Join Bridge Winners
Watch Their Spots
(Page of 13)

In a semi-final match in the Senior trials, you have an interesting decision when partner's Landy call gets doubled.

E-W vul, East deals. As South, you hold

South
K7
J43
1087632
94
W
N
E
S
1NT
P
P
2
X
?

2: Both majors. Will usually be 5-4 at least, but 4-4 is possible.

Your conventional bids mean:

Pass: Asks partner to pass (if West passes) if he holds 3+ clubs.

Redouble: Forces partner to bid 2, after which you place the contract.

2: Asks partner to bid his better major.

Your call?

South
K7
J43
1087632
94
W
N
E
S
1NT
P
P
2
X
?

If East hadn't doubled you would have no choice but to bid 2, since 2 would have asked partner to bid his better major. The double gives you the option of getting to 2 via redouble.

Which suit has a longer combined holding? Not clear. Partner could be 5-4 either way in the majors, and he could also be 4-4. He might have almost any number of diamonds.

Your diamonds aren't going to be of any value unless they are trumps. On the other hand, if partner has a singleton diamond the opponents will score diamond tricks they wouldn't be scoring if hearts are trumps.

How will a 4-3 heart fit play? It might be okay. Your spade holding indicates that even if the opponents lead or shift to trumps, you may be able to get a quick spade ruff or two in the short hand.

Redoubling gives you more maneuvering room if you are in trouble. East can't possibly be doubling 2, particularly since he likely has 5 clubs. If West doubles, you can then retreat to 2 if you so choose, so the opponents would have to be able to double both contracts.

On the other hand, West is more likely to double 2 than to double 2. The downside isn't nearly as great, since 2 doubled making isn't game while 2 doubled making is game. Also, if West does double 2 that brings East back into the picture so he can double 2 if appropriate. If you bid 2 directly, East can't possibly double.

It is a close call, but probably the odds favor bidding 2.

You bid 2, ending the auction.

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

West leads the 7. Standard leads and carding.

North
J964
AQ98
A
QJ83
South
K7
J43
1087632
94
W
N
E
S
1NT
P
P
2
X
2
P
P
P

You play small from dummy. East wins the king, and returns the 6. Do you win the jack or win in dummy?

North
J964
AQ9
A
QJ83
South
K7
J4
1087632
94
W
N
E
S
1NT
P
P
2
X
2
P
P
P

With the clubs known to be stacked behind dummy's clubs, there can't be any value leading up to dummy's clubs. If you lead the 9, West will surely cover if he has the 10. Therefore, there is no reason to win the jack of hearts. Retaining the jack of hearts might be important, either for a later entry or for a club ruff which can't get overruffed.

You play small from your hand. West plays the 2. What do you win with?

North
J964
AQ9
A
QJ83
South
K7
J4
1087632
94
W
N
E
S
1NT
P
P
2
X
2
P
P
P

If there were any reason to win a trick in your hand, unblocking with the queen or ace would be right. Since there is no reason, you might as well win cheaply with the 9 so the suit isn't blocked.

You win the 9. What do you do now?

North
J964
AQ
A
QJ83
South
K7
J
1087632
94
W
N
E
S
1NT
P
P
2
X
2
P
P
P

You are going to have to set up a club trick, and since you have the club spots you can do so by force. You figure to have sufficient entries to dummy to do so.

There is no gain from leading the queen of clubs. However, there might be a gain from leading a small club towards your 9. If East doesn't have the 10, he might panic and go up king. More important, suppose East has A10xxx or K10xxx. When you lead a small club off, it won't occur to him to play the 10, since from his point of view you could have honor doubleton. While having your 9 force West's honor won't gain you a club trick, it will potentially leave you better placed later on in the hand.

You lead the 3. East plays the 2, and your 9 wins, West playing the 7. What now?

North
J964
AQ
A
QJ8
South
K7
J
1087632
4
W
N
E
S
1NT
P
P
2
X
2
P
P
P

It seems natural to play a club. If East is out of hearts, either he has to break spades or you will be able to ruff a club in your hand.

Watch their spots. West led the 7, and East returned the 6. If East is out of hearts, that means that West led the 7 from 10752. Would he ever do that? Granted the 7 is unlikely to figure into the play, but one never knows. No bridge player would ever lead the 7 from that holding. You can take it to the bank East isn't out of hearts, and you aren't getting a club ruff in your hand.

