Join Bridge Winners
Overtake or Not
(Page of 12)

In a quarter-final match in the Senior trials for USA2, you face a common balancing problem.

None vul, East deals. As East, you hold

East
KJ10543
2
A65
QJ9
W
N
E
S
1
2
P
P
?

Your call?

East
KJ10543
2
A65
QJ9
W
N
E
S
1
2
P
P
?

It cannot be right to sell out undoubled at the 2-level when you have a singleton in the enemy suit and a higher ranking playable suit, even when you have a minimum opening bid. There is too great a chance that you have a better result available. Your only real choices are double and 2.

It is quite possible that partner is sitting with a trump stack waiting to pounce. Your hand type and RHO's silence makes this a good possibility. If you re-open with 2 instead of double, you may miss out on a good number.

On the other hand, your hand is more offensively oriented. You have a good spade suit, so even if partner is planning on passing 2 doubled you may do just as well declaring. You don't have much in the way of defense.

One further argument against doubling is that partner may have to pass the double as a least of evils with a fair but not great heart holding. If that is the case you might not be defeating 2, which would be costly. Playing in 2 can't be terrible whatever partner has.

It looks like the percentage action is to forget about the penalty and bid 2.

You bid 2. The bidding continues

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

Your call?

East
KJ10543
2
A65
QJ9
W
N
E
S
1
2
P
P
2
3
P
P
?

You are done. You have pushed the opponents to the 3-level, and have described your hand. Partner is well-placed to make the final decision, and his decision is to sell out. There is no reason for you to override this decision.

You pass, ending the auction.

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

Partner leads the queen of spades.

North
96
7
K8743
K10876
East
KJ10543
2
A65
QJ9
W
N
E
S
1
2
P
P
2
3
P
P
P

You play suit-preference at trick 1 if not trying to win the trick. UDCA after that. Standard remainder count.

What do you play?

North
96
7
K8743
K10876
East
KJ10543
2
A65
QJ9
W
N
E
S
1
2
P
P
2
3
P
P
P

If you aren't going to overtake you should play the 5, your most middle card. You want spades continued, as opposed to any shift.

Should you overtake or not? If partner has a doubleton spade, it may be important to overtake. Your side will want to be leading one round of trumps in order to eliminate dummy's ruffing threat, and it is likely that this trump lead must come from your side. If you don't overtake declarer will certainly duck, and partner won't have an easy play.

If partner has a singleton spade, overtaking may be costly. Your spade spots are weak, so overtaking will let declarer control the fourth round of spades. Whether or not this will matter will depend a lot on partner's exact trump holding.

On balance, it looks like overtaking is best. Declarer definitely has at least 6 hearts, probably 7, so he is unlikely to have 4 spades in addition. Also, you will probably be able to give partner a fourth round spade ruff, which might not be with a natural trump trick.

You overtake. Declarer wins the ace and plays the king of hearts, partner following with the 8. Declarer continues with the jack of hearts. Partner plays the 4, and dummy discards a club. What do you discard?

North
9
K8743
K10876
East
J10543
A65
QJ9
W
N
E
S
1
2
P
P
2
3
P
P
P

Partner's 8 lets you know that he doesn't have the 9. If he had that card along with the 8 and was willing to spend a high spot card, he would have played the 9, following the principle that if giving a signal with a high spot, one signals with the highest affordable card.

You can't be sure, but from the honors declarer has played it appears that partner has the ace of hearts and declarer's hearts are otherwise solid down to the 9. Partner is ducking his ace of hearts in order to find out more about the hand before having to commit himself. Thus, declarer's hearts appear to be KQJ109x. He might have 7 hearts.

While you can't be sure about the spade suit, there is some inference that partner's queen of spades is singleton. If declarer started with Axx of spades, he might have ducked the first round of spades in order to retain control of the suit, since you would be forced to shift to a trump. This is not an ironclad inference, since ducking would be wrong if you started with 7 spades.

If partner has a second spade and a promotable heart holding, he will continue spades when he gets in with his ace of hearts. If he doesn't have a second spade, you can defeat the hand by getting a diamond shift to your ace, cashing two spades, and giving partner a spade ruff. Therefore it may be important to tell partner to shift to a diamond.

If you are showing count in spades, your correct discard would be the 3, standard current count. It is clear that count in spades doesn't matter on this hand. Partner will find out the spade count soon enough. What does matter is that partner shifts to a diamond if he is out of spades. Your discards in the minors might not be readable, but your spade spots are definitely going to be readable. You should discard the 5. When you later discard a smaller spade, it will be clear that you are giving a suit-preference signal for diamonds.

You choose to discard the 3. Declarer continues with the queen of hearts. Partner wins the ace, and dummy discards another club. What do you discard?

North
9
K8743
K1087
East
J1054
A65
QJ9
W
N
E
S
1
2
P
P
2
3
P
P
P

The heart suit looks to be what you thought it was. It is now vital for partner to shift to a diamond.

How can you get him to do this? If you pitch another spade he will think you have given suit-preference for clubs. He might not read the 5 as encouraging diamonds now. The only sure way to get him to shift to a diamond is to discard the jack of clubs. This ostensibly denies the queen, so there would be no logic for him to do anything but play a diamond.

You choose to discard the 5. Partner shifts to the 2. Dummy plays the 8. What do you play?

