Join Bridge Winners
Cover an Honor
(Page of 11)

In a semi-final match in the Senior trials, you have to find the best initial third-seat action.

None vul, East deals. As West, you hold:

West
Q
K105432
KJ3
Q94
W
N
E
S
P
P
?

If you choose to treat this as a weak 2-bid, your call is 2, Multi. 2 opening would show short diamonds, 11-15.

Your call?

West
Q
K105432
KJ3
Q94
W
N
E
S
P
P
?

If you were in first or second seat, opening Multi would be too risky. That could cause you to miss a game, since partner wouldn't be playing you for this much strength.

In third seat, it is another story. Game is unlikely with partner being a passed hand. A 2 opening bid is more descriptive than a 1 opening, since a 1 opening could have a variety of hand types. In addition to limiting your hand and describing your hand type, a 2 opening takes away bidding room from the opponents.

You open 2. The bidding continues:

W
N
E
S
P
P
2
X
P
2
?

2: Weak 2 in a major

DBL: Likely 13-15 balanced

Partner's pass over the double gives you the following instructions:

If 4th seat passes, count your diamonds. If you have 3+ diamonds, pass (ending the auction). If you have fewer than 3 diamonds, show your suit by bidding 2 with hearts and redoubling with spades.

If 4th seat does anything but pass, shut up.

Had partner redoubled, that would have forced you to bid 2 after which he would place the contract. Any other call by partner would be as if there were no double. In particular, 2 or 3 of a major would be pass or correct.

Your call?

West
Q
K105432
KJ3
Q94
W
N
E
S
P
P
2
X
P
2
?

Partner's instructions are for you to shut up if South does anything but pass. You must follow these instructions regardless of your hand. You have not been invited to the party.

You pass, ending the auction.

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

Your lead. Third and fifth leads from length.

West
Q
K105432
KJ3
Q94
W
N
E
S
P
P
2
X
P
2
P
P
P

Why did partner pass over the double? Obviously he must have some diamond length, but that doesn't mean he has any diamond strength. If he has 2+ hearts, he might have bid 2 pass or correct, knowing that your major is a playable trump suit. There is a fair inference that he has a singleton heart. This argues for a heart lead, going after a ruff or two. Of course partner might be ruffing with a natural trump trick and a heart lead could blow a trick in the heart suit, but nothing else is particularly attractive. The heart lead looks like the best bet.

You lead the 5.

West
Q
K105432
KJ3
Q94
North
962
AQJ9
A8
KJ85
W
N
E
S
P
P
2
X
P
2
P
P
P

Dummy wins the queen, partner playing the 6 and declarer the 8.

Your default signal at trick 1 is suit-preference. If partner judges to give a count signal, it would be standard count (UDCA after trick 1).

Declarer leads the 9 from dummy. Partner plays the 3, declarer the 4, and you win the queen. What do you play?

West
K10432
KJ3
Q94
North
62
AJ9
A8
KJ85
W
N
E
S
P
P
2
X
P
2
P
P
P

If declarer has the singleton heart, continuing hearts will be disastrous. However, the evidence indicates that it is partner who has the singleton heart. It is logical that partner's signal at trick 1 is a count signal since that is what matters most and partner's ability to give a meaningful suit-preference signal is known to be limited. If that is the case then partner definitely has a singleton heart, since he played the smallest outstanding heart and is giving a standard count signal. Even if this is not the case, the inference from partner's pass of the double of 2 remains. You chose your opening lead on the basis of that inference, and there is no evidence to change your opinion.

If you continue hearts, the 4 is the right continuation, suit-preference for diamonds.

You lead the 4. Dummy plays the 9, and partner ruffs with the 8. Partner leads the king of spades. Declarer wins the ace, as you discard the 3. Are you ready for the next trick?

West
K102
KJ3
Q94
North
6
AJ
A8
KJ85
W
N
E
S
P
P
2
X
P
2
P
P
P

Declarer leads the 10. Quick! Do you cover or not?

