Join Bridge Winners
The Right Side
(Page of 9)

In a Round of 16 match in the Open Trials, you have to decide whether or not to get involved with a so-so hand.

None vul, West deals. As East, you hold:

East
J75
AJ987
Q2
754
W
N
E
S
P
P
?

If you choose to preempt you do so via 2, Multi. In your style, this may easily be a 5-card suit, particularly non-vulnerable.

Your call?

East
J75
AJ987
Q2
754
W
N
E
S
P
P
?

The heart suit is quite adequate for Multi. Partner is a passed hand, so you don't have to worry much about being in the wrong contract or missing a game. It is probably the opponents' hand, and preempting may cause them to have a poor auction.

The big argument against opening 2 is the flatness of the hand. 5-3-3-2 distribution is particularly bad for preempting. The problem is that whatever the opponents do is likely to be right. If they defend, doubling or not, all their tricks will cash. If they stretch to a game, all their suits will split. Even if they get to the wrong game, they are likely to survive with everything splitting. These arguments are so strong that it is probably right to simply pass.

You pass. The bidding continues:

W
N
E
S
P
P
P
1NT
P
2
?

1NT: 15-17

2: Transfer

Double by you would be lead-directing.

Your call?

East
J75
AJ987
Q2
754
W
N
E
S
P
P
P
1NT
P
2
?

You certainly want a heart lead versus either 3NT or 4. Double is the way to get it. In addition, if partner has 4 hearts he can compete to 3 and perhaps push the opponents to 3 where you can defeat them.

The only downside to double is that the opponents might be able to redouble and wrap it around your neck. This is quite costly if it happens, particularly if they can score an overtrick. If the hearts are stacked behind you you could be held to 3 heart tricks, and there might not be much outside of hearts. Still, this happens rarely. It would be necessary for South have a heart stack, find the redouble, and for North to be able to sit the redouble. It could happen, but most of the time when it is right for the opponents to play 2 redoubled they aren't going to find it. The upside of getting a heart lead easily outweighs the risk of the lead-directing double.

You double. The auction concludes:

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

2: 3+ spades

Partner leads the 2. 3rd and 5th leads.

North
98642
Q5
AK1098
J
East
J75
AJ987
Q2
754
W
N
E
S
P
P
P
1NT
P
2
X
2
P
4
P
P
P

Declarer plays small from dummy. What do you play?

North
98642
Q5
AK1098
J
East
J75
AJ987
Q2
754
W
N
E
S
P
P
P
1NT
P
2
X
2
P
4
P
P
P

It is virtually certain that partner and declarer each have 3 hearts. Partner would lead small from xxx or 10xx in this situation, since count figures to be more important than showing an honor here. If he leads a high spot card, you will be playing him for a doubleton.

It looks right to win your ace. If declarer has Kxx of hearts and AK of clubs, dummy's heart will be discarded and you will lose your ace of hearts. This could be the setting trick, since your side might have 2 spade tricks and a diamond trick coming.

Is there any danger of establishing a heart trick for declarer when he has Kxx and partner 10xx? Probably not. Dummy has 5 diamonds, so declarer would need 3 discards for it to matter. Even if declarer has Kxx of hearts, he would need 2 more discards from the club suit. It could happen, but the odds are against that layout.

You win the ace of hearts. Declarer plays the 3. What do you lead at trick 2?

North
98642
Q
AK1098
J
East
J75
J987
Q2
754
W
N
E
S
P
P
P
1NT
P
2
X
2
P
4
P
P
P

It may be necessary to cash the right thing. If partner has the king of hearts and declarer the AK of clubs, a heart return is necessary. If partner has the ace of clubs and declarer the king of hearts, a club return may be necessary.

There is no clue from the opening lead. You suggested a heart lead, and partner led a heart. Partner would have led the same 2 of hearts from his 3-card holding whether or not he had the king.

Is there any clue from the play from dummy? Probably not. Declarer would certainly have played small if he had Kxx, since you might be going up ace and giving him a heart trick. Declarer could have played the queen if he has nothing in hearts, but that is a strange sort of play and it doesn't figure to happen.

If all other things are equal, the percentage play appears to be to return a heart. The reason is that you might survive a heart return if you are wrong, since partner could have the ace of spades and declarer be unable to get to his hand in time to take the pitch. If you return a club and you are wrong, it is all over.

There is one other consideration. Suppose declarer has xxx in hearts. How would he feel declaring a spade contract, knowing a heart lead was coming through his partner and up to his xxx. He wouldn't like that. Even if his system said that he is supposed to bid 2 with spade support, he might choose not to do so in an attempt to play from the right side. Thus, declarer figures to have the king of hearts, making a club shift correct.

You shift to the 4. Declarer wins the ace, partner playing the queen. Declarer leads the 10 to dummy's queen, and leads a spade to his king and partner's ace. Partner returns the 3, small from dummy, and you win your queen. What do you play now?

