Join Bridge Winners
Bring Him Into The Loop
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In a semi-final match in the Senior trials, you have a difficult two-suiter to handle opposite partner's strong 1NT opener.

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

North
K10654
2
KQJ532
K
W
N
E
S
P
1NT
P
?

1NT: 14-16

Available bids which might fit this hand are:

2: Transfer. No special agreements after that. Partner will super-accept only with 4+ card support and a top-of-the-line hand. A follow-up 3 call would be a natural game force.

3: Transfer to diamonds, must be accepted. New major-suit bids after that show shortness, so it would be impossible to get spades into the picture. A 4 follow-up would be RKC.

4: Gerber, normal responses.

Your call?

North
K10654
2
KQJ532
K
W
N
E
S
P
1NT
P
?

Even though the diamond suit is longer and much stronger than the spade suit, it looks like things will go smoother if you start with 2. This may commit you to playing in spades when partner has 3 spades, but that might just plain be right. If partner doesn't have 3 spades, you can always play in diamonds. The knowledge that partner doesn't have 3 spades will be of value when considering slam decisions, since you won't have to be worried about a third-round spade loser.

You bid 2. The bidding continues:

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

2: transfer

3 would be a natural game force. Jumps in new suits would be splinters. 4 would be a balanced slam try. 4NT would be a natural invite.

Your call?

 

North
K10654
2
KQJ532
K
W
N
E
S
P
1NT
P
2
P
2
P
?

Bidding 3 is clear. This will get you the most important information, which is how many spades partner has. If partner doesn't have 3 spades, you know you belong in diamonds and can consider slam possibilities there. If partner does have 3+ spades then spades will be a playable spot and you will have to work out your best approach.

You bid 3. The bidding continues:

W
N
E
S
P
1NT
P
2
P
2
P
3
P
3
P
?

Partner's 3 bid definitely shows 3+ spades. 4 would have shown a terrible hand for slam puposes. He would be expected to bid 3 on all other hands with 3+ card spade support. If he bids anything other than 3 or 4, that would presumably deny 3 spades.

Your calls would mean as follows:

3NT: Offer to play

4, 4, and 4: Q-bids, showing slam interest. These bids don't necessarily show or deny anything in the suit, although logically if you skip over a suit and make a higher Q-bid the reason may be that you don't have a control in the suit.

4: To play

4NT: RKC in spades

5 or 5: Splinter

Your call?

 

North
K10654
2
KQJ532
K
W
N
E
S
P
1NT
P
2
P
2
P
3
P
3
P
?

You certainly have slam interest. If partner has 3 aces (including the ace of spades) and the queen of spades you want to be in slam. You can find this out by bidding RKC.

On the other hand, bidding RKC isn't safe. You have 12 HCP in your hand, and partner has 14-16. This leaves 12-14 HCP for the opponents, which could consist of 3 aces. Or the opponents could have 2 aces and the queen of spades, in which case 5 will be in jeopardy. There is very real 5-level danger on this hand.

What can you do? You are too strong to quit at 4, since slam could be quite good. Will a Q-bid help? If partner has anything decent he will come back with a Q-bid of his own. Now you can try RKC. But there are plenty of hands partner might hold where he would cooperate and you would be in danger at the 5-level.

Look at things from partner's point of view. Suppose you open 1NT 14-16. Partner transfers to spades, you have 3-card spade support, and you show it. Partner makes any kind of slam try. You are looking at AQx of spades and two other aces. Your thinking is going to be: What more could I possibly have? This is my best possible, for slam purposes, and partner is making a slam try. That makes my hand worth a slam drive.

That is the key. You don't need to bid RKC. If you make a move and partner has 3 aces and the queen of trumps, he will drive to slam. If he has less, you don't want to be in slam. Thus, your best plan is to make that move with 4. Partner will probably come back with 4 of a red suit. You now sign off in 4. If partner has what you need, he won't stop. If he doesn't have that perfect hand, you don't want to be any higher.

You choose to bid 4NT. The bidding continues:

W
N
E
S
P
1NT
P
2
P
2
P
3
P
3
P
4NT
P
5
P
?

4NT: RKC

5: 0 or 3 keycards

Available to you are:

5: Asks about the queen of trumps

5: Asks whether partner has 0 keycards or 3 keycards.

5: Signoff.

5NT: Asks for specific kings

6 anything: Offer to play.

Your call?

 

North
K10654
2
KQJ532
K
W
N
E
S
P
1NT
P
2
P
2
P
3
P
3
P
4NT
P
5
P
?

You have enough high cards so partner must have 3 aces. That is not the problem.

The key to the hand is the queen of trumps. You should ask for it. If partner doesn't have it he will bid 5, or he can bid 5 to show extra length (the extra length would be 4, since if partner has 5 spades he would know that the partnership has a 10-card fit so missing the queen would not be a problem). If partner has the queen, he will bid higher than 5.

You bid 5. The bidding continues:

W
N
E
S
P
1NT
P
2
P
2
P
3
P
3
P
4NT
P
5
P
5
P
5
P
?

5: Asks for the queen of trumps

5: No queen, no extra length

Your call?

North
K10654
2
KQJ532
K
W
N
E
S
P
1NT
P
2
P
2
P
3
P
3
P
4NT
P
5
P
5
P
5
P
?

If partner had shown no queen but extra length you might have gambled out slam. If you did so, you might choose to play in 6 since that might give you a better chance to get the spades right.

With partner having no extra length, it is clear to stop in 5. Slam is at best on a finesse, and will be a lot worse if partner doesn't have the jack of spades.

You pass, ending the auction.

W
N
E
S
P
1NT
P
2
P
2
P
3
P
3
P
4NT
P
5
P
5
P
5
P
P
P

Since you are playing Kit's Korner transfers, you transfer yourself to partner's side to play the hand.

