Join Bridge Winners
An Extra Chance
(Page of 9)

In a Round of 32 match in the Open Trials for USA2, you have to decide whether or not to open a marginal hand 1.

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

South
AJ1073
AQ74
53
A10
W
N
E
S
?

An opening 1 bid is normally 16+ HCP, but you may upgrade if appropriate.

If you open 1 and partner responds 1NT, a 3 bid by you would show a maximum 5-5 hand.

Your call?

South
AJ1073
AQ74
53
A10
W
N
E
S
?

You have only 15 HCP, but you have aces and your minor honors are in your long suits. This could well be worth an upgrade.

If you open 1, the auction figures to go smoothly. If partner has a positive response you will get to some game, but maybe that game will make even if partner is minimal. If partner bids a negative 1, you can bid your spades and then your hearts if necessary, and all should be well.

If you open 1, you may have a difficult time catching up. In particular, if partner responds 1NT you will have to bid only 2, since 3 would show 5-5 in the majors. Partner won't play you for this strong a hand, and game may be missed.

It looks better to upgrade and open 1.

You choose to open 1. The bidding continues:

W
N
E
S
1
2
2
P
?

Partner might have anything short of a limit raise for his 2 raise, since your hand is limited.

If you make a move, game tries are natural.

Your call?

South
AJ1073
AQ74
53
A10
W
N
E
S
1
2
2
P
?

Parner could be quite weak, and 8 tricks could easily be the limit of the hand. Still, you have so much playing strength that you have to make a move towards game. This is not the sort of hand you want to bring back +170, lose 10 to the comparison.

The right game try is certainly 3. Not only does this help partner evaluate correctly by upgrading heart honors and downgrading xxx in hearts, it also keeps open the possibility of playing in a superior heart contract.

You bid 3. The bidding concludes:

W
N
E
S
1
2
2
P
3
P
4
P
P
P

West leads the queen of clubs. Standard leads. UDCA.

North
K986
J105
K982
85
South
AJ1073
AQ74
53
A10
W
N
E
S
1
2
2
P
3
P
4
P
P
P

East plays the 2. Do you win or duck?

North
K986
J105
K982
85
South
AJ1073
AQ74
53
A10
W
N
E
S
1
2
2
P
3
P
4
P
P
P

There is no reason to duck. You don't need to keep East off lead. Perhaps you will be able to discard dummy's other club on the fourth heart.

You win the ace of clubs. What do you do next?

North
K986
J105
K982
8
South
AJ1073
AQ74
53
10
W
N
E
S
1
2
2
P
3
P
4
P
P
P

On some hands it is correct to diddle around with the side suits before tackling a trump holding like this. You might get some extra information, or you might get some help from the opponents.

There doesn't seem to be any reason to delay going after trumps. You can be pretty sure the clubs are 6-3, but you won't find out much else. If you exit with a club, East will win and lead a heart through, and you won't have found anything of value. Even locating the king of hearts and the ace of diamonds won't help. West would have the same 2 overcall holding a stiff spade or queen doubleton.

In isolation, the right way to start the spade suit is low to the king. If the spades are 4-0, it will almost certainly be East who has 4 spades, since West has the club length. If nothing exciting happens, you will be left with a guess whether to play for the finesse or the drop.

There might be an extra chance. Suppose you cash two top spades and somebody has Qxx. If you planned ahead to win the second spade trick in dummy, you will be in position to take a heart finesse. If the king of hearts is onside and the hearts are 3-3, you will be able to pitch dummy's other club and avoid a club loser.

Suppose Kxx of hearts is onside. Where would the ace of diamonds be? It would have to be with West. Assuming the opening lead is honest, and why shouldn't it be, West would have to have the ace of diamonds to have anything close to an overcall. Also, if East had the king of clubs, ace of diamonds, and king of hearts, he would have been heard from.

The conclusion is that the extra chance is a phony. If it works, you don't need it, as all you are ever losing is 1 spade, 1 diamond, and 1 club. You should forget about discarding a club on the fourth heart, and concentrate on the best play in the spade suit. That means leading a spade to the king, guarding against East having Qxxx of spades.

You lead a spade to the king, and a spade off dummy. Both opponents follow small to the first round of spades, and East follows small to the second round. Your guess?

North
986
J105
K982
8
South
AJ107
AQ74
53
10
W
N
E
S
1
2
2
P
3
P
4
P
P
P

What will you need to make this contract? If both red-suit finesses work, you won't need to get the spades right. You will lose at most 1 spade, 1 diamond, and 1 club. If both red-suit finesses lose, you will never make. Even if you get the spades right, you will lose 2 diamonds, 1 heart, and 1 club. Therefore, the only relevant layout is when one red-suit finesse wins and one red-suit finesse loses. This means that one opponent has both the ace of diamonds and the king of hearts. That opponent must be West, since with neither of those cards he wouldn't have had an overcall and with both of those cards East would have acted over 2.

