Join Bridge Winners
Scary Dummy
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In a semi-final match in the Senior trials for USA2, you face unexpected competition against your strong hand.

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

East
A63
AK
K102
AK543
W
N
E
S
1
1
P
1NT
?

1: Strong, artificial. You could not open 2NT, as that would be minors with less than an opening bid.

1: CRASH, majors or minors

Pass: 0-4 HCP

1NT: Likely a 1-suiter somewhere

Your call?

East
A63
AK
K102
AK543
W
N
E
S
1
1
P
1NT
?

You don't know for sure what anybody has. However, considering your club length, it looks like there is a good chance that South has the majors and North has diamonds.

You could double to show your extra strength. But what good would that do? The opponents would likely arrive in some contract other than clubs, partner would pass, and you would still be guessing.

Since partner has 0-4 points, it looks unlikely that you have a game. It is the competitive part-score decision which will be important. Your most likely fit is in clubs, although it is possible that clubs is one of South's suits and partner has a long suit of his own. At any rate, it looks like your best shot is to bid 2. Partner will be able to compete if he has support, or perhaps bid his long suit if he has one.

You bid 2. The bidding continues:

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

Your call?

 

East
A63
AK
K102
AK543
W
N
E
S
1
1
P
1NT
2
2
P
3
?

It is now clear that South has the majors and North has diamonds. You clearly aren't going to bid 3NT, as you have no source of tricks.

Double must be penalties. You obviously aren't making a takeout double with North having shown the majors. The question is, are you willing to risk doubling the opponents into game.

North must be very short in the majors for his sequence. South should have extra major-suit length as he was willing to go beyond 2 on his own when he could have passed 2. You can't expect all your major-suit cards to score. Still, you should have good chances. You can expect to take at least 1 diamond and 2 clubs along with whatever major-suit winners you have. Your 10 of diamonds may be worth a trick, and partner has the potential to to get a club ruff. You could easily be collecting 500, and it is unlikely that they will make. The artificial 1 call put partner on lead, and that along with sight of the North hand may help you in the defense. All things considered, double looks like a good bet.

You double, ending the auction.

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

Partner leads the 7.

North
4
AQJ9754
QJ1098
East
A63
AK
K102
AK543
W
N
E
S
1
1
P
1NT
2
2
P
3
X
P
P
P

Which club do you play?

 

North
4
AQJ9754
QJ1098
East
A63
AK
K102
AK543
W
N
E
S
1
1
P
1NT
2
2
P
3
X
P
P
P

If your plan is to continue with another high club, the order of your club plays should be suit-preference. This is a common situation. Many players mistakenly just play the king of clubs routinely and then continue with ace and a club intending the club spot they play on the third round to be a suit-preference signal. This is an error. Partner might not be able to read the spot card, since for all partner knows you might have started with AKx. It is the order of your club honors which should be the main suit-preference signal.

If you aren't going to continue clubs, you should win the king in order to tell partner where the ace is, unless your goal is to deceive declarer.

On this hand clearly you should play the king as you prefer hearts anyway. In addition, you might not be continuing with the ace of clubs, although you can work that out after winning the trick.

You win the king of clubs, declarer playing the 2. What do you do now?

 

North
4
AQJ9754
QJ109
East
A63
AK
K102
A543
W
N
E
S
1
1
P
1NT
2
2
P
3
X
P
P
P

That is one scary dummy. You expected something like this and that all your high cards might not cash, but you could not tell that North was going to produce a possible 9 tricks in his own hand.

If partner has the missing 3 trumps, you can generate a 2-trick set by playing top hearts. You then win the second round of trumps, play ace and a club for partner to ruff, and a heart through promotes your 10 of diamonds. But if declarer has a trump, this defense will turn out very badly.

Another possibility for a 2-trick set is to continue ace and a club. If partner has 2 trumps including the 8 and a singleton club, he will be able to score both of them on club ruffs. However, if declarer has the singleton 8 of diamonds and a doubleton club the contract will make. These layouts look unlikely, since South probably wouldn't have bid 2 with that hand. Also, if declarer is 1-1 in the minors leading the ace of clubs gives declarer an overtrick.

