Join Bridge Winners
Don't Concede
(Page of 8)

In a semi-final match in the Senior trials, you must decide whether or not to get in the auction on a marginal preempt.

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

West
J4
52
KJ109653
Q2
W
N
E
S
1
P
1
?

3 would be defined as preemptive.

Your call?

West
J4
52
KJ109653
Q2
W
N
E
S
1
P
1
?

7-2-2-2 shape is very dangerous for marginal preemptive action. If the opponents double you, all their tricks will cash and they will probably have done the right thing. If the opponents push to a game, all their key suits will split. The marginal preempt has more to lose than to gain. The proper evaluation of a hand such as this is to pretend it is 6-2-2-2. If you perceive the hand in this manner, passing becomes clear.

You pass. The auction concludes:

W
N
E
S
1
P
1
P
1
P
3
P
4
P
P
P

Your lead. Your agreements from length leads are third and fifth, but you haven't discussed your normal lead from a 7-card suit. Your agreements from interior sequences are second highest of the interior sequence from suit length of 3, 4, or 6 (which matches your normal 3rd best lead from these lengths), but top of the interior sequence from a 5-card suit. You haven't discussed a 7-card suit.

 

West
J4
52
KJ109653
Q2
W
N
E
S
1
P
1
P
1
P
3
P
4
P
P
P

If you choose to lead a diamond, it makes more sense to lead small than to lead something from the interior sequence. If partner doesn't have an honor, it won't matter. If he does have an honor, you want to show your strength. With this long a suit the interior sequence isn't going to make a difference.

A diamond lead could blow a trick. It isn't likely to be necessary. If you are going to have a chance to defeat this contract, partner is going to need some stuff in one or both black suits. There should be time to shift to diamonds if that is the route to defeating the contract.

Your club holding is stronger than your spade holding, which appears to make the club lead more attractive. However, you know something about the spade layout. Declarer doesn't have 4 spades, or he would have supported spades. If declarer has 2 spades that gives partner 5 spades, and with 5 spades and a hand good enough to have a chance to defeat 4 partner probably would have overcalled 1. Therefore, declarer is very likely to have 3 spades. That makes the spade lead more promising, both for establishing tricks and for getting a possible third-round ruff. The jack of spades looks best.

You choose to lead the 3.

West
J4
52
KJ109653
Q2
North
KQ96
98
A87
K965
W
N
E
S
1
P
1
P
1
P
3
P
4
P
P
P

Dummy wins the ace, partner playing the 4 and declarer the 2. Declarer leads a heart to his king (4 from partner), and then leads the jack of hearts to partner's ace. Partner returns the queen of diamonds, and declarer ruffs.

You must follow to this trick, and you may need to make as many as 3 diamond discards in the future. Which diamonds should you plan on throwing and which 2 diamonds should you plan on holding?

West
J4
KJ10965
Q2
North
KQ96
87
K965
W
N
E
S
1
P
1
P
1
P
3
P
4
P
P
P

You may have done well on your opening lead, as your diamond length is concealed. When you have played a total of 5 diamonds, you want declarer to believe that the 5 diamonds you have played are your original diamond holding.

You do not want to retain a diamond holding from which you would have led differently. For example, it would be bad to retain the K6, since declarer would know that you would have led the jack from J10953. Also you don't want to project something like QJ10x in partner's hand, since with that he likely would have played the queen at trick 1.

One possibility is to retain J9. That would paint the picture of you having lead from K10653, quite reasonable, and would give partner QJ94, which is also consistent with his carding.

Perhaps a better choice is to retain K10. That would paint the picture of you having led from J9653, quite reasonable. Partner's queen of diamonds play would then not be honest, but partner could easily have led the queen from KQ104 when he was in. The idea is to project extra strength in partner's hand, so declarer plays you for a high card you don't have.

You choose to follow with the 9. Declarer leads the queen of hearts. You discard the 6, as dummy pitches a club and partner follows with the 10. Declarer now plays a spade to dummy's king, a spade to his ace, a spade to dummy's queen, and ruffs a spade to his hand. On the third and fourth rounds of spades you discard the 10 and 5.

Suppose declarer now leads a small club from his hand. Which club do you play?

 

West
KJ
Q2
North
8
K96
W
N
E
S
1
P
1
P
1
P
3
P
4
P
P
P

At this point you know declarer has 3 clubs and a trump left. You need to score 3 club tricks to defeat the contract.

Suppose declarer doesn't have the jack of clubs. If you play small, he should insert the 9 whether or not he has the 10. Since there are only 2 diamonds outstanding, he does not have to worry about being forced. If the diamonds are 1-1, no danger. If you have both diamonds, your partner will be end-played. And if your partner has both diamonds, declarer has no chance if your partner has the ace of clubs and a club higher than the 9. So, playing the 9 has everything to gain and nothing to lose. This means that you can't defeat the contract if declarer started with 10xx of clubs, and if declarer started with xxx you must play the queen in order to take partner off an end-play.

