Join Bridge Winners
Accept the Transfer
(Page of 11)

In a quarter-final match in the Senior Trials, you face a difficult high-level competitive decision.

N-S vul, East deals. As West, you hold:

West
A109
AQJ82
10
K732
W
N
E
S
P
1
?

Your call?

West
A109
AQJ82
10
K732
W
N
E
S
P
1
?

A takeout double looks reasonable. You do have support for all the other suits, which is what you would like to have for a takeout double since you are asking partner to choose the trump suit.

On the other hand, you have 5 hearts and 3 spades. If you make a takeout double, you may have a difficult time showing your 5-card heart suit. With a 2-card differential in the majors, it is more efficient to start with a 1 overcall. If the opponents compete in diamonds, you can follow with a takeout double at your next turn. This will describe your hand perfectly. Partner will play you for this shape in the majors, since he knows that with 4-5 you would have started with a takeout double in order to bring both majors into the picture immediately.

You bid 1. The bidding continues:

W
N
E
S
P
1
1
X
3
3
?

3: This is defined as: "To play". The bid has a wide range. Partner could have any hand where he judges it correct to compete to 3 but he is not strong enough to invite game.

Your call?

West
A109
AQJ82
10
K732
W
N
E
S
P
1
1
X
3
3
?

Can you make 4? Maybe. Partner appears to have a doubleton spade, so the fit is okay. The success of 4 will depend a lot partner's club strength, and there is no way you can determine that.

Can you defeat 3? Maybe. You have potential to get a diamond ruff. If neither opponent has a singleton heart, you can score 2 heart tricks. Your king of clubs might be a trick. Your 109 of spades might produce a trump trick if partner has an honor. Partner might produce a defensive trick on his own.

In situations like this, it is usually best to bid one more. If either contract is making bidding will work fine, particularly if it is 4 which is making. Passing is right only when both 3 and 4 are going down. Betting on that parlay is too risky.

Should you be worried about pushing the opponents into 4? Not in the slightest. If they are going to bid 4, they probably will do so on their own. It is true that if you bid 4 that makes it more attractive for them to bid 4, since they no longer have the option of playing in 3. However, you don't mind that. You clearly have decent chances to defeat 4. Your goal is to get a plus score if you can, and if you can't to get the smallest minus score. You have a much better chance of getting a plus score defending 4 than you do defending 3.

Could it be right to bid 4 along the way with the idea of bringing partner into the picture? Probably not. Your club holding isn't that strong, so partner may mis-evaluate. 4 would presumably create a force, and you don't really want to do that since 5 doesn't figure to have much play. Furthermore, 4 gives the opponents a chance to exchange more information and be better prepared for a decision over 4.

You bid 4. The bidding continues:

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

Your call?

West
A109
AQJ82
10
K732
W
N
E
S
P
1
1
X
3
3
4
4
P
P
?

Can you make 5? Almost certainly not. North made a negative double instead of bidding 1, indicating that the opponents have a 4-4 spade fit thus leaving partner with a doubleton spade. It is difficult to imagine a hand partner could hold where you have 11 tricks yet he wasn't strong enough to invite game.

Is there a chance of pushing the opponents to 5? Not a chance. They have staggered into 4, and they know they have only an 8-card fit. It is possible that they won't be able to double 5, but they aren't taking the push. If you bid 5, you are accepting a minus score.

Could it be right to bid 5 as a save? 5 looks to be down about 1 or 2 tricks, which would make it a decent save against 4. If they are likely to make 4, bidding on would be right. But they aren't that likely to make 4. You have plenty of defensive potential. It is too likely 5 would be a phantom save. Your chance for a plus score is on defense.

Might it be right to double? You don't need much to defeat 4. You have a stiff diamond and the ace of trumps, so all partner needs is an entry to get you to 3 immediate tricks. He doesn't have to have the king of hearts, but he is likely to have that card even if he doesn't have anything else. Your king of clubs is a likely trick. The enemy hearts might be 2-2. Your 109 of spades may provide a second trump trick even if you don't get a ruff. Partner is allowed to have some help for the defense. Putting it all together, you can expect 4 to go down more often than not, and it might go down 2 tricks.

An important consideration is that North didn't bid 4 voluntarily. He didn't have the opportunity to stop in 3. His only choices were to defend 4, which he might not be defeating, or compete to 4. In addition, he may be hoping to bounce you into a 5 sacrifice at the vulnerability.

