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In a semi-final match in the Senior trials, you have the opportunity to utilize a special convention.

Both vul, North deals. As East, you hold

East
AQJ10873
9
A105
73
W
N
E
S
P
?

You have available a Namyats 4 opening. This is defined as a 7 or 8-card spade suit which can play for at most 1 loser opposite a void, along with a high card or two on the side. The Namyats call absolutely sets trumps.

Your call?

East
AQJ10873
9
A105
73
W
N
E
S
P
?

Opening 4 doesn't seem right. That could easily lead to a missed slam. If you choose to take the preemptive route, 4 has to be better. It has the disadvantage of giving South a cheap 4 call. On the plus side, you probably prefer to have the contract declared from partner's side.

Should you preempt? If your suit were hearts, it would be clear. When you own the spade suit, there is less incentive to preempt since you can always outbid the opponents if necessary. Opening 4 pretty much means you will be buying the hand, since the opponents aren't likely to be able to compete to the 5-level. The other argument against preempting is that North is a passed hand, which decreases the chance that it is the opponent's hand and the importance of taking away their bidding room. 4 simply might be too high, turning a plus score into a minus score. It isn't clear, but probably a simple 1 opening is best.

You open 1. The bidding continues:

W
N
E
S
P
1
X
P
1NT
?

Your call?

East
AQJ10873
9
A105
73
W
N
E
S
P
1
X
P
1NT
?

2 would be a nice easy choice. However, that isn't realistic. There is no way you are going to buy this hand for 2. Furthermore, you know you are going to compete to 3 over 3 of anything. Given that, you are better off bidding 3 right now. This goes right to the level you want to compete to, and puts a lot more pressure on South. In addition, this describes your hand type much better in case partner has to make a competitive decision.

You choose to bid 2. The bidding continues:

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

Your call?

East
AQJ10873
9
A105
73
W
N
E
S
P
1
X
P
1NT
2
4
P
P
?

You are done. You have no idea whether or not you can defeat 4, and you don't know for sure that there are 8 or more tricks available in 4. You have shown something like what you have, and partner wasn't able to take any action.

You pass, ending the auction.

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

Partner leads the 6. Third and fifth leads. UDCA after trick one.

North
K92
64
876
AQ1096
East
AQJ10873
9
A105
73
W
N
E
S
P
1
X
P
1NT
2
4
P
P
P

Dummy plays the 9. What do you win with?

North
K92
64
876
AQ1096
East
AQJ10873
9
A105
73
W
N
E
S
P
1
X
P
1NT
2
4
P
P
P

If you win with anything but the 10, partner will think another spade is cashing if he has a doubleton. You aren't going to deceive declarer. It is right to win with the 10.

You play the 10. Declarer plays the 5.

What do you play at trick 2?

North
K2
64
876
AQ1096
East
AQJ873
9
A105
73
W
N
E
S
P
1
X
P
1NT
2
4
P
P
P

Unfortunately, partner's lead is unreadable. The 6 is consistent with 64 doubleton, and of course it might be a singleton.

Your best chance to defeat the contract is for partner to have the singleton spade. If declarer has the singleton, partner will need to produce two side tricks, which isn't too likely. Still, trying to cash the ace of spades and having it get ruffed could cost the contract, particularly if partner has something like KJxx of diamonds.

Suppose you try cashing the ace of spades and it lives. What will you do next? Clearly you will cash your ace of diamonds. Partner might have a promotable trump trick, and it might be necessary to take the ace of diamonds first in case declarer has a singleton. Also, it is possible that partner has the king of diamonds and nothing in trumps, in which case you need to cash out.

There is no need to commit now. Since you are going to be cashing the ace of diamonds in all variations, you should do so before trying the ace of spades. If partner has a doubleton spade he will encourage in diamonds, and you will know to continue diamonds rather than lay down the ace of spades. If partner has a singleton spade he will discourage in diamonds, and now you will cash the ace of spades. It is possible that you will be unable to read your partner's signal for sure, but you have a better chance of going right by cashing the ace of diamonds rather than committing.

What should partner do if he has both a singleton spade and the king of diamonds, but nothing in trumps? He must discourage in diamonds, since if you continue diamonds you won't get your ace of spades. But how will you know whether to play him for the king of diamonds or a promotable trump trick? If he has the king of diamonds and nothing in trumps, when you cash your ace of spades he will discard a trump and cash his king of diamonds. He knows that you have 7 spades for this sequence of plays, since if you had only 6 spades you would have cashed the ace of spades before the ace of diamonds since you would then know the ace of spades would live.

Supppose you cash the ace of diamonds. Declarer plays the 3, and partner the 4. What do you do next?

North
K2
64
87
AQ1096
East
AQJ873
9
105
73
W
N
E
S
P
1
X
P
1NT
2
4
P
P
P

You are playing UDCA. There is only one diamond spot below the 4 outstanding. If partner has a singleton spade, he could almost certainly have afforded a higher diamond card. The only layout where this is not the case is if partner has exactly K42 of diamonds and a singleton spade. The odds are well against this, so it looks right to continue diamonds. You might as well lead the 5, giving declarer as little information as possible about the diamond suit.

In fact, you choose to lay down the ace of spades instead of cashing the ace of diamonds. Declarer ruffs with the 7. Declarer cashes ace and king of hearts, partner playing the 3 and the 5. What do you discard?

