Join Bridge Winners
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In a semi-final match in the Senior trials for USA2, you face an interesting doubling decision.

Both vul, North deals. As West, you hold:

West
K10862
1042
K54
KQ
W
N
E
S
1
3
P
?

1: Strong, artificial

Your call?

West
K10862
1042
K54
KQ
W
N
E
S
1
3
P
?

Partner's 3 call might be any hand with a long club suit. He isn't going crazy vulnerable, but vs. a strong and artificial 1 opening it pays to get the auction up as high as possible.

You might be making 3NT, since you could be starting with 7 top club tricks. Even if you have those 7 tricks, there are problems. The heart suit might be wide open. If you can win the opening lead that only gets you to 8 tricks, and the opponents will probably be able to then set you when they get in. If one of your side kings were an ace, 3NT would have much better chances.

Is there value to advancing the preempt? It doesn't look that way. 3 may be making, but higher club contracts don't figure to succeed. You have some defense against anything the opponents bid. Furthermore, partner's 3 call may buy the contract if North doesn't have the right sort of hand with which to reopen. It looks best to pass.

You pass. The bidding continues:

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

DBL: Takeout

Your call?

West
K10862
1042
K54
KQ
W
N
E
S
1
3
P
P
X
P
3
?

Is it right to double 3? There are many reasons not to do so.

While there is a good chance that 3 won't make due to the bad trump split, declarer might be able to scramble home 9 tricks. You don't have much outside of the spade suit, and while partner can have some high cards other than in clubs that isn't guaranteed.

The cost of doubling opponents into game and being wrong is very high.

The double warns declarer about the bad trump split. While declarer will be alert to this possibility from the biddng, the double makes it more likely. This could be important if declarer is playing in a 4-3 fit.

The opponents might have a better spot. If North has only 3 spades and a 5-card red suit, he may run to his longer suit and your defensive prospects against 4 or 4 aren't so great.

For all you know, if you keep silent North might be about to bid 4.

These arguments indicate that passing is very clear.

You pass. The bidding continues:

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

Your call?

West
K10862
1042
K54
KQ
W
N
E
S
1
3
P
P
X
P
3
P
4
P
P
?

Once again the decision of whether or not to double. This time you can be sure the opponents are in a 4-4 fit, since if North has only 3 spades he would have found some other call. However, the other parameters have changed.

You need to take only 4 tricks to defeat 4. While this is not guaranteed, it is a lot easier to take 4 tricks than 5 tricks.

If you take 5 or more tricks, the size of the penalty is 300 for each extra undertrick.

If you double and are wrong, the cost of doubling is only 5 IMPs as opposed to the 11 IMP cost of doubling 3 and being wrong.

While the double may alert declarer to the bad trump split, that may not be too important since he will find out about that when he plays the first round of trumps.

You don't have to worry about the opponents running. Even if they somehow have a better place to run, they aren't going anywhere having located their 4-4 spade fit.

North may be stretching for that vulnerable game bonus. In general, one gets 10 to 6 IMP odds by bidding 4 instead of stopping in 3, assuming there are either 9 tricks or 10 tricks. If there are only 8 tricks, the cost of bidding 4 instead of stopping in 3 is only 3 IMPs. By doubling, you cut down the odds of bidding that vulnerable game, particularly if the contract might go down 2 tricks.

It looks like the double is a good bet.

You choose to pass, ending the auction.

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

Your lead. Standard honor leads. Third and fifth leads. Trump leads tend to be suit-preference.

West
K10862
1042
K54
KQ
W
N
E
S
1
3
P
P
X
P
3
P
4
P
P
P

While declarer might be playing this as a crossruff, you can't be sure about this. It looks best to make the 100% safe lead of the king of clubs. If it holds, the appearance of dummy and partner's signal may let you know how to continue.

You lead the king of clubs.

West
K10862
1042
K54
KQ
North
A753
AQ8
AQJ32
4
W
N
E
S
1
3
P
P
X
P
3
P
4
P
P
P

Partner plays the 10, and declarer the 5.

