Join Bridge Winners
Two Sides
(Page of 16)

In a quarter-final match in the Senior trials for USA2, you face a common competitive decision.

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

North
KJ3
Q
Q8654
K765
W
N
E
S
?

In your style, 11 HCP is your guideline for a minimum opening bid.

Your call?

North
KJ3
Q
Q8654
K765
W
N
E
S
?

You have to draw the line somewhere. You do have 11 HCP, but this is about as bad an 11 as one could find. Singleton queen. No aces. No tens. This hand looks to be below that line.

You pass. The bidding continues:

W
N
E
S
P
1
1
X
?

In your style, partner will often make a takeout double with 5 spades and 4 hearts, even with minimal strength. If he doubles and then bids 1 or 2 over your diamond bid, that does not show extras. It simply shows 5-4 in the majors. Thus, a 1 overcall is unlikely to have a 4-card heart suit.

Your agreements here are as follows:

RDBL: Lead-directing, typically a doubleton spade honor. Says nothing about strength.

1NT and 2NT would be natural.

You play transfer advances, starting with the cue-bid and ending one under partner's suit. Thus, 2 would show diamonds. 2 would show hearts. 2 would be an invitational hand with spades, likely 3-card support.

3 would be a mixed raise. Your agreements about a mixed raise are stronger than most players play them. For you, a mixed raise is pretty much a limit raise with 4 trumps.

3 would be to play, no game interest.

Your call?

North
KJ3
Q
Q8654
K765
W
N
E
S
P
1
1
X
?

Just looking at your hand and ignoring everything else, it appears that 2 is the value bid. 3-card trump support, limit raise strength. What could be more perfect?

You aren't playing in a vacuum. There are two opponents. They definitely have an 8-card heart fit, and there is a good chance that they have a 9-card heart fit. You aren't buying this hand for 2. If you want to declare, you are going to have to compete to 3.

In addition, if you bid 2 that makes life very easy for the opponents. This gives South a free double to show the 4-card heart support he almost certainly has.

Even though you have only 3-card support, you are better off bidding 3. This does show 4-card support, but the singleton heart is full compensation. You don't mind competing to 3 over 3, so forcing the hand to the 3-level is fine. In addition, bidding 3 makes it more difficult for East to show his heart support.

You bid 3. The bidding continues:

W
N
E
S
P
1
1
X
3
3
P
P
?

Your call?

North
KJ3
Q
Q8654
K765
W
N
E
S
P
1
1
X
3
3
P
P
?

It is true that your 3 call committed your side to 3 if the opponents had remained silent. However, they bid 3, giving you the option of defending that contract. Should you take this option?

Let's see what the Law of Total Tricks says. Your side definitely has 8 trumps, since if partner had a 6-card suit he certainly would have competed to 3. What about the opponents? It isn't etched in stone that partner can't have 4 hearts, but that is likely to be the case. If partner doesn't have 4 hearts, the opponents have a 9-card fit. That makes the trump total 17.

If you bid 3, you are "contracting" for 18 total tricks -- 9 tricks in spades plus the 9 tricks the opponents need to make 3. That makes bidding 3 a 1-trick overbid via the LOTT, since there are only 17 total trumps. This is okay, but not great.

In order for bidding 3 to show a meaningful profit, both contracts must make. This means a total of 18 tricks will be taken in the two contracts, one more than the LOTT anticipates.

In order for bidding 3 to show a meaningful loss, both contracts would have to go down. This means a total of 16 tricks would be taken, one less than the LOTT anticipates.

The conclusion is that one but not both contracts figure to make according to the LOTT. If that is the case, it is a tossup between bidding 3 and passing.

There are several factors which argue for defending. They are:

1) While partner is a favorite to hold only 3 hearts, he might hold 4. If that is the case bidding 3 is a 2-trick overbid via the LOTT, which should be avoided. It would be very unlikely that both contracts would make, and reasonably likely that both contracts would fail.

2) Your hand is defensively oriented. In particular, your singleton queen of hearts may combine with secondary stuff in partner's hand to produce defensive tricks in hearts.

3) Both sides are vulnerable. This means that if one contract goes down 2 tricks that will be 200 for the defending side, a couple of IMPs better than would have been achieved by making a part-score.

4) Partner has heard the auction. He thinks you have 4-card spade support. If he has xxx in hearts he might have bid 3 himself, following the same LOTT arguments.

You choose to bid 3, ending the auction.

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

Your reward for overbidding is that you have to take over and try to make what you bid.

West leads the 3. Standard leads and carding.

North
KJ3
Q
Q8654
K765
South
A10965
K974
J2
Q8
W
N
E
S
P
1
1
X
3
3
P
P
3
P
P
P

You play small from dummy, and capture East's 10 with your queen. How do you begin?

