Join Bridge Winners
Attention to Detail
(Page of 14)

In a round robin match in the Open trials, you have to find the best descriptive sequence opposite partner's strong 1 opening.

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

North
1093
6
K1064
KQ942
W
N
E
S
1
1
?

1: Strong artificial

Double would show about 5-8 HCP

2 would be a natural game force, 5+ clubs

2 would show a balanced game force without a spade stopper

Your call?

North
1093
6
K1064
KQ942
W
N
E
S
1
1
?

Strengthwise you are on the bubble between 2 and double. Since your club suit is good, it is better to bid 2. This may be the key to getting to a good slam or finding the right game. You don't mind forcing to game on this hand. If you double, you will be playing catchup for the rest of the auction.

You bid 2. The bidding continues:

W
N
E
S
1
1
2
P
2
P
?

Your call?

North
1093
6
K1064
KQ942
W
N
E
S
1
1
2
P
2
P
?

One approach is to punt with 2. This has the advantage of being cheap, giving partner room to bid notrump, show club support, bid a diamond suit, or rebid hearts. This is quite reasonable.

The other approach is to bid 3. This gobbles up more space, but describes the rest of your hand.

It is a fundamental principle of partnership bidding that the stronger hand should be making the decisions if possible. The stronger hand is better placed to make accurate decisions, since he is looking at most of the high cards. The weaker hand should be focusing on describing, not on eliciting information. For this reason, 3 is probably a better call.

You choose to bid 2. The bidding continues:

W
N
E
S
1
1
2
P
2
P
2
P
2NT
?

Your call?

North
1093
6
K1064
KQ942
W
N
E
S
1
1
2
P
2
P
2
P
2NT
P
?

It looks like 3NT is the right contract, so it seems easy to bid it. However, maybe something else is better. You have no idea if that is the case, but partner might. It can't hurt to show your diamond suit now. Partner won't play you for more distribution than you have, since you didn't bid 3 at your previous turn. Most of the time partner will bid 3NT, or perhaps 3 or 3 over which you will bid 3NT. However, a 3 call might hit gold. Perhaps partner has something like AQ AKxxx Axxx Ax. He would certainly bid 2NT rather than 3 with this spade holding, but when he hears you bid 3 he can drive to the good 6 contract.

You choose to bid 3NT, ending the auction.

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

You get to take over partner's hand to declare the contract.

West leads the queen of spades. Standard leads and carding.

North
1093
6
K1064
KQ942
South
K76
AKJ54
A53
A8
W
N
E
S
1
1
2
P
2
P
2
P
2NT
P
3NT
P
P
P

East plays the 2. Do you win or duck?

North
1093
6
K1064
KQ942
South
K76
AKJ54
A53
A8
W
N
E
S
1
1
2
P
2
P
2
P
2NT
P
3NT
P
P
P

If you could establish your ninth trick by controlling which defender got in, it might be right to duck from this holding. That is not the case here. You need this spade trick.

You win the king of spades. How do you start?

North
109
6
K1064
KQ942
South
76
AKJ54
A53
A8
W
N
E
S
1
1
2
P
2
P
2
P
2NT
P
3NT
P
P
P

You have 8 top tricks. You can't afford to lose a trick in a red suit, as the opponents may be able to take enough spade tricks to defeat you. It is right to test the clubs. If they are 3-3, you are home. You can afford to discard a spade on the third club without giving up anything.

What will be your plan if East has 4 clubs? What about if West has 4 clubs?

North
109
6
K1064
94
South
7
AKJ54
A53
W
N
E
S
1
1
2
P
2
P
2
P
2NT
P
3NT
P
P
P

If East started with 4 clubs, your best play is probably to exit with a spade. This won't be such a good idea if the spades are 6-1, but they are more likely to be 5-2. A 5-2 split is more common, and with 6 spades West might have ventured 2 instead of 1.

Assuming the spades are 5-2, your chances are very good. West will have had to discard a red card on the third round of clubs, so he will have had to unguard one of the red suits. This means that East will be squeezed in clubs and the suit West doesn't guard. West might thwart this by not cashing his last spade, but you will still have plenty of chances although you may have to do some good card reading.

If West started with 4 clubs, there isn't much you can do but hope the heart finesse is onside. Before you take that finesse you might as well lead a diamond to your ace and a diamond to the king, just in case West has queen-jack doubleton. This won't result in any extra undertricks unless West has a singleton queen of hearts, since otherwise he will be out of diamonds.

In fact, West plays the jack of clubs under the ace. When you continue clubs, West discards the 4. Does that change anything?

