Join Bridge Winners
Indulgent
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Playing a strong club based system comes with its share of action.

Try this problem:

South
A
AJ764
AQ82
K87
W
N
E
S
P
P
P
1
1NT
2
P
?

What would you bid?

South
A
AJ764
AQ82
K87
W
N
E
S
P
P
P
1
1NT
2
P
?

The natural action appears to be 3

All will be ok if we hit a fit. But it is not a risk-free action. 

On days when partner does not have a prime fit, bidding 3 risks a raise on a doubleton. Partner might prefer a delicate raise of a potential six card suit to bidding 3NT with questionable stoppers.

Situations like these come up often in strong club interference auctions. There are no clear answers and one has to hedge and fumble around a bit. There is no way to “beat the average”. We are usually way behind the guys playing natural in any objective assessment.

One hopes to navigate these well enough to break square. Our system notes in this area feature this advice: “Expect to lose imps. Have a good attitude”

I decide to hedge with 2NT.

This ensures that the 5-4 heart fit will be found.

It also ensures that the 5-2 heart fit will be avoided.

On the 5-3 heart fit days, we’ll just have to try and make our contract.

Partner raises to 3NT and we face a play problem.... 

North
KQ732
K92
J7
952
South
A
AJ764
AQ82
K87
W
N
E
S
P
P
P
1
1NT
2
P
2NT
P
3NT
P
P
P

The lead is the 3, fourth best, to the queen and king.

We have three spades, two hearts, a diamond, and a club for seven top tricks.

The 3 lead suggests the defense have setup exactly three winners in that suit.

If we can lose one trick while building two, that should do the job.

What is your plan?

North
KQ732
K92
J7
95
South
A
AJ764
AQ82
87
W
N
E
S
P
P
P
1
1NT
2
P
2NT
P
3NT
P
P
P

The obvious candidate appears to be a morton-forkish low diamond towards the jack.

West rates to have the K.

If he rises, he gives up two tricks.

If he ducks, we can switch to hearts.

However, East might have the K. The defense would win that trick and cash three club winners.

We would now need the heart finesse or read the endgame if a squeeze operates on the fourth club.

How about trying hearts directly instead?

North
KQ732
K92
J7
95
South
A
AJ764
AQ82
87
W
N
E
S
P
P
P
1
1NT
2
P
2NT
P
3NT
P
P
P

The entry situation creates some limitations. Unblocking the A and playing a heart to the nine seems like a good approach.

A heart finesse, if required, can be taken on a later round.

We rate to score three spades, four hearts, a diamond, and a club for nine tricks.

While there are some foul-heart-split layouts where this will not be immediately successful, this approach seems better than the diamond play.

However, there is a bigger danger than the foul heart split.

Can you spot it?

North
KQ732
K92
J7
95
South
A
AJ764
AQ82
87
W
N
E
S
P
P
P
1
1NT
2
P
2NT
P
3NT
P
P
P

There is always a risk in taking led cards at face value.

While West will usually have four clubs, there is some chance he has a five card suit. There is a variety of reasons he might choose to lead the 3.

He might wish to make a deceptive lead.

He might be concerned the actual fourth-best lead would be an ambiguous card for partner to read.

He might feel that the 3 emphasized the attitude aspect of the lead.

If West does have five clubs, ducking a heart or a diamond leads to the defense cashing out four clubs and a red-suit trick for down 1.

Is there a way to cater to this possibility?

North
KQ732
K92
J7
95
South
A
AJ7