Join Bridge Winners
Necessary Shift
(Page of 9)

In a round of 32 match in the Open Trials for USA2, you face a difficult responding problem.

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

West
5
J
AK984
Q107632
W
N
E
S
1
P
?

1NT would be semi-forcing. Partner will pass with most 5-3-3-2 hands, although he may bid a 3-card minor with a maximum opening bid. If partner has any other distribution, he will not pass.

2 of a minor would be natural and game-forcing.

3 of a minor would be to play.

Your call?

West
5
J
AK984
Q107632
W
N
E
S
1
P
?

This is a scary hand. Forcing to game could get you way too high unless partner has a fit in one of your minors. On the other hand, bidding 3 could land you in a silly contract if partner is short in clubs and has some diamond length.

The best bet appears to be 1NT. This runs the risk of partner passing on a 5-3-3-2 hand, but if he has that you probably don't have a game and may make 1NT even if the opponents can take a lot of heart tricks. If partner bids 2, you can get out in 3. If partner bids 2, you can choose between passing and 3. If partner bids 2 of a minor, you are off to the races. There are no guarantees, but this looks like the action which is most likely to survive.

You bid 1NT. The bidding continues;

W
N
E
S
1
P
1NT
X
2
3
?

1NT: Semi-forcing

Double would be penalty oriented.

Your call?

West
5
J
AK984
Q107632
W
N
E
S
1
P
1NT
X
2
3
?

This wasn't the auction you wanted to hear. You could be cold for 4 of a minor with the opponents cold for 3, but there is no intelligent way for you to find this out. Bidding 4 would be a big position. You have to pass and hope for the best.

You pass, ending the auction.

W
N
E
S
1
P
1NT
X
2
3
P
P
P

Your lead. From an AK holding, you may lead either the ace or the king. Ace asks for a standard attitude signal. King asks for a suit-preference signal.

West
5
J
AK984
Q107632
W
N
E
S
1
P
1NT
X
2
3
P
P
P

While it may be right to lead spades, it has to be correct to first cash a diamond. This will let you see dummy and maybe get a meaningful signal from partner.

As to which diamond to lead, the ace is probably better. You know from the auction that partner has decent spades, so a suit preference signal isn't likely to help much. It may be more important to get an attitude signal from partner if he has a doubleton diamond and can use a ruff.

You lead the ace of diamonds.

West
5
J
AK984
Q107632
North
AQ7
K865
102
AJ54
W
N
E
S
1
P
1NT
X
2
3
P
P
P

Partner plays the 5 (standard attitude). Declarer plays the 6.

Your play?

West
5
J
K984
Q107632
North
AQ7
K865
10
AJ54
W
N
E
S
1
P
1NT
X
2
3
P
P
P

Partner's 5 is relatively unreadable. The 7 and the 3 are outstanding, so partner's 5 could be encouraging or discouraging.

Even if partner has a doubleton diamond, it probably isn't vital to continue diamonds and give partner an overruff. If you do this, that will be your last time in. Partner has to have some entry, probably the ace of hearts, or you aren't going to defeat this contract. If partner gets in and wants a diamond overruff he can return a diamond.

A spade shift looks natural. Partner almost certainly has the king of spades. If declarer ducks, partner can give you a ruff. In addition. a spade shift might be necessary to get partner off a later end-play. However, it can't really do any good. Declarer knows the spade position, and he can and will go up ace and go after trumps. Since you have a singleton heart, you won't be able to get a spade ruff.

A club shift looks more promising. Partner could easily have a stiff club along with the ace of hearts. If that is the case, partner can win his ace of hearts, put you in with a diamond, and get a club ruff. He can exit safely, and will still get his king of spades. This looks like the right idea.

You choose to shift to a spade. Declarer goes up ace, partner playing the 3 and declarer the 9. Declarer plays a heart to his queen. He now leads the 3 from his hand. Your play?

West
K984
Q107632
North
Q7
K86
10
AJ54
W
N
E
S
1
P
1NT
X
2
3
P
P
P

If declarer started with QJxx of diamonds it would be right to go up king, but it is hard to see how this would defeat the contract. It looks better to hope that partner started with Qx or Jx of diamonds, so declarer will be left with two losing diamonds to dispose of if you don't crash partner's honor.

