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The 25 HCP Deck

Match point. Neither vulnerable. You pick up

South
10985
6
52
876542

LHO opens 1. Partner over-calls 2, Michaels. RHO jumps to 4. Your turn.

Your hand has a nice shape, and your long suits are solid. The only problem is that your HCP is a bit light. If you go quietly and they make an easy game or even a slam, partner will not blame you. But, partner has already told opponents everything about the distributions and where most of the points are, you don't want them to play almost double-dummy, besides, you do have a nine card fit in spades.

You bid 4. RHO doubles. You get to play it.

LHO plays A, and you see

North
AQ642
A32
J9764
South
10985
6
52
876542
W
N
E
S
1
2
4
4
P
P
X
P
P
P

Opponents can certainly make 4. They can take 12 tricks if either is void in spades, but nobody will bid slam. To survive, you need to take at least eight tricks.

You ruff the club, take A, ruff a heart, ruff another club, then ruff the last heart to reach this position

North
AQ6
J9764
South
109
52
8765
W
N
E
S
1
2
4
4
P
P
X
P
P
P

Both opponents followed suit, having played 954A10 on your left and J8793 on your right.

You can try another club ruff which will unlikely accomplish much, then you will have to start diamonds. It might be right to exit with a diamond now and see what happens.

You play 5, covered by 8 and 9. RHO wins Q, and continues K and A. You ruff the third one high. LHO follows with 3 and 10.

The last two diamonds on the table are good now, and you still have three trumps there with ace and queen. You might be able to make it. You lead your last trump to the queen. When that holds, you play the ace, dropping both king and jack, and claim. Here is the full deal

West
K3
KQ954
1083
AK10
North
AQ642
A32
J9764
East
J7
J1087
AKQ
QJ93
South
10985
6
52
876542
W
N
E
S
1
2
4
4
P
P
X
P
P
P
D
4X South
NS: 0 EW: 0

At most tables, West declares 3NT or 4H, presumably after opening 1NT. Both contracts can be made easily -- to beat 3NT, North leads a routine low spade, then must win A and play A to drop the two honors, and play carefully to avoid blocking the suit.

While 1 by West makes it easy for North and South to find their spade fit at the one level, with 5-5 and a void in a hand worth opening, North should always challenge 1NT. A 2 over-call (natural or Cappelletti) is effective. Those who use DONT or Meckwell (a.k.a. modified DONT) will over-call 2. East can double, but does it show hearts (stolen bid) or just strength? This is where partnership agreement becomes crucial. Things can get complicated if East bids 2NT over 2 (lebensohl) -- anyone has an idea on this?

Finally, should East double 4? With a hand almost enough to open 1NT, it is tempting. Going to 5 is risky, but doubling 4 is even more so -- opponents are likely bidding on wild distribution. Bergen once said that, with a void it feels like playing a 30 HCP deck. Add a singleton to the mix, and it is more like a 25 HCP deck.

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