Join Bridge Winners
An Inferior Fit
(Page of 8)

In a round robin match in the Bermuda Bowl, you have to figure out how best to handle a possible slam hand after a 2 opening.

E-W vul, North deals. As South, you hold:

South
K4
KQ65
AQJ43
95
W
N
E
S
2
P
2
P
2
P
2
P
3
P
?

2: 6+ clubs, 10-15, may have major

2: Artificial inquiry

2: An unspecified 4-card major

2: Artificial inquiry

3: 4 hearts, non-minimum, not a solid club suit

If you choose to make a slam move in hearts, you have available:

3: Asks about partner's exact heart holding. He shows, by steps, no top honor (A, K, Q); 1 top honor no jack; 1 top honor with jack; etc. Nothing conventional after that.

3: Artificial slam try in hearts. Nothing conventional after that.

4: RKC for hearts.

Your call? And what is your planned follow-up depending on partner's response to what you do?

South
K4
KQ65
AQJ43
95
W
N
E
S
2
P
2
P
2
P
2
P
3
P
?

Slam is certainly in the air. Give partner something like x AJxx xx AKJxxx and you wouldn't mind being in 6. However, even with the right hand it isn't cold. Bad splits in hearts and/or clubs might defeat the slam. Unfortunately your coding had partner bidding hearts first, so the slam might be defeated by a spade or diamond lead if that hits partner's doubleton and the critical card is offside. Therefore, it doesn't look like you should be driving to slam via RKC right away. You need to either find out more or bring partner into the picture, or possibly both.

Bidding 3 as a slam try in hearts is possible. Partner will be looking at the right things such as his trump holding, aces, and source of tricks in the club suit. If partner comes back with a 4 Q-bid, which is likely, you are probably just worth a last train call. If partner can't go over that, the odds are that slam isn't so great. If partner signs off over 3, you are done. Keep in mind that partner needs ace of spades, AK of clubs, and ace of hearts to cover all your losers. He doesn't have all of these cards or he would have been too strong to open 2C. Therefore you can expect to have one loser off the top, so everything else better be tied down. You can't be sure partner will get it right, but he will more often than not.

The other idea is to find out about partner's trump holding. This could be quite helpful. AJxx is considerably better than Axxx, since that jack of hearts may allow you to survive a 4-1 trump split or ruff something high if need be. If partner doesn't have the ace of hearts, forget it. He might not have the jack, and even if he does it may be too difficult to handle. If partner has the ace of hearts without the jack, you are worth one nudge but that is all -- partner will have to drive it in from there. If partner has AJxx of hearts, your chances improve considerably. You still aren't quite strong enough to drive it in with RKC, but if partner shows an additional sign of life that should be all you need. Partner knows he has already shown a non-minimum, and he will be evaluating his hand in context of what he has shown. That looks like the best approach.

You choose to blast away with 4, RKC for hearts. The auction has an unhappy conclusion.

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

West leads the 10. Standard leads, upside-down carding.

North
A103
AJ108
K108743
South
K4
KQ65
AQJ43
95
W
N
E
S
2
P
2
P
2
P
2
P
3
P
4
P
P
P

What do you discard from dummy?

North
A103
AJ108
K108743
South
K4
KQ65
AQJ43
95
W
N
E
S
2
P
2
P
2
P
2
P
3
P
4
P
P
P

This is a somewhat inferior fit to hearts. Obviously partner blacked out. Still, you have to make the best you can of it.

You will never be getting control of this hand, so dummy's long hearts are of no value. You might as well discard a heart from dummy. There could be variations where you will be able to ruff the third round of hearts in dummy.

You choose to discard a club. East plays the 6, and you win the queen concealing the jack. What do you play at trick 2?

North
A103
AJ108
K10874
South
K4
KQ65
AJ43
95
W
N
E
S
2
P
2
P
2
P
2
P
3
P
4
P
P
P

First question: is there any chance at all of making. If there is, you must go all out to make. If the contract is 4 making in the other room, there will be little difference between down 1 and down 4.

If you determine there is no chance to make, you still must try to hold the undertricks in as best you can. It won't matter much if they are in game at the other table, but they might be in 6 going down. If so, every undertrick you can save will be worth an IMP or two.

One thing in your favor is that your opponents might not realize how much trouble you are in. If they ever lead a trump, you will clearly have no chance. Suppose they don't. You have to assume the A is onside to have even a ghost of a chance. That plus the hearts splitting will give you 1 club trick, 2 heart tricks, and 2 diamond tricks. If they allow you to score all 5 of your trumps separately, that comes to 10 tricks. Your 4 is so tiny that is should be easy for the opponents to shut that card out, but you never know. Also maybe they will present you with a third diamond trick, in which case you only need 4 trump tricks.

At any rate, it has to be right to lead a club to the king at trick 2. You need this finesse to work for starters, and you will need to sneak home the 4 on the third round of clubs. So, you might as well get started.