How do the IMP odds look on doubling? If 4 makes, the double costs 5 IMPs. If it goes down 1, the double gains 3 IMPs. If it goes down 2, the double gains 7 IMPs. There is zero chance they will redouble, and near zero chance that they will make any overtricks. These are not bad IMP odds considering your defensive potential. The double looks like a good bet.

One other consideration is whether or not the double will help declarer in the play. If the double told declarer about a bad trump split, that might guide him in his line of play and allow him to save a trick, negating the score gained from the double. On this hand, that is not the case. The double is simply saying that you think the contract is going down.

You double, ending the auction.

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

Your lead. Third and fifth leads.

West
A109
AQJ82
10
K732
W
N
E
S
P
1
1
X
3
3
4
4
P
P
X
P
P
P

Even though diamonds is declarer's side suit, leading the singleton has to be right. The plan is to get at least one diamond ruff, a plan which is likely to succeed.

You lead the 10.

West
A109
AQJ82
10
K732
North
8752
6
95432
AQ8
W
N
E
S
P
1
1
X
3
3
4
4
P
P
X
P
P
P

Partner plays the 8, and declarer wins the jack.

You play suit-preference at trick 1. High is suit-preference high. Low is suit-preference low. Middle is encouraging. If partner doesn't have the desired spot card, he plays what he judges is the least damaging card.

At trick 2, declarer leads the queen of spades. What do you do?

West
A109
AQJ82
K732
North
8752
6
9543
AQ8
W
N
E
S
P
1
1
X
3
3
4
4
P
P
X
P
P
P

The only reason to win this trick is to get two ruffs, or at least to threaten this. Otherwise, there can be no upside to winning the trick.

Suppose you win, lead a heart to partner's king, get a diamond ruff, and lead a club. Will the threat of a second diamond ruff scare declarer out of taking the club finesse? Not a chance. If the club finesse will let him make the contract, he will take it. He heard you double, and without the king of clubs you wouldn't have much of a double.

Ducking could gain. While it isn't likely, partner could have the king of spades. If partner has the jack of spades, you won't need a ruff. If partner has two small spades, his order of spade play will be suit-preference, which might be of value.

Assuming you duck, you should play the 10. This will definitely show the 9, information which might be of value to partner. If you play the 9, partner will assume you don't have the 10.

You play the 10. Partner plays the 3. Declarer continues with the jack of spades. You win the ace, as partner plays the 4. What do you do now?

West
9
AQJ82
K732
North
87
6
9543
AQ8
W
N
E
S
P
1
1
X
3
3
4
4
P
P
X
P
P
P

Partner's order of spade plays is suit-preference. However, this does not negate his play at trick 1 of the 8 of diamonds. That is definitely partner's highest diamond spot. If partner didn't have the king of hearts, it is inconceivable that he would have played the 8 of diamonds. All partner's order of trumps says is that he also has the jack of clubs.

Is there any chance? There is no combination in the diamond suit for which trick 1 makes sense where declarer has a diamond loser. You can cross to partner's king of hearts and get a diamond ruff, but declarer will have 4 spade tricks (including a heart ruff in dummy), 4 diamond tricks, and 2 club tricks to come to 10 tricks.

The only possibility is that declarer has a 3-card diamond suit. That isn't likely, but it is possible if declarer chose to open 1 rather than 1 because his diamonds were much stronger. Picture declarer with KQJx xxx AQJ xxx. If you cross to a heart and get your ruff, declarer will be able to draw trumps, ruff out partner's king of diamonds, and come to 5 trump tricks, 3 diamond tricks, and 2 club tricks. Playing two rounds of hearts won't defeat the contract, as declarer can ruff, take a diamond finesse giving you the ruff, and he will have the entries to set up the long diamond. However, if you shift to a club, he won't be able to do what he needs to do since the heart is still in dummy. If he takes a diamond finesse you ruff, continue clubs, and he can't get the diamond trick in time. If he draws your last trump, he doesn't have the entries to establish and cash the long diamond, and he comes up a trick short.

Is it worth risking a doubled overtrick in order to cater to this unlikely layout? If that were the case, it would be an interesting question. In reality, a club shift is completely safe. Do you really think declarer would risk his doubled contract for an overtrick? Not a chance. If declarer has the more likely KQJx xxx AQJx xx, he will go up ace of clubs, draw your trump, and eventually get to dummy with a heart ruff for a successful diamond finesse to run the diamonds and make his contract. Thus, the club shift is correct.