North
KJ3
Q
Q8654
K76
South
A10965
K974
J2
8
W
N
E
S
P
1
1
X
3
3
P
P
3
P
P
P

You have 1 club trick and 1 heart trick for sure. Scoring 7 trump tricks will be enough, but that isn't going to happen. If you try to ruff hearts in dummy the opponents will get in once with the ace of hearts and once with a minor-suit card. They will have time to lead two rounds of trumps, and you will be a trick short.

Your best chance to come to 9 tricks is the diamond suit. You will certainly need a 3-2 trump split to have any hope of making. If you get that and don't lose to the queen of trumps, you may be able to establish the diamond suit.

What do you know about the enemy distribution? The hearts are definitely 4-4. It looks like West has 3 clubs and East 4, but if East has 3 clubs and the trumps are splitting, his shape should be 3-4-3-3.

The conclusion is that East doesn't have 4 diamonds. The diamonds might be 3-3, or East might have a doubleton. Either way, leading the jack of diamonds is a good start. If East does have honor-doubleton, the opponents will not be able to prevent dummy's queen from setting up, and then one ruff will establish dummy's long diamond. You will need the spade entry in dummy, but if this all works you will take 5 spade tricks, 2 diamond tricks, 1 club trick, and 1 heart trick. If the opponents attempt to foil this play by forcing dummy to ruff a heart, you may be able to revert to a cross-ruff approach and take 7 trump tricks, 1 club trick, and 1 heart trick.

You lead the jack of diamonds. West plays the 7, and East wins the king. East returns the 2. What do you do?

North
KJ3
Q
Q865
K76
South
A10965
K974
2
8
W
N
E
S
P
1
1
X
3
3
P
P
3
P
P
P

It seems natural to put in the 10, but there is a problem. What if West covers, knocking out dummy's king? You are going to need two spade entries to dummy, one to ruff a diamond, and the other to collect the established diamond tricks. If the king of spades is gone, that puts an end to this plan. You can't expect the diamonds to be 3-3 with the honors split, since with Axx of diamonds West would have taken your jack of diamonds with his ace.

Would East underlead his queen of spades here? Not likely. He can see that you are setting up the diamond suit, and that you will be counting on dummy's jack of spades being an entry. Leading a spade from the queen could be handing you the contract.

If West has the queen of spades, your right play is the unnatural play of winning the ace of spades instead of taking the free finesse. You can play another diamond, planning on finessing the spade in order to create the needed entry to ruff out the diamonds. That will get you the 9 tricks you are hoping to take.

You choose to play the 9. It holds, West playing the 4 after a little thought. What do you do next?

North
KJ
Q
Q865
K76
South
A1065
K974
2
8
W
N
E
S
P
1
1
X
3
3
P
P
3
P
P
P

So far, so good. It is clear to continue with your plan of setting up dummy's diamonds.

You lead a diamond. West follows with the 3. Do you go up queen or duck?

North
KJ
Q
Q865
K76
South
A1065
K974
2
8
W
N
E
S
P
1
1
X
3
3
P
P
3
P
P
P

West can't know your exact hand. It would take a lot of nerve for West to be ducking the ace of diamonds here. Even an expert isn't likely to find this play. East might have started with AK doubleton. Even though the percentages say that West is much more likely to have the ace of diamonds if West started with 4 diamonds, the real life fact is that West doesn't have the ace of diamonds.

You duck. East wins the 10, and leads the 6 to West's ace. West plays the jack of clubs. Do you cover?

North
KJ
Q86
K76
South
A1065
K97
8
W
N
E
S
P
1
1
X
3
3
P
P
3
P
P
P

It can't be right to cover. If West started with J9xx, which is quite possible, East will be able to win and safely return a club. You can be pretty confident that East didn't start with A109x of clubs, since he played the 10 rather than the 9 on the first round. That is the sort of falsecard players just don't make, as it is more likely to confuse partner than declarer.

You duck. East plays the 2. West continues with the 9. Do you cover?

North
KJ
Q86
K7
South
A1065
K97
W
N
E
S
P
1
1
X
3
3
P
P
3
P
P
P

Of course you cover. This will drive out the ace, and dummy's 7 will be high.

You forget a spot and fail to cover. East plays the 4 and you ruff. What next?

North
KJ
Q86
K
South
A106
K97
W
N
E
S
P
1
1
X
3
3
P
P
3
P
P
P

You now know that East stared with 4 clubs and 4 hearts. You need him to be 2-4-3-4. You can cross to dummy with a spade, ruff out the diamonds (ruffing with the ace of spades), cash the king of hearts discarding dummy's last club, and cross with another spade to score dummy's diamonds and make the contract.

You lead a spade up. West follows with the 7. Do you finesse or not?

North
KJ
Q86
K
South
A106
K97
W
N
E
S
P
1
1
X
3
3
P
P
3
P
P
P

If West started with Qxx of spades he could always have defeated the contract by covering your 9 on the first round of spades, as that would have deprived dummy of the needed entry. However, this might not be obvious, and it is a mistake he might have made. It doesn't seem likely that East would have led from queen-doubleton of spades. Also, there was West's slight pause over your 9. It looks like West has the queen.

