Required Holding
(Page of 5)

Playing in the finals of a Bracket 1 KO I picked up the following hand:

South
AQ32
AJ2
K103
864
W
N
E
S
P
1
?

The opponents were playing Precision, so 1 showed 11-15 with 2+ diamonds, though I believe they might hold even fewer diamonds on certain rare hand types.

What call would you make?

I think Double is the best call, though at the table I bid 1NT.  Double is going to win whenever 1NT wins, while it has much less downside.  However, by occasionally including hands like this in my range for 1NT, I make it harder for the opponents when they are reconstructing my hand on defense.

South
AQ32
AJ2
K103
864
W
N
E
S
P
1
1NT
P
2
X
?

Things got a lot worse for me when my opponent doubled Stayman for the lead.

My partner John Diamond and I had agreed to play an expert-standard method for coping with this lead-directing double which is as follows:

• Pass = No club stopper
• 2// = standard Stayman response with a club stopper

After pass showing no stopper, partner can bid:

• XX = Stayman (again)
• 2 = Garbage Stayman (optimally 4-4-5-0, but can be any variant with short clubs and 4+)
• 2 = Garbage Stayman, both majors
• 2 = Invitational with 5

The final piece of the system is that once we pass and partner redoubles to repeat Stayman, we reorder our bids to get responder (the only hand who may have a potential club stopper) to declare.  The new responses are as follows:

• 2 = 4
• 2 = 4
• 2 = No Major
• 2NT  = Both Majors min
• 3  = 6
• 3  = Both Majors max

I passed, denying a club stopper and it continued:

South
AQ32
AJ2
K103
864
W
N
E
S
P
1
1NT
P
2
X
P
P
2
P
?

2 shows a poor hand with both majors.  Even though I wanted partner on play, I obviously had a preference for spades so I corrected to 2 and that ended the auction.

West led the 5 and dummy hit with:

North
K1074
10943
952
103
South
AQ32
AJ2
K103
864
W
N
E
S
P
1
1NT
P
2
X
P
P
2
P
2
P
P
P

I was grateful that my partner had saved me from my bad 1NT bid by bidding Garbage Stayman with this hand.

East won the K and returned a low diamond.  I ducked and West won the Q.

West cashed the Q and then got out with the 7, forcing me to ruff in dummy.  All had followed to each trick, and I was in dummy in the following position:

North
K107
10943
95
South
AQ32
AJ2
K10
W
N
E
S
P
1
1NT
P
2
X
P
P
2
P
2
P
P
P

I had a serious shortage of dummy entries so I started with a heart to the jack.  That lost to the K and they played back the 8 to the ace and another diamond, my king winning.

This left me in the following position:

North
K107
1094
South
AQ32
A2
W
N
E
S
P
1
1NT
P
2
X
P
P
2
P
2
P
P
P

So far we've lost 5 tricks: two diamonds, two clubs, and a heart.  We cannot afford to lose another trick.

How do you play from here?

North
K107
1094
South
AQ32
A2
W
N
E
S
P
1
1NT
P
2
X
P
P
2
P
2
P
P
P

East appears to have the AK (West led the 5 at trick one, and would not do that from AQ), and the AJ (West likely would not have won the Q holding the J, and certainly would have attempted to get East on lead again in clubs to play another diamond through).  We need East to hold the Q for us to avoid a heart loser.  That gives East 14 HCP.  The opponents play a 14-16 NT, so in order for East to hold the Q, I need East to be unbalanced.  At this point, the only suit East can be short in is spades.  If East does have a singleton spade, I will likely lose a spade trick to West unless I finesse West out of the J.  So I decided that was the route I wanted to take.  Unfortunately if I cash the A to cater to a singleton J with East, then after three rounds of spades and a winning heart finesse (ducked by East), I will be stuck in dummy.  I will have to play a third round of hearts to reach my hand to draw trump and go down when West is 4-2-3-4.  If I had the 8 in my hand (or if I led the 10 earlier) I could cater to the singleton jack.  Instead I was forced to take a first-round finesse by leading a spade to the 10.  That won for +110 and was necessary, as spades were 4-1.  Our teammates competed to 3 making for a 6-IMP win.  We won this match by 1 IMP!