Join Bridge Winners
The Missing Trump
(Page of 6)

In a round-robin match in the Senior trials, you must decide how to proceed on a strong 1 auction.

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

South
AQ2
AQ10864
A102
3
W
N
E
S
1
P
1
P
1
P
2
P
?

1: Strong, artificial

1: 0-8 HCP

1: 4+ hearts, forcing

2: 3-card heart support, 6-8 HCP

Available to you for this hand are:

2: Non-forcing, might be 4-card heart suit. Partner is permitted to bid again with a maximum.

2: Unspecified short-suit game (or slam) try. Partner bids 2NT to ask, after which 3, 3, and 3 would show short suit game tries in clubs, diamonds, and spades respectively.

Other bids are all game forcing.

Your call?

South
AQ2
AQ10864
A102
3
W
N
E
S
1
P
1
P
1
P
2
P
?

You certainly aren't going to quit in 2 with this fine playing hand. There are perfectos which make slam, but those would be almost impossible to locate. The question is whether you should blast to 4 or make a short suit game try in clubs.

Vulnerable games are meant to be bid. A key jack in partner's hand may make 4 a good contract, and partner might not be able to determine this. Blasting to 4 also has the advantage of not revealing the nature of your hand to the opponents.

In general, it doesn't pay to take an invitational sequence on a distributional hand, since partner won't be able to evaluate properly anyway. The exception occurs when you are able to describe your distribution. Now partner can evaluate properly. You have a short suit game try available, which give partner a perfect description of your hand. There is no need to get to a hopeless game when partner has something like xxxx KJx xxx Qxx.

Another nice feature about making a short suit game try is that since your short suit is clubs the luck of the coding is such that partner isn't forced to make the final decision. If he isn't sure he can hedge with 3 last train. Thus, if you make your short suit game try and partner growls 3 back at you, you can be pretty sure that you don't want to be in game. Partner can see the vulnerability, and he also knows that vulnerable games are meant to be bid.

A final argument for the short suit game try is that it might get you to a better game than 4. If partner chooses to bid 3NT with the knowledge that you are short in clubs, it is a pretty good bet looking at your hand that 3NT is better than 4.

You choose to bid 4, ending the auction.

South
AQ2
AQ10864
A102
3
W
N
E
S
1
P
1
P
1
P
2
P
4
P
P
P

West leads the 3. Third and fifth leads.

North
K6
J72
QJ854
852
South
AQ2
AQ10864
A102
3
W
N
E
S
1
P
1
P
1
P
2
P
4
P
P
P

What do you play from dummy?

 

North
K6
J72
QJ854
852
South
AQ2
AQ10864
A102
3
W
N
E
S
1
P
1
P
1
P
2
P
4
P
P
P

It can't hurt to play the queen. If it covered that is fine. If not, you might as well win in dummy.

You play the queen. It holds, East playing the 6. Now what?

North
K6
J72
J854
852
South
AQ2
AQ10864
A10
3
W
N
E
S
1
P
1
P
1
P
2
P
4
P
P
P

The contract looks secure. Is there any reason not to go after your overtrick by taking the heart finesse?

There are some dangers. One is that West has led a dishonest fourth best and has the singleton king of hearts. He wins, diamond ruff, club over, diamond ruff down 1. That isn't likely. West isn't going to be leading a dishonest card in the blind on an auction such as this.

A more realistic danger is the heart finesse loses, West crosses to East with a club, and East returns a small diamond. If you go up ace and West has a singleton, he ruffs and you are down. If you finesse and West has led from Kxx he wins and gives his partner a diamond ruff for down 1.

Can you do better by refusing the heart finesse and playing ace and a heart? In some layouts that would be an unsafety play, giving the opponents a ruff to set the contract when they wouldn't have had one had you taken a winning finesse. But here it is quite safe. The key is that if the hearts are 3-1 you will know where the missing trump is. Now, when East shoves a diamond through you know what to do. If East has the missing trump you go up ace, since West can't be ruffing. If West has the missing trump you finesse, since if West has Kxx of diamonds he won't be able to give East a diamond ruff. Either way, the contract is cold.

Is it worth taking the slight risk of going down for the overtrick? It might be if you were definitely going to gain a trick when the finesse wins and not cost a trick when it loses, although it generally isn't worth thinking about overtricks unless you know the contract is 100% secure. But here taking the finesse might let the opponents score a ruff which would not otherwise have been available, so you can't even be sure that the finesse won't cost a trick. Playing ace and a heart is clearly right.

You choose to ride the jack of hearts. West wins the king, and leads the queen of clubs. East wins the ace, and returns the 7. What do you do?

North
K