Join Bridge Winners
He Will React
(Page of 9)

In a round-robin match in the Berumda Bowl, you have to decide how to deal with partner's splinter.

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

South
96
AJ102
98
AQ1074
W
N
E
S
1
?

Your call?

 

South
96
AJ102
98
AQ1074
W
N
E
S
1
?

Pessimists might not like overcalling here. It is a vulnerable overcall at the 2-level on a 5-card suit, always dangerous. If it goes pass-pass-double-all pass you will not be a happy camper. Partner might play you for a better suit and/or a better hand than this and bid too much. Your side strength is in the enemy suit, where it is less likely to be of value.

Optimists see things in a different light. Clubs is where you live. There are many ways overcalling can show a profit.

Lead value. Imagine partner on lead against an enemy spade or notrump contract, which looks possible. The difference between a club lead and some other lead could easily determine the fate of the contract.

Destuctive value. The overcall takes away West's 1 response, which could harm the enemy auction.

Competitive value. The overcall may allow you to compete for a partial, either getting to a making partial or pushing the opponents to where you can defeat them.

Sacrificial value. If you hit a big fit, the overcall may allow partner to take a profitable sacrifice against an enemy game.

Constructive value. The overcall may pave the way for your side to get to a making partial, game, or even slam if partner has the right cards.

Bridge is a bidder's game. It is usually right to bid rather than pass when you have something to say. There are more ways to win than to lose, and the profits are often greater.

You overcall 2. The bidding continues:

W
N
E
S
1
2
2
4
P
?

4: Splinter

4 by partner would have been RKC for clubs. Your rules are that once you go beyond the RKC call, RKC is no longer available.

Your philosophy on Q-bids is that they aren't necessarily control-showing, particularly on auctions such as this where you don't have much room to maneuver. A Q-bid simply shows some slam interest.

If you choose to do something other than sign off in 5 or bid 6, available to you are:

4: There is some ambiguity here about whether this is a Q-bid or an offer to play. A 4-4 spade fit is possible. Your general agreements are that when you have a minor-suit fit and a 4-4 major-suit fit is possible, then 4 of a major is an offer to play even if the suit hasn't been previously bid. For example, suppose the auction had been: (1)-2-(3)-4;(P)-4. This would definitely be a natural call, not a Q-bid.

4NT: This would clearly be a slam try in clubs, sort of a Last Train type of call. Partner would be expected to make the right decision. 4NT would say nothing about any particular suits.

Your call?

South
96
AJ102
98
AQ1074
W
N
E
S
1
2
2
4
P
?

Your heart holding is nice opposite the shortness and the club fit. Still, you have a minimal overcall and only a 5-card club suit. You can't be worth a slam bid. The question is whether you are worth a try or should you just sign off in 5.

If you are going to make a try, clearly you must bid 4NT. If there is any possibility that partner might take 4 as natural you can't take that risk. 4NT will definitely be interpreted correctly.

In this sort of situation where partner has described his hand pretty well and you are considering bringing him into the loop rather than making the decision yourself, it is vital for you to see how he will react to your actions. You must construct various hands he might hold and determine if he is likely to be taking the correct action if you toss the decision to him. If it appears that he will be taking the correct action most of the time, then bringing him into the loop is likely to be your best approach. If it looks like he might be making the wrong decision, then you are better off either placing the contract yourself or finding out more about his hand if possible.

What does partner figure to have for a normal splinter? You are missing 5 critical cards -- king of clubs, AK of spades, and AK of diamonds. He certainly figures to have at least 3 of these to justify his splinter in the first place, so if that is all he has then he isn't likely to accept your invitation since he wouldn't think he had anything extra. So, let's look at a typical hand where he has 4 of the critical cards. Something like: KQxx x AKxx Kxxx. Not only does he hold 4 working cards, he has the queen of spades in addition. If you invite slam, he will accept like a shot. And with the ace of spades offside, which it figures to be, slam has no real play on a trump lead. He might be accepting with a bit less. He doesn't know you have nothing in the pointed suits, so if he has AQxx in one or both of these suits he may be thinking you will produce the king. You know you have worthless doubletons in both pointed suits, and that on the auction any finesse in these suits figures to be offside.

The conclusion is that partner isn't going to be reacting properly if you invite. He is quite likely to be bidding a bad slam. You aren't worth a move. You should simply sign off at 5.

You bid 5, ending the auction.

W
N
E
S
1
2
2
4
P
5
P
P
P

West leads the 10. Standard leads.

North
KJ2
6
AQJ32
8653
South
96
AJ102
98
AQ1074
W
N
E
S
1
2
2
4
P
5
P
P
P

Do you finesse or win the ace?

 

North
KJ2
6
AQJ32
8653
South
96
AJ102
98
AQ1074
W
N
E
S
1
2
2
4
P
5
P
P
P

Both the bidding and the opening lead indicate that the king of diamonds is offside. Leading the 10 from K10x(x) would be pretty weird, particularly on this auction. If that is the case, you will probably have to pick up the club suit without loss.

Is there any argument for going up ace? That will gain only if the lead is a singleton. This would give East 5-5 in the red suits, which means that your chances of picking up the club suit without loss would be small. It is possible that East has something like A Kxxxx Kxxxx Kx, but that is about the only hand where going up ace of diamonds gains.