What is going on in the club suit? Clearly East has all the honors. Could he have only 4 clubs? Watch their spots. West played the 7. Would he have done that from 765 playing Standard signals? He might if he were trying to fool you, but from his point of view it is his partner who needs the count in the club suit. You can be pretty sure his 7 is an honest signal, and that East started with 5 clubs. This is consistent with East's double of 2, a call he might not have made with AK10x.

You now have a good picture of the hand. East likely has 5 clubs and 3 hearts. If he has 2 spades that gives West 5 spades, and with that West wouldn't have passed 1NT. Thus, East's distribution is probably 3-3-2-5. The odds are he has at least one diamond honor.

You have for sure 3 heart tricks, 1 club trick, and 1 diamond trick. Your goal is to force the opponents to break a black suit, which will result in you getting at least one more trick. The best play looks to be to draw trumps, cash the ace of diamonds, and exit with a club honor. East will play his remaining diamond, presumably an honor, on which you can discard a spade. Now East will be forced to lead a black suit.

You choose to continue clubs. West plays the 6, and your queen loses to East's king. East leads the 10, West following. What do you do now?

North
J964
A
A
J8
South
K7
1087632
W
N
E
S
1NT
P
P
2
X
2
P
P
P

You are going to have to break spades. Before doing so, you need to get the ace of diamonds out of dummy. If you leave it there, the opponents will have a safe diamond exit.

You cash the ace of diamonds. East plays the 9, and West the 5. Next?

North
J964
A
J8
South
K7
108732
W
N
E
S
1NT
P
P
2
X
2
P
P
P

Cashing the last heart won't help you any. It is better to leave it here so you will have the option of ruffing a diamond if that looks right. Hopefully you will score your king of spades and then end-play East.

You lead a spade. East plays the 2. You play the king of spades, and West wins the ace. West leads the queen of diamonds. Do you ruff or discard?

North
J96
A
J8
South
7
108732
W
N
E
S
1NT
P
P
2
X
2
P
P
P

It is now certain that West started with only 2 clubs, since he would have led a club if he had one. This means that East's distribution must be 3-3-2-5 as expected. You also know that East has the king of diamonds and the queen of spades. If he didn't have both of these cards he wouldn't have the values for a 1NT opener, and West would be too strong to pass the 1NT opening. East's hand must be Qxx K10x Kx AK10xx. You don't know who has the 10.

You could discard a spade. East will be end-played. However, all he has to do is play queen of spades and a spade, and you will have to give him the last two tricks. Your best chance is to ruff. This cannot cost, as you will always get at least one more trick in all variations.

You ruff. East plays the king of diamonds. What do you play now?

North
J96
J8
South
7
10873
W
N
E
S
1NT
P
P
2
X
2
P
P
P

Anything you play will get you one more trick. Even if you lead a club, after taking his three club tricks East will be end-played.

Is there any way to get 2 more tricks? Not if the opponents defend properly. But opponents have been known to make a mistake. Perhaps the best shot is to lead a small spade. If East is afraid you started with K10x of spades, he will need to go up queen and exit with a spade, else he will be end-played and the contract will make. Of course this would make both your bidding and your line of play ridiculous. You would have bid 2 to get partner to pick the major if you were 3-3 in the majors, and you would have finessed for the queen of spades if you had the 10. But it can't hurt to try, since the opponents will be unable to take the rest of the tricks.

You choose to lead the jack of spades. East wins the queen, cashes the ace of clubs, and leads a spade to West's 10. West gets the jack of diamonds, and your 10 scores the last trick for down 2. The full hand is:

West
A1053
752
QJ54
76
North
J964
AQ98
A
QJ83
East
Q82
K106
K9
AK1052
South
K7
J43
1087632
94
W
N
E
S
1NT
P
P
2
X
2
P
P
P
D
2 South
NS: 0 EW: 0
7
8
K
3
2
0
1
6
4
2
9
1
1
1
3
2
9
7
3
2
1
4
6
Q
K
2
2
2
10
J
5
Q
1
3
2
A
9
6
5
1
4
2
4
2
K
A
0
4
3
Q
A
K
2
1
5
3
J
Q
7
3
2
5
4
A
3
5
8
2
5
5
8
7
10
6
0
5
6
J
12

How was the defense?

