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In a round-robin match in the Open Trials, you have to find the best tactics opposite a very descriptive sequence.

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

North
KQ52
Q10942
73
82
W
N
E
S
P
1
P
1
P
1
P
?

1: Always unbalanced, a singleton or void in either hearts or clubs. Partner would always bypass a 4-card spade suit and rebid 1NT if balanced, even if he is 5-4-2-2.

Your calls mean as follows:

1NT: Forcing, asking for description. Partner will bid 2 with 3-card heart support, else 2 with 6+ diamonds, else 2. If you follow with 2 of a major, that is a natural invite.

2: Asks partner to pass if he prefers clubs, bid 2 if he prefers diamonds.

2: Artificial game force.

2 and 2: To play, non-invitational.

Your call?

North
KQ52
Q10942
73
82
W
N
E
S
P
1
P
1
P
1
P
?

Partner has a singleton or void in either hearts or clubs. Considering the silence of the opponents, his shortness is almost certainly in hearts.

Clearly you can reasonably bid 2. But perhaps you don't need to. You would rather play in 1 than 2. Are you worried about the opponents competing? Not really. If they get to 2 of a minor, you can always bid 2. Partner is known to have at least 3 of both minors assuming he is short in hearts, so the opponens have at most an 8-card fit. Since you also have an 8-card fit, you are indifferent between declaring 2 and defending 3 of a minor, since the trump total is only 16 and 3 of a minor would contract for 17 total tricks. Maybe you can buy it in 1. The opponents may think you are in a 4-3 fit and the hand is a big misfit, so they will be reluctant to compete.

You pass. The bidding continues:

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

Your call?

North
KQ52
Q10942
73
82
W
N
E
S
P
1
P
1
P
1
P
P
X
P
1NT
?

Defending 1NT is basically the same as declaring 1NT. In both cases you need to take 7 tricks with no trump suit in order to get a plus score.

Which contract would you rather play -- 1NT or 2? The answer is clearly 2. You have a 4-4 fit, and partner is short in hearts. You will certainly do at least one trick better in spades than in notrump. Bidding 2 is clear.

You bid 2, ending the auction.

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

Over you go to partner's seat to play the hand.

West leads the 6.

North
KQ52
Q10942
73
82
South
AJ43
3
K982
AQ107
W
N
E
S
P
1
P
1
P
1
P
P
X
P
1NT
2
P
P
P

Where do you win this trick, and what will your first move be?

North
KQ52
Q10942
73
82
South
AJ43
3
K982
AQ107
W
N
E
S
P
1
P
1
P
1
P
P
X
P
1NT
2
P
P
P

The opening lead is effective. The opponents may be able draw 3 rounds of trumps before you can score 6 trump tricks.

If you are going to start with a minor suit, you will win the lead in dummy. If you are going to start with hearts, you will win the lead in your hand.

While there are many minor-suit finesses to take, it looks best to start with hearts. On a favorable lie of the cards you may be able to establish a heart trick or two. Also, if you go into crossruff mode you will need to have played a round of hearts.

You play small from dummy. East plays the 10, and you win the ace. At trick 2, you lead a heart. West plays the 6. What do you play from dummy?

North
KQ5
Q10942
73
82
South
J43
3
K982
AQ107
W
N
E
S
P
1
P
1
P
1
P
P
X
P
1NT
2
P
P
P

If West has AKxx of hearts, you want to go up queen. West could easily have that holding. He can see that if he goes up king, you will be able to establish the heart suit.

If there any gain from putting in the 10? There certainly is. West might have AJx or KJx, and you will be able to establish the heart suit and cash it with the help of your three trump entries to dummy. Same is true if East has AKx.

There is one other reason to play the 10. If that knocks out the ace or the king, the jack is placed in West's hand. You would have the possibility of winning the trump return in dummy and passing the 9, perhaps pulling the third round of trumps first. West won't be able to continue hearts since that would set up dummy's hearts, so West would be forced to lead a minor up to one of your tenaces.

