Join Bridge Winners
He is Gambling
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In a Round of 32 match in the Open Trials for USA2, you have to decide how best to handle a good opening bid.

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

West
4
A9
KQJ6
A98542
W
N
E
S
?

1 opening is normally 16+ points, but you can upgrade if appropriate.

2 opening shows 10-15 points, 6+ clubs.

1 opening shows 11-15 points, 2+ diamonds.

Your call?

West
4
A9
KQJ6
A98542
W
N
E
S
?

While you are 6-4 which is good, this hand isn't worth an upgrade. The club suit is too weak. If the diamond intermediates were in the club suit it might be worth upgrading, but not with the actual hand.

Opening 2 is a perfect description of the most important part of your hand. It is clearly better than opening 1.

You open 2. The bidding continues:

W
N
E
S
2
2
2NT
P
?

2C: 6+ clubs, 10-15 points

2NT: Relay to 3, expected to be just wanting to play 3. A 3 call instead would have been constructive.

Your call?

West
4
A9
KQJ6
A98542
W
N
E
S
2
2
2NT
P
?

It is clear to bid 3. That is all partner wants. There is nothing so special about your hand which justifies doing anything else.

You bid 3. The bidding continues:

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

Your call?

West
4
A9
KQJ6
A98542
W
N
E
S
2
2
2NT
P
3
X
P
3
?

Partner thought the right contract was 3, but that is no longer available to you. Your hand has improved now that partner has some club support, and your 6-4 shape and source of tricks in diamonds is good. You figure to have a good chance to make 10 tricks in clubs. In addition, the opponents could well be cold for 3. It is likely enough that one of the contracts will make to justify competing further.

You bid 4. The bidding continues:

W
N
E
S
2
2
2NT
P
3
X
P
3
4
4
P
P
?

Your call?

West
4
A9
KQJ6
A98542
W
N
E
S
2
2
2NT
P
3
X
P
3
4
4
P
P
?

If 4 is making, you certainly have a decent save in 5. You don't figure to lose more than one trick in each suit.

Is 4 making? Just because North is saying that 4 is making doesn't mean that it will make. North may be stretching. You don't want to be taking a save against a contract which may well be going down unless there is some chance that you will be making your contract, and if partner isn't worth a constructive raise you aren't making 5. It has to be better to defend.

Could it be right to double? One thing you can be sure of is that North doesn't have game in his own hand, or he wouldn't have overcalled 2. He is gambling on catching something decent from South, and South might be broke. North is likely to be 4-6 in the majors with either 2 diamonds and a stiff club, or 3 diamonds and a club void. Either way, you are looking at 3 tricks on defense for starters. While partner hasn't promised anything, he could easily have a high card, a trump trick, a 4-card trump holding, or some annoying stuff in hearts. Any of these things may be sufficient to defeat 4, and some of these layouts may lead to more than a 1-trick set. They aren't ever going to be able to redouble, and they aren't making an overtrick. Partner has no idea you have this much defense, so he will not be able to double even when they are going down a couple of tricks. The odds on doubling look pretty good.

You double, ending the auction.

W
N
E
S
2
2
2NT
P
3
X
P
3
4
4
P
P
X
P
P
P

Your lead. Standard honor leads.

West
4
A9
KQJ6
A98542
W
N
E
S
2
2
2NT
P
3
X
P
3
4
4
P
P
X
P
P
P

The diamond lead stands out. This will establish your diamond trick or tricks before your aces are dislodged. There doesn't appear to be a reason to lead anything but the normal king.

You lead the king of diamonds.

West
4
A9
KQJ6
A98542
North
AK105
KQ10852
98
10
W
N
E
S
2
2
2NT
P
3
X
P
3
4
4
P
P
X
P
P
P

Your king of diamonds holds, partner playing the 5 and declarer the 7.

Partner's signal is suit-preference. 10, 9, 8 are, by priority, suit-preference high. 2, 3, 4 are, by priority, suit-preference low. 6, 5, 7 are, by priority, encouraging.

After trick 1, UDCA.

Your play?

West
4
A9
QJ6
A98542
North
AK105
KQ10852
9
10
W
N
E
S
2
2
2NT
P
3
X
P
3
4
4
P
P
X
P
P
P

Continuing diamonds looks clear. The jack is the best card. Partner will know you have the queen, since you aren't going to be doubling and then leading king from KJ doubleton on this auction. Partner can choose whether to overtake or not.

It looks like partner has the ace of diamonds and you want partner in for a club through. If that is the case, you might lead a small diamond. However, it is barely possible that partner doesn't have the ace of diamonds, and it would be a disaster to lead a low diamond and find declarer with A10. Leading the jack should be sufficient.

You lead the jack of diamonds. Partner overtakes with the ace, declarer playing the 10. Partner shifts to the king of clubs, declarer playing the 3. Which club do you play?

West
4
A9
Q6
A98542
North
AK105
KQ10852
10
W
N
E
S
2
2
2NT
P
3
X
P
3
4
4
P
P
X
P
P
P

A club continuation is fine with you. You don't particularly want anything else, and tapping the dummy looks good. Partner can take it from there.