Partner's play is defined as suit-preference. 10, 9, 8 are, by priority, suit-preference high. 2, 3, 4 are, by priority, suit-preference low. 6, 5, 7 are, by priority, encouraging.

Your play?

West
K10862
1042
K54
Q
North
A753
AQ8
AQJ32
W
N
E
S
1
3
P
P
X
P
3
P
4
P
P
P

Partner certainly has lower club spots than the 10 which he could afford to play. He must have the king of hearts.

It looks tempting to lead a heart through dummy. This will be fine if partner has the jack of hearts. But if declarer has the jack of hearts, that will set up a second heart trick for declarer.

Continuing clubs may be more promising. That forces dummy, which will help set up trump tricks for you. Declarer won't have a convenient way off dummy. Whatever declarer does, when partner gets in with his king of hearts he will be able to lead a third round of clubs. This will both force dummy and allow you to discard a heart, preventing declarer from scoring two heart tricks if he has the jack of hearts.

You continue with the queen of clubs. Dummy ruffs, and partner plays the 7 (defined as standard current count).

Declarer now leads a spade off dummy. Partner discards the 6. Declarer plays the queen of spades. Do you win or duck?

West
K10862
1042
K54
North
A75
AQ8
AQJ32
W
N
E
S
1
3
P
P
X
P
3
P
4
P
P
P

You must win the trick. You don't want declarer in his hand to take a diamond finesse.

You win your king of spades. What do you play now?

West
10862
1042
K54
North
A7
AQ8
AQJ32
W
N
E
S
1
3
P
P
X
P
3
P
4
P
P
P

Clearly you are going to shift to a heart. The question is whether you should lead the 10 or lead a small heart.

In this sort of situation it is often right to lead your highest heart so partner won't insert something too small. For example, if you had xxx and partner had K10x you wouldn't want him trying to win the trick with the 10 if declarer plays small from dummy. Therefore, it would be important for you to lead your highest heart so partner wouldn't play you for the jack.

Since you own the 10, this danger doesn't exist. If you lead a small heart and dummy plays small, partner will win the king of hearts if he has it. He will know that inserting the 9 can't work, since you would never be leading small from J10x. Thus, if partner doesn't have the jack of hearts it won't matter which heart you lead.

Leading the 10 will be great if partner has KJ9. Partner will be able to continue the suit if declarer covers, and if declarer ducks you will remain on lead to lead another heart. The problem comes when declarer has 9xx. Declarer will cover the 10 with the queen, and partner will be in. He will be looking at that strong diamond suit in dummy, and he is likely to play you for 109x and return the suit. This would not only blow a heart trick, but it would give declarer a badly needed entry to his hand.

Leading a small heart is probably better. If declarer ducks from dummy partner will have no choice but to win the jack and lead a club, which is fine with you as you will be able to discard a diamond. More likely declarer will take his chances with the heart finesse, and now partner will be able to return a heart safely.

You choose to lead the 10. Dummy wins the ace, partner playing the 9 and declarer the 3. Declarer leads a spade to his jack, partner discarding the 3. Declarer now leads the 10. Do you cover?

West
1086
42
K54
North
A
Q8
AQJ32
W
N
E
S
1
3
P
P
X
P
3
P
4
P
P
P

If declarer started with a singleton 10, you should duck. This will prevent declarer from 3 diamond tricks.

From partner's count in the club suit, it appears that declarer started with only 3 clubs. That means he has at least 2 diamonds, so ducking can't help. You might as well cover. Perhaps declarer will think you started with king-doubleton and do something wrong.

You cover the 10. Declarer cashes 3 diamond tricks, discarding the 9. He plays a fourth diamond off dummy, discarding the 5 as you ruff. Your play?

 

West
108
42
North
A
Q8
3
W
N
E
S
1
3
P
P
X
P
3
P
4
P
P
P

If you play a trump, declarer will win in dummy and lead the good diamond, discarding a heart while you ruff with a natural trump trick. You must play a heart and hope partner has the KJ left, which appears to be the case.

