RHO opens with 1♥
. I don't like overcalling with three cards in the opponent's suit. But that's not enough to deter me with this hand. My overcall is at the one level, I'm not vulnerable, and I have the spade suit.
I bid 1♠
, LHO bids 2♦
, partner bids 3♣
, and RHO bids 3NT. I pass and LHO passes, but partner bids on to 4♣
, which RHO doubles. If partner doesn't think we're beating 3NT, he's probably right. I just hope we don't go down too many. I may yet regret having overcalled with three hearts. Move one of my hearts to any other suit, and I'd be confident we had done the right thing.
RHO leads the ♦
Partner should not have saved. For one thing, he can't be sure of taking seven tricks. If I don't have an ace or if he has to lose a trick to the ♣
J, he rates to go for 800. For another, he can't be sure three notrump is making. The ♦
Q is a scary card to hold. For all he knows, neither of their suits is running. In general, when you sacrifice, you must be fairly sure either that you aren't going down too many or that their game is making. A bid that has two ways to lose is seldom a good bet.
East plays the ♦
K, and I drop the ♦
Q. He cashes his presumably singleton ♥
A. If West has a doubleton diamond, then East must shift to a trump at trick three for the defense to take all their tricks. If he plays another diamond, playing for his partner to have the singleton, I can ruff and take a spade finesse to pitch a heart.
How does West clarify whether or not his diamond lead was a singleton? As I play, he does so via an attitude signal. A low card asks partner to shift back to the original suit (probably, though not necessarily, because it is a singleton), and a high card suggests he do something else. One might also play suit preference: low to ask for a diamond and high to ask for a spade. Since a spade into dummy's ♠
AQ is illogical, a signal for spades (like an encouraging attitude signal) means nothing more than that you don't want a diamond shift. Partner must work out for himself what to do instead.
Whether you play attitude or suit preference makes little difference so long you are consistent about it. It would be a mistake to vary your methodology depending on the choice partner is faced with, that is, to signal attitude if the choice is between hearts and diamonds but suit preference if the choice is between spades and diamonds. Sometimes the choice is clear, but sometimes it isn't. And sometimes it is clear to one defender but not to the other. The main thing partner is interested in is whether or not your lead was a singleton, so you need an unambiguous way of conveying that information. To use attitude sometimes and suit preference sometimes to convey the same information is begging to have an accident. In this particular case, of course, you can't have an accident. A low heart suggests a diamond shift however you choose to signal. But you won't always be so lucky, so it pays to have a firm, consistent agreement.
I play the ♥
7, and West plays the ♥
2. Despite this card, East switches to the ♣
3. How did East get this right? I suspect he paid no attention to his partner's signal (and rightly so). He probably considered it unlikely that I would bid 4♣
with two diamond losers and played accordingly.
I don't need to finesse the ♣
10 to pick up ♣
Jxx of clubs onside. East is going to be ruffing the fourth round of hearts, after which his ♣
J will drop. Only if East has ♣
Jxxx will it gain to finesse, and that's unlikely given the auction. I'm more likely to find West with AJ doubleton, so I play the ♣
West wins with the ♣
A. He cashes the ♥
KQ, on which East pitches ♠
6. West then plays a fourth heart, which East ruffs with the ♣
5. East plays the ♦
A. I ruff with the ♣
10 and cash the ♣
K. Fortunately both opponents follow, so I'm -500.
Our counterparts at the other table also took the questionable save, so the deal is a push. 3NT makes on any sensible line of play, so I suppose partner saved 3 IMPs. But it doesn't take much to make his decision a bad one. Give declarer ♣AJx, for example. Or, better yet, switch the ♠7 and ♠9. Now we might actually beat 3NT. (To make it, declarer must win the opening club lead. If he ducks, he corrects the count for a squeeze against his own hand on the run of the diamonds. Not easy to see at trick one.)
Table 1: -500
Table 2: +500
Score on Board 6: 0 IMPs
Total: +3 IMPs