West
A1053
752
QJ54
76
North
J964
AQ98
A
QJ83
East
Q82
K106
K9
AK1052
South
K7
J43
1087632
94
W
N
E
S
1NT
P
P
2
X
2
P
P
P
D
2 South
NS: 0 EW: 0
7
8
K
3
2
0
1
6
4
2
9
1
1
1
3
2
9
7
3
2
1
4
6
Q
K
2
2
2
10
J
5
Q
1
3
2
A
9
6
5
1
4
2
4
2
K
A
0
4
3
Q
A
K
2
1
5
3
J
Q
7
3
2
5
4
A
3
5
8
2
5
5
8
7
10
6
0
5
6
J
12

Leading a heart was clear. West knows all suits are under control, and declarer will likely want to ruff spades in his hand. East's double of 2 doesn't demand a club lead. It merely tells West where East lives. However, there was no need to squander the 7. While it is unlikely to make a difference, you never know.

East was definitely correct to win the king of hearts and return a heart. Even if West has the jack of hearts so going up king costs a heart trick, that trick will almost certainly come back since spade ruffs will be prevented. In the more likely case that declarer has the jack of hearts, failing to go up king would be very costly.

Ducking the club off dummy was probably right. West might have had the 9. East can see that the trick is almost certain to come back.

West was sloppy leading the queen of diamonds. It was 100% that East had the king for his 1NT opening. Declarer could still get out for down 2 if West had led back a small diamond, but declarer would have to exercise a little care.

Do you agree with the E-W bidding?

West
A1053
752
QJ54
76
North
J964
AQ98
A
QJ83
East
Q82
K106
K9
AK1052
South
K7
J43
1087632
94
W
N
E
S
1NT
P
P
2
X
2
P
P
P
D
2 South
NS: 0 EW: 0
7
8
K
3
2
0
1
6
4
2
9
1
1
1
3
2
9
7
3
2
1
4
6
Q
K
2
2
2
10
J
5
Q
1
3
2
A
9
6
5
1
4
2
4
2
K
A
0
4
3
Q
A
K
2
1
5
3
J
Q
7
3
2
5
4
A
3
5
8
2
5
5
8
7
10
6
0
5
6
J
12

East was correct to double 2. This double may allow West to compete to 3 over the enemy 2 of a major contract.

The big question is whether or not West should double 2. He knows his side has at least 22 HCP. He knows all suits are under control, and he has a clear trump lead. Even if the opponents have an 8-card heart fit, it is hard to see where they are going to get 8 tricks. If they have only a 7-card heart fit, there is no way 2 can make and down 2 or even down 3 is quite likely. Most players are averse to doubling the opponents into game, since there is a big downside. Still, when the odds look right one should be willing to take the gamble, and the odds look right here.

It is worth noting that if South hand redoubled 2 and then passed 2, West would have doubled that and then a follow-up double of 2 if South runs would be a lot easier.

Do you agree with the 2 call?

West
A1053
752
QJ54
76
North
J964
AQ98
A
QJ83
East
Q82
K106
K9
AK1052
South
K7
J43
1087632
94
W
N
E
S
1NT
P
P
2
X
2
P
P
P
D
2 South
NS: 0 EW: 0
7
8
K
3
2
0
1
6
4
2
9
1
1
1
3
2
9
7
3
2
1
4
6
Q
K
2
2
2
10
J
5
Q
1
3
2
A
9
6
5
1
4
2
4
2
K
A
0
4
3
Q
A
K
2
1
5
3
J
Q
7
3
2
5
4
A
3
5
8
2
5
5
8
7
10
6
0
5
6
J
12

Many players would be afraid to enter with the North hand, but it is a winning action on balance. If North hits his partner with a 4-card major, bidding probably turns a minus score into a plus score. It is unlikely that both 1NT and 2 of a major will be going down, particularly since South will probably be leading a diamond. It is possible that N-S are in trouble, but the opponents still have to get you and they won't always do so, as on the actual hand. If North had passed, 1NT certainly would have made, so the 2 call didn't cost anything even though North hit South with about as bad a hand as possible. It's a bidder's game.

At the other table, North sold out to 1NT. This comfortably made 8 tricks.

It is important to watch the opponents' spot cards and draw inferences from them. Occasionally they may falsecard you, but for the most part their carding will be honest, either because they don't want to mislead their partner or they don't see any particular need to falsecard.

16 Comments
Getting Comments... loading...
.

Bottom Home Top