Join Bridge Winners
Punishing the Intruder
(Page of 9)

In the first session of the Cavendish Pairs, you have an opportunity for an unusual play.

Both vul, East deals. As East, you hold:

East
K8
A9652
6432
94
W
N
E
S
?


Your weak-two style is very liberal. A five-card suit would be no surprise to partner if the conditions looked right, and suit quality is not an overriding factor.


Do you open a weak two?



East
K8
A9652
6432
94
W
N
E
S
?

Opening 2 is tempting, but there are too many strikes against it. The big one is the vulnerability. You could go for a number, or just drift -200 or -300 undoubled. Furthermore, opening 2 could cause partner to choose the wrong game or part-score if it is your hand. If the vulnerability were favorable then opening 2 would be fine. If neither vul, it would be marginal. But with both vul, it is better to pass. You have to draw the line somewhere.

You pass. The bidding continues:

East
K8
A9652
6432
94
W
N
E
S
P
P
1
P
?


1: 16+ artificial. 18+ if balanced, since 1NT here would be 15-17.

Your choice is between a negative 1 and a positive and game-forcing 1 which shows 5+ hearts. If you weren't a passed hand you would be expected to have 9 points for a positive response. As a passed hand the minimum drops to 8, since you are already limited and the 1 bidder's balanced minimum is higher due to the higher 1NT opening range.

Your call?



East
K8
A9652
6432
94
W
N
E
S
P
P
1
P
?


You don't have the Goren points for a 1 response, and you are lacking in intermediate spots. Still, an ace and a king is a lot better than a smattering of queens and jacks. In addition, you have a 5-card major to bid. Without the 5-card major it would be better to respond 1 even with the primes. There is no need to stretch to make a positive, since you can drive to game later if that looks right. The 5-card major combined with the prime cards makes the hand barely worth a positive.

You bid 1. The bidding continues:

East
K8
A9652
6432
94
W
N
E
S
P
P
1
P
1
2
P
P
?

Since the 1 call created a game force, you are naturally in a force. Doubles by either partner are penalties. Other bids are as natural as can be.

Your bid?




East
K8
A9652
6432
94
W
N
E
S
P
P
1
P
1
2
P
P
?


Your diamonds aren't strong. But you do have 4 of them, and that is what counts for defense. Partner won't be expecting a diamond stack if you double. If he sits he will have something in diamonds also, as well as fewer than 3 hearts. Your diamond length means that dummy won't be producing a surprise ruffing value. In addition, you don't have any other particularly attractive call. Double has to be right. South has intruded into your auction, and he deserves to be punished.

You double. That ends the auction.

East
K8
A9652
6432
94
W
N
E
S
P
P
1
P
1
2
P
P
X
P
P
P


Partner leads the king of hearts.

North
1095
J874
9
Q10853
East
K8
A9652
6432
94
W
N
E
S
P
P
1
P
1
2
P
P
X
P
P
P

You play suit-preference at trick one. 10, 9, 8 (by priority) are suit-preference high. 2, 3, 4 (by priority are suit-preference low. 6, 5, 7 (by priority) are encouraging.

Which heart do you play?




North
1095
J874
9
Q10853
East
K8
A9652
6432
94
W
N
E
S
P
P
1
P
1
2
P
P
X
P
P
P


You don't need to encourage. Partner will know you have the ace of hearts when his king holds the trick.

The most important information to partner is your spade strength. It could be very important for partner to be able to shift to a spade. Your signalling methods allow you to tell him that.

The only problem with playing the 9 of hearts is that with dummy having J8xx the nine could conceivably be an important card. However, that is unlikely to happen looking at that entryless dummy. You should be able to safely afford the 9.

You play the 9 of hearts. Declarer plays the 3. Partner continues with the queen of hearts. Your default signal on the second round of the suit (after having given suit-preference) is standard current count.

Which heart do you play?




North
1095
J87
9
Q10853
East
K8
A652
6432
94
W
N
E
S
P
P
1
P
1
2
P
P
X
P
P
P


Current count is meaningless here. Whether declarer follows or ruffs, partner will know the heart position since you responded 1. Since your entire hand is now the king-doubleton of spades, you should play the 6 of hearts. This confirms that you really like spades, since it is your highest affordable heart. If you liked spades but only moderately, you would play a smaller heart.

You play the 6 of hearts. Declarer follows. Partner shifts to the 2 of spades, to 10, king, and ace. Declarer leads back a spade to partner's jack. Partner cashes the queen of spades. What do you discard?




North
10
J8
9
Q10853
East
A52
6432
94
W
N
E
S
P
P
1
P
1
2
P
P
X
P
P
P

All the indications are that declarer has 4 spades and quite likely 4-2-5-2 shape. Partner didn't bid a 5-card spade suit, and declarer probably wouldn't be continuing spades if he started with Axx.

