Join Bridge Winners
He Doesn't Believe
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In a round-robin match in the senior trials, you have some interesting competitive decisions.

Both vul, East deals. As East, you hold:

East
A72
65
Q85432
K10
W
N
E
S
?

Diamond bids available to you are:

1: 11-15, 2+ diamonds, 11-13 if balanced

2: Good diamond preempt, just under or a minimal 1 opening.

3: Normal preempt, not strong enough to open 2.

A 2 opening would be Multi, so that isn't available.

Your call?

 

East
A72
65
Q85432
K10
W
N
E
S
?

While it is nice to open light, you have to draw the line somewhere. This hand is clearly below the line for a 1 opening.

If you are going to preempt, it is close between 2 and 3. You have a good hand which is close to an opening bid, but since you are vulnerable partner will be expecting something decent anyway. If you were non-vul then 2 would clearly be better than 3.

You aren't required to open. The hand has multiple flaws for a preempt. Flat, weak suit, scattered values, and very important a 3-card spade holding. Spades is the boss suit, and if partner has a spade suit you will be preempting your side out of a spade fit. Finally, both vul is not an attractive vulnerability for a marginal preempt.

You pass. The bidding continues:

W
N
E
S
P
P
1
P
?

You play 2-way Drury. 2 would show 3-card support. 2 would show 4-card support.

Your call?

East
A72
65
Q85432
K10
W
N
E
S
P
P
1
P
?

If you weren't a passed hand you would content yourself with a simple raise to 2. The hand is decent, but it isn't worth a 3-card limit raise. Game is unlikely unless partner has some shape since partner is limited.

Since you are a passed hand, you have Drury available to show a 3-card limit raise. Partner has heard your initial pass, so he won't be expecting anything more than this. Most of the time you will rest in 2, but when he does have a good hand with shape he will be able to bid a game.

You bid 2. The bidding continues:

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

2: 3-card Drury

2: The worst, no game interest

Your call?

East
A72
65
Q85432
K10
W
N
E
S
P
P
1
P
2
2
2
3
?

This was an unexpected occurrence. What can you make of all this?

South figures to have only a 5-card heart suit. If he had 6 hearts he probably would have opened a weak 2. North knows this, so North is likely to have 4-card heart support to compete to the 3-level with both vul. That gives them 9 trumps. You can assume your side has 8 trumps, since if partner has 9 trumps he will probably go to 3 if you pass. Thus, the trump total is likely to be 17. Bidding 3 contracts for 18 total tricks. If the Law of Total Tricks is satisfied, that means that one side or the other will probably make, but not both. That makes bidding 3 a borderline decision.

How is your hand from an offensive vs. defensive point of view? Hard to say. You don't have anything wasted in hearts, which is good for offense. On the other hand you have the ace of spades as opposed to intermediates, and your honors are in the side suits. That is defensive orientation. You have a doubleton heart opposite partner's likely doubleton, which isn't good for offense. Your 6-card diamond suit might be part of a double fit, which argues for bidding 3. It is a close call.

The final factor is your sense about North's 3 call. If he felt confident about the call, then it is probably right to compete to 3. If he felt uncomfortable about the call, it is probably right to pass.

At the table your sense is that North was confident about the 3 call so you bid 3. The bidding continues:

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

Your call?

East
A72
65
Q85432
K10
W
N
E
S
P
P
1
P
2
2
2
3
3
P
P
4
?

Well, your read on North sure was right. He was very confident about his 3 call. What have you gotten yourself into?

You aren't going to bid 4. You have way too much defense for that, and you know 4 doesn't figure to have much play. The question is whether or not to double.

Your odds on a double aren't bad. If it makes the double loses 170 points, while if they are down 1 it gains 100 points. It is possible they make an overtrick or go down 2. Neither seems likely, but down 2 looks more likely than an overtrick.

You have the right sort of cards to be doubling. If one of the opponents has a stiff spade you have the ace, not intermediates. You have a card in both minors, which is good for defense.

The final factor is the auction. North isn't walking the dog hoping to get doubled. When he bid 3 he had no way to know that it wouldn't be the end of the auction. He doesn't believe he can make 4. If he did, he would have bid it last round. He is just taking a shot at a vulnerable game, knowing that if he is wrong but you can make 3 he won't be losing much if anything. It looks right to believe him and double.

You double, ending the auction.

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

Partner leads the king of diamonds.

North
Q105
QJ104
7
AJ752
East
A72
65
Q85432
K10
W
N
E
S
 
P
P
1
P
2
2
2
3
3
P
P
4
X
P
P
P

From an AK holding, partner has a choice of leads. If he wants an attitude signal, he would lead the ace. If he wants a suit-preference signal, he would lead the king.

Your signal here is suit-preference. 2, 3, and 4 by priority are suit-preference low. 10, 9, 8 by priority are suit-preference high. 6, 5, 7 by priority are encouraging. If you have more than one card in a category, the stronger signal means this is the signal you want to give while the weaker signal means you prefer to give another signal but are unable to do so.

After trick 1 you play UDCA.

