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Dummy Gets Tapped
(Page of 11)

In a quarterfinal match in the Senior trials, you face an interesting problem vs. an enemy opening bid.

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

North
KJ10
AKQ85
KQJ73
W
N
E
S
1
?

Your call?

North
KJ10
AKQ85
KQJ73
W
N
E
S
1
?

This hand is clearly too strong to overcall. It has to be right to start with a takeout double or unusual notrump.

You do have support for all suits, which is generally desirable for a takeout double. Still, partner will be expecting a 4-card spade holding. That isn't etched in stone, of course, but if partner has a close decision he will assume you have 4 spades if you make a takeout double. It may be difficult to get to a minor-suit fit if you have one.

By contrast, 2NT describes 10/13 of your hand. Furthermore, you are strong enough to bid 4 next turn even if the opponents compete to 4, which describes your entire hand perfectly. You probably have at least a game in your best fit, and this route will ensure that you find your best fit.

You choose to double. The bidding continues:

W
N
E
S
1
X
2
2
3
?

4 would be a slam try in spades, not a choice-of-games Q-bid. 4NT would be RKC for spades.

Your call?

North
KJ10
AKQ85
KQJ73
W
N
E
S
1
X
2
2
3
?

You have a very good hand, particularly if partner has 5 spades. AQxxx of spades gives you a good play for slam even if he has nothing else. He didn't have to bid 2, so he has to have something. Simply raising to 4 looks wrong.

You could make a 4 slam try in spades. This could work. If partner moves, you can follow with 5NT pick a slam, and maybe back into a minor-suit fit.

The problem is that spades could be a very wrong strain if partner has only 4 spades. Picture partner with something like: Qxxx xxx xx Axxx. 6 is nearly cold. Meanwhile, dummy gets tapped in 4, and on a bad day 4 might not come home. It seems like you should make some effort to get to a minor if you belong there.

Perhaps the best way to recover from the takeout double is to bid 4. This has to be forcing by any bridge logic. Partner can bid 4 with 5 spades since he assumes you have 3-card support for the takeout double. Otherwise, he can bid 4 or raise clubs. You will still have a guess how high to bid, but at least you will probably get to the right strain.

You choose to bid 4. The bidding continues:

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

4: Slam try in spades

Your call?

North
KJ10
AKQ85
KQJ73
W
N
E
S
1
X
2
2
3
4
P
4
P
?

There isn't anything you can do but pass and pray now. Partner rejected the slam invite so he can't have too much. Anything you bid may get you too high, and there is no convenient way to find a minor-suit fit at this point.

You pass, ending the auction.

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

You got us to this not-so-lovely contract, so you have to go over and play it.

West leads the 10.

North
KJ10
AKQ85
KQJ73
South
9876
10953
J7
A95
W
N
E
S
1
X
2
2
3
4
P
4
P
P
P

East plays the 6 (standard carding), and you win the jack. How do you start?

North
KJ10
AKQ8
KQJ73
South
9876
10953
7
A95
W
N
E
S
1
X
2
2
3
4
P
4
P
P
P

You have a ton of winners, and since you are only in 4 you can afford to lose 3 trump tricks. The problem is to dispose of those losing hearts. Your trump spots are solid, so that isn't the problem. The problem is to avoid letting the opponents score too many small ruffs as well as not letting them score a heart trick.

West opened the bidding, and he probably doesn't have AK of hearts since he would have led a heart from that holding. He just about has to have the ace of spades for his opening bid. The hearts are probably 6-3. Other than that, you don't know too much about the enemy hands.

Suppose you try ruffing a heart in dummy. If the diamonds are 3-3, you can cash 3 diamonds discarding a heart. Then you can cross to the ace of clubs, ruff another heart, cash the king of clubs, and lead a diamond discarding your last heart while somebody ruffs. Even that might not work, as the opponents may be able to get two small ruffs along with their AQ of spades. It might be necessary to finesse the 9 of clubs for an extra entry to your hand for a third heart ruff.

A better idea is to lead a spade to the king immediately. As we have seen, this is almost sure to hold. It won't be safe to continue spades, since West might have started with AQx of spades and be able to draw dummy's trumps and cash the hearts. Instead, you can now blast away at diamonds. If West follows to the second round of diamonds, you will be in good shape. Even if West started with a doubleton diamond and Axx of spades, he won't be able to prevent you from eventually ruffing a heart in dummy and getting enough discards on the diamonds. If West has a stiff diamond and Axx of spades you will come up a trick short, but it is the best you can do.

