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 Another southern hemisphere winter rolls around, and with it, another GNOT qualification event in Sydney. For some reason, interesting hands always seem to crop up in this event. And the knockout format means you often have to get them right at the table.

Playing in the middle stages of the New South Wales state GNOT qualifier, you hold the following hand as South:

South
1086432
J10
A10
J83

With just your side vulnerable, West deals and passes. Partner opens 1 , showing 16+ points any distribution. East overcalls 1.

Your options are 1 (natural and forcing to game), double (artificial, 6-7 points), and 2 (six-card suit, about 5-7 points). What’s the best move on this round of bidding?

South
1086432
J10
A10
J83

This hand doesn’t really have the strength to force to game opposite what might be a balanced 17-count, or even worse, an upgraded 15-count with a singleton spade.

Likewise, although we technically have what's required for the bid, 2 doesn’t feel right with all of our values outside our suit and some playability in other strains. A hand like QJ10543 K3 752 83 would be much more suitable for a “jump semi-positive”.

You decide to double, showing a few bits and pieces, and LHO jumps to 3. Partner doubles for takeout, and RHO passes. Your bid?

South
1086432
J10
A10
J83
W
N
E
S
P
1
1
X
3
X
P
?

South
1086432
J10
A10
J83
W
N
E
S
P
1
1
X
3
X
P
?

Holding a six-card major when we haven’t promised any major suit at all is a big plus. Bidding 3 doesn’t express the full potential of our hand, and although it allows room for partner to bid 3NT, we expect a nine-card spade fit on balance. Meanwhile, bidding 3 and hearing partner pass seems like a recipe for disaster. Bidding game in spades can't be too far off the mark. 

You jump to 4, ending the auction, and the lead is the 3 (fourth highest). Partner puts down...

North
QJ5
AK62
74
AK42
South
1086432
J10
A10
J83
W
N
E
S
P
1
1
X
3
X
P
4
P
P
P

The first trick proceeds: 3, 4, Q, A.

How does the land lie at first sight?

North
QJ5
AK62
74
AK42
South
1086432
J10
A10
J83
W
N
E
S
P
1
1
X
3
X
P
4
P
P
P

On the lead, we have three quick losers: two top trumps, and a diamond as soon as the opponents get in. The main problem to be solved is how to avoid losing two tricks in the minors. Counting our tricks, we have 4 spades, 2 hearts, 1 diamond, and 2 clubs = 9, confirming that we will need to create an extra heart or club trick to make our contract.

In the heart suit, we have a finesse available against the queen. If West does have the queen of hearts, we can play on hearts immediately and throw away our losing diamond. Does this seem necessary?

North
QJ5
AK62
74
AK42
South
1086432
J10
A10
J83
W
N
E
S
P
1
1
X
3
X
P
4
P
P
P

North
QJ5
AK62
74
AK42
South
1086432
J10