West leads the 4. Standard leads and carding.

North
K10654
2
KQJ532
K
South
987
AK10
A106
A1073
W
N
E
S
P
1NT
P
2
P
2
P
3
P
3
P
4NT
P
5
P
5
P
5
P
P
P

Where do you win this trick?

North
K10654
2
KQJ532
K
South
987
AK10
A106
A1073
W
N
E
S
P
1NT
P
2
P
2
P
3
P
3
P
4NT
P
5
P
5
P
5
P
P
P

You would like to lead spades from your hand, so there is a temptation to overtake the king of clubs. The danger is that the spades might split 4-1, which could subject dummy to being tapped out. You have red-suit entries to your hand, and that should be sufficient.

You win the king of clubs, East playing the 2. What do you play next?

North
K10654
2
KQJ532
South
987
AK10
A106
A107
W
N
E
S
P
1NT
P
2
P
2
P
3
P
3
P
4NT
P
5
P
5
P
5
P
P
P

You want to get to your hand for a spade play, and you may need to get there twice. Since there is some danger of a diamond ruff, your first entry should be in the heart suit.

You lead a heart to your ace, East playing the 3 and West the 4. Which spade do you lead?

 

North
K10654
KQJ532
South
987
K10
A106
A107
W
N
E
S
P
1NT
P
2
P
2
P
3
P
3
P
4NT
P
5
P
5
P
5
P
P
P

It probably won't make any difference. You would prefer West flies ace of spades. He almost certainly will play small instead if he has a small spade to play. But you might as well lead the 7, as he will think it less likely that you will let this ride than if you lead the 9, so he is more likely to fly ace with A3 or A2 doubleton.

You lead the 7. What is your plan if West follows small?

 

North
K10654
KQJ532
South
987
K10
A106
A107
W
N
E
S
P
1NT
P
2
P
2
P
3
P
3
P
4NT
P
5
P
5
P
5
P
P
P

Taking the double finesse is far superior to going up king. The double finesse is necessary when West hold Qx, Jx, Qxx, Jxx, QJx, QJxx, and AQJx. Naturally if the first finesse loses to the queen or the jack you plan to finesse for the remaining minor honor. Going up king is better only when West holds Axx or if he holds Ax and East has a singleton diamond.

You lead the 7. West plays the queen, and naturally you cover with the king. Unfortunately, East wins the ace and returns a diamond. When you win and play another spade, West wins and gives his partner a diamond ruff so you are down 1. The full hand is:

West
QJ
97654
974
954
North
K10654
2
KQJ532
K
East
A32
QJ83
8
QJ862
South
987
AK10
A106
A1073
W
N
E
S
 
P
1N
P
2
P
2
P
3
P
3
P
4N
P
5
P
5
P
5
P
P
P
D
5 South
NS: 0 EW: 0
4
K
2
3
1
1
0
2
3
A
4
3
2
0
7
Q
K
A
2
2
1
8
A
4
2
3
3
1
8
J
4
2
0
3
2
7
K
3
6

Declarer could have made 5 by ducking the queen of spades, since the defense wouldn't have been able to get a diamond ruff. But obviously that would have been double-dummy.

Do you agree with the opening lead?

West
QJ
97654
974
954
North
K10654
2
KQJ532
K
East
A32
QJ83
8
QJ862
South
987
AK10
A106
A1073
W
N
E
S
 
P
1N
P
2
P
2
P
3
P
3
P
4N
P
5
P
5
P
5
P
P
P
D
5 South
NS: 0 EW: 0
4
K
2
3
1
1
0
2
3
A
4
3
2
0
7
Q
K
A
2
2
1
8
A
4
2
3
3
1
8
J
4
2
0
3
2
7
K
3
6

If West had an entry he might have tried a diamond lead hoping for a ruff. With his actual hand he didn't expect to get in, so he led one of the other suits. His only clue between the suits is that his partner didn't double 2, but that isn't much of a clue.

There is a lot to be said for him finding a diamond lead anyway. The way North bid the hand it appears that North isn't worried about the second round of clubs or hearts, so the only hope for the defense might be that partner has ace-third of spades and will be able to score a third-round diamond ruff.

Do you agree with South's bidding?

West
QJ
97654
974
954
North
K10654
2
KQJ532
K
East
A32
QJ83
8
QJ862
South
987
AK10
A106
A1073
W
N
E
S
 
P
1N
P
2
P
2
P
3
P
3
P
4N
P
5
P
5
P
5
P
P
P
D
5 South
NS: 0 EW: 0
4
K
2
3
1
1
0
2
3
A
4
3
2
0
7
Q
K
A
2
2
1
8
A
4
2
3
3
1
8
J
4
2
0
3
2
7
K
3
6

South could have chosen to bid 3NT with his weak spade suit and double stoppers in hearts and clubs. However, the 3 call is better. South doesn't know where North is headed, and the 3 call may be what North needs to get to the right contract. 3NT is still in the picture, since North can bid that over 3 with an appropriate hand. This isn't the time to mastermind. If South hadn't bid 3 North would have every reason to think that South has a doubleton spade, and that could cause North to drive to a diamond slam.

At the other table, North chose to start with a transfer to diamonds and followed with 3 which was a natural call. South thought he had working cards, so he Q-bid 4. This was enough to convince North to barge into RKC, and a hopeless 6 contract was reached for a push.

When you are in the captain's seat and have to make a slam decision, it is sometimes right to bring partner into the picture even when it looks like you can find what you need yourself. The key is to see how partner will react if you bring him into the loop. By picturing hands he might have and seeing if he will be making the right decision if asked, it may be apparent that this is the better approach.

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