Join Bridge Winners
Off the End-play
(Page of 9)

In a Round of 32 match in the Open Trials for USA2, you have to find the best approach opposite partner's weak notrump.

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

East
AK104
2
J10743
864
W
N
E
S
1NT
P
?

1NT: 10-12

Available to you are:

2: Non-forcing Stayman. If you follow with a suit bid, that is non-invitational. In particular, if partner bids 2 and you bid 2, that shows 4 spades and some reason to not play 1NT.

2: Game forcing Stayman.

Higher suit bids: To play.

East
AK104
2
J10743
864
W
N
E
S
1NT
P
?

You could pass and scramble out if doubled. However, you have perfect methods for this hand. If you bid Stayman, you can pass (or raise) if partner bids 2 or 2. If partner bids 2 you can bid 2, and scramble out to 3 of a minor if partner has a doubleton spade. In addition. this will make life more difficult for the opponents, and it is probably their hand.

You choose to pass. The bidding continues:

W
N
E
S
1NT
P
P
2
P
2
?

2: Artificial, good heart raise

Your call?

East
AK104
2
J10743
864
W
N
E
S
1NT
P
P
2
P
2
?

The opponents odd convention has given you a chance to make a lead-directing double, and you should be happy to take it. Since partner has at least a doubleton spade and the opponents have a heart fit, there is virtually no danger that they will redouble and wrap it around your neck. Partner will know you don't have 5 spades, since you didn't bid 2 immediately.

You double. The bidding continues:

W
N
E
S
1NT
P
P
2
P
2
X
3
P
P
?

Your call?

East
AK104
2
J10743
864
W
N
E
S
1NT
P
P
2
P
2
X
3
P
P
?

It is clearly right to sell. You are outgunned, and you don't know that you have a fit.

You pass, ending the auction.

W
N
E
S
1NT
P
P
2
P
2
X
3
P
P
P

Partner leads the 6. Third and fifth leads.

North
J52
KQ84
A82
1097
East
AK104
2
J10743
864
W
N
E
S
1NT
P
P
2
P
2
X
3
P
P
P

Small from dummy. What spade do you play?

North
J52
KQ84
A82
1097
East
AK104
2
J10743
864
W
N
E
S
1NT
P
P
2
P
2
X
3
P
P
P

Declarer could have queen-doubleton of spades. You clearly must play one of your top honors.

Playing the ace has the advantage of concealing the distribution of high card strength from declarer. If you play the king he will know you also have the ace, which means he will be able to place all the other high cards in partner's hand. However, it looks more important to let partner know what is going on. He will be getting in soon, and will need to know what to play for. Honesty looks best here.

You win the king of spades. Declarer plays the 7. What do you do next?

North
J5
KQ84
A82
1097
East
A104
2
J10743
864
W
N
E
S
1NT
P
P
2
P
2
X
3
P
P
P

Considering dummy's strong heart holding, you can assume that declarer has 6 hearts. The 3 is missing. Declarer might be falsecarding, but if declarer has 3 spades it doesn't look like anything is going to matter. You should assume that declarer has 2 spades, and is 3-2 in the minors one way or the other. You will need to get 3 tricks out of the minor suits.

It seems clear to shift to one of the minors. You aren't going to be in often, and every card you play may be important to establish tricks or take partner off the end-play. Your spade winners aren't going anywhere.

If you shift to a club, you should definitely shift to the 8. Partner will assume you have a singleton heart, so he knows you can't have a doubleton club. You want to let him know that you have nothing in clubs.

If you shift to a diamond, you should shift to the jack. The relevant holding is when declarer holds Q9 doubleton. Normally the small shift would be better, since declarer would be going up queen. Here, however, declarer knows partner has the king of diamonds, so he will play the 9 and you won't get your diamond trick.

If declarer has 2 clubs and 3 diamonds a club shift will be more efficient, but it can't really matter. You will always be getting in later with your ace of spades, and you can lead a club through then if necessary. The only case where it is urgent to shift to a club now would be if declarer has the ace of clubs and queen-doubleton of spades, and if that is the case you aren't defeating the contract. A diamond shift won't do any damage if declarer has Q9x of diamonds, since he will get the diamond suit right on his own as partner will be marked for the king of diamonds. Thus, the focus must be on declarer having 2 diamonds and 3 clubs.

It might be necessary to shift to a club in order to get 3 club tricks. For example, declarer might hold xx A10xxxx KQ Kxx, giving partner Qxxx Jx xxx AQJx.