Can finessing gain? Possibly. If East has a stiff king of clubs the defense will have a trump trick coming but East won't know that. If East doesn't cash his ace of spades, you might be able to discard your losing spades on good diamonds. This won't work if West has a doubleton diamond, since he will be able to ruff in quickly. But if he has led the 10 from 10xx, which is possible on this sort of auction, then you will make if East doesn't cash. Picture East holding something like AQxx Qxxxx Kxx K. Will he lay down the ace of spades. Perhaps he should, but he might not. Also, there is the outside chance that West did lead a tricky 10 of diamonds from K10x. Finessing looks best.

You play the queen of diamonds from dummy. East wins the king. Which spot do you play from your hand?

North
KJ2
6
AQJ32
8653
South
96
AJ102
98
AQ1074
W
N
E
S
1
2
2
4
P
5
P
P
P

If you play the 9, East will know that his partner has led from a short suit. However, if you play the 8, East won't know for sure that his partner doesn't have 109xx. Playing the 8 is clearly right. As is so often the case, the best falsecard is to not falsecard.

You play the 8. East shifts to the king of hearts to your ace. What do you do now?

North
KJ2
AJ32
8653
South
96
J102
9
AQ1074
W
N
E
S
1
2
2
4
P
5
P
P
P

Obviously you need to take a club finesse. Ruffing a heart to dummy is the best entry, retaining the good diamonds for later.

You ruff a heart, and lead a small club. East plays the 9. What do you play?

 

North
KJ2
AJ32
865
South
96
J10
9
AQ1074
W
N
E
S
1
2
2
4
P
5
P
P
P

You need the king of clubs onside. East might hold K9 doubleton, or KJ9. The opening lead indicates that he started with 4 diamonds. This makes K9 doubleton more likely than KJ9, since that latter holding would make the spades 7-1. Also, if he has KJ9 you can still scramble home by discarding your spades on the good diamonds.

You finesse the queen of clubs. It holds, West playing the 2. You cash the ace of clubs, both following. When both follow to the 9 you have the rest of the tricks, taking 7 club tricks, 4 diamond tricks, and 1 heart trick. The full hand is:

West
Q107543
943
106
J2
North
KJ2
6
AQJ32
8653
East
A8
KQ875
K754
K9
South
96
AJ102
98
AQ1074
W
N
E
S
1
2
2
4
P
5
P
P
P
D
5 South
NS: 0 EW: 0
10
Q
K
8
2
0
1
K
A
3
6
3
1
1
2
4
3
5
1
2
1
5
9
Q
2
3
3
1
A
J
6
K
3
4
1
9
6
2
4
3
5
1
6

What do you think of the defense?

 

West
Q107543
943
106
J2
North
KJ2
6
AQJ32
8653
East
A8
KQ875
K754
K9
South
96
AJ102
98
AQ1074
W
N
E
S
1
2
2
4
P
5
P
P
P
D
5 South
NS: 0 EW: 0
10
Q
K
8
2
0
1
K
A
3
6
3
1
1
2
4
3
5
1
2
1
5
9
Q
2
3
3
1
A
J
6
K
3
4
1
9
6
2
4
3
5
1
6

The opening lead looks reasonable. The splinter tells West that a heart lead isn't likely to be productive. The diamond lead might set up diamond tricks or a trump promotion on the third round of diamonds.

East should have cashed the ace of spades at trick 2. There was no point in hanging onto it. Dummy's diamonds are good, and if declarer needs to guess the spades he will always guess right. Declarer clearly has the ace of hearts for his overcall, and if West somehow has it East can lead a heart after cashing the ace of spades. If nothing else, cashing the ace of spades might save an overtrick. And if declarer''s hand is something like Qx Axx xx AJ10xxx then cashing is necessary to defeat the contract. This isn't at all an impossible layout.

West could have shown some class by dropping the jack of clubs on the first round of clubs. Declarer probably shouldn't fall for it, but if declarer thinks the jack of clubs is singleton he might cash the 9, ruff a heart, and try running the diamonds through East's trump holding. It can't cost West to try, since otherwise the defense clearly has no chance.

Do you like North's splinter?

West
Q107543
943
106
J2
North
KJ2
6
AQJ32
8653
East
A8
KQ875
K754
K9
South
96
AJ102
98
AQ1074
W
N
E
S
1
2
2
4
P
5
P
P
P
D
5 South
NS: 0 EW: 0
10
Q
K
8
2
0
1
K
A
3
6
3
1
1
2
4
3
5
1
2
1
5
9
Q
2
3
3
1
A
J
6
K
3
4
1
9
6
2
4
3
5
1
6

It was somewhat of a stretch. But if North merely invites game with a 3 call, will South know what to do? Stopping at 4 of a minor when you have some distribution just isn't a winning action. And once North does decide to drive to game, he might as well make the descriptive splinter. That information might be all South needs to bid a magic slam. Give South something like Ax xxx Kx AKxxxx and South would have good reason to get excited opposite a splinter.

The 5 contract was a bit lucky. But luck has a way of favoring the bold in bridge. If South had passed instead of overcalling, it would be difficult to get to 5. It's a bidder's game.

35 Comments
Getting Comments... loading...
.

Bottom Home Top