Join Bridge Winners
Light Overcall
(Page of 7)

In the first session of the Cavendish pairs, you are faced with an immediate decision of whether or not to overcall an opening preempt:

None vul, East deals. As West, you hold:

West
95
K6432
A8
A964
W
N
E
S
P
2
?

2: Weak 2-bid


Your call?




West
95
K6432
A8
A964
W
N
E
S
P
2
?


There are several pros and cons for overcalling 2. Let's examine them.

The pros:

1) The overcall could lead to winning a part-score battle when you have a fit. Hearts outranks diamonds, which is good. The opponents are only at the 2-level, and you probably don't want to defend 2.

2) If North is about to bid 3NT, you probably want a heart lead since that is your 5-card suit. A club could be right, of course, but you know a spade has to be wrong.

3) Partner is a passed hand. Since he is limited, he is less likely to bury you for overcalling unless he has a good fit for hearts.

4) The vulnerability is best for a marginal overcall. The reason is that it is only 50 a trick both ways for undertricks. Thus, if you wind up in some number of hearts going down 1 when you could have beaten a diamond partial a trick, you lose only 3 IMPs. If either contract makes you gain 2 or 3 IMPs, while if both make you gain 5 or 6 IMPs by declaring.

The cons:

1) You could go for a number. It won't happen often, but when you are in trouble North will know it since he knows what his partner has. This is different from most auctions where a dangerous overcall often escapes unscathed because the opponents didn't know you were in trouble.

2) Partner is a passed hand. This means it is unlikely that your side has a game. However, partner may get you too high trying for a game.

3) The 2 overcall doesn't damage the enemy auction. It doesn't take up any space, and North has the information to act independently anyway.

4) Partner is still there. He will be reluctant to sell to 2 if he has any excuse to bid.

On balance, the cons appear to have it. The big consideration is that if you overcall North will be better placed to take a winning action than your partner will, since North has a pretty good idea what South has while a 2 overcall by you could have a very wide range.

You pass. The bidding continues:

West
95
K6432
A8
A964
W
N
E
S
P
2
P
3
P
P
?


You get another chance. Want to try now?




West
95
K6432
A8
A964
W
N
E
S
P
2
P
3
P
P
?


North has raised diamonds, which increases your chances of finding a heart fit. On the other hand, both you and the opponents are one level higher. One of the main reasons for overcalling was to push them to the 3-level, and they got there without any pushing. Also, North could be raising on a doubleton and setting a trap. Balancing now would be a blind gamble.

You pass, ending the auction.

Your lead. Third and fifth best leads.




West
95
K6432
A8
A964
W
N
E
S
P
2
P
3
P
P
P


Nobody has bid spades, which means there is a fair chance that the spades are distributed relatively evenly around the table. If that is the case, your ace of diamonds may help you get a third round spade ruff. In addition to possibly setting up tricks in partner's hand or getting a ruff, the spade lead is the safest lead. There really isn't much of a second choice.

You lead the 9.

West
95
K6432
A8
A964
North
AQ102
A
QJ3
J10875
W
N
E
S
P
2
P
3
P
P
?


Dummy wins the ace of spades, partner playing the 7 and declarer the 3. You play suit preference at trick 1. 10, 9, 8 (by priority) are suit-preference high. 2, 3, 4 (by priority) are suit-preference low. 6, 5, 7 (by priority) are encouraging.

At trick 2 the queen of diamonds is led off dummy, partner playing the 4 and declarer the 2. How do you defend?




West
5
K6432
A8
A964
North
Q102
A
QJ3
J10875
W
N
E
S
P
2
P
3
P
P
?


From all appearances, you have found what you were hoping to find when you made your opening lead. It is clear to win the ace of diamonds and continue spades.

You win the ace of diamonds, and lead the 5 of spades. Partner wins the king, declarer playing the jack. Partner leads the king of clubs. Your agreements are to show upside-down count on a king lead in the middle of the hand, so you duly play the 4 as declarer plays the 2. Partner now leads the 8 of spades. Declarer follows with the 6 of spades, and you ruff. Now what?




West
K6432
A96
North
Q
A
J3
J1087
W
N
E
S
P
2
P
3
P
P
?


Of course you try to cash your ace of clubs. If it gets ruffed, you were never defeating the contract, since declarer can take 6 diamond tricks (5 in his hand and one heart ruff in dummy), 2 spade tricks, and the ace of hearts. Partner could well have king-doubleton of clubs, and if you don't cash you won't get it. In fact, that is the case. The full hand is:
West
95
K6432
A8
A964
North
AQ102
A
QJ3
J10875
East
K874
J10987
104
K3
South
J63
Q5
K97652
Q2
W
N
E
S
P
2
P
3
P
P
P
D
3 South
NS: 0 EW: 0
9
A
7
3
1
1
0
Q
4
2
A
0
1
1
5
2
K
J
2
1
2
K
2
4
5
2
1
3
8
6
8
10
0
1
4
A
7
3
Q
0
1
5
6


For once things were exactly as you had envisioned when you made your opening lead.

Was partner correct to lead the king of clubs before giving you your spade ruff?




West
95
K6432
A8
A964
North
AQ102
A
QJ3
J10875
East
K874
J10987
104
K3
South
J63
Q5
K97652
Q2
W
N
E
S
P
2
P
3
P
P
P
D
3 South
NS: 0 EW: 0
9
A
7
3
1
1
0
Q
4
2
A
0
1
1
5
2
K
J
2
1
2
K
2
4
5
2
1
3
8
6
8
10
0
1
4
A
7
3
Q
0
1
5
6


Leading the king of clubs was definitely the correct play. Partner can see that the defense has no chance to take 5 tricks if declarer has the ace of clubs. By leading the king he builds a fence around you, letting you know that it must be right to put down your ace of clubs after getting your spade ruff. You should be able to work it out for yourself by counting declarer's tricks, but if you have AQ of clubs you might be reluctant to lead a club for fear that declarer has the guarded king. Partner's defense is not an insult to your intelligence. He is merely making your defense easier. This is the sign of a good partner.

It is to be noted that you were completely outbid. It took a specific lead and accurate defense after that to defeat 3. Meanwhile, as the cards lie you can make not only a part-score but a game in hearts. Your side has 10 hearts, and they have 9 diamonds. Selling out to 3 is very bad. But did somebody do anything wrong? While partner might have balanced had North passed 2, he certainly doesn't have a call over 3. Neither do you. So, it goes back to the initial opportunity to overcall. I would be pretty sure that most experts would not have overcalled 2 on the West hand. Perhaps this philosophy needs some rethinking, or was this just an unlucky layout?

6 Comments
Getting Comments... loading...
.

Bottom Home Top