You choose to lead a heart to partner's king. He returns the 7 to declarer's ace, and you ruff. What do you try now?

West
AQJ2
K732
North
87
954
AQ8
W
N
E
S
P
1
1
X
3
3
4
4
P
P
X
P
P
P

As we have seen, even if declarer has a 3-card diamond suit, he now has the entries to ruff out partner's queen of diamonds and come to 10 tricks. The only way declarer doesn't have 10 tricks is if he doesn't have a heart ruff in dummy, so only has 3 spade tricks, 4 diamond tricks, and 2 club tricks. That gives partner 6 hearts. Not likely considering that he bid only 3, but it is your only chance. You must return a club, not a heart.

Before you have a chance to work this out, declarer claims. He no longer needs the club finesse. The full hand is:

West
A109
AQJ82
10
K732
North
8752
6
95432
AQ8
East
43
K1094
Q87
J1095
South
KQJ6
753
AKJ6
64
W
N
E
S
P
1
1
X
3
3
4
4
P
P
X
P
P
P
D
4X South
NS: 0 EW: 0
10
2
8
J
3
1
0
Q
10
2
3
3
2
0
J
A
5
4
0
2
1
8
6
K
3
2
2
2
7
A
9
3
0
2
3
5

How was East's defense?

West
A109
AQJ82
10
K732
North
8752
6
95432
AQ8
East
43
K1094
Q87
J1095
South
KQJ6
753
AKJ6
64
W
N
E
S
P
1
1
X
3
3
4
4
P
P
X
P
P
P
D
4X South
NS: 0 EW: 0
10
2
8
J
3
1
0
Q
10
2
3
3
2
0
J
A
5
4
0
2
1
8
6
K
3
2
2
2
7
A
9
3
0
2
3
5

His carding looks right. He holds the king of hearts, so his first priority is to signal suit-preference high on trick 1. Having done so, he is right to play low-high in trumps, showing that he has some help in clubs.

Do you like East's 3 call?

West
A109
AQJ82
10
K732
North
8752
6
95432
AQ8
East
43
K1094
Q87
J1095
South
KQJ6
753
AKJ6
64
W
N
E
S
P
1
1
X
3
3
4
4
P
P
X
P
P
P
D
4X South
NS: 0 EW: 0
10
2
8
J
3
1
0
Q
10
2
3
3
2
0
J
A
5
4
0
2
1
8
6
K
3
2
2
2
7
A
9
3
0
2
3
5

East knows that his side has at least 9 hearts. West didn't make a takeout double, so West can be assumed to not have 4 spades. That gives the opponents 8 spades. The trump total is 17. N-S are about to get to 2. Bidding 3 over 2 contracts for 17 total tricks (8 for N-S in 2, 9 for E-W in 3), which makes competing to 3 100% clear by the Law of Total Tricks. Since East knows he is going to compete to 3, he does better to bid it immediately rather than bidding 2 and letting the opponents clarify their spade fit at the 2-level.

How was the N-S bidding?

West
A109
AQJ82
10
K732
North
8752
6
95432
AQ8
East
43
K1094
Q87
J1095
South
KQJ6
753
AKJ6
64
W
N
E
S
P
1
1
X
3
3
4
4
P
P
X
P
P
P
D
4X South
NS: 0 EW: 0
10
2
8
J
3
1
0
Q
10
2
3
3
2
0
J
A
5
4
0
2
1
8
6
K
3
2
2
2
7
A
9
3
0
2
3
5

South may be relatively minimal in strength, but he knows his strength is in the right places. He has three small hearts opposite his partner's likely singleton, and he has a very strong spade suit. He definitely should bid at least 3, and he might well bid 4. He doesn't need much from North to make game.

4 is a transfer to 4. North's decision to accept the transfer was quite reasonable. He knows the hand is a double fit. If either 4 or 4 makes, bidding 4 will be right by a lot. It is so often right to compete to 4 over 4, and this hand doesn't look like an exception.

At the other table the auction started the same way. West took a more pessimistic view of things, not bidding 4 and then selling out to 4 undoubled, which made.

While the double of 4 wasn't successful, it was a good bet. Many good players fail to make this sort of double. Their thinking is somewhat matchpoint oriented. If 4 goes down, they are happy to have pushed the opponents up there and probably have a good board anyway. If 4 makes, there is no reason to double and get a bottom. It is the experienced rubber bridge players who understand how many points can be left on the table by failing to double.

53 Comments
Getting Comments... loading...
.

Bottom Home Top