Join Bridge Winners
Graded Suit-Preference
(Page of 15)

In a quarter-final match in the Senior trials for USA2, you must find the best way to handle an in-between hand after partner opens.

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

East
KQJ
1082
8
KJ10765
W
N
E
S
1
P
?

1: 11-15, 2+ diamonds. If balanced, 13-15, since your 1NT opening range is 10-12 non-vulnerable.

2 would be a natural game force.

3 would show 5+ clubs, 4+ diamonds, non-invitational.

1NT would show no game interest. Partner will always pass with a balanced 13-15.

If you bid 1 of a major, partner will never raise without 4-card support.

Your call?

East
KQJ
1082
8
KJ10765
W
N
E
S
1
P
?

It looks reasonable to bid 1NT. The problem is that if partner has the balanced 13-15, which is his most common hand for the 1 opener, he will pass. This may result in a missed game, or it may be the wrong strain if partner is short in diamonds. Furthermore, if partner rebids 2, his likely rebid if he isn't passing, you will be flying blind.

2 forces to game, but at least this maximizes the chances of getting to the right strain. This is particularly true when partner has club support. Suppose partner splinters with 3 of a major. You will know to play 3NT if he has a spade splinter, but to play in clubs if he has a heart splinter.

You could try a sneaky 1 response. Partner will raise only if he has 4 spades, and that might be okay. However, this doesn't solve the problem of getting to the right game if you have a game. If your hand were weaker this might be a good idea, but it doesn't figure to work well here.

You bid 2. The bidding continues

W
N
E
S
1
P
2
X
P
2
?

Partner's pass over the double is defined in your notes as showing 0-1 clubs. A redouble would show 2 clubs. With 3 or more clubs, partner can raise if he so chooses. If he bids something else, that is natural with no interest in defending, saying nothing about clubs.

The reason for this agreement is that, unlike a normal situation when they make a takeout double, there is no need to show extra strength since we are already in a game force. Consequently we focus on the fit in responder's suit, which will help decide whether to try to penalize the opponents. We make pass showing the shortest number of clubs, since this gives the opponents the least flexibility for finding their best home, and when opener is short in clubs we are most interested in penalizing them.

This is an obscure agreement which hasn't come up before, so there is a fair chance that partner doesn't remember. Thus, you can't take to the bank that he has 0-1 clubs.

Since you are in a force, all doubles by both you and partner are penalties.

Your call?

East
KQJ
1082
8
KJ10765
W
N
E
S
1
P
2
X
P
2
?

It is clear to pass. The opponents may be in hot water, and you don't want to let them off the hook. Partner won't be doubling unless he has at least 4 good diamonds, so you will be willing to defend 2 doubled if he does double since you might not have a game.

You pass. The bidding continues:

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

Your call?

East
KQJ
1082
8
KJ10765
W
N
E
S
1
P
2
X
P
2
P
P
X
2
?

Your hearts aren't strong, but you do have 3 of them. That is all that is important. Partner will play you for 3 hearts if you double, since most of the time you would respond 1 with 4 hearts. Partner will pass with 3 hearts, but probably will pull with a doubleton. As long as the opponents have only 7 trumps, you can be pretty sure they can't take 8 tricks.

You double. The bidding continues:

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

Your call?

East
KQJ
1082
8
KJ10765
W
N
E
S
1
P
2
X
P
2
P
P
X
2
X
2
P
P
?

Of course you double. You have 3 spades, and as a bonus they are strong. If partner also has 3 spades, this could be a big number.

You double, ending the auction.

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

Partner leads the 9.

North
1072
764
753
A842
East
KQJ
1082
8
KJ10765
W
N
E
S
 
1
P
2
X
P
2
P
P
X
2
X
2
P
P
X
P
P
P

Dummy wins the ace of clubs.

You play suit-preference at trick 1. High spot card is suit-preference high. Low spot card is suit-preference low. Middle spot card is encouraging.

Which club do you play?

North
1072
764
753
A842
East
KQJ
1082
8
KJ10765
W
N
E
S
 
1
P
2
X
P
2
P
P
X
2
X
2
P
P
X
P
P
P

You certainly don't want partner shifting to a red suit. The 6 is the most middle spot there is.

You play the 6. Declarer plays the queen. Declarer leads a diamond from dummy to his jack and partner's queen. Partner continues with the 3, and declarer calls for a small club from dummy. What do you play?

North
1072
764
75
842
East
KQJ
1082
KJ1075
W
N
E
S
 
1
P
2
X
P
2
P
P
X
2
X
2
P
P
X
P
P
P

Declarer is known to have a stiff club. He clearly has more spades than hearts, since with equal length he would not have run from 2 doubled. His likely shape appears to be 4-3-5-1.

You are at liberty to play any of your remaining clubs. Furthermore, partner is about to know exactly what you have in clubs.

Your choice of club should be graded suit-preference. Playing the king would be a strong suit-preference signal for hearts, and playing the 5 a strong suit-preference signal for diamonds. Playing the jack would be a weak suit-preference signal for hearts, and playing the 7 would be a weak suit-preference signal for diamonds. The 10 would show no preference at all.

