Join Bridge Winners
Protect Your Winners
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In a round-robin match in the Open Trials, you must find the best approach opposite partner's strong 1NT opening.

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

North
A84
AQ763
9
10752
W
N
E
S
1NT
P
?

1NT: 14-16

Available to you are:

2: Puppet Stayman, asking for a 5-card major. You will not be able to show a 5-card heart suit after this start.

2: Transfer. Follow-up of 3 of a minor is natural, game-forcing.

Your call?

North
A84
AQ763
9
10752
W
N
E
S
1NT
P
?

Transfer looks clear. You might miss a 5-3 spade fit, but if you don't transfer you will never know whether partner has 2 or 3 hearts.

You bid 2. The bidding continues:

North
A84
AQ763
9
10752
W
N
E
S
1NT
P
2
P
2
X
?

2: Transfer

Partner will super-accept only with a super-maximum and 4 trumps.

Your general philosophy is to ignore takeout doubles. Pass would just be to play. Redouble would be strength-showing.

Your call?

North
A84
AQ763
9
10752
W
N
E
S
1NT
P
2
P
2
X
?

If West hadn't doubled, you would have bid 3 to show your second suit and partner would be well-placed to find the best game. There is no reason that the double should change your plans.

If you were willing to sit for a double of 3, then maybe the strength-showing redouble is the right idea. However, with a singleton diamond, game-going strength, and unfavorable vulnerability, defending 3 doubled isn't attractive.

You choose to redouble. The bidding continues:

North
A84
AQ763
9
10752
W
N
E
S
1NT
P
2
P
2
X
XX
2
3
P
?

Your call?

North
A84
AQ763
9
10752
W
N
E
S
1NT
P
2
P
2
X
XX
2
3
P
?

Heart support is all you need. 4 is almost certainly where you belong.

You bid 4, ending the auction.

North
A84
AQ763
9
10752
W
N
E
S
1NT
P
2
P
2
X
XX
2
3
P
4
P
P
P

You made a transfer bid, so transfer yourself over to partner's side to play the hand.

West leads the king of spades.

North
A84
AQ763
9
10752
South
102
K104
AJ103
AK63
W
N
E
S
1NT
P
2
P
2
X
XX
2
3
P
4
P
P
P

Do you win or duck?

North
A84
AQ763
9
10752
South
102
K104
AJ103
AK63
W
N
E
S
1NT
P
2
P
2
X
XX
2
3
P
4
P
P
P

While it might not make a difference, ducking is good technique. You will have to lose a spade trick in any event. Ducking cuts the enemy communication, and leaves you the potential to ruff a spade in your hand when you are ready to do so.

You duck. East plays the 3 (UDCA). West continues with the jack of spades, and you win the ace in dummy. How do you attack the hand?

North
8
AQ763
9
10752
South
K104
AJ103
AK63
W
N
E
S
1NT
P
2
P
2
X
XX
2
3
P
4
P
P
P

You can ruff a spade in your hand. If trumps split, that will give you at least 6 trump tricks, 2 club tricks, 1 diamond trick, and 1 spade trick. Even if trumps are 4-1, you can arrange to establish a club if the clubs are 3-2. You need to take precautions in case both suits split badly.

The 10 tricks you counted are still there even if suits split badly. The key is to take them. You must protect your winners by avoiding having them get ruffed. This means leading up to your club honors, so if East ruffs in, he ruffs air. East will be ruffing with a natural trump trick, and you will now be in position to draw trumps and take your winners. West isn't likely to have 6 diamonds, so you should be able to score a couple of small trumps with diamond ruffs.

There is a danger that East might hold all 5 trumps. On the auction, this is a real possibility. If this is the case, East may be able to ruff in on the first or second round of clubs and lead a trump, leaving you a trick short. Let's hypothetically give East 4-5-3-1 shape, play it through, and see what happens:

West
KQJ6
K7542
QJ98
North
A84
AQ763
9
10752
East
9753
J9852
Q86
4
South
102
K104
AJ103
AK63
W
N
E
S
 
1N
P
2
P
2
X
XX
2
3
P
4
P
P
P
D
4 South
NS: 0 EW: 0
K
4
3
2
0
0
1
J
A
5
10
1
1
1
2
4
A
8
3
2
1
A
2
9
6
3
3
1
3
4
3
8
1
4
1
5
2
3
9
2
4
2
9
7

Now what? You can finesse the 10 and draw trumps, but since you didn't get a spade ruff in your hand you are a trick short. If you ruff a diamond back to dummy to play another club, East ruffs in and plays another trump and you can't collect everything. If you win in dummy and ruff a spade, you won't get your king of clubs. If you win in dummy and lead a club up, East can ruff in again and you still can't arrange to ruff a spade in your hand, draw trumps, and get your king of clubs. It just doesn't work.

