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In a round of 16 match in the Open Trials, you have to deal with an enemy weak 2-bid.

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

West
A42
K987
K9
QJ109
W
N
E
S
P
P
2
?

Your call?

West
A42
K987
K9
QJ109
W
N
E
S
P
P
2
?

You aren't strong enough for a 2NT overcall. All you can do is pass and see if anybody has something to say.

You pass. The bidding continues:

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

2NT by you would be takeout for the minors.

West
A42
K987
K9
QJ109
W
N
E
S
P
P
2
?

Since you open 11-counts, you aren't going to have a game with partner being a passed hand. Your choices are 3 or passing the double.

Does 3 figure to make? Probably, but it isn't at all certain. Partner might not have 4-card club support, which would make 3 pretty shaky. There are plenty of potential holes which may need to be covered.

How do you figure to do against 2? You have a sure trump trick, and possibly another natural trump trick if partner has any heart honor. In addition, you have potential for a second trump trick via a diamond ruff or overruff. Your side has the balance of power. Partner probably has a 9 or 10-count, leaving the opponents 17 or 18 HCP. Suppose the opponents have all the heart honors, so they have 5 heart tricks. That means they will need to take 3 tricks with their other 10 or 11 HCP, which they probably won't be able to do. You figure to defeat 2, and might defeat it 2 tricks.

If 2 doubled makes, passing will cost a lot of IMPs. However, defending gives you the most likely plus score. If you had the option of defending 2 undoubled you would probably prefer that, but you don't have that option. You will have to bid 3 in order to not defend, and that might not make. It looks like passing is the percentage action.

You pass, ending the auction.

W
N
E
S
P
P
2
P
P
X
P
P
P

Your lead.

West
A42
K987
K9
QJ109
W
N
E
S
P
P
2
P
P
X
P
P
P

You can look at firing out the king of diamonds, which may get you a ruff or overruff. Partner probably has some diamond strength. Still, leading the king may cost a trick, and the ruff might not be of value. You have a perfectly safe and potentially productive club lead. If the winning defense is to go after diamonds, you may have time later.

You lead the queen of clubs.

West
A42
K987
K9
QJ109
North
KQ863
64
QJ73
54
W
N
E
S
P
P
2
P
P
X
P
P
P

Partner plays the 7, and declarer wins the king. You play suit-preference at trick 1. 2, 3, and 4 are, by priority, suit-preference low. 10, 9, 8 are, by priority, suit-preference high. 6, 5, 7 are, by priority, encouraging.

Declarer leads back the 2. Your 9 wins, partner playing the 3. What do you play now?

West
A42
K987
K9
J10
North
KQ863
64
QJ73
W
N
E
S
P
P
2
P
P
X
P
P
P

It appears that declarer has 3 clubs and partner 4 clubs. If partner started with Axx, he would have overtaken and put a trump through. With a 4-card club holding he might not be able to do that safely.

Declarer is clearly trying to ruff a club in dummy. The spade suit is a threat, and will be even more of a threat if declarer remains with a club ruff entry.

Partner must have one of the red aces for his reopening double and declarer's weak 2-bid, but he can't have both of them since he didn't open the bidding. Most likely partner's ace is the ace of diamonds, but you can't be sure of that. If declarer has the ace of diamonds, a diamond shift would be a disaster. If partner has it, you will have time later to shift to a diamond and get a diamond ruff if needed.

Your best play looks to be a trump. Partner might have the stiff ace of trumps. If he has that, he can return a spade, giving you count with his spade return (high from 4, low from 3). If partner has the 4-card spade holding, you can win and continue trumps, stopping the club ruff. If declarer has all the hearts the trump return won't cost anything. Partner will have the ace of diamonds, and you will still be able to get a diamond ruff or trump promotion to score a second trump trick and defeat the contract.

If partner has the ace of hearts, a spade shift might not look natural to him. You should lead the 9, suit-preference, and hope he works it out.

You choose to lead the 7. Partner plays the queen, and declarer the ace. Declarer ruffs a club in dummy, partner following small. Now declarer leads a small diamond to the 4, 10, and your king. What now?

West
A42
K98
9
J
North
KQ863
QJ7
W
N
E
S
P
P
2
P
P
X
P
P
P

You now know for certain that declarer started with 3 clubs and presumably 6 hearts. You have 2 heart tricks, 1 more diamond trick, and a spade trick coming, but that is all. You can just take your tricks.