North
9
K8743
K108
East
J104
A65
QJ9
W
N
E
S
1
2
P
P
2
3
P
P
P

You can consider playing the queen of clubs, trying to induce declarer to take a later finesse. The problem is that you may need to lead clubs yourself when in with your spade. You should make the normal 9 play.

You play the 9. Declarer wins the ace, and cashes the 10. Partner plays the 5, and dummy discards a diamond. What do you discard?

North
9
K8743
K10
East
J104
A65
QJ
W
N
E
S
1
2
P
P
2
3
P
P
P

There can't be any value to keeping both small diamonds. You might as well discard one of them now. You may need your small spade for an exit if declarer's shape is 4-6-2-1, which is possible.

You discard a diamond. Declarer leads the queen of diamonds. Partner plays the 2, and you win the ace. You cash two high spades, partner discarding the 4 and 3. Now what?

North
K8
K10
East
4
6
QJ
W
N
E
S
1
2
P
P
2
3
P
P
P

What is going on? By your read of the hand, declarer has 9x of hearts left and partner has a smaller heart. So why didn't declarer pull the last trump? Anyway, that's not your problem. Simply lead your spade, and whatever happens will happen.

You lead your last spade. Partner ruffs declarer's spade winner, and the contract is down 1. The full hand is:

West
Q
A8654
J1092
432
North
96
7
K8743
K10876
East
KJ10543
2
A65
QJ9
South
A872
KQJ1093
Q
A5
W
N
E
S
1
2
P
P
2
3
P
P
P
D
3 South
NS: 0 EW: 0
Q
6
K
A
3
1
0
K
8
7
2
3
2
0
J
4
6
3
3
3
0
Q
A
7
5
0
3
1
2
8
9
A
3
4
1
10
5
3
5
3
5
1
Q
2
4
A
2
5
2
10
2
4
9
2
5
3
J
7
3
7
2
5
4
4
8
6
10

Should declarer have done better?

West
Q
A8654
J1092
432
North
96
7
K8743
K10876
East
KJ10543
2
A65
QJ9
South
A872
KQJ1093
Q
A5
W
N
E
S
1
2
P
P
2
3
P
P
P
D
3 South
NS: 0 EW: 0
Q
6
K
A
3
1
0
K
8
7
2
3
2
0
J
4
6
3
3
3
0
Q
A
7
5
0
3
1
2
8
9
A
3
4
1
10
5
3
5
3
5
1
Q
2
4
A
2
5
2
10
2
4
9
2
5
3
J
7
3
7
2
5
4
4
8
6
10

At trick 2, declarer should have led the queen of diamonds. This establishes the king of diamonds for a spade discard, while the 7 remains in dummy for proection. This would have cut the defensive communication, and held the defense to 4 tricks.

At the end, declarer simply miscounted trumps and failed to draw the last trump. It happens to the best of players.

How was West's defense?

West
Q
A8654
J1092
432
North
96
7
K8743
K10876
East
KJ10543
2
A65
QJ9
South
A872
KQJ1093
Q
A5
W
N
E
S
1
2
P
P
2
3
P
P
P
D
3 South
NS: 0 EW: 0
Q
6
K
A
3
1
0
K
8
7
2
3
2
0
J
4
6
3
3
3
0
Q
A
7
5
0
3
1
2
8
9
A
3
4
1
10
5
3
5
3
5
1
Q
2
4
A
2
5
2
10
2
4
9
2
5
3
J
7
3
7
2
5
4
4
8
6
10

West's 8 play was accurate, clarifying that he didn't have the 9 but had the lower spots. He was correct to duck the ace of hearts a couple of times to gather as much information as he could. He should have ducked a third round, to absolutely clarify the heart position and give his partner another chance to make an informative discard. This might have woken East up to the importance of denying anything in clubs by discarding the jack of clubs.

When in with the ace of hearts, West was correct to shift to a club. That was what his partner signaled for, and East could just as easily have had the ace of clubs as the ace of diamonds.

Was West's bidding accurate?

West
Q
A8654
J1092
432
North
96
7
K8743
K10876
East
KJ10543
2
A65
QJ9
South
A872
KQJ1093
Q
A5
W
N
E
S
1
2
P
P
2
3
P
P
P
D
3 South
NS: 0 EW: 0
Q
6
K
A
3
1
0
K
8
7
2
3
2
0
J
4
6
3
3
3
0
Q
A
7
5
0
3
1
2
8
9
A
3
4
1
10
5
3
5
3
5
1
Q
2
4
A
2
5
2
10
2
4
9
2
5
3
J
7
3
7
2
5
4
4
8
6
10

West can consider doubling 3. The problem is that while he has 5 hearts, they aren't very good, and he doesn't have much strength outside. South is bidding 3 with his eyes open. If West had to bet he would bet that 3 is going down, but it probably won't go down 2 and could be making. The cost of doubling when 3 makes is greater than the gain when it goes down.

At the other table, the auction and play on trick 1 were the same. Here declarer accurately led the queen of diamonds at trick 2, and the defense had no counter.

In this day and age of negative doubles, we are taught to try to reopen with a double in case partner has a penalty pass. While it is important to keep the possibility of a penalty pass in mind, partner won't always have that, and it may be better to go after your own contract. This hand is a good example. If East had doubled 2, West might well have passed the double, and that would have been very bad.

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