You lead a heart. Partner gets 2 heart tricks, and you still score a trump trick for down 3. The full hand is:

West
K10862
1042
K54
KQ
North
A753
AQ8
AQJ32
4
East
KJ9
987
AJ107632
South
QJ94
7653
106
985
W
N
E
S
1
3
P
P
X
P
3
P
4
P
P
P
D
4 South
NS: 0 EW: 0
K
4
10
5
0
0
1
Q
3
7
8
1
1
1
5
6
Q
K
0
1
2
10
A
9
3
1
2
2
7
3
J
2
3
3
2
10
K
A
7
1
4
2
Q
8
6
5
1
5
2
J
9
9
4
1
6
2
2
2
5
6
0
6
3
4
8
J
6
2
6
4
K
7
2
Q
2
6
5
A
4
8
12

It is interesting to note that if declarer had the 98 of spades at the end, West would have been caught in a rare smother play.

Could declarer have done better?

West
K10862
1042
K54
KQ
North
A753
AQ8
AQJ32
4
East
KJ9
987
AJ107632
South
QJ94
7653
106
985
W
N
E
S
1
3
P
P
X
P
3
P
4
P
P
P
D
4 South
NS: 0 EW: 0
K
4
10
5
0
0
1
Q
3
7
8
1
1
1
5
6
Q
K
0
1
2
10
A
9
3
1
2
2
7
3
J
2
3
3
2
10
K
A
7
1
4
2
Q
8
6
5
1
5
2
J
9
9
4
1
6
2
2
2
5
6
0
6
3
4
8
J
6
2
6
4
K
7
2
Q
2
6
5
A
4
8
12

While there might be some double-dummy approach which saves a trick, realistically declarer's line of play looks okay. He needed to get to his hand to take the diamond finesse. Once West had 5 spades and the 10 came through, there was nothing declarer could do.

Do you agree with East's 3 overcall?

West
K10862
1042
K54
KQ
North
A753
AQ8
AQJ32
4
East
KJ9
987
AJ107632
South
QJ94
7653
106
985
W
N
E
S
1
3
P
P
X
P
3
P
4
P
P
P
D
4 South
NS: 0 EW: 0
K
4
10
5
0
0
1
Q
3
7
8
1
1
1
5
6
Q
K
0
1
2
10
A
9
3
1
2
2
7
3
J
2
3
3
2
10
K
A
7
1
4
2
Q
8
6
5
1
5
2
J
9
9
4
1
6
2
2
2
5
6
0
6
3
4
8
J
6
2
6
4
K
7
2
Q
2
6
5
A
4
8
12

It looks perfect. The idea vs. a strong 1 opening is to bid as high as one can reasonably do so without getting into trouble. On the East hand, 3 looks to be the right level.

How about the N-S auction?

West
K10862
1042
K54
KQ
North
A753
AQ8
AQJ32
4
East
KJ9
987
AJ107632
South
QJ94
7653
106
985
W
N
E
S
1
3
P
P
X
P
3
P
4
P
P
P
D
4 South
NS: 0 EW: 0
K
4
10
5
0
0
1
Q
3
7
8
1
1
1
5
6
Q
K
0
1
2
10
A
9
3
1
2
2
7
3
J
2
3
3
2
10
K
A
7
1
4
2
Q
8
6
5
1
5
2
J
9
9
4
1
6
2
2
2
5
6
0
6
3
4
8
J
6
2
6
4
K
7
2
Q
2
6
5
A
4
8
12

North's reopening takeout double is clear. South is correct to choose spades. This is not an up-the-line situation, since if North has 4 spades and 3 hearts North won't be bidding 3 over 3. South should simply pick his stronger major with 4-4 in the majors and not enough to drive to game.

North's 4 call is questionable. He doesn't really have much extra except for his fourth spade. This hand could play very badly if South is weak. If South had some extra strength, South could have driven to game himself opposite North's takeout double.

At the other table, East overcalled 2 over a natural 1 opening. West tried 2, and then bid 3NT when spades didn't get raised. North led diamonds, and 3NT was down 1.

Any time you preempt you take a risk. In order for preempts to be successful, it is important to maximize your gain when it is the opponents who go wrong. The theme is to make them guess and then make them pay if they guess wrong. On this deal, West failed to extract the maximum payment.

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