Join Bridge Winners
Preconceived Notion
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In a quarter-final match in the open trials, you must decide whether or not to enter vs. an enemy 1NT opener.

E-W vul, West deals. As South, you hold:

South
AJ64
J985
AK
KJ7
W
N
E
S
P
P
1NT
?

Your methods are:

Double: 4-card major and a longer minor

2: Both majors

2: 1 major

2M: 5-card M and a minor

Your call?

South
AJ64
J985
AK
KJ7
W
N
E
S
P
P
1NT
?

It could be right to just pass. You don't have to have a major-suit fit, and taking 7 tricks in notrump might be easier than taking 8 tricks in a suit-contract. If partner is broke, there is some danger of going for a number if you enter.

On the other hand, you have no idea what to lead against 1NT. Also, you are so strong that game isn't out of the question if you hit a good fit. If you bid 2 showing majors and partner jumps to 3 of a major you will be happy to raise to game. Even though partner can't have much, he doesn't need much to make game if he has a 5-card major. You would prefer to be 5-4 for a 2 call, but you have to play what you are dealt.

You bid 2. The bidding continues:

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

2: Both majors

2: Asks for better major

Your call?

South
AJ64
J985
AK
KJ7
W
N
E
S
P
P
1NT
2
P
2
P
?

Partner has asked for your better major. Quite likely he is 3-3 in the majors. There is no reason for you to choose the lower major when you are 4-4 in order to have more flexibility. There is no need for flexibility. Your call is very likely to end the auction.

Sometimes it is better to make the weaker suit trumps on hands such as this. It is difficult to determine when this is the case. Simply bid the stronger of your 4-card majors and hope for the best.

You bid 2, ending the auction.

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

West leads the 5 (standard leads and carding)

North
Q102
1074
J874
865
South
AJ65
J985
AK
KJ7
W
N
E
S
P
P
1NT
2
P
2
P
2
P
P
P

Does it matter what you do at trick 1?

North
Q102
1074
J874
865
South
AJ64
J985
AK
KJ7
W
N
E
S
P
P
1NT
2
P
2
P
2
P
P
P

It isn't likely to matter. But you might as well play the 8 from dummy so East can't stick in the 6 to force a high card. You never know when that little bit of information might be of value to the defense. Obviously there is no downside to making this play.

As for winning the trick, it is normally right to win the ace. If you win the king both opponents will know where the ace is, but if you win the ace there might be some doubt about the location of the king.

You play the 4 from dummy. East plays the 6, and you win the ace. What is your plan now?

 

North
Q102
1074
J87
865
South
AJ64
J985
K
KJ7
W
N
E
S
P
P
1NT
2
P
2
P
2
P
P
P

It is clear to go after hearts. You want the defense to have to break the black suits rather than you leading them from your hand. Depending on how the hearts lie you might be able to profitably ruff the fourth round of hearts in dummy for a badly needed entry.

It is probably right to cash the king of diamonds first. If you don't the opponents will have an easy diamond continuation. You don't mind getting tapped and scoring a couple of ruffs in your hand, since you don't figure to be able to keep control of the hand for the fourth round of hearts in any event. Every ruff you can get is a good thing.

When going after hearts, it is probably best to lead the jack. The idea is to convey more strength in the suit than you actually have.

You choose to lead the 5. It goes 6, 7, queen. East returns the 2 to your king, West playing the 10. Now what?

North
Q102
104
J8
865
South
AJ64
J98
KJ7
W
N
E
S
P
P
1NT
2
P
2
P
2
P
P
P

Clearly you continue going after hearts. The defense will have to play something.

You lead the 9. East wins the king, and lays down the queen of clubs. You cover, and that holds the trick, West playing the 3. What now?

North
Q102
10
J8
86
South
AJ64
J8
J7
W
N
E
S
P
P
1NT
2
P
2
P
2
P
P
P

That was very generous of East. Naturally it is right to lead another heart and hope his generosity continues.

You lead a heart. East wins the ace, West following. East cashes the ace of clubs and leads a club to your jack, West playing the 4 and the 10. What do you do now?

North
Q102
J8
South
AJ64
J
W
N
E
S
P
P
1NT
2
P
2
P
2
P
P
P

Initially you had the preconceived notion that East had the king of spades for his 1NT opening. It is important to change this notion when the evidence says otherwise. East has already shown up with AKQ of hearts and AQ of clubs. He would be too strong for a 1NT opening if he has the king of spades in addition. West must have that card.

