Join Bridge Winners
Flawed Multi
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In a round-robin match in the Open Trials, you must decide whether or not to open a flawed Multi.

N-S vul, East deals. As East, you hold:

East
KJ953
52
Q95
QJ7
W
N
E
S
?

Your opening 1NT range is 10-12.

If you wish to preempt, your opening bid is 2, Multi. 2 would be something else. At this vulnerability, if you open 2, partner will be expecting a 5-card suit more often than not.

Your call?

East
KJ953
52
Q95
QJ7
W
N
E
S
?

Even with light opening bids, you have to draw the line somewhere. This hand is clearly below the line for a 1 opening.

In ACBL land, it is basically illegal to open 1NT with less than 10 HCP. Even if it were legal, this hand is hardly worth an upgrade.

What about Multi? The suit is okay, and nothing that partner wouldn't expect. It is the rest of the hand which is wrong. 5-3-3-2 shape is terrible. Two outside queens and an outside jack. The hand just doesn't have any bite to it. You are so flat that whatever the opponents do is likely to be right for them.

Despite all the flaws, there is one overriding factor which argues in favor of opening Multi. It is the vulnerability. It is right to be extremely aggressive at favorable vulnerability with preempts, opening anything which is plausible. It is simply a matter of numbers. If something bad happens (you go for a number, bid a bad game, miss a good game, or bid too high on a part-score hand), the cost is usually only about 5 IMPs. However, when something good happens (you get a needed lead, opponents miss a game, get to the wrong game, get a slam auction wrong, or go for a number), the gain is usually at least 10 IMPs. You are getting roughly 2 to 1 IMPs odds on your call. That is pretty good odds for jacking up the volatility. Favorable vulnerability takes care of a lot of ills.

You open 2. The bidding concludes

W
N
E
S
2
X
3
X
3
3NT
P
P
P

2: Weak 2 in a major

South's DBL: 13-15 balanced or some big hand

3: Pass or correct

Partner leads the 7. Attitude leads. UDCA. No Smith.

North
42
Q1087
AK2
10863
East
KJ953
52
Q95
QJ7
W
N
E
S
2
X
3
X
3
3NT
P
P
P

Which spade do you play?

North
42
Q1087
AK2
10863
East
KJ953
52
Q95
QJ7
W
N
E
S
2
X
3
X
3
3NT
P
P
P

Partner's 3 call forces you to the 3-level. He would never be making this bid with a doubleton spade. The 7 is likely his smallest spade from some three-card holding to an honor.

If you didn't have a side entry, it might be right to play the jack. This will give declarer a trick if declarer has Qxx, but the suit will be ready to run. If you play the king, return a small spade, and declarer guesses right and plays small, the spade suit will not run.

On this hand, you have plenty of potential entries. There is no need to preserve communication. You should play the king. This will give declarer a guess on the second round if declarer started with Q86 or Q106.

You play the king of spades. Declarer plays the 6. What do you return?

North
4
Q1087
AK2
10863
East
J953
52
Q95
QJ7
W
N
E
S
2
X
3
X
3
3NT
P
P
P

Returning a spade looks clear. From a technical point of view, any spade but the jack will suffice, since if declarer has Qxx and misguesses you will run the suit unless you squander the jack. Therefore, the spot you return should tend to be suit-preference. Probably the 5, indicating diamond emphasis. That is the suit you know you have control of.

You return the 5. Declarer wins the ace, partner playing the 10. Declarer leads the 3, and partner wins the king. Which heart do you play?

North
Q1087
AK2
10863
East
J93
52
Q95
QJ7
W
N
E
S
2
X
3
X
3
3NT
P
P
P

It probably won't matter, but there isn't any reason not to give honest count here and play the 2.

You play the 2. Partner leads the 8, and dummy discards a club. Which spade do you play?

