Join Bridge Winners
Polish Up Your Bridge 1
(Page of 8)

In this time of lockdown, I'm sure we all need more bridge content, so I have decided to do an article series going through a hand, ala Kit's Korner - shamelessly stealing a format which works. Of course I'm nowhere near the level of Kit Woolsey, so my analysis may be way off in places. If so, say so! I welcome critiques of both the format and content.

As for the series name (PUYB - Polish Up Your Bridge), it was mainly chosen for the pun, as the system I use with my main partner at the moment is Polish Club. I might use hands played with other people, but all bidding will be explained as we go along anyway.

As per Kit's series, bidding and play will follow what happened at the (online) table, including where my post-hand analysis suggests partner or I should have done something different.

Anyway, on to the first hand! Sitting in third seat playing IMPs, you pick up a flat hand.

South
K96
KQ5
K753
Q86
W
N
E
S
P
P
1
P
1
P
?

You open the systematic 1 (showing 11-14 balanced or 4414, 15+ clubs or 18+ any), and partner's 1 response shows 4+ hearts and 7+ points.

A 1NT rebid would show 11-14 balanced without 4-card support. Your call?

You could bid the normal 1N, but partner is a passed hand - what about pass? You cannot feasibly have a game. Partner would have opened all but the poorest 11-counts at this vulnerability, and you have various weak openings besides. The question is whether 1N or 1 will play better. It's true that you have the dreaded 4333 shape, and Moysians work best when the 3-card trump suit can be used to ruff. But partner may have a weak suit, your hearts are good, and your decision here doesn't raise the level of the contract. 1 looks best.

You pass, and the bidding continues:

South
K96
KQ5
K753
Q86
W
N
E
S
P
P
1
P
1
P
P
1NT
X
P
?

The opposing 1N is described as 15-17, notwithstanding it being in the balancing position. An immediate 1N overcall by the opponents would have been conventional. What about partner's double? You have no agreements, but logically they must be maximum for their passed hand status.

Your call?

You are as flat as can be, and partner must know you have 3 hearts for your first pass as you would clearly rebid 1N with only two. You have nothing else to say, so you pass, concluding the auction.

Partner leads the 4 (4th highest from length and strength, 2nd highest from rubbish), reverse carding with reverse Smith against NT (echo asks for switch, low is encouraging or neutral).

East
103
1062
109642
AJ3
South
K96
KQ5
K753
Q86
W
N
E
S
P
P
1
P
1
P
P
1NT
X
P
P
P

Dummy plays small, your play?

Things don't look good. 5 HCP was more than you were hoping or expecting dummy to have. If the opposing 1N can be believed that gives them 20 HCP, half the deck, meaning partner only has 7 HCP for their double. What's more, dummy has a 5-card suit and three tens.

Partner must have exactly 4 spades, because with 5 they would have bid 1 instead of 1. 5 hearts is possible on the bidding, but then why would partner not lead them, the known 8-card suit? 4-4 in the majors seems likely.

Is playing the king necessary? If partner lead from AQJ4 it doesn't matter which you play. If QJx4, the king won't necessarily give a trick but might block the suit. If AQx4 or AJx4, what happens? It depends who has the 8. If partner has it, you need to play the king now to get all the tricks, as you can lead through declarer's Qx or Jx later on. What about Qxx4 or Jxx4? In this case you get two tricks either way if partner has the 8, but if partner only has the 7 you need to play the 9 to get your second trick. It's not clear which is best. [I have probably missed something here - please chip in!]

You play the 9, taken by the jack. Declarer leads the 7 to the ace, partner playing the 2 and you following with the 6. A diamond is played from dummy to the queen, dropping partner's jack. Declarer then leads a low heart to the S, taken by your queen.

West
North
East
103
1062
109642
AJ3
South
K96
KQ5
K753
Q86
W
N
E
S
P
P
1
P
1
P
P
1NT
X
P
P
P
D
1NTX West
NS: 0 EW: 0
4
3
9
J
0
0
1
7
2
A
6
2
0
2
4
3
Q
J
0
0
3
4
3
6
Q
3
1
3
4

What now?

Declarer's line seems strange, having attacked three different suits. Putting that to one side for a moment, what do we know about the hand? Partner must have been 4414, there is no logical reason to falsecard the J from Jx here. That makes declarer 4=3=3=3. They either have the heart ace or have bid with a nebulous J9x stop, not unreasonable when partner's heart suit could have been xxxx. AQ8 in diamonds.