You don't have any honors in either red suit. However, you do have a singleton diamond, so you have a mild preference for diamonds. You definitely don't want partner to ever shift to a heart.

You play the 7. Declarer ruffs with the 3 He leads the 10, partner playing the 4. What do you play?

North
1072
764
75
84
East
KQJ
1082
KJ105
W
N
E
S
 
1
P
2
X
P
2
P
P
X
2
X
2
P
P
X
P
P
P

A trick is a trick. It is clear to ruff, hoping to score your trumps separately.

Given that you are ruffing, you should ruff with the king of spades. This will clarify the spade position for partner, which might make a difference. If you ruff with anything else, partner won't play you for this spade holding.

You ruff with the king of spades. What do you now lead?

North
1072
764
7
84
East
QJ
1082
KJ105
W
N
E
S
 
1
P
2
X
P
2
P
P
X
2
X
2
P
P
X
P
P
P

It may seem right to put a high club through declarer to promote a trump trick, but that probably isn't the best play. Even if it goes ruff and overruff, that will leave dummy with 3 trumps while everybody else has 2 trumps, so you might not have gained anything. Also, then partner will have to lead something, and anything he leads could be costly.

Partner has some heart holding behind declarer, so a heart lead has to be profitable. That may take partner off an endplay. If a trump promotion is the right idea, you will have a chance to do that later.

Which heart should you lead? Leading the 10 will be beautiful if partner has AQJx, but you can't count on that. Also, if that is the case you will be able to put another heart through later. The danger with leading the 10 is that declarer might have KQ9, and now partner won't be able to continue hearts safely. It is better to not lead the 10. Best is to lead the 8. Partner won't be confused about the count, since he certainly has the same count on the hand that you have. If partner is able to read the 8-spot as a relatively high spot, he will avoid returning a heart if that gives away a trick in the suit.

You lead the 8. Declarer wins the ace, partner playing the 3 (UDCA). Declarer leads the 2, and partner wins the 9. What do you discard?

North
1072
76
7
84
East
QJ
102
KJ105
W
N
E
S
 
1
P
2
X
P
2
P
P
X
2
X
2
P
P
X
P
P
P

There can't be any need to retain both of your hearts. Best is to discard the 10. This will deny the jack, since if you had J10 you would have discarded the jack. Partner will be able to work out the position and know whether or not it is safe to continue hearts.

You discard the 10. Partner leads the ace of diamonds. Dummy ruffs with the 7, and you overruff. Now what?

North
102
76
84
East
Q
2
KJ105
W
N
E
S
 
1
P
2
X
P
2
P
P
X
2
X
2
P
P
X
P
P
P

Partner clearly has a heart tenace. If he started with QJxx or Kxxx or hearts, he would have continued hearts himself rather than lead the ace of diamonds. It must be better to lead another heart rather than a club. If he has the queen of hearts, you will set that up. If he has KJ of hearts, he gets two heart tricks and can then lead the fourth round of hearts, letting you uppercut with your remaining trump.

You led a heart. Declarer wins the king, and leads the king of diamonds. Partner ruffs with the 5, dummy overruffs with the 10, and you overruff with your queen. You lead a club, and the defense has 3 of the last 4 tricks for down 3. The full hand is

West
A95
Q953
AQ94
93
North
1072
764
753
A842
East
KQJ
1082
8
KJ10765
South
8643
AKJ
KJ1062
Q
W
N
E
S
 
1
P
2
X
P
2
P
P
X
2
X
2
P
P
X
P
P
P
D
2X South
NS: 0 EW: 0
9
A
6
Q
1
1
0
3
8
J
Q
0
1
1
3
2
7
3
3
2
1
10
4
5
K
2
2
2
8
A
3
4
3
3
2
2
9
7
10
0
3
3
A
7
J
6
2
3
4
2
K
5
6
3
4
4
K
5
10
Q
2
4
5
K
6
9
10

How was declarer's line of play?

West
A95
Q953
AQ94
93
North
1072
764
753
A842
East
KQJ
1082
8
KJ10765
South
8643
AKJ
KJ1062
Q
W
N
E
S
 
1
P
2
X
P
2
P
P
X
2
X
2
P
P
X
P
P
P
D
2X South
NS: 0 EW: 0
9
A
6
Q
1
1
0
3
8
J
Q
0
1
1
3
2
7
3
3
2
1
10
4
5
K
2
2
2
8
A
3
4
3
3
2
2
9
7
10
0
3
3
A
7
J
6
2
3
4
2
K
5
6
3
4
4
K
5
10
Q
2
4
5
K
6
9
10

It may seem odd, but declarer should have ducked the opening lead. The big danger in the hand is that the defense taps declarer once, draws trump, and runs the entire club suit. Ducking the first trick has the effect of a hold-up play. West won't have a club to lead when he wants to tap declarer. Also if East continues clubs, dummy's 8 comes into play. The trick has to come back, since declarer will have plenty of red-suit winners if he is able to keep control.

Declarer made a subtle error on the second round of clubs when he called a small club from dummy. It might not seem to matter, but this gave East a choice of 5 clubs he could have played, letting him signal very accurately. Had declarer called for the 8, East would be limited to 3 possible clubs to play.

