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Common Game 2019-01-21 Board 3
West
Q9864
AQ10
A109
A7
North
A3
8743
Q863
986
East
J
K5
J7542
QJ1043
South
K10752
J962
K
K52
D
3
West
North
East
South
P
1NT
P
2NT
P
3
P
P
P

Analysis by David Loeb

The Bidding: It is common to open 1NT with a 5-card major to avoid rebid problems. After West opens a strong notrump, action will vary depending on judgment and partnership agreements. East's quacky 5-5 hand merits a downgrade for the singleton Jack, doubleton King, and the poor diamond texture. East's club texture merits an upgrade. Treating East's hand as invitational seems like an overbid. Passing 1NT is risky. North-South may be able to find a major suit fit. A minor suit may score better than 1NT. Attempting to play in a minor seems best. Some partnerships play Minor Suit Stayman which typically contains a weak option allowing opener to choose between 3 and 3. It is more common to play Four-suit transfers . If 2NT is a transfer to diamonds, it can be used to signoff in 3 or 3. East responds an artificial 2NT to transfer to diamonds. If West doesn't like diamonds, they rebid an artificial 3. East passes 3, hoping 3 is a better contract. Here, West rebids 3 to say they would accept a Game Try in diamonds. West's 3 bid ends the auction.

At tables where East passes 1NT, South's hand, the favorable vulnerability, and Mel's Rule of 2 suggest balancing. South uses the partnership's method to show the majors. North prefers hearts. Now East must guess how to proceed. Defending a non-vulnerable 2 isn't attractive. East could make a Negative Double . If West bids 2, East can show the minors by bidding 3. The downside of doubling is West may convert the double for penalty and East isn't sure 2X can be beaten or would compensate for a making partial. By not describing their hand over West's 1NT opening, East has given themselves the Last Guess .

The Play in 2: East-West's high hearts prevent declarer from benefiting from South's diamond singleton. The defense scores 8 tricks: 3 + 3 + 2. Without a penalty double, 2 down 2 scores quite well against East-West's diamond partial.

The Play in 3: Without a spade lead, declarer can discards East's singleton Jack on a heart winner. Declarer will attempt to setup East's clubs beginning with a pushing finesse against South for the King. If South covers, declarer will score 12 tricks. If South ducks and ducks again, declarer will need to ruff out South's King, positioning North to score 2 diamond tricks, holding declarer to 11 tricks.

Even if the defense cashes a spade, declarer can score 11 tricks. The singleton King and onside King help declarer. Declarer has the trump texture to scramble 11 tricks on a Cross-Ruff . In the end game, West will lead a spade. North had Q86, but must ruff in front of East's J7 J (or similar). If North ruffs high, East discards their remaining club. If South ruffs with the 8 or 6, declarer overruffs and leads a club to ruff with West's 10 (or 9). North scores just their Queen for the defense's 2nd trick.

Analysis by Lynn Berg

West opens 1NT. Even the advocates of always bidding the major suit might do it with such a poor suit. East may well just raise NT, maybe even to game with her two five card suits. Play is not easy, since there are few entries to the East hand. It would be a lucky declarer who laid down the A, dropping the King. But North won't cooperate, since she can hold up so long before taking the Queen.

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