Join Bridge Winners
Unnecessary Squeeze
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In a semi-final match in the senior trials for USA2, you have to decide what to do opposite partner's strong notrump.

None vul, South deals. As South, you hold:

South
J976
104
AQ875
54
W
N
E
S
P
P
1NT
P
?

1NT: 15-17

If you wish to move towards game and search for a major-suit fit, 2 puppet Stayman is available. If you want to make a power invite, 2 is a size ask.

You call?

South
J976
104
AQ875
54
W
N
E
S
P
P
1NT
P
?

Your side has a maximum of 24 HCP. On the other hand, you have a good 5-card diamond suit which might be running. Also, if partner has a 4-card spade suit spades could play quite well.

On the other hand, you are non-vulnerable. If game is around 50%, you don't care whether you are there or not. If partner has a minimum and is unable to accept, you would much rather be in 1NT than 2NT.

It is a close call. Probably it is best not to move towards game.

Even if you choose not to invite, your methods leave you another option. You might bid 2, puppet Stayman, planning on passing the likely 2 response. It is usually right to play in a 5-card suit rather than play 1NT, but maybe notrump is better here. You do have a minimum of 22 HCP between the two hands, so 1NT figures to make on power while 2 might be in jeopardy on a bad diamond split. On the other hand you have two worthless doubletons, and if the opponents can run one of these suit 1NT might be in jeopardy.

All things considered, the percentage call appears to be to take advantage of Puppet Stayman, bidding 2 with the plan of passing 2.

You choose to pass. The bidding continues:

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

2: Clubs and a major

2: Asking for the major

Your call?

South
J976
104
AQ875
54
W
N
E
S
P
P
1NT
P
P
2
P
2
?

It is clear to double. Since 2 is an artificial call, this double should show a real diamond suit. It also lets partner know you aren't broke, so if West's major is hearts partner will be able to double with a 4-card heart holding. Should West's major be spades, you will be happy to double that.

You double. The bidding continues:

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

Your call?

South
J976
104
AQ875
54
W
N
E
S
P
P
1NT
P
P
2
P
2
X
2
P
P
?

Partner was unable to double 2, so it is clear that the opponents have at least an 8-card heart fit. That indicates that you should compete. 2 looks perfect on your hand. Partner will know you are bidding a 4-card spade suit, so if he has a doubleton spade he will get you back to 3. A 4-3 fit might not be too pretty, but still you will have more trumps than the opponents and can probably scramble 8 tricks. In addition you might hit partner with 4 spades, in which case the 2 bid will do very well.

You bid 2, ending the auction.

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

West leads the jack of diamonds.

North
KQ4
K52
K2
KQ1098
South
J976
104
AQ875
54
W
N
E
S
P
P
1NT
P
P
2
P
2
X
2
P
P
2
P
P
P

Where do you win this trick?

North
KQ4
K52
K2
KQ1098
South
J976
104
AQ875
54
W
N
E
S
P
P
1NT
P
P
2
P
2
X
2
P
P
2
P
P
P

There is some chance that the lead is a singleton. If West also has ace-doubleton of trumps, there might be a gain from winning in your hand in order to lead a trump towards dummy. However, this does tangle up the diamond suit, and the lead doesn't have to be a singleton. It looks better to win the lead in dummy and keep a smoother entry flow.

You win the king of diamonds. East plays the 3, UDCA. What do you lead at trick 2?

North
KQ4
K