You cash the ace of spades, and lead a diamond to partner's ace. He gives you a diamond ruff, and your king of hearts is the setting trick. The full hand is:

West
A42
K987
K9
QJ109
North
KQ863
64
QJ73
54
East
J975
Q
A864
A873
South
10
AJ10532
1052
K62
W
N
E
S
P
P
2
P
P
X
P
P
P
D
2X South
NS: 0 EW: 0
Q
4
7
K
3
1
0
2
9
5
3
0
1
1
7
4
Q
A
3
2
1
6
10
6
8
1
3
1
3
4
10
K
0
3
2
A
3
5
10
0
3
3
9
Q
A
2
2
3
4
6
5
9
7
0
3
5
8

It turns out the daring king of diamonds lead would have netted a 2-trick set.

How was East's defense?

West
A42
K987
K9
QJ109
North
KQ863
64
QJ73
54
East
J975
Q
A864
A873
South
10
AJ10532
1052
K62
W
N
E
S
P
P
2
P
P
X
P
P
P
D
2X South
NS: 0 EW: 0
Q
4
7
K
3
1
0
2
9
5
3
0
1
1
7
4
Q
A
3
2
1
6
10
6
8
1
3
1
3
4
10
K
0
3
2
A
3
5
10
0
3
3
9
Q
A
2
2
3
4
6
5
9
7
0
3
5
8

East was correct to duck the opening lead. There is no way West can have 6 clubs, so ducking can't cost a trick. The problem with winning the ace is that East can't be sure what to return. A good defensive principle is to not win a trick unless either you must win it or you want to win it. This hand is a good example.

Perhaps East should have played the 3, suit-preference for diamonds, as West will soon know where the ace of clubs is.

East could not afford to overtake the second club and lead a trump, since from his point of view declarer could have K10xx and his partner QJ9.

What about declarer's line of play?

West
A42
K987
K9
QJ109
North
KQ863
64
QJ73
54
East
J975
Q
A864
A873
South
10
AJ10532
1052
K62
W
N
E
S
P
P
2
P
P
X
P
P
P
D
2X South
NS: 0 EW: 0
Q
4
7
K
3
1
0
2
9
5
3
0
1
1
7
4
Q
A
3
2
1
6
10
6
8
1
3
1
3
4
10
K
0
3
2
A
3
5
10
0
3
3
9
Q
A
2
2
3
4
6
5
9
7
0
3
5
8

Since West didn't lead a high diamond, that places a diamond honor in the East hand along with the assumed ace of clubs. That places the ace of spades in the West hand, since East passed originally. There is something to be said for trying to steal a spade trick immediately before West knows more about the hand. The problem is that West might go up ace of spades and shift to a trump, after which declarer won't get his club ruff in dummy. Declarer was probably wise to make sure he got that ruff to hold his losses.

How was East's bidding?

West
A42
K987
K9
QJ109
North
KQ863
64
QJ73
54
East
J975
Q
A864
A873
South
10
AJ10532
1052
K62
W
N
E
S
P
P
2
P
P
X
P
P
P
D
2X South
NS: 0 EW: 0
Q
4
7
K
3
1
0
2
9
5
3
0
1
1
7
4
Q
A
3
2
1
6
10
6
8
1
3
1
3
4
10
K
0
3
2
A
3
5
10
0
3
3
9
Q
A
2
2
3
4
6
5
9
7
0
3
5
8

East does have 11 HCP, although the stiff queen has to be discounted some. East could open 1. The problem is that E-W are non-vulnerable, with a 10-12 1NT range. West will think East is 13-15 balanced until proven otherwise, and if there is competition East might not get a chance to clarify. Since the hand is such a marginal opening anyway, East is probably right to pass.

The double of 2 is automatic. East has the perfect hand for that.

At the other table, East was declarer in 3NT (sorry, I don't know the bidding). South led the 10, which looks like an effective start for the defense. However, North undid the value of this lead by ducking when declarer played small, thinking his partner had a doubleton spade and it was important to keep communication (or maybe they play Rusinow leads vs. NT). This gained declarer both a trick and a tempo, and that was sufficient to let him scramble home with 9 tricks.

Doubling the opponents into game without having a sure set is always scary at IMPs. However, it is often the way to get a plus score and sometimes collect a good number. If they never make a doubled partial against you, you aren't doubling enough.

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