North
109
6
K1064
KQ94
South
76
AKJ54
A53
8
W
N
E
S
1
1
2
P
2
P
2
P
2NT
P
3NT
P
P
P

Yes, that changes a lot. You now know that West started with 6 spades, since he certainly wouldn't discard a spade from a 5-card suit.

If you are paying attention to detail, you will realize that the hand is now cold. West played the jack of clubs on the first round of clubs, and that is the powerful 8 you have just put on the table. All you have to do is let the 8 ride to East's 10, and you will have 4 club tricks for your contract. East is presumably out of spades, but even if East somehow has another spade the opponents won't be able to take enough spade tricks to defeat you.

You aren't paying attention, so you win the king of clubs. What do you do next?

North
109
6
K1064
Q94
South
76
AKJ54
A53
W
N
E
S
1
1
2
P
2
P
2
P
2NT
P
3NT
P
P
P

You might as well cash the queen of clubs and get another discard from West. You can afford to discard a spade. You aren't going to be end-playing East into leading into your Q9 of clubs.

You cash the queen of clubs, discarding a spade. West discards the 3. What do you try now?

North
109
6
K1064
94
South
7
AKJ54
A53
W
N
E
S
1
1
2
P
2
P
2
P
2NT
P
3NT
P
P
P

If West started with Qxxx of hearts you are in trouble, but there isn't realistically anything you can do about that. Otherwise, you have great chances. West might have had to come down to queen-doubleton of hearts, or the heart finesse might be on all along. In addition, you have some chances to build up a diamond trick without letting West on lead. It looks likely that West started with 3-3 in the red suits.

One possibility is to lead a diamond to your ace and try to duck a diamond to East. The problem is that if West sticks up a diamond honor on the second round of diamonds you will be forced to win, and then you won't know what to do.

A better approach is to play AK of hearts. Assuming both opponents follow small, lead a third heart, discarding spades from dummy. If East started with Qxxx of hearts he won't be able to cash either his good heart or his good club, since that would establish your ninth trick, so he would have to exit with a diamond. The diamonds will have to be 3-3. You play low from your hand, capture West's honor with the king, and play a diamond to your ace and another diamond to East. East gets his red-suit winners, but has to give dummy the 9 in the end. This line fails only when West has QJx of diamonds.

Another possibility is to exit with a spade. If West cashes all of his spades and exits with a diamond, East will be caught it a show-up squeeze, and you will not have to guess whether or not West has come down to a doubleton queen of hearts. The danger is that West is astute enough to not cash his last spade but instead leads a diamond. You can't afford to lose a diamond trick to either opponent since both opponents have a black-suit winner to cash, so if the diamond honors are split you will be back to a heart guess.

You choose to lead a diamond to your ace, and a diamond towards dummy. West annoys you by playing the jack, and you have to win the king. Now what?

North
109
6
106
94
South
7
AKJ54
5
W
N
E
S
1
1
2
P
2
P
2
P
2NT
P
3NT
P
P
P

If West started with 6-4-2-1 shape including Qxxx of hearts, the winning play is to throw him in with a spade. After he cashes his spades, he will be forced to lad a heart into your heart holding. That layout doesn't seem likely. Would West's first discard have been a spade if he held Qxxx of hearts? No way. West might hold 4 hearts, but if he does have 4 hearts he doesn't figure to have the queen. It is more likely West holds the queen of diamonds, and you need to make a winning heart play now.

You lead dummy's heart. East follows with the 2. What do you play?

North
109
6
106
94
South
7
AKJ54
5
W
N
E
S
1
1
2
P
2
P
2
P
2NT
P
3NT
P
P
P

It looks like West has come down to a doubleton heart, and you have to determine who has the queen. First, let's examine the other possible heart layouts.

Suppose West started with 2 hearts, so he is now down to a singleton. Finessing loses if West has the queen. Otherwise West will show out when you cash AK of hearts, and you can lead another heart. East will be out of diamonds, so he will be forced to give you your ninth trick in either hearts or clubs.

Suppose West started with 4 hearts. As discussed, if West had Qxxx of hearts you will always be down unless you make the double-dummy play of going up ace of hearts and throwing him in with a spade, and you won't be doing that. If West started with 10xxx of hearts finessing works, but so does playing ace, king, and a heart, as East will have started with 4 diamonds and will be forced to give dummy a trick in one of the minors.

So, the only relevant layout is when West's initial shape is 6-3-3-1. West might have the queen of diamonds, or he might have made a good play from an original holding of Jxx.

East started with 4 hearts, so the a priori odds are 4 to 3 in favor of the finesse. However, there are a couple of factors which tilt the odds otherwise.

One factor is West's order of discards. If West started with xxx of hearts he had an easy heart discard on the second round of clubs. As seen, the spade discard gave you the opportunity to claim if you were paying attention. With Qxx of hearts, West might have judged that it was more important to keep the queen of hearts guarded for now.

