Join Bridge Winners
Missed Opportunity
(Page of 9)

In a semi-final match in the Senior trials for USA2, you have to find the best action with a minimal balanced hand.

E-W vul, East deals. As South, you hold:

South
AQ92
K9
9862
A75
W
N
E
S
P
?

Your opening 1NT range is 10-12. 1 is 13-15 if balanced.

Your call?

South
AQ92
K9
9862
A75
W
N
E
S
P
?

There is nothing about this hand that calls for a downgrade. It is clearly too strong for a 10-12 notrump.

You open 1. The bidding continues:

W
N
E
S
P
1
P
1
X
?

1: 11-15, 2+ diamonds. 13-15 if balanced.

Redouble would show 3-card heart support. 1 would imply an unbalanced hand.

Your call?

South
AQ92
K9
9862
A75
W
N
E
S
P
1
P
1
X
?

1NT would show 13-15 balanced. However, this is not necessary. You can simply pass, which shows the same thing. Partner will know that you have this hand, since if you were distributional you would have shown your shape.

Passing has a lot going for it. If partner has a good hand, there is a decent chance that the opponents don't have a home and you can nail them for a number at this vulnerability when you might not have a game. If partner is weak and balanced, you will be doing just as well defending. If partner is unbalanced, he will be able to compete appropriately.

You choose to bid 1NT. The bidding concludes:

W
N
E
S
P
1
P
1
X
1NT
P
3NT
P
P
P

West leads the 2. Attitude leads.

North
K1053
A8732
Q10
K4
South
AQ92
K9
9862
A75
W
N
E
S
P
1
P
1
X
1NT
P
3NT
P
P
P

What do you do on trick 1?

North
K1053
A8732
Q10
K4
South
AQ92
K9
9862
A75
W
N
E
S
P
1
P
1
X
1NT
P
3NT
P
P
P

If the spades are 4-1 you know from the bidding it will be East who has 4 spades, so you have 8 sure tricks. The ninth will have to come from one of the red suits. Meanwhile, the club lead has hit a soft spot.

You can build a diamond trick by force. East is pretty much marked with the AK of diamonds for his takeout double. If West has jack-doubleton of diamonds, you will be in fine shape by going after diamonds. Also, if East has all the diamond honors and only 3 clubs, you can hold up a round in clubs and shut West out.

Hearts also present a possibility. It is unlikely that the hearts are splitting considering East's takeout double. However, East might hold a stiff honor in hearts (or a doubleton with two honors, which you would have to guess), which will allow you to power home a third heart trick.

Whichever suit you go after, it can't be right to duck the first trick. That can't do you any good, and if you do that you will not be able to take advantage of a favorable heart lie since the opponents would have 3 diamond tricks, 1 heart trick, and 1 club trick. You must win the first trick with the king of clubs, so you can duck the second round of clubs if need be.

You win the king of clubs. East plays the 6 (UDCA).

What do you play now?

North
K1053
A8732
Q10
4
South
AQ92
K9
9862
A7
W
N
E
S
P
1
P
1
X
1NT
P
3NT
P
P
P

It looks best to try hearts first. If East produces an honor, you will only need to guess whether it is singleton or doubleton to make the contract. If East plays small, you can reconsider your chances.

You lead a heart from dummy. East plays the 5.

What do you play from your hand?

North
K1053
A8732
Q10
4
South
AQ92
K9
9862
A7
W
N
E