West
K102
KJ3
Q94
North
6
AJ
A8
KJ85
W
N
E
S
P
P
2
X
P
2
P
P
P

If you are going to duck, it is important that you do so quickly. This isn't so much a question of a potential coffeehouse, since you could have a legitimate problem whether you have the ace or the queen. The problem is that if you have to think about it, declarer will be able to deduce that you have the queen since you really wouldn't have much difficulty ducking if you had the ace and not the queen. Consequently, if the contract depends on the club guess declarer figures to go right once you huddle.

Should you cover an honor with an honor? If declarer is going to ride the 10 when you play small, it is clearly best to cover. Granted declarer can still take 2 club tricks by finessing the 8 on the next round of clubs, but he may have other options.

What do you know about declarer's hand? He is known to have started with a doubleton heart. Partner's king of spades shift indicates that partner started with KJxx of spades, giving declarer A10xxx. It seems likely from declarer's lead of the 10 that he started with 10x, giving him 4 diamonds. He might or might not have the queen, but he will have some potential losing diamonds. He will certainly need to score at least 1 club trick. From declarer's point of view, if he rides the 10 and that loses to the queen, partner will draw dummy's last trump and knock out the ace of diamonds, leading the king if necessary. That will leave declarer with a losing diamond, so he will be down 1. Therefore, declarer does need to get the clubs right. He might well go up king, particularly if he has the queen of diamonds.

Can covering work? Declarer will have the finesse for the 9 in reserve. That will give him 2 club tricks, 3 spade tricks, 2 heart tricks, and 1 diamond trick which will make the contract. He will take the second club finesse if he needs to do so.

The conclusion is that your best chance is to duck, but only if you are able to do so quickly. If you have to think about it, you might as well cover.

You choose to cover the 10 with your queen. Dummy plays the king, and partner wins the ace. Partner cashes the jack of spades, as you discard a heart. Partner shifts to the 4 (attitude is default for middle of hand shifts), declarer plays the 5, and your jack forces dummy's ace.

Declarer now rides the 8 off dummy. Partner plays the 2, declarer the 6, and you win your king. What do you do now?

West
K10
3
94
North
AJ
J85
W
N
E
S
P
P
2
X
P
2
P
P
P

If partner has the queen of diamonds, you can defeat the contract by leading a diamond. If you lead a club, declarer can finesse the 8 and he will have 10 tricks.

Partner did lead the 4 and then played the 2. If partner has the queen, you would expect that he would have led his smallest diamond to show strength in the suit.

Can declarer not have the queen of diamonds? If he doesn't have it, his diamond continuation is a needless concession. He should have cashed ace of hearts, ruffed a heart, and taken the club finesse. This would risk down 2, but it is clearly a risk worth taking particularly non-vulnerable.

None of this really matters. A count of declarer's tricks shows that if he has the queen of diamonds he has the rest of the tricks. While declarer's play makes no sense if he doesn't have the queen of diamonds, that is what you have to play for.

You choose to lead a small club. Declarer finesses dummy's 8, discards his losing diamonds on the jack of clubs and ace of hearts, and makes the contract. The full hand is:

West
Q
K105432
KJ3
Q94
North
962
AQJ9
A8
KJ85
East
KJ83
6
Q942
A732
South
A10754
87
10765
106
W
N
E
S
P
P
2
X
P
2
P
P
P
D
2 South
NS: 0 EW: 0
5
Q
6
8
1
1
0
9
3
4
Q
0
1
1
4
9
8
7
2
1
2
K
A
3
2
3
2
2
10
Q
K
A
2
2
3
J
5
2
6
2
2
4
4
5
J
A
1
3
4
8
2
6
K
0
3
5
4
8
2
6
1
4
5
J
7
7
9
1
5
5
A
11

How was East's defense?

West
Q
K105432
KJ3
Q94
North
962
AQJ9
A8
KJ85
East
KJ83
6
Q942
A732
South
A10754
87
10765
106
W
N
E
S
P
P
2
X
P
2
P
P
P
D
2 South
NS: 0 EW: 0
5
Q
6
8
1
1
0
9
3
4
Q
0
1
1
4
9
8
7
2
1
2
K
A
3
2
3
2
2
10
Q
K
A
2
2
3
J
5
2
6
2
2
4
4
5
J
A
1
3
4
8
2
6
K
0
3
5
4
8
2
6
1
4
5
J
7
7
9
1
5
5
A
11

East did well to not cover the 9. That is an easy trap to fall into, since if declarer has AQ10xx of spades then East won't get a spade trick if he ducks. East realized that if declarer's spades were this good the defense had no chance, so it was necessary to assume that West had some spade honor.

