Join Bridge Winners
Variance
(Page of 4)

You are playing IMP pairs with a great partner against top opponents. In the first board you managed to set their optimistic game and now you are holding a strong hand (Dealer South, Both vulnerable):

South
QJ
K865
AQJ8
AK4

The hand looks a bit worse than the 20 hcp point count due to the doubleton QJ. However, downgrading vulnerable at IMPs is too fine art for you, so you open the mundane 2NT. Partner transfers to spades, you accept and partner follows with 4. Now what?

South
QJ
K865
AQJ8
AK4
W
N
E
S
2NT
P
3
P
3
P
4
P
?

Your partner is a professional player and teacher with whom you have played a couple of times. You have had long discussions about bidding philosophy and bridge in general. However, you are not an established partnership. You have agreed that 4NT would be regressive but that's basically all.

You decide to bid 5NT hoping that this is univerally accepted as pick a slam. Your partner picks a slam but it's not what you were expecting to see: he bids 7. What should you do now?

South
QJ
K865
AQJ8
AK4
W
N
E
S
2NT
P
3
P
3
P
4
P
5NT
P
7
P
?

In a situation like this, the general reflex is to pass. You have suggested  that partner picks the slam and he has done so. What do you know about partner's hand? You have shown 2 spades and 3 clubs; otherwise you would have known the denomination where to be. In addition, you have shown good black cards in context. It is possible that partner holds 6-7 but it is very unlikely. The most likely scenario is that partner holds A, void in diamonds and AK and QJ. Against this collection, there should be 13 tricks in NT. What would be the advantage of NT (in addition to the insignificant higher score), if any? 7NT might have chances against a very bad club break and 7NT cannot go down on opening lead ruff. In most cases your choice of grand slams probably doesn't matter. However, if you are playing in Zia's heat #3, they cash A in 7NT and either ruff or take a trump trick in 7.

In real life I passed 7. However, let's assume that you bid 7NT and face the following:

North
AK1063
AJ2
QJ862
South
QJ
K865
AQJ8
AK4
W
N
E
S
2NT
P
3
P
3
P
4
P
5NT
P
7
P
7NT
P
P
P

LHO leads 9. Well bid! You play low from dummy, get 2 from RHO and win with the Q. Preparing to claim, you cash the A. There's something odd with the club LHO follows: it looks red. Indeed, it's the 2. 

How do you plan the play now?

North
AK1063
AJ2
QJ862
South
QJ
K865
AQJ8
AK4
W
N
E
S
2NT
P
3
P
3
P
4
P
5NT
P
7
P
7NT
P
P
P

There are multiple squeeze chances and the straightforward heart finesse for the missing 13th trick. However, there are communication problems forcing you to give up something. You could keep most of the flexibility by overtaking the Q and running the spades but 5-1 spade break would drop your trick count to 11 and you cannot afford that. Assuming that you are not going to overtake, you have to give up minor suit squeeze by using clubs as the entry suit or red suit squeeze by using A as the transport to dummy.

I'm not sure about the best line but with the known 5-0 clubs, my suggestion is to cash Q and then K and enter dummy in clubs. Then you can cash the black suit winners coming down to

North
AJ2
8
South
K8
AQ
W
N
E
S
2NT
P
3
P
3
P
4
P
5NT
P
7
P
7NT
P
P
P

You play to the king, cash the A discarding the 8 and then make the crucial squeeze or finesse decision. Note that once you follow this line, the defenders play double dummy as you need the K as your re-entry meaning that you cannot have Q nor K, because that would give you 13 tricks and you need K and AQJ to get your promised 20 hcp.

The full hand was:

West
9874
1097
1075432
North
AK1063
AJ2
QJ862
East
52
Q43
K96
109752
South
QJ
K865
AQJ8
AK4
W
N
E
S
 
2N
P
3
P
3
P
4
P
5N
P
7
P
7N
P
P
P
D
7NT South
NS: 0 EW: 0

The suggested line had easily landed 7NT as East would have been squeezed in 3 suits.

Going down in 7 was worth -14 IMPs. Of 15 scores, four were -100 in 7 and only one was +2220 in 7NT (worth 15IMPs). Our opponents went on to win the tournament. Sometimes great EV is killed by the hammer of variance.

8 Comments
Getting Comments... loading...
.

Bottom Home Top