You choose to play the queen of hearts. East wins the king, and returns the 7 to West's 8 and dummy's king. What do you play now?

North
Q5
10942
73
82
South
J4
K982
AQ107
W
N
E
S
P
1
P
1
P
1
P
P
X
P
1NT
2
P
P
P

A straightforward line is to lead a club to the queen. If that holds and hearts and clubs break reasonably, you can crossruff and take 6 trump tricks and 2 club tricks. Even if it loses and West leads a third round of trumps you will have some chances.

A more complex line is to lead the 10, planning on discarding a diamond if East doesn't cover. This may end-play West if he doesn't have the remaining trump, and the minor-suit finesses can be taken later. However, it isn't clear how this approach will get you up to 8 tricks, and if East does cover the heart what will you do? The simple club finesse looks best.

You choose to lead the 10. East plays the jack. Now what?

North
Q5
10942
73
82
South
J4
K982
AQ107
W
N
E
S
P
1
P
1
P
1
P
P
X
P
1NT
2
P
P
P

If you ruff, you won't have anything convenient to play. It looks best to discard. Your fourth diamond probably isn't of much value.

You discard a diamond. West plays the 8. East now shifts to the 3. What do you play?

North
Q5
942
73
82
South
J4
K98
AQ107
W
N
E
S
P
1
P
1
P
1
P
P
X
P
1NT
2
P
P
P

You still have the opportunity to finesse the queen of clubs and crossruff. That seems best, since if the 10 forces the king West will lead another trump and you still won't be up to 8 tricks.

You choose to play the 10. West wins the king, and leads another trump which you win in dummy. East discards the 5. Now what?

North
5
942
73
8
South
J
K98
AQ7
W
N
E
S
P
1
P
1
P
1
P
P
X
P
1NT
2
P
P
P

You may need the ace of diamonds onside, but you don't have to commit to that now. The ace of hearts might ruff out, or you might have an end-play coming. It has to be right to ruff a heart, cash the clubs, and ruff a club in dummy (or maybe discard if West is winning the trick). Then you can decide what to play for.

You lead a small heart off dummy. East plays the 7. You ruff, and West discards the 4. You cash ace and queen of clubs, both opponents following. When you lead the fourth round of clubs, West discards the jack of diamonds. You ruff. And now?

North
9
73
South
K98
W
N
E
S
P
1
P
1
P
1
P
P
X
P
1NT
2
P
P
P

East has the good heart, so leading a heart can't help. It has to be right to lead a diamond.

You lead a diamond off dummy. East plays the 6. What do you play?

North
9
73
South
K98
W
N
E
S
P
1
P
1
P
1
P
P
X
P
1NT
2
P
P
P

If East has 106 doubleton of diamonds, he should be playing the 10 to try to get his partner off an end-play. However, he can't have the ace of diamonds. He is a passed hand, and has shown up with AKJ of hearts. It is clear to put in the 9.

You forget that East is a passed hand, and wrongly play the king of diamonds. West wins the ace, and underleads to his partner's ten. East's ace of hearts is the setting trick. The full hand is:

West
986
86
AQJ54
K54
North
KQ52
Q10942
73
82
East
107
AKJ75
106
J963
South
AJ43
3
K982
AQ107
W
N
E
S
 
P
1
P
1
P
1
P
P
X
P
1N
2
P
P
P
D
2 South
NS: 0 EW: 0
6
2
10
A
3
1
0
3
6
Q
K
2
1
1
7
3
8
K
1
2
1
10
J
2
8
2
2
2
3
10
K
2
0
2
3
9
Q
5
4
1
3
3
2
7
J
4
3
4
3
A
4
8
6
3
5
3
Q
5
4
9
3
6
3
7
J
5
J
1
7
3
3
6
K
A
0
7
4
5
7
10
8
2
7
5
A
9
Q
9
2
7
6
N/S -100
13

It turns out that West was in a rare one-suit squeeze when declarer ruffed the fourth round of clubs in dummy. If he holds AQJ of diamonds, declarer ducks a diamond and West is end-played. If he unblocks the jack of diamonds and East puts up the 10, declarer covers with the king and scores a diamond trick by force.

