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Scare Him
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In a Round of 16 match in the Open Trials, you face an awkward problem opposite partner's strong 1 and an enemy preempt.

Both vul, West deals. As South, you hold:

South
2
KQJ87
5432
Q96
W
N
E
S
P
1
3
?

1: Strong, artificial

Pass by you would be 0-8, non-forcing. Double would be a game force without anything else to bid. Other calls are natural, game-forcing, with suit bids showing 5+ card suits.

Your call?

South
2
KQJ87
5432
Q96
W
N
E
S
P
1
3
?

If East had passed you would probably be worth a positive response with this good heart suit. Against the preempt, you have to show the suit even if it might be a slight overbid which propels you into a bad game. If you pass, not only might partner not re-open but you will be guessing later anyway.

Double is quite reasonable. Partner won't be expecting a 5-card heart suit initially. Over partner's likely 3 call you can now bid 4. Partner will interpret this as a 5-card suit, so he will not leave you in 4 with short hearts and a long spade suit. However, partner won't think your hearts are this strong, and he may choose the wrong major. If you had a doubleton spade, this approach would be more attractive.

You bid 3. The auction continues:

W
N
E
S
P
1
3
3
P
3
P
?

4 would be a good hand with spade support.

Your call?

South
2
KQJ87
5432
Q96
W
N
E
S
P
1
3
3
P
3
P
?

This wasn't an unexpected problem, but it is pretty awkward. You can't bid 3NT with this diamond holding -- that is suicidal. You don't want to raise partner with a small singleton -- if he can play opposite a small singleton he can take care of himself. 4 is possible as a hedge, but partner will have no reason not to believe it is an honest suit. It would be nice if 4 were choice of games, but that isn't your agreement. All you are left with is 4. One would expect at least a 6-card suit for this sequence since 3 showed a 5-card suit, but at least this suit is a pretty good suit. Partner appears to be short in diamonds, so the odds are that you will catch him with a doubleton heart. 4 appears to be the least of evils.

You bid 4, ending the auction.

W
N
E
S
P
1
3
3
P
3
P
4
P
P
P

West leads the 9:

North
AQ109654
A9
K
K84
South
2
KQJ87
5432
Q96
W
N
E
S
P
1
3
3
P
3
P
4
P
P
P

East wins the ace of diamonds, and returns the 6. West discards the 7 (UDCA). What do you do?

North
AQ109654
A9
K84
South
2
KQJ87
542
Q96
W
N
E
S
P
1
3
3
P
3
P
4
P
P
P

There can't be any point in delaying the evil day, since East can continue diamonds. You might as well ruff.

If West has the ace of clubs, it might be correct to ruff with the ace of hearts, lead a heart to your hand to draw trumps, take a spade finesse, set up the spades, and get to the spades with the king of clubs. East's 6 return says that isn't the case. He is going out of his way to lead his smallest diamond, advertising the ace of clubs. He could be being deceptive, but he doesn't know what the hand is about and he will be more concerned about giving his partner the right information. It looks right to believe that East has the ace of clubs, so ruffing with the 9 looks best.

You ruff with the 9. What next?

North
AQ109654
A
K84
South
2
KQJ87
52
Q96
W
N
E
S
P
1
3
3
P
3
P
4
P
P
P

You will certainly need the spade finesse to have a chance. It figures to be onside if East has the ace of clubs. Even with that, you have problems. The trumps aren't likely to be splitting. It looks like you will need to score all 7 of your trumps, as well as 1 club and 2 spades, to bring home this contract.

You know what your problem is, but East doesn't. What he does know (or thinks he knows) is that you have 4 diamonds, in addition to the 6+ card heart suit you have shown. This doesn't leave you with many black cards. If you come off dummy with a small club, you may scare him into going up ace. If he does that is one more badly needed winner for you. This looks like your best shot. If East ducks, you can take the spade finesse and try to scramble home enough tricks.

You lead a small club from dummy. East goes up ace, West playing the 2. East leads the jack of diamonds. West discards the 5, and you ruff with dummy's ace of hearts. What next?

North
AQ109654
K8
South
2
KQJ87
5
Q6
W
N
E
S
P
1
3
3
P
3
P
4
P
P
P

You are going to have to get back to your hand to take the spade finesse, since you need to dispose of your last diamond. West might be ruffing, but if he is it might be with a natural trump trick so you won't have lost anything.

You lead a club to your queen. It holds, East playing the 3 and West the 10. Now what?

North
AQ109654
K
South
2
KQJ87
5
6
W
N
E
S
P
1
3
3
P
3
P
4
P
P
P

Things are going well. All you have to do is play a couple of top trumps. If both opponents follow, you can play a third trump and then take the spade finesse if you have a trump loser. If West turns out to have 5 trumps you may still be okay. After taking 2 trumps, you can play a spade to the queen and the ace of spades, discarding your diamond. You can then ruff a spade. If West started with 2 spades and overruffs, your hand will now be good. If he started with 3 spades he will have to follow, and he will be trump tight. You will just lead your last club and end-play him.

You foolishly choose to lead a spade without drawing any more trumps. West follows small. Do you finesse?

North
AQ109654
K
South
2
KQJ87
5
6
W
N
E
S
P
1
3
3
P
3
P
4
P
P
P

Taking the finesse is clear. You need to dispose of your losing diamond. Hopefully East doesn't have a singleton spade.