The main problem appears to be that you haven't scored the spade ruff in the short hand. Maybe the idea is to do that immediately and lead up to the clubs later. Let's see how that does.

West
KQJ6
K7542
QJ98
North
A84
AQ763
9
10752
East
9753
J9852
Q86
4
South
102
K104
AJ103
AK63
W
N
E
S
 
1N
P
2
P
2
X
XX
2
3
P
4
P
P
P
D
4 South
NS: 0 EW: 0
K
4
3
2
0
0
1
J
A
5
10
1
1
1
8
7
4
6
3
2
1
A
2
9
6
3
3
1
3
4
3
8
1
4
1
2
4
A
8
3
5
1
10
5
6
Q
1
6
1
5
2
3
9
2
6
2
5
9

It still doesn't work. Since you have shortened yourself twice you can't draw trumps and score your king of clubs.

Maybe the idea is to lead up to the club winner in your hand before shortening yourself twice. If you can do this twice, you can keep control of the hand. This would involve cashing one round of clubs first. Let's see how that would look.

West
KQJ6
K7542
QJ98
North
A84
AQ763
9
10752
East
9753
J9852
Q86
4
South
102
K104
AJ103
AK63
W
N
E
S
 
1N
P
2
P
2
X
XX
2
3
P
4
P
P
P
D
4 South
NS: 0 EW: 0
K
4
3
2
0
0
1
J
A
5
10
1
1
1
8
9
4
6
3
2
1
A
8
2
4
3
3
1
A
2
9
6
3
4
1
3
4
3
8
1
5
1
5
2
3
9
2
5
2
5
K
5
6
3
6
2
10
7
7
Q
1
7
2
7
8
6
J
2
7
3
10

This works. If East returns a heart, you draw trumps and your king of clubs takes the last trick. If he returns a spade, you have the last 3 tricks on a crossruff.

What happens if East discards his last diamond when you lead that club up, so you won't be able to ruff a diamond small in dummy?

West
KQJ6
K7542
QJ98
North
A84
AQ763
9
10752
East
9753
J9852
Q86
4
South
102
K104
AJ103
AK63
W
N
E
S
 
1N
P
2
P
2
X
XX
2
3
P
4
P
P
P
D
4 South
NS: 0 EW: 0
K
4
3
2
0
0
1
J
A
5
10
1
1
1
8
9
4
6
3
2
1
A
8
2
4
3
3
1
A
2
9
6
3
4
1
3
4
3
8
1
5
1
5
Q
K
9
3
6
1
10
5
A
7
1
7
1
6
2
10
9

Not a problem. You can ruff a diamond high and finesse the 10 of hearts for your tenth trick. This will fail if East started with 4 diamonds and West the singleton jack of hearts, but it is a big favorite to succeed.

The risk with this approach is the necessity of cashing one round of clubs leading from your hand. This will fail when East is void in clubs, and if the hearts are 4-1 leading up to the club honors twice would have succeeded. Still, the danger of the 5-0 heart split with East's shape being 4-5-3-1 appears to be more likely.

In fact, you choose to lead a club up at trick 3. East follows, as you win your ace. What next?

North
8
AQ763
9
1075
South
K104
AJ103
K63
W
N
E
S
1NT
P
2
P
2
X
XX
2
3
P
4
P
P
P

You have to get back to dummy for some black suit play, and you clearly can't get back with a trump. Ace and a diamond ruff is clear.

You cash the ace of diamonds and ruff a diamond. What next?

North
8
AQ76
1075
South
K104
J10
K63
W
N
E
S
1NT
P
2
P
2
X
XX
2
3
P
4
P
P
P

As has been analyzed, if East started with 5 trumps and a singleton club you can't make from here. You needed to ruff a spade first.