North
Q108
AK2
10863
East
J93
5
Q95
QJ7
W
N
E
S
2
X
3
X
3
3NT
P
P
P

You have 3 spades left, and partner knows this. You can play any of them. Probably best is to confirm holding the queen of diamonds by playing your middle spade, which should correspond to the middle suit.

You play the 9. Declarer wins the queen, and leads the jack of hearts, partner ducking. Declarer plays a third heart, and partner wins the ace. What do you discard?

North
Q10
AK2
1086
East
J3
Q95
QJ7
W
N
E
S
2
X
3
X
3
3NT
P
P
P

Your side has scored 3 tricks already. If you get in with a minor suit, you will only need to cash one spade trick to defeat the contract. Therefore, you don't need to hold both of your spades.

You discard the 3. Partner leads the jack of diamonds to dummy's ace. Now declarer leads a small club off dummy. What do you play?

North
Q
K2
1086
East
J
Q9
QJ7
W
N
E
S
2
X
3
X
3
3NT
P
P
P

This is tricky. There is a real danger that declarer holds 4 clubs. He certainly has the ace-king, so he needs to get a third club trick without letting you in.

If declarer has the 9, you need to split and hope for the best. If you play small, declarer will insert the 9, since this will make the contract even if it loses.

If partner has the 9, you can always defeat the contract by playing the 7. Declarer can't afford to duck, since your 7 will win. If declarer wins the trick, you will win the third round of clubs to defeat the contract. If you split, declarer can make the hand by crossing to dummy and smashing through the 10 of clubs.

The indications are that declarer has the 9. If he didn't, he probably wouldn't have been willing to discard a club from dummy on the third round of spades. Also, he probably would have led the 8 off dummy, which would succeed if your partner has the 9 along with one of the club honors. Thus, splitting looks best.

You split with the jack of clubs. Declarer wins the ace, and leads a small club to dummy's 10. You win the queen, and cash your spade for down 1. The full hand is:

West
1087
AK64
J1086
54
North
42
Q1087
AK2
10863
East
KJ953
52
Q95
QJ7
South
AQ6
J93
743
AK92
W
N
E
S
2
X
3
X
3
3NT
P
P
P
D
3NT South
NS: 0 EW: 0
7
2
K
6
2
0
1
5
A
10
4
3
1
1
3
K
7
2
0
1
2
8
3
9
Q
3
2
2
J
4
8
5
3
3
2
9
A
10
3
0
3
3
J
A
5
3
1
4
3
6
J
A
4
3
5
3
2
5
10
Q
2
5
4
J
10

How was declarer's line of play?

West
1087
AK64
J1086
54
North
42
Q1087
AK2
10863
East
KJ953
52
Q95
QJ7
South
AQ6
J93
743
AK92
W
N
E
S
2
X
3
X
3
3NT
P
P
P
D
3NT South
NS: 0 EW: 0
7
2
K
6
2
0
1
5
A
10
4
3
1
1
3
K
7
2
0
1
2
8
3
9
Q
3
2
2
J
4
8
5
3
3
2
9
A
10
3
0
3
3
J
A
5
3
1
4
3
6
J
A
4
3
5
3
2
5
10
Q
2
5
4
J
10

The double hold-up in the spade suit is a standard ploy to guard against split heart honors when the spades are 6-2. This will cut the enemy communications and prevent establishment and cashing of the spade suit. Here, however, declarer failed to listen to the bidding. It is inconceivable that West would have committed to the 3-level in a potential 5-2 spade fit. He must have 3 spades. Consequently, the double hold-up cannot gain, and it could cost if East finds a diamond shift. On this hand East would have to be playing with mirrors to find that shift, but on other layouts the diamond shift may be attractive.

Declarer's discard of a club from dummy on the third round of spades was ill-advised. He made the play in order to pretend to have interest in the diamond suit, but it left him compromised later on.

There was no reason for declarer not to cash the last heart before leading a club. Maybe East would have felt some pressure.