North
K
6
876
AQ1096
East
QJ873
A105
73
W
N
E
S
P
1
X
P
1NT
2
4
P
P
P

Partner knows what you have in spades, so you can use your spade discards for suit-preference. Since you have the ace of diamonds and nothing in clubs, you should discard the queen of spades, suit-preference for diamonds. If partner has Q8xx of hearts, it will be necessary for him to shift to a diamond so you can put a spade through to promote his 8 of hearts.

You discard the queen of spades. Declarer plays queen of hearts (10 from partner), and a heart to partner's jack. Dummy discards a diamond and a club, as you discard a couple more spades.

Partner shifts to the 8.  Declarer wins the king in hand, leads a club to dummy's ace, cashes the king of spades discarding a diamond, and cashes the queen of clubs discarding a diamond. He now leads a diamond off dummy. Do you win or duck?

North
87
10
East
7
A10
W
N
E
S
P
1
X
P
1NT
2
4
P
P
P

You know declarer's shape is 1-6-4-2. He discarded 2 diamonds, so he has 2 diamonds left. You must duck, and hope that declarer has KJ of diamonds and misguesses. He will probably go right since you opened the bidding, but it is your only chance. Going up ace is a concession.

You play small. Declarer plays the king, and makes the contract. The full hand is

West
64
J1053
Q94
J842
North
K92
64
876
AQ1096
East
AQJ10873
9
A105
73
South
5
AKQ872
KJ32
K5
W
N
E
S
P
1
X
P
1NT
2
4
P
P
P
D
4 South
NS: 0 EW: 0
6
9
10
5
2
0
1
A
7
4
2
3
1
1
A
3
4
9
3
2
1
K
5
6
Q
3
3
1
Q
10
6
J
3
4
1
8
J
6
8
0
4
2
8
9
7
K
3
5
2
5
4
A
3
1
6
2
K
3
3
4
1
7
2
Q
5
2
2
1
8
2
7
10
K
11

Had East played ace and a diamond, declarer would have had a real problem. He would have won the king and played top trumps, getting the bad news. He then would have to judge whether East's distribution is 7-1-3-2 or 7-1-2-3, and he wouldn't have much information to go on.

How was declarer's line of play?

West
64
J1053
Q94
J842
North
K92
64
876
AQ1096
East
AQJ10873
9
A105
73
South
5
AKQ872
KJ32
K5
W
N
E
S
P
1
X
P
1NT
2
4
P
P
P
D
4 South
NS: 0 EW: 0
6
9
10
5
2
0
1
A
7
4
2
3
1
1
A
3
4
9
3
2
1
K
5
6
Q
3
3
1
Q
10
6
J
3
4
1
8
J
6
8
0
4
2
8
9
7
K
3
5
2
5
4
A
3
1
6
2
K
3
3
4
1
7
2
Q
5
2
2
1
8
2
7
10
K
11

Covering the 6 with the 9 is simply good technique. Declarer would make the same play if he held the doubleton spade. This limits the defensive options.

After that, declarer properly gave West the chance to make a mistake and break diamonds, giving declarer the diamond guess. When West properly returned a club which West could work out is perfectly safe and gives declarer nothing, declarer played for the jack of clubs dropping, with the diamond play in reserve. Of course declarer got the diamonds right based on the bidding.

Do you like the N-S auction?

West
64
J1053
Q94
J842
North
K92
64
876
AQ1096
East
AQJ10873
9
A105
73
South
5
AKQ872
KJ32
K5
W
N
E
S
P
1
X
P
1NT
2
4
P
P
P
D
4 South
NS: 0 EW: 0
6
9
10
5
2
0
1
A
7
4
2
3
1
1
A
3
4
9
3
2
1
K
5
6
Q
3
3
1
Q
10
6
J
3
4
1
8
J
6
8
0
4
2
8
9
7
K
3
5
2
5
4
A
3
1
6
2
K
3
3
4
1
7
2
Q
5
2
2
1
8
2
7
10
K
11

South might have overcalled 2, but his hand is pretty strong. He can afford to introduce his heart suit at a high level if necessary. Either approach could work out.

North's 1NT bid looks right. It is on target as far as strength goes, and from North's point of view, 3NT is the game if there is a game.

South can't be sure whether 3NT or 4 is best. The running hearts suggest playing in notrump, but the slow tricks in the minors suggest that 4 might be better if North has a single spade stopper and no minor-suit ace. Unfortunately, South has no way to give North the choice. If South bids 3, that will sound like a 5-card heart suit, and North will think he needs 3-card support to bid 4. South had to make the decision himself, and his decision looks reasonable.

At the other table, South chose to overcall 2. When North bid 2NT and East bid 3, South then bid 3NT and that was the final contract. East led ace of spades and continued with queen of spades. Declarer won, tested the hearts, and when they didn't split, declarer did well to get the clubs right for 9 tricks to salvage the board.

This hand is a good illustration of the technical superiority of UDCA to Standard signals. Suppose after East cashes the ace of diamonds West has KJxx of diamonds and a doubleton spade, and that West has the "worst" diamond spots for his signalling system. Playing Standard, that would mean West has KJ32, and would have to play the 3. Playing UDCA, that would mean West has KJ94 and would have to play the 4. If playing Standard, it would be easy for the 3 to be West's smallest diamond. Declarer would automatically be withholding the 2 from Kx2, and East would have a real problem. Playing UDCA, it is unlikely that the 4 is West's highest diamond, since that would mean West's diamond holding is exactly 432 tripleton. The point is that with nothing of value in diamonds West can afford to signal discouragement with his highest diamond, but when West wants a diamond continuation he might not be able to play a very high diamond to encourage. This means that West's signal is more likely to be readable playing UDCA than playing Standard.

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