It looks natural to lead another club up. However, East's shape might be 5-4-3-1. If that is the case he can discard his last diamond when on your club lead, and you will still have problems.

It is better to take the spade ruff now. Then you can almost certainly ruff another diamond back to dummy, and then lead a club up. If East is out of clubs and ruffs from an initial 4-card holding, he can no longer do any damage. A trump return allows you to draw trump and take your king of clubs, while a spade return allows you to get another ruff in the short hand which would be your tenth trick.

You choose to lead another club. East follows, and you win your king. What next?

North
8
AQ76
107
South
K104
J10
63
W
N
E
S
1NT
P
2
P
2
X
XX
2
3
P
4
P
P
P

You are almost home. A diamond ruff will be number 10. That looks like the best bet, since West doesn't figure to have 6 diamonds.

You lead a diamond and ruff small. It lives. And now?

North
8
AQ7
107
South
K104
J
63
W
N
E
S
1NT
P
2
P
2
X
XX
2
3
P
4
P
P
P

You have 6 tricks in and can ruff a spade in your hand. Then you have 3 top trumps, so the hand is cold. You could set up a club trick, but that isn't likely to help you since you haven't scored the spade ruff yet. You need that spade ruff first.

You ruff a spade in your hand, both opponents following. What now?

North
AQ7
107
South
K10
J
63
W
N
E
S
1NT
P
2
P
2
X
XX
2
3
P
4
P
P
P

Your only chance for an overtrick is to set up the long club. If the opponents aren't able to force you with a diamond, you will be there.

You lead a club. West wins, as East discards a diamond. West puts a diamond through. You can do no better than ruff high and make 4. The full hand is:

West
KQJ6
95
Q865
QJ9
North
A84
AQ763
9
10752
East
9753
J82
K742
84
South
102
K104
AJ103
AK63
W
N
E
S
 
1N
P
2
P
2
X
XX
2
3
P
4
P
P
P
D
4 South
NS: 0 EW: 0
K
4
3
2
0
0
1
J
A
5
10
1
1
1
2
4
A
9
3
2
1
A
5
9
2
3
3
1
3
6
3
4
1
4
1
5
8
K
J
3
5
1
10
8
6
7
1
6
1
8
7
4
6
3
7
1
3
Q
7
K
0
7
2
Q
10

Do you like West's takeout double?

West
KQJ6
95
Q865
QJ9
North
A84
AQ763
9
10752
East
9753
J82
K742
84
South
102
K104
AJ103
AK63
W
N
E
S
 
1N
P
2
P
2
X
XX
2
3
P
4
P
P
P
D
4 South
NS: 0 EW: 0
K
4
3
2
0
0
1
J
A
5
10
1
1
1
2
4
A
9
3
2
1
A
5
9
2
3
3
1
3
6
3
4
1
4
1
5
8
K
J
3
5
1
10
8
6
7
1
6
1
8
7
4
6
3
7
1
3
Q
7
K
0
7
2
Q
10

West doesn't know if North is done or not. Still, I think it is a percentage action. If North is passing 2, on balance West will have done better to compete non-vulnerable. If North has a good hand, nothing terrible is likely to come from West's double. It doesn't pay to sell out at the 2-level when you are short in their suit and might have a fit in a higher ranking suit.

How was South's auction?

West
KQJ6
95
Q865
QJ9
North
A84
AQ763
9
10752
East
9753
J82
K742
84
South
102
K104
AJ103
AK63
W
N
E
S
 
1N
P
2
P
2
X
XX
2
3
P
4
P
P
P
D
4 South
NS: 0 EW: 0
K
4
3
2
0
0
1
J
A
5
10
1
1
1
2
4
A
9
3
2
1
A
5
9
2
3
3
1
3
6
3
4
1
4
1
5
8
K
J
3
5
1
10
8
6
7
1
6
1
8
7
4
6
3
7
1
3
Q
7
K
0
7
2
Q
10

It looks accurate. North probably wouldn't have transfered with 4 spades, so defending 2 doubled doesn't figure to be promising. Telling North about the heart support is the most important thing to do.

Leading up to the club honors at every opportunity is a very natural thing to do, and would probably have been done by almost all experts. It takes quite a bit of deep analysis to spot the probably superior line.

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