If declarer has the jack of clubs, playing low is your only chance. Hopefully, declarer will misguess twice -- playing the king on this trick, and playing the jack on partner's forced club return. The odds are against all this. For starters, declarer was on the borderline of a 4 call holding Axx KQJxxx x xxx. Add in the jack of clubs, and he probably would have bid 4 instead of 3. Also you need declarer to misguess twice. While the first misguess is likely, the second is not, as you probably would have played the 10 of clubs from 10x. All things considered, it looks best to play partner for AJ10x of clubs and play the queen.

In fact, declarer leads the 10, not a small club. What do you play?

 

West
KJ
Q2
North
8
K96
W
N
E
S
1
P
1
P
1
P
3
P
4
P
P
P

Don't concede! You know partner has nothing left but clubs. If you cover, dummy's king will force partner's ace and he will be end-played. You must play small and hope declarer mistakenly goes up king. As the previous analysis shows he should play small. But maybe he miscounted the diamond discards, or maybe he doesn't see that there is no danger of a force and that it can't hurt him to play the 9. Covering the 10 is a concession.

You choose to cover with the queen of clubs. Declarer gets a club trick and makes the contract. The full hand is:

West
J4
52
KJ109653
Q2
North
KQ96
98
A87
K965
East
10853
A104
Q4
AJ74
South
A72
KQJ763
2
1083
W
N
E
S
1
P
1
P
1
P
3
P
4
P
P
P
D
4 South
NS: 0 EW: 0
3
A
4
2
1
1
0
8
4
K
2
3
2
0
J
5
9
A
2
2
1
Q
7
9
7
3
3
1
Q
6
5
10
3
4
1
2
4
K
3
1
5
1
6
5
A
J
3
6
1
7
10
Q
8
1
7
1
9
10
3
5
3
8
1
10
Q
K
A
2
8
2
10

As can be seen, the club lead would have been the winner.

Could declarer have done better?

 

West
J4
52
KJ109653
Q2
North
KQ96
98
A87
K965
East
10853
A104
Q4
AJ74
South
A72
KQJ763
2
1083
W
N
E
S
1
P
1
P
1
P
3
P
4
P
P
P
D
4 South
NS: 0 EW: 0
3
A
4
2
1
1
0
8
4
K
2
3
2
0
J
5
9
A
2
2
1
Q
7
9
7
3
3
1
Q
6
5
10
3
4
1
2
4
K
3
1
5
1
6
5
A
J
3
6
1
7
10
Q
8
1
7
1
9
10
3
5
3
8
1
10
Q
K
A
2
8
2
10

Quite possibly. When West drops the jack of spades on the second round of spades, declarer can be pretty confident that West didn't start with J10xx. While such a Grosvenor is in reality quite safe (as declarer will never play West for doing this) and could easily throw declarer's count of the hand off, in practice this sort of play just isn't done. Jx is much more likely than J10x, both via restricted choice and the opening lead, as with J10x West would probably have been inclined to lead a spade. The opening lead indicates that West started with 5 diamonds. If all this is accurate, West's distribution is 2-2-5-4. Given that, declarer should abandon spades and take the double club finesse, losing only when East has QJ doubleton. Testing the spades risks getting tapped out and going down when East has AJ or AQ doubleton of clubs.

Do you agree with the N-S auction?

 

West
J4
52
KJ109653
Q2
North
KQ96
98
A87
K965
East
10853
A104
Q4
AJ74
South
A72
KQJ763
2
1083
W
N
E
S
1
P
1
P
1
P
3
P
4
P
P
P
D
4 South
NS: 0 EW: 0
3
A
4
2
1
1
0
8
4
K
2
3
2
0
J
5
9
A
2
2
1
Q
7
9
7
3
3
1
Q
6
5
10
3
4
1
2
4
K
3
1
5
1
6
5
A
J
3
6
1
7
10
Q
8
1
7
1
9
10
3
5
3
8
1
10
Q
K
A
2
8
2
10

Not clear. South might well have bid 4 instead of inviting with 3. One hates to bring back that +170 lose 10 to the comparison. However, North did have nicely working cards and game still wasn't cold, so maybe the 3 call is right. The danger with inviting holding undisclosed shortness is that partner won't be able to evaluate which cards are working and which are not.

North also had a close decision. He is minimal in high cards, but they are primish and he has that all-important second trump. It is generally right to take the push to game when partner invites unless you think you might be too high already. With the North hand, North doesn't feel like 3 is too high.

At the other table, West did lead the jack of spades against 4. Declarer went after trumps, and after trumps were drawn led the 10 of clubs to queen, king, and ace. East led back a diamond, won in dummy. A club from dummy was ducked, and eventually East was squeezed for an overtrick.

Often you will find yourself in a position where it appears that anything you do is destined to fail. If this is the case, try to find the bid or play which at least has some chance, even if that chance involves an error by the opponent. You must avoiding taking the action which can't possibly succeed.

 

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