You play the 2. Partner continues with the 6 to the jack, ace, and ruff. Declarer cashes the ace of spades, and the king of spades. Partner follows with the 7 and the 9, as you discard a club. Declarer leads dummy's last spade to his queen, partner playing the jack.

What do you discard now? What will your planned discards be if declarer plays one or two more trumps? What will you do if declarer leads a heart up?

West
A9
Q6
985
North
10
KQ10852
W
N
E
S
2
2
2NT
P
3
X
P
3
4
4
P
P
X
P
P
P

Declarer is known to have 5 spades. If he had a third diamond, he would have made an effort to ruff that diamond in dummy. If he has 3 hearts nothing is going to matter. His most likely shape appears to be 5-2-2-4. That would be consistent with partner's club plays. Partner would be willing to commit to 3 with king-doubleton rather than sell out to 2.

If and when declarer leads a heart up, you plan to duck. Winning your ace will let declarer score dummy's long hearts. There is no way declarer can have a singleton heart which is consistent with his line of play, and if he started with 3 hearts nothing will matter.

You can afford to discard one more club now. If declarer leads the fourth round of trumps, you can discard a diamond. However, if declarer leads his last trump, you could now afford to discard a heart, since your diamond will be a winner.

You carelessly discard a heart. Declarer leads a heart, forcing you to win, and he has the rest for down 1. The full hand is:

West
4
A9
KQJ6
A98542
North
AK105
KQ10852
98
10
East
J97
J76
A5432
K6
South
Q8632
43
107
QJ73
W
N
E
S
2
2
2NT
P
3
X
P
3
4
4
P
P
X
P
P
P
D
4X South
NS: 0 EW: 0
K
8
5
7
0
0
1
J
9
A
10
2
0
2
K
3
2
10
2
0
3
6
J
A
5
1
1
3
A
7
2
4
1
2
3
K
9
3
4
1
3
3
10
J
Q
9
3
4
3
3
A
8

How was East's defense?

 

West
4
A9
KQJ6
A98542
North
AK105
KQ10852
98
10
East
J97
J76
A5432
K6
South
Q8632
43
107
QJ73
W
N
E
S
2
2
2NT
P
3
X
P
3
4
4
P
P
X
P
P
P
D
4X South
NS: 0 EW: 0
K
8
5
7
0
0
1
J
9
A
10
2
0
2
K
3
2
10
2
0
3
6
J
A
5
1
1
3
A
7
2
4
1
2
3
K
9
3
4
1
3
3
10
J
Q
9
3
4
3
3
A
8

It was fine. Encouraging in diamonds was clear. Overtaking the jack of diamonds was definitely correct. If West had been left on lead, West would not have known what to do. The club king and continuation was right also. It was important to both tap the dummy and threaten an overruff in order to kill the heart threat.

Do you like East's 2NT call?

 

West
4
A9
KQJ6
A98542
North
AK105
KQ10852
98
10
East
J97
J76
A5432
K6
South
Q8632
43
107
QJ73
W
N
E
S
2
2
2NT
P
3
X
P
3
4
4
P
P
X
P
P
P
D
4X South
NS: 0 EW: 0
K
8
5
7
0
0
1
J
9
A
10
2
0
2
K
3
2
10
2
0
3
6
J
A
5
1
1
3
A
7
2
4
1
2
3
K
9
3
4
1
3
3
10
J
Q
9
3
4
3
3
A
8

East knows his side has at least 8 clubs. While the major-suit fits aren't known, it is likely that N-S have at least an 8-card fit in one of the majors, maybe a 9-card fit. If East passes this lets South bid 2 if South has long spades, and if South passes West isn't likely to be able to re-open. East is definitely right to compete.

What do you think of North's auction?

 

West
4
A9
KQJ6
A98542
North
AK105
KQ10852
98
10
East
J97
J76
A5432
K6
South
Q8632
43
107
QJ73
W
N
E
S
2
2
2NT
P
3
X
P
3
4
4
P
P
X
P
P
P
D
4X South
NS: 0 EW: 0
K
8
5
7
0
0
1
J
9
A
10
2
0
2
K
3
2
10
2
0
3
6
J
A
5
1
1
3
A
7
2
4
1
2
3
K
9
3
4
1
3
3
10
J
Q
9
3
4
3
3
A
8

North might have doubled initially in order to bring spades into the picture, assuming that when he later bids 2 over 2 that doesn't show the world's fair. With this good 6-card heart suit, overcalling first is certainly reasonable. Either approach might work better.

His second double is clear. Obviously he isn't going to sell to 3. He can bid 3 over 3, and that will paint a good picture of his hand.

His 4 call was optimistic. He needs both a decent spade suit and a high card in South's hand, and has no guarantee of either. He was hoping the vulnerability would push the opponents into taking a save, but he took a real risk of going for a number.

When trying to assess what the opponents can make in a competitive auction, it is important to examine all of their bids, not just their last bid. Every bid tells a story about their hand and what they do or do not know. It was a careful examination of North's sequence which told West that North was gambling and allowed West to make North pay when he lost the gamble.

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