Clubs? For the initial play to the club ace, declarer can't have Kxx. KTx? It still seems unusual to throw away a potential dummy entry, and rely on the opponents to give you a finesse. You haven't shown a club suit with your 1 opener, so there's no particular reason to place you with the queen other than you having the balance of your side's points. But then T9x or Txx are implausible too. xxx? Not giving away a trick, but leaving clubs wide open earlier than necessary. Hands such as AJxx/Axx/AQx/xxx, AJxx/J9x/AQx/KTx or Jxxx/AJx/AQx/KTx all seem equally (im)possible.

If partner has the heart A or the club K, that suit will be a source of tricks now or later. If declarer does have KTx clubs you don't want to touch them and you have to set up spades. If partner had Jxxx hearts and Kxxx clubs, then you want to attack hearts, but it's probably no rush. Spades seem best.

You lead the K, ducked, and declarer takes your spade continuation with the ace, discarding a diamond. Another heart is lead and partner rises with the ace.

West
North
East
103
1062
109642
AJ3
South
K96
KQ5
K753
Q86
W
N
E
S
P
P
1
P
1
P
P
1NT
X
P
P
P
D
1NTX West
NS: 0 EW: 0
4
3
9
J
0
0
1
7
2
A
6
2
0
2
4
3
Q
J
0
0
3
4
3
6
Q
3
1
3
K
2
7
10
3
2
3
6
A
8
2
0
2
4
9
A
2
7

Your play?

Partner taking the ace looks wrong, but it's happened. Do you unblock? Of course not! Partner cannot have the J otherwise they would have played that instead, so whilst hearts will be blocked you cannot do anything about it without giving away a trick.

Partner cashes the Q, dummy discards a diamond and so do you. Partner then exits with a club, which it turns out finesses through you to the KT, and you're left with two tricks at the end and -180.

West
AJ52
J94
AQ8
K107
North
Q874
A873
J
9542
East
103
1062
109642
AJ3
South
K96
KQ5
K753
Q86
W
N
E
S
P
P
1
P
1
P
P
1NT
X
P
P
P
D
1NTX West
NS: 0 EW: 0
4
3
9
J
0
0
1
7
2
A
6
2
0
2
4
3
Q
J
0
0
3
4
3
6
Q
3
1
3
K
2
7
10
3
2
3
6
A
8
2
0
2
4
9
A
2
5
1
3
4
Q
9
5
5
1
4
4
4
3
8
10
0
4
5
K
5
J
Q
0
4
6
A
9
6
7
0
4
7
8
7
10
K
3
5
7
K
J
8
10
3
6
7
E/W +180
13

Could things have gone better for the defence?

The obvious place to look is partner jumping up with the ace. What happens if they don't? The heart would come round to you, and you could take all your heart tricks before partner cashes the last spade. You end up with this:

West
AJ52
J94
AQ8
K107
North
Q874
A873
J
9542
East
103
1062
109642
AJ3
South
K96
KQ5
K753
Q86
W
N
E
S
P
P
1
P
1
P
P
1NT
X
P
P
P
D
1NTX West
NS: 0 EW: 0
4
3
9
J
0
0
1
7
2
A
6
2
0
2
4
3
Q
J
0
0
3
4
3
6
Q
3
1
3
K
2
7
10
3
2
3
6
A
8
2
0
2
4
9
7
2
K
3
3
4
5
J
A
10
1
4
4
8
6
5
5
1
5
4
Q
9
10

It doesn't matter what you discard so long as declarer keeps both clubs in hand - which they will do, they have seen the first round of diamonds as well as you did. Best to chuck a club just in case they err, but error aside declarer will end up with seven tricks still.

What about the bidding? Partner's double seems off-piste. There is no reason to think 1N can be beaten often enough to make the double worthwhile. If partner were to treat it as takeout, that might be another matter, but you have no agreement that would suggest it is.

How did the opponents do?

The first club play definitely looks strange. Why get rid of the potential second entry to dummy? One option is to play the J initially, and if it wins finesse in diamonds and continue the suit. Another option might be to play for H singleton or Jx in diamonds at the start, rather than finessing, starting with the diamond ace and continuing with the queen from hand. That works wonderfully here, netting you four diamond tricks and given you the contract straight away. Is is the percentage play?

Well you can guess that North is 4-4 in the majors just as much as South can. They will be short in one of the minors, and it's more likely to be diamonds than clubs. Ok you'll pay off to North having Jxx/xx in the minors, but that's the only time crossing to dummy to finesse is likely to gain, given the lack of entries.

Declarer was presumably playing for that Jxx/Kx diamond split, and having seen the jack fall must change tack. Neutral heart exits seem sensible.

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