Ruffing the second heart and leading the king of spades was clear. By doing this, East prevents declarer from scoring a diamond ruff in dummy.

East's defense of winning the ace of clubs, drawing dummy's last trump, and shifting to a diamond may look obvious. The problem is that it can't work. East can count declarer's tricks, and can see that declarer will have 2 club tricks coming which will get declarer up to 8 tricks. In order to have a legitimate chance to defeat the contract, East needs to duck the king of clubs. East is willing to let declarer discard his other club on the ace of hearts, since if West's diamonds are strong the defense will get 3 diamond tricks. Declarer can cash ace of hearts discarding a diamond, ruff a heart, and lead a club up, but then declarer would still have to guess the clubs. This isn't trivial, since West would have defended the same way (covering the 10 with the queen and playing small on the second round) with an initial holding of AQx. Of course East would have to have been ready for this so he could duck in tempo. If East has to think about the play, declarer will get the clubs right.

What do you think of declarer's line of play?

West
Q
K105432
KJ3
Q94
North
962
AQJ9
A8
KJ85
East
KJ83
6
Q942
A732
South
A10754
87
10765
106
W
N
E
S
P
P
2
X
P
2
P
P
P
D
2 South
NS: 0 EW: 0
5
Q
6
8
1
1
0
9
3
4
Q
0
1
1
4
9
8
7
2
1
2
K
A
3
2
3
2
2
10
Q
K
A
2
2
3
J
5
2
6
2
2
4
4
5
J
A
1
3
4
8
2
6
K
0
3
5
4
8
2
6
1
4
5
J
7
7
9
1
5
5
A
11

The defense is threatening a heart ruff, but there isn't much declarer can do about that. Drawing trumps will be fine when trumps are 3-2, but if that is the case declarer is probably okay anyway. The actual layout looks like more of a danger. Probably it is better to go after a diamond ruff in dummy, after which declarer will only have to guess the clubs and lose maybe 3 trump tricks, 1 club trick, and 1 diamond trick. On the actual line of play, declarer needed the 9 onside to make.

At the end declarer just lost it. Clearly he should play ace of hearts, heart ruff, and take the club finesse.

How do you like East's pass over the double?

West
Q
K105432
KJ3
Q94
North
962
AQJ9
A8
KJ85
East
KJ83
6
Q942
A732
South
A10754
87
10765
106
W
N
E
S
P
P
2
X
P
2
P
P
P
D
2 South
NS: 0 EW: 0
5
Q
6
8
1
1
0
9
3
4
Q
0
1
1
4
9
8
7
2
1
2
K
A
3
2
3
2
2
10
Q
K
A
2
2
3
J
5
2
6
2
2
4
4
5
J
A
1
3
4
8
2
6
K
0
3
5
4
8
2
6
1
4
5
J
7
7
9
1
5
5
A
11

It is right. If West passes it out there, E-W will have at least a 7-card diamond fit, maybe better. That is in contrast to at most a 7-card heart fit, maybe worse.

This treatment of East's pass over the double is very effective for avoiding going for a number. When responder has a singleton or void in one of the majors, he knows there might be trouble. When he passes the double holding 4+ diamonds, this puts a lot of pressure on fourth seat. Fourth seat doesn't know what he is running into as far as a diamond fit, so he can pass only with a good diamond stack. We have dodged many a bullet with this treatment.

At the other table, West opened a weak 2. North might have overcalled 2NT, but he chose to trap pass. When South elected to re-open with 2, North blasted to 4. This was not a success, and wound up going down 3 tricks.

It is important to figure out what partner or an opponent should do with certain layouts. However, nothing beats counting. If West had carefully counted declarer's tricks he would see that declarer was cold if he had the queen of diamonds, so even though it was "impossible" for declarer to not have the queen of diamonds that was what West should have played for. Even the best players make mistakes, and West failed to capitalize on declarer's error.

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