You play a small diamond. Partner wins his queen, and plays ace and a trump. Declarer wins, plays a club to his king, and takes a successful club finesse to discard a losing spade and make his contract. The full hand is:

West
5
J
AK984
Q107632
North
AQ7
K865
102
AJ54
East
KJ8643
A94
Q75
8
South
1092
Q10732
J63
K9
W
N
E
S
1
P
1NT
X
2
3
P
P
P
D
3 South
NS: 0 EW: 0
A
2
5
6
0
0
1
5
A
3
9
1
1
1
5
4
Q
J
3
2
1
3
9
10
Q
2
2
2
A
2
2
6
2
2
3
9
3
4
K
1
3
3
4
8
K
3
3
4
3
9
10
J
8

A club shift would have been a winner.

How was East's defense?

West
5
J
AK984
Q107632
North
AQ7
K865
102
AJ54
East
KJ8643
A94
Q75
8
South
1092
Q10732
J63
K9
W
N
E
S
1
P
1NT
X
2
3
P
P
P
D
3 South
NS: 0 EW: 0
A
2
5
6
0
0
1
5
A
3
9
1
1
1
5
4
Q
J
3
2
1
3
9
10
Q
2
2
2
A
2
2
6
2
2
3
9
3
4
K
1
3
3
4
8
K
3
3
4
3
9
10
J
8

Even though East has the queen of diamonds, he is correct to play the discouraging 5. He does not want a diamond continuation. His signal here is about what he wants, not about what he has in the diamond suit.

When in with the queen of diamonds, he is right to draw trumps. He is no longer getting a club ruff, but declarer might have 4 diamonds and this prevents declarer from ruffing two diamonds in dummy.

How was declarer's line of play?

West
5
J
AK984
Q107632
North
AQ7
K865
102
AJ54
East
KJ8643
A94
Q75
8
South
1092
Q10732
J63
K9
W
N
E
S
1
P
1NT
X
2
3
P
P
P
D
3 South
NS: 0 EW: 0
A
2
5
6
0
0
1
5
A
3
9
1
1
1
5
4
Q
J
3
2
1
3
9
10
Q
2
2
2
A
2
2
6
2
2
3
9
3
4
K
1
3
3
4
8
K
3
3
4
3
9
10
J
8

Declarer preferred a diamond continuation. He properly played the higher spot, giving the signal for what he wants using the enemy signals. This makes East's spot card more difficult to read.

Declarer was afraid to draw a second round of trumps before another round of diamonds has been played. He feared that East had a doubleton diamond. Whether declarer leads the queen of hearts or leads a heart to dummy's king, the defense would be able to promote East's 9. By playing diamonds himself, declarer is protected against this promotion. He can ruff the third round of diamonds with the king of hearts, and East would not score a second trump trick. Of course this would have turned out badly if West had made an imaginative falsecard of the jack of hearts from J9 doubleton, but declarer decided that if this were the layout East would have gone up ace of hearts and played king of spades and a spade.

Do you agree with East's bidding?

West
5
J
AK984
Q107632
North
AQ7
K865
102
AJ54
East
KJ8643
A94
Q75
8
South
1092
Q10732
J63
K9
W
N
E
S
1
P
1NT
X
2
3
P
P
P
D
3 South
NS: 0 EW: 0
A
2
5
6
0
0
1
5
A
3
9
1
1
1
5
4
Q
J
3
2
1
3
9
10
Q
2
2
2
A
2
2
6
2
2
3
9
3
4
K
1
3
3
4
8
K
3
3
4
3
9
10
J
8

East's opening 1 call is light. He might have chosen to open 2, Multi. He chose not to do so largely because of the vulnerability, since at this vulnerability East could have a lot less for a Multi opening. At other vulnerabilities, East might have preferred to open 2.

East was definitely correct to bid 2 over the double. That is what he would have done without the double. There is no reason to let an enemy takeout double talk you out of your normal call.

The spade shift looks so natural. It takes a lot of self-control to avoid making a reflex play and work out the hand. This type of self-control is necessary to play winning bridge.

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