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Change of Plans
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In a Round of 32 match in the Open Trials, you have to cope with a Multi by the opponents.

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

North
10962
KQ6
KJ74
86
W
N
E
S
2
2NT
P
?

2: Weak two in one of the majors

You play the Multi defense where partner's double would be 13-15 balanced or some strong hand. 2NT would be 16-18. Suit bids would be natural. Pass, then double, would be takeout.

Over the 2NT call, normal Stayman and transfers.

Your call?

North
10962
KQ6
KJ74
86
W
N
E
S
2
2NT
P
?

Clearly you are bidding game. The question is whether it pays to look for a 4-4 spade fit.

If partner has 4 spades, 3NT might well be better anyway. The Multi bidder's suit might be spades, since these days opening Multi on a 5-bagger is possible. If that is the case, you definitely want to be in 3NT. Assuming the Multi bidder has hearts, you may suffer a heart ruff playing in spades.

In addition, a direct 3NT call has the advantage of concealment. If you don't tell West anything about the hand and he tries to hit his partner's suit, he may pick the wrong suit.

It looks like 3NT is the percentage action.

You choose to bid 3. The auction concludes:

W
N
E
S
2
2NT
P
3
P
3
P
3NT
P
P
P

Over you go to play the hand.

West leads the 2. Attitude leads. UDCA.

North
10962
KQ6
KJ74
86
South
KQ
A84
A109
K10972
W
N
E
S
2
2NT
P
3
P
3
P
3NT
P
P
P

Where do you win the trick, and how do you attack the hand?

North
10962
KQ6
KJ74
86
South
KQ
A84
A109
K10972
W
N
E
S
2
2NT
P
3
P
3
P
3NT
P
P
P

It looks like the bulk of your tricks will need to come from the club suit. If you can take 3 club tricks, you have 9 tricks -- 1 spade, 3 hearts, 2 diamonds, 3 clubs. By taking two club finesses, all you need to find is East with the queen or jack of clubs and no more than 3 clubs.

It is clear to attack clubs before setting up your spade trick. You want to knock out West's entries first. West can establish his hearts, but he won't be able to get in to cash them. After having set up your club tricks, you can safely knock out East's ace of spades. If you go after spades first, East can win, return a heart, and then if West has 2 club entries and the hearts are 5-2 West will be able to establish and cash his hearts before you have 9 tricks.

You win the king of hearts in dummy, and pass the 8. East plays the 4, and West wins the jack. West continues with the 3. What do you do?

North
10962
Q6
KJ74
6
South
KQ
A8
A109
K1097
W
N
E
S
2
2NT
P
3
P
3
P
3NT
P
P
P

There is no reason not to continue with your plan.

You win the queen of hearts, East following with the 10. You lead the 6 to your 10, East playing the 5. West wins the queen, and continues hearts, East discarding the 3 as you win your ace of hearts. Now what?

North
10962
KJ74
South
KQ
A109
K97
W
N
E
S
2
2NT
P
3
P
3
P
3NT
P
P
P

That was unfortunate. It might be time for a change of plans.

It is still possible to make by continuing clubs. East might have both black aces. However, that doesn't look likely. Look at things from East's point of view. He doesn't know where the ace of hearts is, and he is hoping his partner has it. If East had the ace of clubs, he would have hopped up ace of clubs and returned a heart, before his partner's king or queen of clubs entry got knocked out. This is a well-known play, and your expert opponent would be expected to find it.

You initially were planning on taking 3 club tricks, and now it looks like that number might be zero. Can you recover? Perhaps. You will need to take 4 diamond tricks and 2 spade tricks to get up to 9 tricks. The queen of diamonds will need to be with West. You will need East to have started with exactly two clubs. Dummy's spade spots are strong enough to force a second spade trick. The opponents will get only 2 club tricks and 2 spade tricks. All this isn't too unlikely.

Let's suppose you lead a spade. East wins, and returns a spade. You win, ace of diamonds, pass the 10, cash the diamonds, and lead a spade. East won't have anything left but spades, so he will have to give dummy the ninth trick.

There is one problem. What if West has Q8xx of diamonds? He covers the 10, and due to the blockage you won't be able to take 4 diamond tricks. This would leave East with 7-2-2-2 distribution (since you need him to have a doubleton club). This is not impossible, since East would be reluctant to open 3 with that flat a hand.

The solution is to pass the 9 immediately, before touching the spades and letting West know what is going on. West would have to really be on his A-game to work out to cover the 9. When the 9 holds, you can now go after spades and you will be able to take all your tricks.

You choose to continue clubs. As feared, West has the ace, and you are down 2. The full hand is:

West
J
J9532
Q85
AQJ3
North
10962
KQ6
KJ74
86
East
A87543
107
632
54
South
KQ
A84
A109
K10972
W
N
E
S
2
2NT
P
3
P
3
P
3NT
P
P
P
D
3NT South
NS: 0 EW: 0
2
K
7
4
1
1
0
8
4
2
J
0
1
1
3
Q
10
8
1
2
1
6
5
9
Q
0
2
2
5
6
3
A
3
3
2
K
A
6

The stiff J would have made it easy, but it wasn't really necessary.

A closer analysis of the hand shows that it wouldn't have been necessary to slip the 9 by West in the variation where East is 7-2-2-2. Suppose you instead lead the king of spades. East wins, and returns a spade. You win, play ace of diamonds, and 10, covered by queen and king. Now you play a spade. East wins, and returns a spade. You win, and in the ending dummy has J7 of diamonds and your hand has the stiff 9 and a club. West will be caught in an unusual blocked-suit squeeze. If he discards a diamond, dummy's diamonds are good. If he discards a club, your hand is high. It won't matter if East ducks one spade or even two spades. As long as you get your two spade tricks in, West either has to keep a losing diamond at the end and be thrown in with a club, or let dummy's diamonds be good. However, if you do try to slip the 9 through and West does find the cover, your entries will be scrambled and the defense will win out.

Do you agree with West's opening lead?

West
J
J9532
Q85
AQJ3
North
10962
KQ6
KJ74
86
East
A87543
107
632
54
South
KQ
A84
A109
K10972
W
N
E
S
2
2NT
P
3
P
3
P
3NT
P
P
P
D
3NT South
NS: 0 EW: 0
2
K
7
4
1
1
0
8
4
2
J
0
1
1
3
Q
10
8
1
2
1
6
5
9
Q
0
2
2
5
6
3
A
3
3
2
K
A
6

While it is often right to lead partner's suit, West knows he has most of the high cards for the defense so leading spades is futile. West is correct to set up his own suit and hope his club entries are sufficient to run the suit.

How was South's 2NT overcall?

West
J
J9532
Q85
AQJ3
North
10962
KQ6
KJ74
86
East
A87543
107
632
54
South
KQ
A84
A109
K10972
W
N
E
S
2
2NT
P
3
P
3
P
3NT
P
P
P
D
3NT South
NS: 0 EW: 0
2
K
7
4
1
1
0
8
4
2
J
0
1
1
3
Q
10
8
1
2
1
6
5
9
Q
0
2
2
5
6
3
A
3
3
2
K
A
6

South isn't happy overcalling 2NT with only a single stopper in whichever suit East has. However, South really doesn't have a choice. The hand is right within range, and anything else will be a big distortion.

One of the most important and difficult aspects of winning card play is to picture things from your opponent's point of view and see what they would have done with various hands. On this deal, declarer needed to do this in order to realize that continuing clubs had to be futile.

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