Partner may be planning on leading the fourth round of spades so you can overruff dummy. You know that this won't work. How can you persuade partner not to follow this line of defense?

Partner is marked with at least the king of diamonds, probably the ace, both from his 1 opening and declarer's initial pass. Declarer has shown up with the ace of spades. Since you have four small trumps, it can't cost to ruff partner's trick and lead a trump. When partner gets in with his trump winner he will be able to give you a spade ruff if that is necessary. Asking what you discard was a trick question. You must discard a trump.

You ruff and lead a trump. Partner wins the ace, and lays down the king of clubs. You play that the lead of the king in the middle of the hand asks for upside-down count, so you play the 4 of clubs. Partner cashes the ace of clubs, and gives you a spade ruff. Declarer has the rest, and you collect a sweet +800. The full hand:

West
QJ32
KQ
A87
AKJ6
North
1095
J874
9
Q10853
East
K8
A9652
6432
94
South
A764
103
KQJ105
72
W
N
E
S
P
P
1
P
1
2
P
P
X
P
P
P
D
2X South
NS: 0 EW: 0
K
4
9
3
0
0
1
Q
7
6
10
0
0
2
2
10
K
A
3
1
2
4
J
5
8
0
1
3
Q
9
2
6
2
1
4
3
5
A
9
0
1
5
K
3
4
2
0
1
6
A
5
9
7
0
1
7
3
8
4
7
2
1
8
9


This is an exceptionally good result. Not only is it more than the value of a vulnerable game, but 3NT has no play at all.

While the defense of ruffing partner's winner and leading a trump isn't too difficult to find, the position is rather cute. Ruffing partner's winner to lead a trump when partner can't do so is common enough. But how often do you make this play so that you can get another ruff?

Do you agree with partner's opening lead and subsequent defense?




West
QJ32
KQ
A87
AKJ6
North
1095
J874
9
Q10853
East
K8
A9652
6432
94
South
A764
103
KQJ105
72
W
N
E
S
P
P
1
P
1
2
P
P
X
P
P
P
D
2X South
NS: 0 EW: 0
K
4
9
3
0
0
1
Q
7
6
10
0
0
2
2
10
K
A
3
1
2
4
J
5
8
0
1
3
Q
9
2
6
2
1
4
3
5
A
9
0
1
5
K
3
4
2
0
1
6
A
5
9
7
0
1
7
3
8
4
7
2
1
8
9

While it is usually right to lead AK in a side suit, here partner's heart lead looks fine. It can't cost anything, and it might set up a third round ruff. Leading a high club could remove an entry from your hand.

After winning the jack of spades, I think partner should lay down the king of clubs before continuing spades. He will get the club count immediately, which will allow him to cash the ace of clubs if it cashes before continuing spades. This could lead to a trump promotion if declarer's trumps are weak. Cashing the king of clubs also lets you know what is going on in the hand, so you won't feel the need to shift to a club or to discard a club.

What do you think of South's 2 overcall?




West
QJ32
KQ
A87
AKJ6
North
1095
J874
9
Q10853
East
K8
A9652
6432
94
South
A764
103
KQJ105
72
W
N
E
S
P
P
1
P
1
2
P
P
X
P
P
P
D
2X South
NS: 0 EW: 0
K
4
9
3
0
0
1
Q
7
6
10
0
0
2
2
10
K
A
3
1
2
4
J
5
8
0
1
3
Q
9
2
6
2
1
4
3
5
A
9
0
1
5
K
3
4
2
0
1
6
A
5
9
7
0
1
7
3
8
4
7
2
1
8
9


The result could not have been worse for South. However, I think it is the proper call. A diamond lead could easily be the difference between 3NT making and 3NT down. South has 5 virtually sure tricks in his hand along with the possibility of setting up the fourth round of spades. In addition South's diamonds are very solid, and it is unlikely that he will be doubled even if 2 is going down too much. South was just plain unlucky to run into this layout and find opponents who were able to punish him.

It should be noted that West didn't open 2NT on what would appear to be a normal 2NT opening. The reason is that we don't play 2NT is a strong opening bid. In fact, we play it shows both minors, less than an opening bid. Whether this is a valuable use for the call could be debated. However, we would prefer to never open 2NT than to have it show 20-21 when we have a strong club available. If responder has a negative 1 response we simply rebid 2NT, showing a normal 2NT opener, and we are back with everybody else. But when responder has a positive response, we are much better off than other pairs. We have established a game force at a low level, and the strong hand can take control which is almost always best. After the 2NT opening the weak hand is forced to take control after starting at a higher level, which leads to less accurate slam auctions.

On this deal, not opening 2NT gained in an unexpected way. After a 2NT opening East would transfer and South could double for the lead. The diamond lead defeats 3NT before it can even get started.

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