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Bad Moysian
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In a Round of 16 match in the Open Trials, you have to decide whether or not to compete over an enemy 1NT contract.

None vul, North deals. As North, you hold:

North
K932
9642
AQ96
J
W
N
E
S
P
P
P
1NT
?

1NT: 15-17

If you wish to compete, the only bid for this hand is 2, showing both majors, which is permissable with 4-4 in the majors. If partner wants you to show your better major, he may bid 2 to ask.

Your call?

North
K932
9642
AQ96
J
W
N
E
S
P
P
P
1NT
?

Suppose partner had opened a 10-12 1NT and the next hand passed. Would you pass or bid 2? While passing could be right, the percentage action figures to be to bid 2. If partner has a 4-card major, 2 of the major will play considerably better than 1NT. If partner doesn't have a 4-card major, you might reasonably choose to pass his 2 response which will have a good chance of hitting a 4-4 fit and be wrong only if partner has exactly 3-3-2-5 shape.

The issue is roughly the same here. If you pass, you are in essence contracting to take 7 tricks in notrump, since that is what you will need to get a plus score. Once again, 8 tricks in a major looks more promising. In addition, with neither side vulnerable the odds are more favorable for competing, since it is only 50 a trick for the defense whether your side is declaring or defending. These are good arguments for bidding.

The problem here is that partner passed in third seat. He would have opened with any reasonable excuse non-vulnerable. It is likely that he does not have his share of the outstanding high cards, or that his shape is such that he couldn't stand a 1 of a major response. This indicates that your side isn't likely to be getting a plus score by contracting for 8 tricks, even if you have a 4-4 major-suit fit. If you don't have a fit, you could wind up in a bad Moysian.

It is possible that you will go for a number if you bid, if the hand is a misfit and the opponents have the right sort of hand to double you. Also, by bidding you may help declarer if you wind up on defense. On balance, it looks right to just take your likely minus against whatever the opponents bid.

You choose to bid 2. The bidding concludes:

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

Under normal circumstances, if you dump partner into a poor contract he is the one who has to struggle with it. Not in Kit's Korner. You got us there, so you have to play it.

West leads the ace of clubs. Ace from AK(x). Standard signals.

North
K932
9642
AQ96
J
South
Q4
Q85
1043
Q9743
W
N
E
S
P
P
P
1NT
2
P
2
P
P
P

East plays the 6. What club do you play from your hand?

 

North
K932
9642
AQ96
J
South
Q4
Q85
1043
Q9743
W
N
E
S
P
P
P
1NT
2
P
2
P
P
P

The fundamental principle of falsecarding is to signal for what you want using the opponents methods. This approach makes their signals more difficult to read.

On this hand, West isn't likely to be continuing clubs regardless of what spots are played. Also, with a singleton in dummy East's signal might not be a real attitude signal anyway. The 7 could be an important spot card in the future, and it isn't worth wasting it.

You play the 4. West shifts to the 3. East wins the king, and returns the 10. You cover, and West plays the king. Do you ruff or discard?

North
K932
964
AQ96
South
Q4
Q8
1043
Q973
W
N
E
S
P
P
P
1NT
2
P
2
P
P
P

Even though dummy has the long trumps, it has to be right to ruff. A trick is a trick. You may be able to score more ruffs later.

You ruff. What do you do now?

North
K932
96
AQ96
South
Q4
Q8
1043
973
W
N
E
S
P
P
P
1NT
2
P
2
P
P
P

There are 24 outstanding high card points. These are almost certainly divided 17 with West and 7 with East. If West had more he would have been too strong to open 1NT. If East had more, he would have done more in the bidding.

It appears that West started with A10x of hearts. If East didn't have the jack of hearts, it would be natural for him to return a heart. This places the ace of spades in the West hand.

You would like to get to your hand in order to play either clubs or diamonds. The probem is that if you lead a spade to your queen West will win the ace, and you won't have accomplished your objective.

Maybe a better idea is to lead the king of spades off dummy. If West takes his ace, you will have developed another hand entry. If West ducks, you won't be any worse off than if you had led a spade to the queen.

You lead the king of spades. East plays the 5, and West the 6. What next?

North
932
96
AQ96
South
Q
Q8
1043
973
W
N
E
S
P
P
P
1NT
2
P
2
P
P
P

Clearly you must play another spade. Anything else hands the defense a trick.

You lead a spade to the 8, queen, and ace. West plays ace of hearts and the 10 to your queen, East playing the 7 and the jack. What next?

North
93
AQ96
South
1043
973
W
N
E
S
P
P
P
1NT
2
P
2
P
P
P

You could cash the 9. If the 8 drops, you will have two more club tricks. That won't give you the contract. The king of diamonds is now certain to be offside, and East must have at least one more spade since West is marked with at least 4 clubs and 3 hearts so he can't have 5 spades.

The problem with cashing the 9 is that if the 8 doesn't drop you will have established a trick for the defense. You still have to lose to the king of diamonds.

