Join Bridge Winners
Punch the Chump
(Page of 10)

In a round-robin match in the Open Trials, you pick up a hand in your weak notrump range.

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

East
AKJ2
32
654
QJ32
W
N
E
S
?

Your opening 1NT range at this vulnerability is 10-12. 1 followed by 1NT would show 13-15.

Your call?

East
AKJ2
32
654
QJ32
W
N
E
S
?

It is clear to open 1NT. You are balanced and in range, You should be happy to open a 10-12 1NT when you reasonably can, since this is a descriptive call which can put a lot of pressure on the opponents.

You open 1NT. The bidding continues:

W
N
E
S
1NT
P
2
X
?

2: Non-forcing Stayman. You play 2-way Stayman with your weak NT opener. 2 might be prelude to an invitational sequence, but it might also be the start of a scramble of some kind. If partner follows with any new suit bid, that is non-invitational.

Double: Good hand, not necessarily clubs.

Your agreements after the double are:

Pass: No club stopper. If partner chooses to continue to inquire he redoubles (not business) and you pick up where you would have been with no double. If partner does anything else, he is placing the contract.

Redouble: Business

Other: The same bid you would have made had there been no double, but showing a club stopper.

Even when the double shows cards, not clubs, you retain the same meanings for simplicity.

Your call?

East
AKJ2
32
654
QJ32
W
N
E
S
1NT
P
2
X
?

You have a nice club holding, but clearly not good enough to redouble. You have a fine spade suit and partner is asking for a major. Since you do have a club stopper, your bid is 2.

You bid 2. The bidding continues:

W
N
E
S
1NT
P
2
X
2
4
P
5
?

Your call?

East
AKJ2
32
654
QJ32
W
N
E
S
1NT
P
2
X
2
4
P
5
?

You are quite happy with where the opponents landed, but you should refrain from doubling. Partner's 2 call doesn't necessarily show any strength. He could be broke. You don't figure to defeat 5 more than 1 trick, and the contract could easily be making. Doubling is a losing proposition.

You pass, ending the auction.

W
N
E
S
1NT
P
2
X
2
4
P
5
P
P
P

Partner leads the 10. Standard honor leads. UDCA.

North
Q65
AQ105
KQJ2
A9
East
AKJ2
32
654
QJ32
W
N
E
S
1NT
P
2
X
2
4
P
5
P
P
P

Dummy plays small. What do you play?

North
Q65
AQ105
KQJ2
A9
East
AKJ2
32
654
QJ32
W
N
E
S
1NT
P
2
X
2
4
P
5
P
P
P

You know the best defense is to punch the chump. There is no value in leaving partner on lead. You should overtake and continue spades yourself.

If you leave partner on lead, he may think you have the king of hearts and need a heart shift. Partner could work out that this can't help since if you have the king of hearts that is all you have, but there is no reason to make him work this out. When you know how the defense should go, take charge if you can.

You overtake with the jack of spades, and continue with the ace of spades. Declarer ruffs, and leads a club to dummy's ace, partner playing the 5. Declarer now leads the 9 off dummy. Do you split or not?

North
Q
AQ105
KQJ2
9
East
K2
32
654
QJ3
W
N
E
S
1NT
P
2
X
2
4
P
5
P
P
P

If declarer has a 6-card club suit, there isn't anything you can do. Declarer knows about safety plays, and if you don't split it will be trivial for declarer to not put up the king. Thus, splitting won't cost.

If declarer has a 5-card club suit, splitting will defeat the contract. Declarer has already been whittled down to your length. If you split and he wins and drives out your remaining honor, he will be down to one trump. Your spade play will force out that trump, and you will score your small trump. Consequently, splitting is clear.

You split with the jack of clubs. Declarer wins the king, partner following with the 7. Declarer now plays king of hearts, jack of hearts to the queen, and leads the ace of hearts. Partner has played in order 6, 7. What do you do?

North
Q
A10
KQJ2
East
K2
654
Q3
W
N
E
S
1NT
P
2
X
2
4
P
5
P
P
P

Declarer is known to have started with 5 clubs and a singleton spade. All the evidence says that he has 3 hearts and 4 diamonds. If declarer has a doubleton heart he is 5-5 in the minors, which would make his 4 call very strange. This would give partner a singleton diamond, which he surely would have led. Also, partner played up the line in hearts, showing an even number. Ruffing this trick looks safe.