How was the defense?

West
986
86
AQJ54
K54
North
KQ52
Q10942
73
82
East
107
AKJ75
106
J963
South
AJ43
3
K982
AQ107
W
N
E
S
 
P
1
P
1
P
1
P
P
X
P
1N
2
P
P
P
D
2 South
NS: 0 EW: 0
6
2
10
A
3
1
0
3
6
Q
K
2
1
1
7
3
8
K
1
2
1
10
J
2
8
2
2
2
3
10
K
2
0
2
3
9
Q
5
4
1
3
3
2
7
J
4
3
4
3
A
4
8
6
3
5
3
Q
5
4
9
3
6
3
7
J
5
J
1
7
3
3
6
K
A
0
7
4
5
7
10
8
2
7
5
A
9
Q
9
2
7
6
N/S -100
13

The opening trump lead is clear. The auction screams for a trump lead.

East should have found the diamond shift instead of the club shift. Declarer figures to be 4-1-4-4, since if declarer had a 5-card minor he would have been working on setting up that suit instead of hearts. When declarer pitches a diamond on the second round of hearts, that makes a diamond shift much more attractive.

West made a nice play discarding the jack of diamonds. He could see the end-play coming, and he took his only legitimate shot which was that his partner had 109 doubleton.

East should have gone up 10. West could have held AQJ9x, in which case the unblock was necessary and going up with the ten would defeat the contract.

How about the E-W auction?

West
986
86
AQJ54
K54
North
KQ52
Q10942
73
82
East
107
AKJ75
106
J963
South
AJ43
3
K982
AQ107
W
N
E
S
 
P
1
P
1
P
1
P
P
X
P
1N
2
P
P
P
D
2 South
NS: 0 EW: 0
6
2
10
A
3
1
0
3
6
Q
K
2
1
1
7
3
8
K
1
2
1
10
J
2
8
2
2
2
3
10
K
2
0
2
3
9
Q
5
4
1
3
3
2
7
J
4
3
4
3
A
4
8
6
3
5
3
Q
5
4
9
3
6
3
7
J
5
J
1
7
3
3
6
K
A
0
7
4
5
7
10
8
2
7
5
A
9
Q
9
2
7
6
N/S -100
13

East has an ugly hand with which to balance, but balance he must. It is losing bridge to let the opponents play in 1 of a suit unless either you are completely outgunned or you know they have landed in an awful contract. East didn't know either of these things, so he had to act, and his takeout double is most flexible.

West did well to bid 1NT. He knows there probably isn't a great fit, In 1NT he has to take only 7 tricks. Even if one of the majors is totally unstopped, 1NT figures to be okay.

The style of always bypassing a 4-card spade suit with a balanced hand has its advantages and disadvantages. The main disadvantage is that a 4-4 spade fit may be missed. This will happen only on a part-score hand, since if responder has game-going values the 4-4 fit can be located via a checkback structure. It is true that the 4-4 fit will usually be better than 1NT, but not always, and playing 2 contracts for 8 tricks while playing 1NT contracts for 7 tricks.

There are a couple of advantages. One is that when opener rebids 1NT responder knows he will be getting at least 2-card support for his major (we absolutely never rebid 1NT with a singleton), which can make responder's decision a lot easier. Also, when opener does rebid 1 responder knows he is facing an unbalanced hand, which will be helpful in the auction. When the 1 rebid is made on both balanced and unbalanced hands, responder is left guessing.

It is important to understand that in Precision, if you rebid 1 on a balanced hand, all responder knows is that you have 4 spades. Unlike Standard where you have opened your longer minor, responder has no idea about your minor-suit length. Responder can't take a preference to 2 of a minor without a 5-card suit, since opener might have a doubleton. Thus, when responder doesn't have 4 spades and doesn't have game-forcing values, all he can do is bid 1NT and hope it is right.

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