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Out of Control
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In a Round of 16 match in the Open Trials, you have to decide how aggressive to be opposite partner's Multi.

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

South
765
KJ1076
Q843
8
W
N
E
S
2
P
?

2: Weak 2 in a major

Your options are:

2 or 3 of either major is pass or correct

2NT asks about suit and strength

4 asks partner to transfer into his suit

4 asks partner to bid his suit

Your call?

South
765
KJ1076
Q843
8
W
N
E
S
2
P
?

It is likely the opponents have a game in notrump or clubs, or in spades if partner's suit happens to be hearts. Maybe a slam. It is worth your while to make life as difficult as possible for them.

Partner doesn't have to have a 6-card suit for his Multi. However, with both vulnerable he is likely to have a 6-card suit. This is particularly true if his suit is spades, since it isn't as important to over-preempt when you hold the boss suit. If he has a 5-card suit, it will be a good suit with strong intermediates.

How high should you compete? The 4-level looks too high if partner's suit is spades, which it probably is. The opponents will be forced to double you, and you will almost certainly be going for at least 500.

The 2-level is too low. This gives the opponents a lot more room to find their best contract. You have a good fit with partner, and can afford to put on some pressure.

The 3-level is just right. If partner opened a weak 2 and the next hand passed you would be happy to raise to 3. You could go for a number, but even if you are overboard the opponents still have to get you which is unlikely.

You could bid 3, pass or correct. But if partner's suit happens to be hearts, you are willing to jam it to 4. This argues for bidding 3, pass or correct. Since partner is likely to have spades it means he will be passing, so the opponents will have less room to maneuver. If partner's suit happens to be hearts, your 3 call will make it more difficult for them to find a spade fit if they have one. In addition you will be letting partner know you have better hearts since you are willing to play in 4 if his suit is hearts, which may get him off to a winning heart lead against 3NT.

It is true that bidding 3 will tell the opponents a lot about your hand, which may help them in the play. However, your first concern is to win the board in the bidding. If you can cause the opponents to get to the wrong contract, information about your hand won't help them.

You bid 3, ending the auction.

W
N
E
S
2
P
3
P
P
P

3: Pass or correct

West leads the 5. Third and fifth leads. Standard signals.

North
KQ1098
3
10652
A63
South
765
KJ1076
Q843
8
W
N
E
S
2
P
3
P
P
P

You win the ace of clubs, East playing the 10. How do you begin?

North
KQ1098
3
10652
63
South
765
KJ1076
Q843
W
N
E
S
2
P
3
P
P
P

You can take a quick club ruff in the short hand. However, you don't have a quick entry to dummy for another club ruff, and the opponents will be able to draw your trumps as soon as they get in. It is better to go after hearts first. This will establish a heart trick if you take a winning heart finesse, and you will still have a club ruff entry to enjoy it. Furthermore, the defense might not realize the importance of leading trumps since your hand is concealed, so you might get two club ruffs.

You lead dummy's heart. East plays the 2. What do you play?

North
KQ1098
3
10652
63
South
765
KJ1076
Q843
W
N
E
S
2
P
3
P
P
P

You know very little about the enemy high cards. They are probably roughly evenly distributed since neither opponents was able to enter the auction, but that is all you know.

You know what your heart holding is, but East doesn't. From his point of view you might have the king of hearts without the jack, in which case you don't have a guess. He might have gone up ace of hearts if he has it. He will always be playing small if he has the queen of hearts. Therefore, the percentage play is to play East for the queen.

You play the jack of hearts. West wins the queen, and plays the ace of spades. East drops the jack. West continues a spade to dummy, East discarding the 9. You ruff a club in your hand, East playing the king and West the 7. Now what?

North
KQ10
10652
6
South
K1076
Q843
W
N
E
S
2
P
3
P
P
P

Even though you may have no further entries to your hand, it has to be right to lead a heart honor, discarding dummy's last club if West doesn't play the ace. This will establish a heart winner in your hand. The opponents may run out of winners and be forced to give you a heart trick in the end.

Since you don't want West to cover if he has the ace, leading the 10 is better than leading the king.

You lead the 10. West covers with the ace. What do you do?

North
KQ10
10652
6
South
K1076
Q843
W
N
E
S
2
P
3
P
P
P

West has two more trumps, and the opponents have several club winners. When they eventually get in with a diamond they will be able to force you in clubs, and you will have to play the hand out of control. This is okay, since you don't have any winners other than your trumps. You hope to limit the number of clubs your opponents can cash, and that they will be forced to give you a red-suit trick in the end so you can escape for down 2.

Your best play is to discard dummy's last club rather than ruff. They will play a club and force you, of course, but this may cut down on their communication to run the club suit.

You discard dummy's club. East plays the 8. West now leads the jack of clubs. Do you ruff or not?