All you have to do is lead a small spade towards dummy. There is nothing West can do. If he goes up king and returns a spade, you have the last three tricks on a high crossruff. If he ducks, you win, ruff a diamond with your small trump, and lead a heart. West gets only his king of spades.

You foolishly lead your last heart. West discards the queen of diamonds, and you ruff with the queen of spades in dummy. You lead the 10, but West started with 4 trumps and scores 2 trump tricks for down 1. The full hand is:

West
K975
632
Q105
1043
North
Q102
1074
J874
865
East
83
AKQ
9632
AQ92
South
AJ64
J985
AK
KJ7
W
N
E
S
P
P
1NT
2
P
2
P
2
P
P
P
D
2 South
NS: 0 EW: 0
5
4
6
A
3
1
0
5
6
7
Q
2
1
1
2
K
10
7
3
2
1
9
2
4
K
2
2
2
Q
K
3
5
3
3
2
8
3
10
A
2
3
3
A
7
4
6
2
3
4
2
J
10
8
3
4
4
J
Q
Q
9
1
5
4
10
3
4
K
0
5
5
10

Obviously East's defense left something to be desired on the actual layout. Can you figure out what he was thinking?

West
K975
632
Q105
1043
North
Q102
1074
J874
865
East
83
AKQ
9632
AQ92
South
AJ64
J985
AK
KJ7
W
N
E
S
P
P
1NT
2
P
2
P
2
P
P
P
D
2 South
NS: 0 EW: 0
5
4
6
A
3
1
0
5
6
7
Q
2
1
1
2
K
10
7
3
2
1
9
2
4
K
2
2
2
Q
K
3
5
3
3
2
8
3
10
A
2
3
3
A
7
4
6
2
3
4
2
J
10
8
3
4
4
J
Q
Q
9
1
5
4
10
3
4
K
0
5
5
10

East was following the general principle of not letting declarer score small ruffs. He was playing his partner for the jack of clubs and declarer for the king of spades. He felt that if he played on diamonds he would force declarer into a winning line of play, but with the approach he took declarer might play for a 3-3 spade split in the end game. Probably not sound thinking on this hand, but that was the idea.

Do you agree with West's opening lead?

West
K975
632
Q105
1043
North
Q102
1074
J874
865
East
83
AKQ
9632
AQ92
South
AJ64
J985
AK
KJ7
W
N
E
S
P
P
1NT
2
P
2
P
2
P
P
P
D
2 South
NS: 0 EW: 0
5
4
6
A
3
1
0
5
6
7
Q
2
1
1
2
K
10
7
3
2
1
9
2
4
K
2
2
2
Q
K
3
5
3
3
2
8
3
10
A
2
3
3
A
7
4
6
2
3
4
2
J
10
8
3
4
4
J
Q
Q
9
1
5
4
10
3
4
K
0
5
5
10

West knows a fair amount about the hand. His partner has a doubleton spade, so opponents are in a 4-3 spade fit. Since South bid a 4-card spade suit, he must be 4-4 in the majors and North must be 3-3 or North wouldn't have asked South to choose.

There isn't any great risk of discards, so there is no urgency to attack and possibly give up a trick by leading from an honor. For this reason, I think West should be leading a club rather than a diamond. If the defense needs tricks from the diamond suit, there should be time to shift.

Ironically, while the club lead hits partner with strength and the diamond lead hits partner with nothing, it turns out that the diamond is the safe lead. Strange justice.

At the other table South chose to pass 1NT, which led to an interesting position. South led a heart. Declarer won, and led a diamond. South won, and found an interesting small spade shift, ducked to North's queen. North returned a heart. Declarer won, played a diamond, and South won and played another heart. Declarer now crossed to the queen of diamonds (south discarding a spade), and led a small club to queen and king. South cashed the last heart. A small club was pitched from dummy, and a diamond from declarer's hand. South now exited with a small club, and declarer had to concede 2 tricks. But note the difference if declarer had carefully discarded the 10 instead of a small club. South could not get out and would have to give declarer 3 of the last 4 tricks.

Methods which use 2 rather than 2 to show both majors over a 1NT opening bid have a considerable advantage when partner is 3-3 in the majors. He can bid 2 and play what will usually be a 5-3 fit rather than having to guess which is the overcaller's 5-card suit. Even on this hand where the overcaller is 4-4, N-S got to their stronger trump fit.

We all make assumptions about the enemy holdings at the beginning of a hand. Failing to adjust these assumptions when the evidence indicates that they are wrong is a common error for players at all levels.

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