Despite this, your correct defense is to discard a diamond. If declarer plays a fourth round of hearts, you can discard another diamond. If declarer cashes two diamonds and then plays a fourth round of hearts, you can safely discard a spade. The point is that declarer has 7 red cards, so in all variations he will always have an extra diamond left and cannot prevent you from scoring your small trump.

There are two reasons not to ruff. One is the off-chance that declarer actually does have a doubleton heart, in which case he can overruff and play good diamonds, making the contract. The other reason is that by not ruffing you leave declarer the option of playing for a 3-3 club split. If declarer plays a third round of trumps, the force will defeat him 2 tricks.

You choose to ruff small. As expected, declarer follows, and is down 1. The full hand is:

West
109743
9876
107
75
North
Q65
AQ105
KQJ2
A9
East
AKJ2
32
654
QJ32
South
8
KJ4
A983
K10864
W
N
E
S
1NT
P
2
X
2
4
P
5
P
P
P
D
5 South
NS: 0 EW: 0
10
5
J
8
2
0
1
A
4
3
6
3
1
1
6
5
A
2
1
2
1
9
J
K
7
3
3
1
K
6
5
2
3
4
1
J
7
Q
3
1
5
1
A
3
4
7

How was declarer's line of play?

West
109743
9876
107
75
North
Q65
AQ105
KQJ2
A9
East
AKJ2
32
654
QJ32
South
8
KJ4
A983
K10864
W
N
E
S
1NT
P
2
X
2
4
P
5
P
P
P
D
5 South
NS: 0 EW: 0
10
5
J
8
2
0
1
A
4
3
6
3
1
1
6
5
A
2
1
2
1
9
J
K
7
3
3
1
K
6
5
2
3
4
1
J
7
Q
3
1
5
1
A
3
4
7

Declarer could have played to make the contract if the clubs were 3-3. That would have resulted in down more than 1 on the actual layout. He judged from the auction that West couldn't have a doubleton heart and 3 clubs, since with that West would have simply bid 2 rather than Stayman. He also may have been influenced by the club spots, since that would mean West had played the 5 and 7 from a holding of 753. Of course West could afford to do this, but it is the sort of play one just doesn't make when it can't figure to matter. Still, giving up on making a vulnerable game when it is virtually certain that game will be bid and made at the other table seems like a losing proposition almost no matter how sure you are, since only 1 IMP can be saved.

Do you agree with West's 2 call?

West
109743
9876
107
75
North
Q65
AQ105
KQJ2
A9
East
AKJ2
32
654
QJ32
South
8
KJ4
A983
K10864
W
N
E
S
1NT
P
2
X
2
4
P
5
P
P
P
D
5 South
NS: 0 EW: 0
10
5
J
8
2
0
1
A
4
3
6
3
1
1
6
5
A
2
1
2
1
9
J
K
7
3
3
1
K
6
5
2
3
4
1
J
7
Q
3
1
5
1
A
3
4
7

West could have bid a direct 2, but 2 looks better. This will find a heart fit if there is one. If East responds 2, West's 2 call would not be invitational. 2 might be bid on a considerably stronger hand, so it may make things more difficult for N-S to find their best contract.

What went wrong with the N-S auction?

West
109743
9876
107
75
North
Q65
AQ105
KQJ2
A9
East
AKJ2
32
654
QJ32
South
8
KJ4
A983
K10864
W
N
E
S
1NT
P
2
X
2
4
P
5
P
P
P
D
5 South
NS: 0 EW: 0
10
5
J
8
2
0
1
A
4
3
6
3
1
1
6
5
A
2
1
2
1
9
J
K
7
3
3
1
K
6
5
2
3
4
1
J
7
Q
3
1
5
1
A
3
4
7

With a very good game available in notrump, hearts, or diamonds, N-S didn't do well landing in 5. South isn't worth any action over the 1NT opening. North's double looks right assuming that the partnership agreement is that it just shows cards. The biggest culprit appears to be South's 4 call. With so many other strains in the picture, South would have been better off bidding 3 and letting North choose the strain. Over 4, North was afraid that 4 of a a red suit would show a 5-card suit, and he expected South to have better clubs for the 4 call.

On occasion, the 10-12 notrump will go for a number. These results are remembered, and seen as a reason to not play the weak notrump. What is forgotten are the gains when the opponents fail to field the call correctly. These gains can be double-digit swings, as seen from this hand. Yes, N-S should have been able to do better, but the fact is they didn't do better. Left on their own, there is no question that N-S would have reached a decent contract. These hidden gains are the real profit from the weak notrump.

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