You choose to ruff a heart and try to run the diamonds. West ruffs the third round, cashes the ace of spades, and forces dummy with a heart. What do you do now?

North
Q8
KQJ73
South
987
10
A95
W
N
E
S
1
X
2
2
3
4
P
4
P
P
P

You don't have any choice. You must cash a diamond and discard your last heart.

You cash a diamond, discarding a heart. West discards a club. What next?

North
8
KQJ73
South
987
A95
W
N
E
S
1
X
2
2
3
4
P
4
P
P
P

The good news is that West is out of trumps. The bad news is that this means East started with 4 trumps, thus only a doubleton club. When he gets in with his queen of spades he will be able to force you with a third heart, and he will score a small trump. All you can do is lead dummy's last diamond and hope for a mistake.

You lead dummy's last diamond. East ruffs small, and you overruff as West discards a heart. Any chances?

North
KQJ73
South
98
A95
W
N
E
S
1
X
2
2
3
4
P
4
P
P
P

If you lead a spade, it will be trivial for East to win and return a heart. Your best bet is to cash a couple of clubs ending in dummy.

You play ace of clubs and a club to dummy's king. East plays the 10 on the second round of clubs. And now?

North
QJ7
South
98
9
W
N
E
S
1
X
2
2
3
4
P
4
P
P
P

Your 9 is high, so you have one more ruse available. You can lead a small club from dummy, making it look like you are going to ruff. If East loses track he might discard his third heart and allow you to make.

You lead a small club from dummy. East is awake, and ruffs so you are down 1. The full hand is:

West
A5
AQJ842
109
862
North
KJ10
AKQ85
KQJ73
East
Q432
K76
6432
104
South
9876
10953
J7
A95
W
N
E
S
1
X
2
2
3
4
P
4
P
P
P
D
4 South
NS: 0 EW: 0
10
5
6
J
3
1
0
3
4
10
6
1
2
0
A
4
7
9
1
3
0
K
2
5
5
0
3
1
A
J
4
6
0
3
2
A
K
7
9
1
4
2
Q
3
5
2
1
5
2
8
2
7
2
3
6
2
A
6
3
4
3
7
2
5
8
K
10
1
8
2
7
3
11

How was the defense?

West
A5
AQJ842
109
862
North
KJ10
AKQ85
KQJ73
East
Q432
K76
6432
104
South
9876
10953
J7
A95
W
N
E
S
1
X
2
2
3
4
P
4
P
P
P
D
4 South
NS: 0 EW: 0
10
5
6
J
3
1
0
3
4
10
6
1
2
0
A
4
7
9
1
3
0
K
2
5
5
0
3
1
A
J
4
6
0
3
2
A
K
7
9
1
4
2
Q
3
10
2
1
5
2
8
2
7
2
3
6
2
A
6
3
4
3
7
2
5
8
K
10
1
8
2
7
3
11

The opening lead looks right. There was no reason from the auction to lead a heart and possibly blow a heart trick. West has the ace of trumps, so cashing out doesn't figure to be necessary.

It was necessary for West to cash his ace of spades. If he didn't do that, declarer could have recovered.

West could have made it even easier for East by discarding another club. Then he would have been showing out on the second round of clubs, so East would have a lock. However, East had a pretty sure count on the hand by then anyway.

Do you agree with South's bidding?

West
A5
AQJ842
109
862
North
KJ10
AKQ85
KQJ73
East
Q432
K76
6432
104
South
9876
10953
J7
A95
W
N
E
S
1
X
2
2
3
4
P
4
P
P
P
D
4 South
NS: 0 EW: 0
10
5
6
J
3
1
0
3
4
10
6
1
2
0
A
4
7
9
1
3
0
K
2
5
5
0
3
1
A
J
4
6
0
3
2
A
K
7
9
1
4
2
Q
3
10
2
1
5
2
8
2
7
2
3
6
2
A
6
3
4
3
7
2
5
8
K
10
1
8
2
7
3
11

South was minimal for the 2 call. Still South did have 4 spades and North is known to be short in hearts, so competing to 2 over 2 can't be very wrong. North might not be able to take another call.

Obviously South could do nothing but bid 4 on his second turn.

At the other table, North started with 2NT over the 1 opener.  This easily led to the cold 5 contract.

Playing 4-3 fits can be difficult. Sometimes it is right to draw trumps. Sometimes it is right to scramble for ruffs. Sometimes it is right to work on side suits. Sometimes a combination of themes is the winning action, as on this hand. There is no clear answer. Each deal has to be examined on its own merits to determine the best approach.

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