You take the spade finesse. The queen holds. You cash the ace of spades, discarding your diamond. East plays the jack and West plays small. What now?

North
109654
K
South
KQJ87
6
W
N
E
S
P
1
3
3
P
3
P
4
P
P
P

It is clear to ruff a spade, since West is known to have the king of spades left. You can then take a couple of rounds of trumps.

You ruff a spade, and cash KQ of trumps. East follows small on the first round, and discards a diamond on the second round. How do you finish?

North
109
K
South
J8
6
W
N
E
S
P
1
3
3
P
3
P
4
P
P
P

West is known to have nothing but trumps left. You lead your club. West ruffs, and he is endplayed. Making 4. The full hand is:

West
K73
106532
9
10752
North
AQ109654
A9
K
K84
East
J8
4
AQJ10876
AJ3
South
2
KQJ87
5432
Q96
W
N
E
S
P
1
3
3
P
3
P
4
P
P
P
D
4 South
NS: 0 EW: 0
9
K
A
3
2
0
1
6
4
7
9
1
1
1
4
A
9
2
2
1
2
J
2
5
A
1
2
2
8
3
Q
10
3
3
2
2
3
Q
8
1
4
2
A
J
5
7
1
5
2
4
7
7
K
3
6
2
K
2
5
4
3
7
2
Q
3
6
8
3
8
2
6
5
11

Should the defense have done better?

West
K73
106532
9
10752
North
AQ109654
A9
K
K84
East
J8
4
AQJ10876
AJ3
South
2
KQJ87
5432
Q96
W
N
E
S
P
1
3
3
P
3
P
4
P
P
P
D
4 South
NS: 0 EW: 0
9
K
A
3
2
0
1
6
4
7
9
1
1
1
4
A
9
2
2
1
2
J
2
5
A
1
2
2
8
3
Q
10
3
3
2
2
3
Q
8
1
4
2
A
J
5
7
1
5
2
4
7
7
K
3
6
2
K
2
5
4
3
7
2
Q
3
6
8
3
8
2
6
5
11

Continuing diamonds at trick 2 looks reasonable. East doesn't know how many spades declarer has. If declarer has a doubleton spade or the stiff king the spade suit is running, and the only hope for the defense will be to tap out the dummy and set up some trump tricks for West. The 6 is a clear suit-preference signal for clubs. It happened to help declarer on this hand, but more often it will help partner.

East has quite a problem when the club comes off dummy. He knows declarer started with 4 diamonds, and of course assumes declarer has at least 6 hearts. Ducking could be bad if declarer has the stiff queen of clubs. For example, picture declarer with Kx KQxxxx xxxx Q. Forcing dummy to ruff would defeat the contract instantly. However, if East ducks declarer wins the queen, heart to ace, club ruff, and plays king, queen, and a heart making 5. On this hand East was wrong to rise ace of clubs, but it was a very reasonable defense. Had East ducked, declarer would have been a trick short.

How was North's bidding?

West
K73
106532
9
10752
North
AQ109654
A9
K
K84
East
J8
4
AQJ10876
AJ3
South
2
KQJ87
5432
Q96
W
N
E
S
P
1
3
3
P
3
P
4
P
P
P
D
4 South
NS: 0 EW: 0
9
K
A
3
2
0
1
6
4
7
9
1
1
1
4
A
9
2
2
1
2
J
2
5
A
1
2
2
8
3
Q
10
3
3
2
2
3
Q
8
1
4
2
A
J
5
7
1
5
2
4
7
7
K
3
6
2
K
2
5
4
3
7
2
Q
3
6
8
3
8
2
6
5
11

North's first two bids were easy. He has a good spade suit, but South might have a small singleton or a void. South did rebid 4, so South figures to have 6+ hearts. It is hard for North to picture the rebid problem South had. Passing 4 looks like the right action.

Do you like East's 3 call?

West
K73
106532
9
10752
North
AQ109654
A9
K
K84
East
J8
4
AQJ10876
AJ3
South
2
KQJ87
5432
Q96
W
N
E
S
P
1
3
3
P
3
P
4
P
P
P
D
4 South
NS: 0 EW: 0
9
K
A
3
2
0
1
6
4
7
9
1
1
1
4
A
9
2
2
1
2
J
2
5
A
1
2
2
8
3
Q
10
3
3
2
2
3
Q
8
1
4
2
A
J
5
7
1
5
2
4
7
7
K
3
6
2
K
2
5
4
3
7
2
Q
3
6
8
3
8
2
6
5
11

Against a natural opening bid, bidding 3 on the East hand would be silly. Game could easily be missed. Against a Precision 1 opening, however, it makes a lot of sense. The odds are that E-W don't have a game, and the 3 call gobbles up a ton of room making it difficult for N-S to find their best contract whatever it is. The actual hand is a good example, since without the high-level competition N-S would have been able to get to the superior spade game.

At the other table, after the same start South did choose to double rather than bid 3. Naturally North then corrected 4 to 4. East led his singleton heart. Declarer chose to win the ace, then banged down ace and queen of spades. That was quite successful.

One of the most important factors of high-level play is to picture how things will look from the opponent's point of view and play accordingly. This is how you can induce your opponent to make an error. This hand was a good illustration. Visualizing the problem East might be facing was the key to the hand.

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