Your play?

North
Q105
QJ104
7
AJ752
East
A72
65
Q85432
K10
W
N
E
S
 
P
P
1
P
2
2
2
3
3
P
P
4
X
P
P
P

It is a club shift you want. Assuming partner has 5 spades, dummy's spade holding will eventually be worth a trick. If declarer has xx AK9xx J10xx Qx and partner shifts to a spade, declarer will be able to pitch a club on the third round of spades, ruff out your king of clubs, and wind up taking 7 heart tricks, 1 spade trick, and 2 club tricks. Also if partner has Qxx of clubs a club shift may be worth an extra trick on defense.

You play the 2. Declarer plays the 6. Partner shifts to the 9. Small from dummy. Your play?

North
Q105
QJ104
AJ752
East
A72
65
Q8543
K10
W
N
E
S
 
P
P
1
P
2
2
2
3
3
P
P
4
X
P
P
P

If partner had Qxx of clubs, he would have shifted to his smallest club. The 9 clearly denies holding the queen. You must take your king.

You win the king of clubs, declarer playing the 3. Now what?

North
Q105
QJ104
AJ752
East
A72
65
Q8543
K10
W
N
E
S
 
P
P
1
P
2
2
2
3
3
P
P
4
X
P
P
P

With dummy's clubs ready to run, you may have to cash out. It is clear to lay down the ace of spades and then work out what to do.

You lead the ace of spades. Declarer plays the 8, and partner the 3. Your play?

 

 

North
Q10
QJ104
AJ752
East
72
65
Q8543
K10
W
N
E
S
 
P
P
1
P
2
2
2
3
3
P
P
4
X
P
P
P

If partner unexpectedly has a singleton club, he would have played a discouraging spade and you would then play a club. He encouraged in spades, so you continue spades.

You lead a spade. Partner wins the king. Declarer has the rest. The full hand is:

West
KJ963
73
AK9
986
North
Q105
QJ104
7
AJ752
East
A72
65
Q85432
K10
South
84
AK982
J106
Q43
W
N
E
S
 
P
P
1
P
2
2
2
3
3
P
P
4
X
P
P
P
D
4X South
NS: 0 EW: 0
K
7
2
6
0
0
1
9
2
K
3
2
0
2
A
8
3
5
2
0
3
7
4
K
4

East's 3 call was on target. Both 3 and 3 make, and West probably wouldn't have competed if East had passed. The 3 call was worth a full 7 IMPs. The double was just a bit more gravy.

Do you agree with West's opening lead and subsequent defense?

West
KJ963
73
AK9
986
North
Q105
QJ104
7
AJ752
East
A72
65
Q85432
K10
South
84
AK982
J106
Q43
W
N
E
S
 
P
P
1
P
2
2
2
3
3
P
P
4
X
P
P
P
D
4X South
NS: 0 EW: 0
K
7
2
6
0
0
1
9
2
K
3
2
0
2
A
8
3
5
2
0
3
7
4
K
4

Clearly a diamond lead is right. West could lead the ace and get an attitude signal, but with West's hand a suit-preference signal is more likely to be helpful. In general the ace is led only when there is some likelihood that partner has a doubleton and a ruff may be coming.

West is definitely right to shift to the 9. Even if a pair normally plays count on shifts in the middle of the hand, it is clear that attitude will be what East needs on this hand. It is important that West shift to his highest club. If he were to lead a middle-diddle 8, East might think that is from Q98.

It is instructive to examine exactly what the IMP odds on the double of 4 are. Assume for simplicity that 4 is either making or down 1. There are 4 possible contracts at the other table to consider:

Suppose your teammates are in 4, doubled or undoubled. Then the double gains 3 IMPs when right (difference of 100) and costs 5 IMPs when wrong (difference of 170).

Suppose your teammates are in 3, making 3 (140) or 4 (170). If 4 makes you lose 12 IMPs (790 - 170) instead of 10 IMPs (620 - 170) for a 2 IMP cost. If 4 goes down 1, you win 8 IMPs (200 + 140) instead of 6 IMPs (100 + 140) for a 2 IMP gain.

Suppose your teammates are defending 3 making. If 4 makes, you lose 14 IMPs (790 + 140) instead of 13 IMPs (620 + 140) for a 1 IMP cost. If 4 goes down, you win 2 IMPs (200 - 140) instead of losing 1 IMP (140 - 100) for a 3 IMP gain.

Suppose your teammates are defending 3 down 1. If 4 makes, you lose 12 IMPs (790 - 100) instead of 11 IMPs (620 - 100) for a 1 IMP cost. If 4 goes down, you win 7 IMPs (200 + 100) instead of 5 IMPs (100 + 100) for a 2 IMP gain.

These calculations show just how good the IMP odds are on the double. The only time you are getting worse than even-money odds are when your teammates are also in 4, and considering the auction at your table, that doesn't seem likely. On all other scenarios you are getting even money or better odds on the double. Considering that your opponents weren't willing to bid 4 voluntarily and had to be pushed, that looks like pretty good odds.

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