A diamond shift might be necessary if declarer has queen-doubleton of diamonds. For example, declarer might hold Qx A10xxxx Qx KJx, leaving partner 98xx Jx Kxx AQxx. However, partner probably would have led the 9 of spades from that holding, since attitude would figure to be more important to you than count. If declarer doesn't have the queen of spades there is no rush leading through declarer's queen of diamonds, since that can be done when you are in with your ace of spades if need be.

The conclusion is that the club shift looks best.

You choose to shift to the 3. Declarer plays the queen, partner the king, and dummy ducks. Partner continues with the 9 to dummy's ace. Declarer leads a spade off dummy. You win your ace, declarer following with the 9 and partner the 3. What do you do now?

North
J
KQ84
8
1097
East
104
2
J107
864
W
N
E
S
1NT
P
P
2
P
2
X
3
P
P
P

It is unrealistic to think your diamond is cashing. Declarer knew where the king of diamonds is. If declarer had Qxx of diamonds, he would not have played the queen. It may be vital to return a club to get partner off the endplay.

You mistakenly lead the jack of diamonds. Declarer ruffs high, plays a heart to dummy, ruffs a spade, leads another heart to dummy, and passes the 10 to end-play partner. The full hand is:

West
Q863
97
K95
KQ53
North
J52
KQ84
A82
1097
East
AK104
2
J10743
864
South
97
AJ10653
Q6
AJ2
W
N
E
S
1NT
P
P
2
P
2
X
3
P
P
P
D
3 South
NS: 0 EW: 0
6
2
K
7
2
0
1
3
Q
K
2
0
0
2
9
A
4
6
1
1
2
5
A
9
3
2
1
3
J
J
5
8
3
2
3
3
7
K
2
1
3
3
J
4
10
8
3
4
3
5
9
K
7
1
5
3
10
4
2
Q
0
5
4
9

Could West have helped out on defense?

West
Q863
97
K95
KQ53
North
J52
KQ84
A82
1097
East
AK104
2
J10743
864
South
97
AJ10653
Q6
AJ2
W
N
E
S
1NT
P
P
2
P
2
X
3
P
P
P
D
3 South
NS: 0 EW: 0
6
2
K
7
2
0
1
3
Q
K
2
0
0
2
9
A
4
6
1
1
2
5
A
9
3
2
1
3
J
J
5
8
3
2
3
3
7
K
2
1
3
3
J
4
10
8
3
4
3
5
9
K
7
1
5
3
10
4
2
Q
0
5
4
9

West can picture the entire hand. If declarer has the jack of diamonds he has 9 tricks, so East must have the jack of diamonds and the hand must be what it is for anything to matter. Instead of returning a diamond, West should have exited with a trump. That would make it clear that there is no future in the diamond suit, so it will be automatic for East to shift to a club when he gets in. West will then be able to exit with the third round of spades if the diamonds have been stripped, and there will be no end-play. If declarer plays a spade before stripping the diamonds, West will have to instead lead a diamond so declarer can't run his trumps and cross to the ace of diamonds to squeeze West. While East should have gotten it right anyway, West missed the chance to build a fence around partner so East couldn't make a mistake.

How was declarer's line of play?

West
Q863
97
K95
KQ53
North
J52
KQ84
A82
1097
East
AK104
2
J10743
864
South
97
AJ10653
Q6
AJ2
W
N
E
S
1NT
P
P
2
P
2
X
3
P
P
P
D
3 South
NS: 0 EW: 0
6
2
K
7
2
0
1
3
Q
K
2
0
0
2
9
A
4
6
1
1
2
5
A
9
3
2
1
3
J
J
5
8
3
2
3
3
7
K
2
1
3
3
J
4
10
8
3
4
3
5
9
K
7
1
5
3
10
4
2
Q
0
5
4
9

Declarer should not have played the queen of diamonds on the diamond return. He had to know it was a futile play, and it gave the defense a road map. If he plays small, it could make quite a difference. West plays the 9, and declarer ducks. West won't know that it is safe to play the king of diamonds, so he will probably continue spades. Now East has to guess what to play for. If East thinks declarer has 3 diamonds and 2 clubs, East may continue diamonds thinking that if he fails to do so West will be caught in a squeeze end-play.

Whatever your methods, it is important to know them and know how to make the most of them. East had a perfect hand for the methods, but failed to take advantage of them.

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