North
9864
AK109
East
J7
J98
2
75
W
N
E
S
P
P
P
1NT
P
2
X
2
P
4
P
P
P

It seems natural to return a diamond and threaten to get a ruff. Perhaps if declarer has KQ10 of spades he will chicken out of the finesse. However, that isn't likely. Declarer isn't going to be worried about a non-vulnerable undertrick when the contract might be at stake.

The danger in returning a diamond is that it might help declarer get a count on the hand. If declarer started with KQ10x of spades he needs to guess the spades. He already knows you have 5 hearts. If he thinks from the carding that you started with 2 diamonds and 3 clubs, he will go right.

There is no reason declarer will be believing any of your cards. It probably doesn't matter what you do.

You lead back a diamond. Declarer wins in dummy, and leads a spade to his queen and partner's ten. Your jack of spades is the setting trick. The full hand is:

West
A10
642
J43
Q10932
North
98642
Q5
AK1098
J
East
J75
AJ987
Q2
754
South
KQ3
K103
765
AK86
W
N
E
S
P
P
P
1NT
P
2
X
2
P
4
P
P
P
D
4 South
NS: 0 EW: 0
2
5
A
3
2
0
1
4
A
Q
J
3
1
1
10
4
Q
7
1
2
1
2
5
K
A
0
2
2
3
8
Q
5
2
2
3
2
6
4
9
1
3
3
4
7
Q
10
3
4
3
7

How was West's defense?

West
A10
642
J43
Q10932
North
98642
Q5
AK1098
J
East
J75
AJ987
Q2
754
South
KQ3
K103
765
AK86
W
N
E
S
P
P
P
1NT
P
2
X
2
P
4
P
P
P
D
4 South
NS: 0 EW: 0
2
5
A
3
2
0
1
4
A
Q
J
3
1
1
10
4
Q
7
1
2
1
2
5
K
A
0
2
2
3
8
Q
5
2
2
3
2
6
4
9
1
3
3
4
7
Q
10
3
4
3
7

The opening lead is correct. Partner doubled for a heart lead, and there is no reason to override that. Count figures to be more important to partner than attitude here.

The queen of clubs is the most informative card to play on the club shift, denying the king but showing the lower club honors with the stiff jack in dummy.

If West didn't hold the 10, he would have to duck the first round of spades in order to give declarer a guess. With declarer's hand concealed, this would be a difficult play to find and could easily be wrong. Holding the 10, it is clear to win the ace.

The diamond shift is fine. It can't cost anything, and may clarify things. Leading a heart may cause partner to think West is after a promotion. Suppose East started with Qxx of spades. The winning defense is to duck the second round of spades, giving declarer a guess. But if East thinks declarer started with KJ doubleton of spades, East will go up queen. Of course the bidding tells East that declarer has 3 spades, but it is still best to not give partner a problem.

How was declarer's line of play?

West
A10
642
J43
Q10932
North
98642
Q5
AK1098
J
East
J75
AJ987
Q2
754
South
KQ3
K103
765
AK86
W
N
E
S
P
P
P
1NT
P
2
X
2
P
4
P
P
P
D
4 South
NS: 0 EW: 0
2
5
A
3
2
0
1
4
A
Q
J
3
1
1
10
4
Q
7
1
2
1
2
5
K
A
0
2
2
3
8
Q
5
2
2
3
2
6
4
9
1
3
3
4
7
Q
10
3
4
3
7

Declarer's early plays were routine. He needs to find the ace of spades onside or get a lucky lie in the diamond suit. The double diamond finesse is simply his percentage play. West could shift to a small diamond from QJx.

How was the N-S auction?

West
A10
642
J43
Q10932
North
98642
Q5
AK1098
J
East
J75
AJ987
Q2
754
South
KQ3
K103
765
AK86
W
N
E
S
P
P
P
1NT
P
2
X
2
P
4
P
P
P
D
4 South
NS: 0 EW: 0
2
5
A
3
2
0
1
4
A
Q
J
3
1
1
10
4
Q
7
1
2
1
2
5
K
A
0
2
2
3
8
Q
5
2
2
3
2
6
4
9
1
3
3
4
7
Q
10
3
4
3
7

Instead of blasting to 4, North might have tried 3. North has already shown his 5-card spade suit and his spades are as bad as they can be, so if 4 is the right game South will bid it. If South chooses to bid 3NT over 3, it is quite likely that 3NT is a better contract.

At the other table, the bidding and play were virtually identical for a push.

Visualizing what the other players at the table would or would not do with various hands is essential for good declarer play and defense. On this deal, East was able to avoid the fatal play of the jack of hearts at trick 1 by working out that declarer figured to have the king from his willingness to declare the hand in the face of the lead-directing double.

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