East couldn't have a singleton jack of clubs, since that would mean he was 5-5 and surely would have discarded a diamond . He might have jack-doubleton and have properly played the jack on the first round, and that was what declarer was playing for. However, if declarer had kept the fourth club in dummy he could now continue with king and a club, losing only when East has QJx. His actual play would have been very costly if East started with QJ doubleton.

How about West's defense?

West
1087
AK64
J1086
54
North
42
Q1087
AK2
10863
East
KJ953
52
Q95
QJ7
South
AQ6
J93
743
AK92
W
N
E
S
2
X
3
X
3
3NT
P
P
P
D
3NT South
NS: 0 EW: 0
7
2
K
6
2
0
1
5
A
10
4
3
1
1
3
K
7
2
0
1
2
8
3
9
Q
3
2
2
J
4
8
5
3
3
2
9
A
10
3
0
3
3
J
A
5
3
1
4
3
6
J
A
4
3
5
3
2
5
10
Q
2
5
4
J
10

It looks fine. The 10 might come in handy, so should not be led. Winning the first heart looks right, since letting declarer steal a heart trick and then work on clubs could be fatal for the defense. A diamond shift is never necessary, since if East has a club entry the spade continuation will defeat the contract.

Do you like the N-S auction?

West
1087
AK64
J1086
54
North
42
Q1087
AK2
10863
East
KJ953
52
Q95
QJ7
South
AQ6
J93
743
AK92
W
N
E
S
2
X
3
X
3
3NT
P
P
P
D
3NT South
NS: 0 EW: 0
7
2
K
6
2
0
1
5
A
10
4
3
1
1
3
K
7
2
0
1
2
8
3
9
Q
3
2
2
J
4
8
5
3
3
2
9
A
10
3
0
3
3
J
A
5
3
1
4
3
6
J
A
4
3
5
3
2
5
10
Q
2
5
4
J
10

South's double was systemic. North's double apparently showed hearts. South would have done better to double 3 than to bid 3NT, but South couldn't be confident of more than a 2-trick set and the lure of the vulnerable game was too much to resist. At any other vulnerability South would have had a clear double of 3. This is an illustration of how much difference favorable vulnerability makes. The opponents don't have easy decisions, and will often get them wrong.

What about West's 3 call?

West
1087
AK64
J1086
54
North
42
Q1087
AK2
10863
East
KJ953
52
Q95
QJ7
South
AQ6
J93
743
AK92
W
N
E
S
2
X
3
X
3
3NT
P
P
P
D
3NT South
NS: 0 EW: 0
7
2
K
6
2
0
1
5
A
10
4
3
1
1
3
K
7
2
0
1
2
8
3
9
Q
3
2
2
J
4
8
5
3
3
2
9
A
10
3
0
3
3
J
A
5
3
1
4
3
6
J
A
4
3
5
3
2
5
10
Q
2
5
4
J
10

If East's suit is spades, which is likely, and East has only 5 spades, then competing to 3 is probably wrong. The actual hand is a good illustration, where 3 doubled is down 2 and the opponents probably don't have a game. However, the 3 call looks right. Even when 3 is too high, the opponents don't know that, and will often fail to collect their penalty. A lower bid fails to put sufficient pressure on N-S. On the other hand, bidding 3 pass or correct would be too much. This would commit to 4 if East has hearts, and that is too high and too easy for N-S to double.

Many players who refuse to preempt with a hand such as the East hand give the argument that partner won't know what to do, since one would make the same preempt on a 6-card suit without the side queens and jacks. It is true that if one waits for a model to preempt, then when the model comes partner will be more likely to make a winning decision. However, failure to act on hands which aren't a model is costly. Even if Multi isn't a perfect description of the East hand, it is a much better description than pass, and West is more likely to make a winning decision than if East had passed. Furthermore, the pressure on the opponents is quite real. If East had passed, N-S would have had no difficulty getting to a secure club or notrump partial, and if E-W had then competed to 3 N-S would have been able to double without fear of missing a vulnerable game. The preempt made N-S guess without adequate information.

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