club. West will win, and play a trump. You will have to win in hand, ruff a club, cash the queen of spades, ruff a spade high (necessary assuming the lead is from king-doubleton which it almost certainly is), and ruff another club. Now how do you get back to your hand? If West started with 3 diamonds, he will have discarded a diamond on the third round of spades, so you won't be able to ruff a diamond small. Leading dummy's fourth spade and discarding a diamond won't work, since West can also discard a diamond and be as short as you are in diamonds. East is almost certain to have a diamond honor, since if West had AK of diamonds he probably would have led a high diamond rather than the king of spades. Scoring that 2 of trumps is going to be quite a problem.

Perhaps a partial trump removal could succeed. You could draw 2 rounds of trumps and give up a club trick. No, that won't work. If East has the outstanding trump, he ruffs the second round of clubs. If West has the outstanding trump he leads it, and you will have to lose a club trick in the end.

Maybe a diversion is called for. You know that your goal is to ruff 2 clubs in dummy and score 7 trump tricks, but it will be very difficult for the opponents to see this looking at the QJ doubleton of clubs in dummy. How about the effect of leading a diamond off dummy at trick 2. Look at what might happen.

If East's diamond honor is the ace, he might go up. From his point of view your shape could be 3-5-1-4 with the stiff king of diamonds. Also, he would be itching to put his singleton club through. If that happens, you are in good shape. You win East's club return, and exit with a club. If West started with king-doubleton of diamonds he can still defeat you by the very unnatural play of cashing the king of diamonds before exiting with a trump. If he fails to do so, you can ruff 2 clubs in dummy (using a trump and a high spade ruff as entries), and get off dummy with a diamond. This will negate the overruff threat. If West started with 3 diamonds, he will have no defense.

If East doesn't go up with a diamond honor, your best bet is probably to play small from your hand. A trump shift will defeat you, of course, but they don't know that. Most likely West will win and continue spades, knocking the entry off dummy. You can now try club to ace and a club. If West started with ace-doubleton of diamonds he will need to get that ace of diamonds out of his hand before playing a trump, or you will have your path back to your hand.

You choose to play ace of hearts and a heart to your 9. East follows with the 3 and 4, and West the 6 and 7. What do you try next?

North
Q86
Q
J432
QJ
South
9
KJ10
Q6
A765
W
N
E
S
P
P
2
X
P
4
P
P
P

As discussed, ducking a club can't work. West will win and then either give his partner a ruff if East has the long trump or lead the third round of trumps himself if West has it. Your only hope is to manufacture a trick out of the diamond suit.

One possibility is to cross to the queen of hearts and lead a diamond. If East has the ace and fears you have a singleton king, he may go up ace. That will set up a diamond trick for you, and East can't knock out both of dummy's entries.

The other possibility is to draw the third trump, remaining in your hand. This may give West a chance to make an error.

East can deduce that if you needed to steal a diamond trick you probably would have done so at trick 2. It is probably better to stay in your hand.

You cash the king of hearts. West follows, and East discards the 5. Now what?

North
Q86