A greater factor is the diamond position. West might have played the jack of diamonds from an original holding of Jxx, in order to prevnt you from ducking the trick to the safe hand. If this is the case, playing ace, king, and a heart will make the hand even if East started with Qxxx of hearts. East will get his 2 heart tricks, 1 diamond trick, and 1 club trick, but in the end will have to give you dummy's 9 of clubs. The only layout where playing ace, king, and a third heart is wrong is where West started with QJx of diamonds and East with Qxxx of hearts. Of course it isn't automatic for West to play the jack of diamonds from an original holding of Jxx, since that would be disastrous if your hand were something like Kx AKxxx Axxx Ax. Still, Jxx (or Qxx) is much more likely than QJx, and the possibility that West might have found this play is sufficient to tilt the odds in favor or playing the hearts from the top.

You choose to finesse. West produces the queen of hearts, and you are down 2. The full hand is

West
AQJ854
Q73
QJ7
J
North
1093
6
K1064
KQ942
East
2
10982
982
107653
South
K76
AKJ54
A53
A8
W
N
E
S
 
1
1
2
P
2
P
2
P
2N
P
3N
P
P
P
D
3NT South
NS: 0 EW: 0
Q
3
2
K
3
1
0
A
J
2
3
3
2
0
8
4
K
5
1
3
0
Q
6
7
3
1
4
0
4
2
A
7
3
5
0
3
J
K
9
1
6
0
6
2
J
Q
0
6
1
7

Could the defense have done better?

West
AQJ854
Q73
QJ7
J
North
1093
6
K1064
KQ942
East
2
10982
982
107653
South
K76
AKJ54
A53
A8
W
N
E
S
 
1
1
2
P
2
P
2
P
2N
P
3N
P
P
P
D
3NT South
NS: 0 EW: 0
Q
3
2
K
3
1
0
A
J
2
3
3
2
0
8
4
K
5
1
3
0
Q
6
7
3
1
4
0
4
2
A
7
3
5
0
3
J
K
9
1
6
0
6
2
J
Q
0
6
1
7

West's opening lead looks right. He has the entries, so hoping for partner to get in enough to run the spades without giving declarer the king of spades is too optimistic.

West made a serious error when he discarded a spade on the second round of clubs. It may seem like a safe discard since if the defense gets in West will still have enough spades to defeat the contract, but in fact it made declarer's life a lot easier. Once declarer knew the spades were 6-1, he had a claim by running the 8 of clubs. Even if East has another spade, the spade discard helps declarer. Now declarer can afford to exit with a spade if he so chooses, and West will be in a cash them or lose them position where cashing out the spades will put East under pressure. West should have discaded a heart.

After West discards a heart, declarer will cash another club. Now it gets interesting. If West discards a spade, the position transposes to what happened at the table, where declarer has several successful lines. The winning defense is to discard another heart! Declarer can still make, of course, but most likely he will go down, either taking the heart finesse or trying the suicide squeeze of exiting with a spade hoping the spades are 5-2.

We have all seen positions where discarding an idle fifth is fatal. On this hand, discarding an idle sixth probably gives away the contract.

Was South's bidding okay?

West
AQJ854
Q73
QJ7
J
North
1093
6
K1064
KQ942
East
2
10982
982
107653
South
K76
AKJ54
A53
A8
W
N
E
S
 
1
1
2
P
2
P
2
P
2N
P
3N
P
P
P
D
3NT South
NS: 0 EW: 0
Q
3
2
K
3
1
0
A
J
2
3
3
2
0
8
4
K
5
1
3
0
Q
6
7
3
1
4
0
4
2
A
7
3
5
0
3
J
K
9
1
6
0
6
2
J
Q
0
6
1
7

It looks perfect. We do not play 2NT is a strong opening bid, so opening 1 is mandatory. Showing the heart suit is obvious. Having done that, 2NT with the spade stopper and only 2 clubs is also clear.

A master chess player once said: When you find a good move, don't make it. Instead, first look for a better move. This applies to bridge also. When you believe you know the right contract and are considering making a final conclusive bid, stop, look, and think. Is there an alternative contract which might be superior? If so, is there a way to find this out? North's 3NT call is a perfect example. It looks like 3NT is the right contract, but it might not be. North could probe for a better contract at no cost by bidding 3. On this hand, 3NT would have been reached anyway.

The same applies to the play. After having blundered by not riding the 8, declarer found a good line of trying to set up a third diamond trick while keeping West off lead. However, there were two better lines -- playing ace, king, and a heart or exiting with a spade. Both of these alternatives would have succeeded.

8 Comments
Getting Comments... loading...
.

Bottom Home Top