Since East is known to have the king of diamonds, that accounts for his full expected 7 HCP. The jack of diamonds figures to be onside. By leading a diamond to the 9 you will certainly be able to get out for down 2, and if the spade suit is blocked it is possible you might get out for down 1 although it doesn't appear that you will be able to untangle everything.

If you choose to play a diamond without cashing the 9, it has to be right to lead a small diamond rather than the 10. West can't have 4 diamonds, as that would make his shape 2-3-4-4 leaving East with 5 spades. However, West could have the doubleton jack of diamonds, in which case you will be better placed by leading a small diamond since he will cover the 10.

What is going on in the club suit? East clearly started with 10xx, else his return of the 10 would be foolish. What were the exact spots played? East played the 6 on the first round. If he had 106x, there is no way he would have played the 6. Even if their agreement is suit-preference with a singleton in dummy, you know that his preference is for diamonds, not spades. Assuming East started with 3 clubs, his holding must be precisely 1086.

Could East have a doubleton club? That is possible. However, he did play 5 and then 8 of spades, which would appear to be a 3-card holding as this is a position where his partner might need the count. Even if East has 4 spades West figures to have the jack, so the opponents won't be able to run the suit and setting up West's 8 won't matter.

All the evidence points to cashing the 9.

You choose to lead a small diamond. West plays the 5. What do you play from dummy?

North
93
AQ96
South
1043
973
W
N
E
S
P
P
P
1NT
2
P
2
P
P
P

You know the king of diamonds is offside. Playing the 9 is clear.

You play the 9. East wins the king, and returns a spade. West cashes two spade winners, and you are down 2. The full hand is:

West
AJ106
A103
J5
AK52
North
K932
9642
AQ96
J
East
875
KJ7
K872
1086
South
Q4
Q85
1043
Q9743
W
N
E
S
P
P
P
1NT
2
P
2
P
P
P
D
2 South
NS: 0 EW: 0
A
J
6
4
0
0
1
3
2
K
5
2
0
2
10
Q
K
4
1
1
2
K
5
4
6
1
2
2
2
8
Q
A
0
2
3
A
6
7
8
0
2
4
10
9
J
Q
3
3
4
3
5
9
K
2
3
5
7
9

How was the defense?

West
AJ106
A103
J5
AK52
North
K932
9642
AQ96
J
East
875
KJ7
K872
1086
South
Q4
Q85
1043
Q9743
W
N
E
S
P
P
P
1NT
2
P
2
P
P
P
D
2 South
NS: 0 EW: 0
A
J
6
4
0
0
1
3
2
K
5
2
0
2
10
Q
K
4
1
1
2
K
5
4
6
1
2
2
2
8
Q
A
0
2
3
A
6
7
8
0
2
4
10
9
J
Q
3
3
4
3
5
9
K
2
3
5
7
9

West's trump shift looks right. His holding is such that it almost can't cost a trump trick, and cutting down on ruffs could be quite important. There is something to be said for leading a trump right away, but that might be too big a position.

East's club return was strange. East could not know whether or not he is blowing the club suit wide open. In addition West should have 4 spades, since if declarer were 3-3 in the majors he would have bid 2 to find North's longer major. There doesn't appear to be any reason why East shouldn't return a trump.

West did well to duck the first spade trick. He had the spade count, and he could see that entries to declarer's hand were important.

West's play of ace and a heart didn't work well, but it seems reasonable. West has every reason to think his partner has the 9 from the 10 shift, and West doesn't know where the jack of hearts is. West can see declarer has a lot of ruffs coming if trumps aren't drawn now.

Should E-W have done better in the bidding?

West
AJ106
A103
J5
AK52
North
K932
9642
AQ96
J
East
875
KJ7
K872
1086
South
Q4
Q85
1043
Q9743
W
N
E
S
P
P
P
1NT
2
P
2
P
P
P
D
2 South
NS: 0 EW: 0
A
J
6
4
0
0
1
3
2
K
5
2
0
2
10
Q
K
4
1
1
2
K
5
4
6
1
2
2
2
8
Q
A
0
2
3
A
6
7
8
0
2
4
10
9
J
Q
3
3
4
3
5
9
K
2
3
5
7
9

West might well have upgraded his hand to better than a 15-17 1NT opener. He has 3 aces which are big cards, and a couple of 10's, one going along with an AJ combination in a 4-card suit. The hand just looks better than a 1NT opening. Had West upgraded E-W would have gotten to 3NT, which might or might not have made.

East knew his side has the majority of the high cards, but he really has nothing he can do. He is 4-3-3-3, and knows there is no game. He can figure that 2 is probably going down, but he has no assurances. It is probaby his percentage action to just sell out and take what is a likely small plus score.

At the other table, North didn't enter over the 1NT opening. North led the 2, and declarer eventually came to 9 tricks.

While defenders will not always be playing true cards, their early plays will tend to be honest because they are more concerned about helping partner. They don't know whether or not deception is important at the early stages of the hand. Declarer should note the spot cards the defense plays carefully, and tend to trust them as honest plays. Had declarer done so here, he would have known that the clubs were likely to be running and he could have cashed for down 1.

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