Perhaps it is better to lead a small club. This will always defeat the contract if partner has a singleton club and at least 2 trumps, since you will later score your ace of clubs. You will also survive when partner has a doubleton club and declarer is 6-6 in the majors. The only time cashing the ace of clubs first is necessary to defeat the contract is when partner has a singleton club and the singleton 8 of diamonds, since if you lead a small club declarer can later take a successful ruffing finesse against your ace. That would give declarer 4 cards in the minor suits, and with that he definitely would not have bid 2.

The bottom line looks like this: If declarer has 2 clubs and the stiff 8 of diamonds, you want to be leading a small club. This isn't likely, but it is barely possible if South made a questionable 2 call. There doesn't appear to be any sensible layout where it is necessary to lead the ace of clubs to defeat the contract. Leading the ace of clubs will cost an overtrick if declarer is 1-1 in the minors, and will get an extra undertrick if declarer has 2 clubs and 1 diamond (not the 8). It looks clear that leading a small club is the percentage action.

You lead the 3. Declarer discards a spade and wins in dummy. Now declarer plays ace of diamonds (discarding a heart) and queen of diamonds. What do you do?

 

North
4
QJ9754
QJ10
East
A63
AK
K10
A54
W
N
E
S
1
1
P
1NT
2
2
P
3
X
P
P
P

The hand is an open book now. You can win, cash the ace of clubs, and give partner a club ruff.

You do exactly that. You get your heart trick, and the contract is down 1. The full hand is:

West
Q1042
Q1076
863
76
North
4
AQJ9754
QJ1098
East
A63
AK
K102
AK543
South
KJ9875
J98532
2
W
N
E
S
1
1
P
1NT
2
2
P
3
X
P
P
P
D
3X South
NS: 0 EW: 0
7
8
K
2
2
0
1
3
5
6
9
1
1
1
A
2
2
3
1
2
1
Q
K
7
6
2
2
2
A
3
7
10
2
2
3
4
5
8
J
0
2
4
6
4
A
8
2
2
5
7

Do you agree with West's opening lead?

West
Q1042
Q1076
863
76
North
4
AQJ9754
QJ1098
East
A63
AK
K102
AK543
South
KJ9875
J98532
2
W
N
E
S
1
1
P
1NT
2
2
P
3
X
P
P
P
D
3X South
NS: 0 EW: 0
7
8
K
2
2
0
1
3
5
6
9
1
1
1
A
2
2
3
1
2
1
Q
K
7
6
2
2
2
A
3
7
10
2
2
3
4
5
8
J
0
2
4
6
4
A
8
2
2
5
7

West has both major suits under control. With East known to have a strong hand, it is hard to imagine any useful discards coming from the South hand. However, South might have a stray trump which can be used for ruffing purposes, and if East has king-doubleton of trumps it might be necessary to get a trump lead through immediately. It is unlikely that a club lead will matter.

What do you think of the N-S bidding?

West
Q1042
Q1076
863
76
North
4
AQJ9754
QJ1098
East
A63
AK
K102
AK543
South
KJ9875
J98532
2
W
N
E
S
1
1
P
1NT
2
2
P
3
X
P
P
P
D
3X South
NS: 0 EW: 0
7
8
K
2
2
0
1
3
5
6
9
1
1
1
A
2
2
3
1
2
1
Q
K
7
6
2
2
2
A
3
7
10
2
2
3
4
5
8
J
0
2
4
6
4
A
8
2
2
5
7

It looks pretty reasonable. South showed his 2-suiter, and North found a good sequence to stay low. It is hard to criticize South for bidding 2 with his 6-6 shape, but after that he trusted his partner.

At the other table, South made the same CRASH bid over a strong 1. Here, North chose to pass the 1 call. East chose to rebid 2NT, which was raised to game. North decided his defense against 3NT wasn't promising, and with a likely 9 sure tricks he competed to 4 which of course East doubled. Here West did lead a trump. West got his club ruff, and that was down 2 for 7 IMPs.

It is an ugly hand, but it looks like in 3NT declarer will end-play South and score 3 tricks in each major to get to 9 tricks. East was unlucky to find West with a complete maximum which included such strong holdings in both majors. On a different day, 3NT would have taken far fewer tricks. Taking the low road turned out to be an unfortunate decision.

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