Declarer was right to go after diamonds, as that is his potential source of tricks. He did well to lead the 10 on the second round, since he didn't want West to win the ace.

What about West's defense?

West
A95
Q953
AQ94
93
North
1072
764
753
A842
East
KQJ
1082
8
KJ10765
South
8643
AKJ
KJ1062
Q
W
N
E
S
 
1
P
2
X
P
2
P
P
X
2
X
2
P
P
X
P
P
P
D
2X South
NS: 0 EW: 0
9
A
6
Q
1
1
0
3
8
J
Q
0
1
1
3
2
7
3
3
2
1
10
4
5
K
2
2
2
8
A
3
4
3
3
2
2
9
7
10
0
3
3
A
7
J
6
2
3
4
2
K
5
6
3
4
4
K
5
10
Q
2
4
5
K
6
9
10

West could have defeated the contract 4 tricks by winning the ace of diamonds on the second round and drawing trump. East's clubs would then be good. Can he work this out? He can infer the same inferences about the distribution that East can infer. In addition West should know that East can't have the king of diamonds, since with that card East should have played the 5 on the second round of clubs, his strongest suit-preference signal. Consequently, it can't cost West to win the ace of diamonds. When he sees East discard the 10 he will know that East has nothing in hearts, as implied by the 7 play on the second round of clubs. East did make a 2/1 response, so he would have to hold the KQ of spades to have anything resembling his call. Thus, West does have the information to find the killing trump shift.

How was the N-S auction?

West
A95
Q953
AQ94
93
North
1072
764
753
A842
East
KQJ
1082
8
KJ10765
South
8643
AKJ
KJ1062
Q
W
N
E
S
 
1
P
2
X
P
2
P
P
X
2
X
2
P
P
X
P
P
P
D
2X South
NS: 0 EW: 0
9
A
6
Q
1
1
0
3
8
J
Q
0
1
1
3
2
7
3
3
2
1
10
4
5
K
2
2
2
8
A
3
4
3
3
2
2
9
7
10
0
3
3
A
7
J
6
2
3
4
2
K
5
6
3
4
4
K
5
10
Q
2
4
5
K
6
9
10

South's takeout double was needlessly risky. East had made a 2 over 1 response showing game-going values, so North figures to be broke. South is outgunned, and could easily be going for a big number if he doesn't find a fit. The double has only downside.

North knew he was in trouble. He needed to find South's 5-card suit in order to minimize the damage. Unfortunately, he couldn't know that he had already hit the suit. A better approach would have been to pass the takeout double. If East passes it out there might be an overtrick or two, but if that is the case E-W can probably make 3NT so it won't be too expensive. More likely, East will have a blue card on the table. Now when North bids 2 it will be clear that he is bidding a 3-card suit, since if he wasn't willing to defend 2 and had a 4-card suit he would have simply bid it. Consequently, when South passes the double of 2, North will know to stop there.

With equal length in the majors, it would make more sense for North to redouble rather than bid 2 when running from 2 doubled. Now South will definitely pick the better major.

South did well to pull to 2. This is far from an obvious action after the sequence North took.

Do you agree with West's auction?

West
A95
Q953
AQ94
93
North
1072
764
753
A842
East
KQJ
1082
8
KJ10765
South
8643
AKJ
KJ1062
Q
W
N
E
S
 
1
P
2
X
P
2
P
P
X
2
X
2
P
P
X
P
P
P
D
2X South
NS: 0 EW: 0
9
A
6
Q
1
1
0
3
8
J
Q
0
1
1
3
2
7
3
3
2
1
10
4
5
K
2
2
2
8
A
3
4
3
3
2
2
9
7
10
0
3
3
A
7
J
6
2
3
4
2
K
5
6
3
4
4
K
5
10
Q
2
4
5
K
6
9
10

West could open a 10-12 1NT. He chose to upgrade for various reasons. Two aces. 4-4-3-2 shape. Both queens in the 4-card suits. These are all definite plus factors.

The negative feature of West's hand is that he has no 10's. He does have all the 9's, and in the 4-card suits one of them might come in handy.

It looks like the decision to upgrade is a photo. If one of the red 9's were a red 10, then the upgrade would be clear.

West should have redoubled 2 according to the partnership agreements.

West's double of 2 is clear. He has a strong diamond holding. It is irrelevant that he is minimal in strength.

At the other table, East responded 1NT to a Precision 1 opening, and South stayed out of the auction. South chose to lead a small diamond, and declarer wound up with 10 tricks.

It is often worth overbidding and driving to game when you will be light on HCP if partner is minimal, if this approach maximizes your chances of getting to the right strain. Sometimes these games make. This hand is a good example. The West hand is as minimal as can be for a combined 22 HCP, with no fit in the important suit, clubs. In addition, the critical club finesse is offside. Even with all that, 3NT will make on a spade lead, with 4 club tricks, 3 spade tricks, and 2 diamond tricks, and that lead is quite likely if West is the declarer. If you get to the right strain you always have a chance, but if you are in the wrong strain nothing will save you.

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