Would ownership of the queen of spades have affected West's decision to overcall? His two possible hands look something like: Qx Kx Axx QJxxxx or x Kxx Axx, QJxxxx, with perhaps some minor honor in diamonds. Both of these hands look like overcalls, so there is no clue there.

It is a matter of vacant spaces. You inferentially know of 9 of West's cards: his 6 clubs, his small spade, the ace of diamonds, and the king of hearts. There are 4 vacant spaces. For East, you know only of his 2 small spades and his 3 clubs. That leaves 8 vacant spaces. This makes East an 8 to 4 favorite to hold the queen of spades.

You finesse the jack of spades. It holds, West discarding a club. You cash the ace of spades, West discarding another club. Now what?

North
9
J105
K982
8
South
107
AQ74
53
10
W
N
E
S
1
2
2
P
3
P
4
P
P
P

There is no reason to delay. You need the ace of diamonds onside. If it is off you can't do anything about it, and the king of hearts will certainly be off also. If the ace is onside, the king of diamonds will be your entry for the heart finesse, and if the heart finesse wins you will be able to ruff your fourth heart in dummy for the overtrick.

You lead a diamond towards the king. The ace of diamonds is onside, the king of hearts is offside, and you make 10 tricks. The full hand is:

West
4
K92
A74
QJ7643
North
K986
J105
K982
85
East
Q52
863
QJ106
K92
South
AJ1073
AQ74
53
A10
W
N
E
S
1
2
2
P
3
P
4
P
P
P
D
4 South
NS: 0 EW: 0
Q
5
2
A
3
1
0
3
4
K
2
1
2
0
6
5
J
3
3
3
0
A
4
8
Q
3
4
0
3
5

How was the E-W bidding?

West
4
K92
A74
QJ7643
North
K986
J105
K982
85
East
Q52
863
QJ106
K92
South
AJ1073
AQ74
53
A10
W
N
E
S
1
2
2
P
3
P
4
P
P
P
D
4 South
NS: 0 EW: 0
Q
5
2
A
3
1
0
3
4
K
2
1
2
0
6
5
J
3
3
3
0
A
4
8
Q
3
4
0
3
5

West's overcall is minimal with both vulnerable, and the overcall doesn't consume any space. Still, West does have a 6-card suit and a singleton in the enemy suit. It is normally better to bid than to pass if you have something to say. On this hand the overcall worked out badly, as it gave declarer the distributional information to pick up the spade suit.

East has 3-card support for his partner's likely 6-card suit, and the opponents apparently have at least an 8-card fit. That makes the trump total 17, and bidding 3 over 2 contracts for 17 total tricks. Even though East's hand is defensively oriented, he should raise to 3.

How was North's auction?

West
4
K92
A74
QJ7643
North
K986
J105
K982
85
East
Q52
863
QJ106
K92
South
AJ1073
AQ74
53
A10
W
N
E
S
1
2
2
P
3
P
4
P
P
P
D
4 South
NS: 0 EW: 0
Q
5
2
A
3
1
0
3
4
K
2
1
2
0
6
5
J
3
3
3
0
A
4
8
Q
3
4
0
3
5

North could have bid an immediate 3, preemptive. While this wouldn't be an attractive call in a Standard structure, it is quite reasonable opposite a limited opening bid. There doesn't figure to be a game, and N-S have at least a 9-card fit, so going to the 3-level is okay. North figured that holding the spade suit he might buy it for 2, and he could compete to 3 if necessary. If the N-S fit had been in hearts and E-W might have a spade fit, the preemptive jump raise would be more attractive.

When South unexpectedly makes a game try, North can re-evaluate. The high cards for game still aren't there, and there won't be a game opposite a normal 1 opener. However, South's 3 call says he doesn't have a normal 1 opener. North has 4-card support which is unexpected, and his J10 are in South's game try suit which might be important. Finally, there is that vulnerable game bonus. North doesn't want to languish in 3 if there is a reasonable play for 10 tricks.

One of the best bridge books ever written is Master Play by Terence Reese, and the most valuable chapter in that book is: Playing on an assumption. The chapter illustrates how declarer should decide what he does or does not need to make the contract, and play the hand accordingly. This hand is a perfect illustration. Declarer didn't need the king of hearts onside, so he didn't have to play for it. That allowed declarer to make the percentage play in the trump suit.

18 Comments
Getting Comments... loading...
.

Bottom Home Top