You finesse the jack of spades. East discards a heart. What do you do now?

North
K
Q86
K
South
A10
K97
W
N
E
S
P
1
1
X
3
3
P
P
3
P
P
P

That was unexpected. East started with a singleton spade, so his shape must be 1-4-4-4. You can't ruff out the diamonds. In fact, if you ruff a diamond small West will overruff and lead a trump, and your ace and king of spades will fall together. You must make sure you score them separately.

You lead a diamond. East plays the 9. You ruff with the ace of spades, and cash the king of hearts. Your only other trick is dummy's king of spades, and you are down 2. The full hand is

West
Q874
A1053
73
J93
North
KJ3
Q
Q8654
K765
East
2
J862
AK109
A1042
South
A10965
K974
J2
Q8
W
N
E
S
P
1
1
X
3
3
P
P
3
P
P
P
D
3 South
NS: 0 EW: 0
3
5
10
Q
3
1
0
J
7
4
K
2
1
1
2
9
4
3
3
2
1
2
3
5
10
2
2
2
6
4
A
Q
0
2
3
J
6
2
8
0
2
4
9
7
4
5
3
3
4
6
7
J
2
1
4
4
6
9
A
3
3
5
4
K
5
K
8
3
6
4
10

How was the defense?

West
Q874
A1053
73
J93
North
KJ3
Q
Q8654
K765
East
2
J862
AK109
A1042
South
A10965
K974
J2
Q8
W
N
E
S
P
1
1
X
3
3
P
P
3
P
P
P
D
3 South
NS: 0 EW: 0
3
5
10
Q
3
1
0
J
7
4
K
2
1
1
2
9
4
3
3
2
1
2
3
5
10
2
2
2
6
4
A
Q
0
2
3
J
6
2
8
0
2
4
9
7
4
5
3
3
4
6
7
J
2
1
4
4
6
9
A
3
3
5
4
K
5
K
8
3
6
4
10

East's spade shift looks right. He can see that dummy poses no threat, so it must be right to prevent heart ruffs in dummy. If the trump return sacrifices partner's trump trick, that trick will come back.

West should have continued trumps when in with the ace of hearts. He also can see that dummy is dead, and it is best to prevent ruffs. After the club return, declarer could have escaped for down 1.

Do you agree with the E-W bidding?

West
Q874
A1053
73
J93
North
KJ3
Q
Q8654
K765
East
2
J862
AK109
A1042
South
A10965
K974
J2
Q8
W
N
E
S
P
1
1
X
3
3
P
P
3
P
P
P
D
3 South
NS: 0 EW: 0
3
5
10
Q
3
1
0
J
7
4
K
2
1
1
2
9
4
3
3
2
1
2
3
5
10
2
2
2
6
4
A
Q
0
2
3
J
6
2
8
0
2
4
9
7
4
5
3
3
4
6
7
J
2
1
4
4
6
9
A
3
3
5
4
K
5
K
8
3
6
4
10

East's choice of 1 is odd. His diamonds are stronger, and a 1 opening is more believable than a 1 opening. He must have had some reason.

West's negative double is questionable. It will work fine if East has 4 hearts, but otherwise things could get sticky. Pass and 1NT are both reasonable.

East's 3 call is clear. He has a good playing hand, and will never be selling to 2. He is close to a 4 bid, but bringing in 10 tricks might prove to be difficult if West is minimal.

What about South's auction?

West
Q874
A1053
73
J93
North
KJ3
Q
Q8654
K765
East
2
J862
AK109
A1042
South
A10965
K974
J2
Q8
W
N
E
S
P
1
1
X
3
3
P
P
3
P
P
P
D
3 South
NS: 0 EW: 0
3
5
10
Q
3
1
0
J
7
4
K
2
1
1
2
9
4
3
3
2
1
2
3
5
10
2
2
2
6
4
A
Q
0
2
3
J
6
2
8
0
2
4
9
7
4
5
3
3
4
6
7
J
2
1
4
4
6
9
A
3
3
5
4
K
5
K
8
3
6
4
10

While a takeout double is permissable with this shape, the 1 overcall looks better. North is a passed hand, so N-S are probably outgunned. South needs a good fit to compete, and spades is where that good fit will be most effective.

South's pass over 3 is clear. He prefers to defend with his good heart holding even though his side presumably has a 9-card spade fit, but at IMPs the downside of doubling is greater than the upside.

At the other table, N-S also competed to 3. Here East had opened 1, so West led a diamond. The defense quickly scored two diamonds, an overruff, and two aces for down 1.

Many players think the LOTT simply says to compete to the 2-level with 8 trumps, to the 3-level with 9 trumps. While this is a good guideline, there are two sides to the LOTT -- your combined trump length and the enemy combined trump length. In order to make an accurate LOTT decision, one must estimate both trump lengths to get a picture of the trump total.

34 Comments
Getting Comments... loading...
.

Bottom Home Top