You lead the 9. West plays the 2. You try the king, and East wins the ace. East returns the 2. What do you do now?

North
A103
AJ108
10874
South
K4
KQ65
AJ43
5
W
N
E
S
2
P
2
P
2
P
2
P
3
P
4
P
P
P

Actually, things have gone quite well considering your situation. You didn't get a trump return. Since you almost certainly weren't going to make, you are happy to see the A is offside. That means that 6 (which you hope is reached at the other table) is destined to fail, and perhaps it will go down more than 1 trick. If you can scramble home a bunch of tricks, you can hold this to a small loss or maybe even push the board.

Is there any remaining chance to make? No. Even if the diamond finesse wins, it is impossible to score 5 trump tricks. You are now playing to hold in the undertricks.

Can the diamond finesse win? Not if East is defending sensibly. He might have played the K at trick 1, in case his partner led from Q109. But if he chose not to do so, he surely wouldn't be leading back a diamond. He knows where the jack is from the opening lead, so once he decided to play you for AQJ he would never return a diamond. West has to have the K. It can never gain to finesse, and it could cost a trick if East has a doubleton diamond.

After winning the A, your best bet is probably to ruff a diamond, cash two hearts ending in your hand, and try to ruff another diamond in dummy.

You choose to finesse the J. West plays the king, and you ruff. What now?

North
A10
AJ108
10874
South
K4
KQ65
A43
5
W
N
E
S
2
P
2
P
2
P
2
P
3
P
4
P
P
P

You don't want to give an opponent with a doubleton heart the chance to discard a heart while you are ruffing a diamond in dummy. Probably best is to try cashing two hearts ending in your hand, and then play ace and a diamond, hoping for the best.

You choose to play a heart to your king and a small heart towards dummy. West steps in and ruffs, and leads back a trump. What now?

North
A10
AJ
10874
South
K4
Q6
A43
5
W
N
E
S
2
P
2
P
2
P
2
P
3
P
4
P
P
P

It looks like the opponents have figured out what is going on. There isn't much you can do. You can't get back to your hand to try getting a diamond ruff in dummy. You aren't going to score more than 2 trump tricks and 1 diamond trick from here. You might as well play the 10, hoping West found some reason to underlead his QJ.

You play the 10 to the jack and king. You try a club. East wins, and returns a trump. The only other trick you get is the A, for down 4. The full hand is:

West
Q8752
9
K10987
62
North
A103
AJ108
K108743
East
J96
7432
652
AQJ
South
K4
KQ65
AQJ43
95
W
N
E
S
2
P
2
P
2
P
2
P
3
P
4
P
P
P
D
4 South
NS: 0 EW: 0
10
3
6
Q
3
1
0
9
2
K
A
2
1
1
2
J
K
3
1
2
1
8
2
K
9
3
3
1
5
2
10
3
0
3
2
5
10
J
K
3
4
2
5
6
10
J
2
4
3
6
8

Assuming the South hand is worth an RKC call, should South have blasted into RKC or should he have bid3 (or 3), bids which North would definitely interpret correctly, before bidding 4 RKC?

West
Q8752
9
K10987
62
North
A103
AJ108
K108743
East
J96
7432
652
AQJ
South
K4
KQ65
AQJ43
95
W
N
E
S
2
P
2
P
2
P
2
P
3
P
4
P
P
P
D
4 South
NS: 0 EW: 0
10
3
6
Q
3
1
0
9
2
K
A
2
1
1
2
J
K
3
1
2
1
8
2
K
9
3
3
1
5
2
10
3
0
3
2
5
10
J
K
3
4
2
5
6
10
J
2
4
3
6
8

This is a difficult philosophical question. The 4 call is explicitly defined in your notes as RKC for hearts. Partner is expected to know your methods. Even if North doesn't remember this, he should be able to deduce it. If South had a 1-suiter in spades, his asking sequence wouldn't make any sense. Either South would have just bid 4 immediately over 2, or if South had a hand which required some exploration he would have taken some other route which involves bidding spades earlier. South hasn't learned anything about play in spades when he finds out that North is 4-6 non-minimum. South can't logically have a 4 signoff at this point.

On the other hand, South had little if anything to lose by taking a slower approach. He could always bid 4 next turn after setting hearts as trumps, and there would be no chance of a mix-up. The opponents wouldn't be receiving any meaningful information which would help them on defense.

So, the question is to what extent do you take into account that your partner has forgotten or might forget an agreement. Normally you have to assume that partner doesn't forget your agreements. If your hand is perfect for some obscure convention you play, you must wheel it out and trust that partner will remember. However, if you can take a safety approach which won't cost anything in the auction you might as well do so.

It is easy to lose concentration and just start flipping cards when you land in a joke contract such as this one. Keeping your focus is vital. Every trick counts, and you never know when even 1 IMP might make a difference. Always work to do the best you can, regardless of how ridiculous the contract is. In fact, at the other table the contract was 6 down 1, so every undertrick did matter.

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