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I run about five hours a week to keep myself in shape. I dedicate some of those hours for mental bridge practice, system assessment and system development. Recently, before a major pairs tournament, my twisted mind brought up the following:

Dealer N, EW vulnerable, matchpoints; you hold as South:

South
AJ107
AJ105
AJ1093

Your not so experienced RHO picks up his cards and then cannot sit still anymore but starts jumping and shaking on his chair. Your partner opens 1, artifical, strong, 15+ hcp. RHO leaves a single card in the bidding box and places the rest on the table i.e. bids 7.

South
AJ107
AJ105
AJ1093
W
N
E
S
1
7
?

Your move?

South
AJ107
AJ105
AJ1093
W
N
E
S
1
7
?

A quick assessment of the situation tells you two things:

  • if RHO has less than 13 spades, he cannot make his contract
  • if RHO has 13 spades, partner holds all the missing honors and you (and only you) make 7NT because LHO cannot lead a spade and you have 13 solid tricks

For the reasons above, pass cannot be right. It's either X or 7NT. There is no right or wrong; what would you do in the situation?

South
AJ107
AJ105
AJ1093
W
N
E
S
1
7
?

My choice would be 7NT. There are multiple reasons for that:

  • the vulnerability is wrong for a joke
  • LHO is unpassed making the situation wrong for a joke
  • it's "only" matchpoints
  • it makes a great story even if you are wrong
  • if RHO holds only 12 spades, partner might have the missing spade

So 7NT it is. Nobody doubles, dummy is what you expect but LHO leads a the 6 and shows out on the second spade.

North
KQ642
KQ93
KQ72
South
AJ107
AJ105
AJ1093
W
N
E
S
1
7
7NT
P
P
P

I have both won and lost with an IMP and with half a matchpoint so I fight for every trick. Can you guarantee the last trick or do you need to guess?

Against a perfect defense you need to guess. You can come down to the following ending:

North
K
K
South
A
A
W
N
E
S
1
7
7NT
P
P
P

Your LHO has discarded perfectly leaving one card in each suit for the defenders. When RHO leads his last spade, you discard the A and LHO discards a club. The defenders have two red cards and you have to guess which of them is held by your RHO.

You are unlikely to suffer that defense, because it needs a perfect guess by LHO. You leave the A in your hand and expect to score it in the end. If you have read this far, you surely know why.

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