North
KQ10
10652
South
K76
Q843
W
N
E
S
2
P
3
P
P
P

If the clubs were initially 6-3, it is better to ruff. If you discard East will overtake and continue clubs, giving West a chance to pitch one loser. When East gets in again he can play another club, letting West pitch another loser. However, ruffing now might be helpful, provided you follow through properly. Suppose West started with something like Axxx AQx K9x Jxx. Drawing trump won't work, since when East gets in he will have two good clubs to cash. The plan is to ruff this trick and play a diamond. East can win and force you, but you can then ruff, play your last high trump, and lead another diamond. West will get a small trump, but in the end he will be stuck with a losing red-suit card.

On the other hand, suppose West started with something like Axxx AQx KJ Jxxx. If you ruff this trick and play a diamond (drawing trumps or not), the defense will be able to unblock the diamonds and then play a club which East can win, so they won't be forced to give you a heart trick. However, if you discard and the opponents continue clubs, you have them. You can ruff, pull trumps, and exit with a diamond. The opponents will not be able to untangle. It is true that the defenders can foil this plan by shifting to diamonds rather than continuing clubs, but this might not be obvious.

Which line is better? Both the 4 and the 2 are missing, so it is possible that West started with J75. It is generally better to take a legitimate play rather than a play which involves a defensive error, unless the chance of the legitimate play succeeding is slim. Thus, it looks right to ruff this trick and play for the clubs to have been 6-3.

You choose to discard a diamond from dummy. East follows with the 4, and you discard a heart from your hand. West plays the 2. You ruff, and East plays the queen. What do you discard?

North
KQ10
1065
South
K7
Q843
W
N
E
S
2
P
3
P
P
P

You might as well discard a diamond. Your fourth diamond isn't going to be of value in any variation. If West started with a stiff diamond honor, he might be forced to give you two heart tricks. You will have to make some later discards, but there is no need to commit now.

You choose to discard a heart. Now what?

North
KQ
1065
South
K
Q843
W
N
E
S
2
P
3
P
P
P

It is clear to draw trumps and exit with a diamond. If the diamonds are blocked, the defense will have to give you the last trick. Leading a diamond first may give the defense the chance to unblock the diamonds and put dummy back in with a trump.

You choose to lead a diamond without drawing trumps. East plays the 9. What do you play from your hand?

North
KQ
1065
South
K
Q843
W
N
E
S
2
P
3
P
P
P

There is no way East would ever be ducking AK of diamonds at this point. Your only hope is to play small.

You play small. West wins the king, and leads a heart. You are down 2. The full hand is:

West
A432
AQ54
K
J752
North
KQ1098
3
10652
A63
East
J
982
AJ97
KQ1094
South
765
KJ1076
Q843
8
W
N
E
S
2
P
3
P
P
P
D
3 South
NS: 0 EW: 0
5
A
10
8
1
1
0
3
2
J
Q
0
1
1
A
8
J
5
0
1
2
2
9
9
6
1
2
2
3
K
7
7
3
3
2
10
A
6
8
0
3
3
J
2
4
6
0
3
4
2
10
Q
7
1
4
4
5
9
3
K
0
4
5
4
10

How was the opening lead and defense?

West
A432
AQ54
K
J752
North
KQ1098
3
10652
A63
East
J
982
AJ97
KQ1094
South
765
KJ1076
Q843
8
W
N
E
S
2
P
3
P
P
P
D
3 South
NS: 0 EW: 0
5
A
10
8
1
1
0
3
2
J
Q
0
1
1
A
8
J
5
0
1
2
2
9
9
6
1
2
2
3
K
7
7
3
3
2
10
A
6
8
0
3
3
J
2
4
6
0
3
4
2
10
Q
7
1
4
4
5
9
3
K
0
4
5
4
10

The opening lead wasn't well thought out. Declarer clearly has good hearts for the 3 call, and West has hearts under control. Declarer doesn't have more than 3 spades, or he would have been willing to play at the 4-level in either suit. Likely declarer has some shortness, probably in clubs. A trump lead stands out.

West's ace and a trump was quite clear. If West didn't do that, declarer would get to ruff 2 clubs in his hand as well as set up a heart trick.

East dropped a trick when he discarded his idle fifth club on the second round of trumps. The position should have been clear. Declarer didn't figure to have 4 spades, since with 4 spades he would have been willing to play 4 of either major. The potential of establishing a long club by force was there. East couldn't be sure about the diamond position so he had to keep all of his diamonds, but there was no reason to hang onto his hearts.

After his jack of clubs held, West would have done better to cash his king of diamonds before releasing his last club. His actual defense risked getting end-played and being forced to give declarer 2 heart tricks when in with the king of diamonds. The only reason it wouldn't have mattered is that declarer would have been squeezed on the last trump. In order to retain two winning hearts declarer would be forced to discard down to a singleton queen of diamonds, which would allow East to gobble up his partner's stiff king with the ace and take West off the end-play.

Should E-W have gotten into the auction?

West
A432
AQ54
K
J752
North
KQ1098
3
10652
A63
East
J
982
AJ97
KQ1094
South
765
KJ1076
Q843
8
W
N
E
S
2
P
3
P
P
P
D
3 South
NS: 0 EW: 0
5
A
10
8
1
1
0
3
2
J
Q
0
1
1
A
8
J
5
0
1
2
2
9
9
6
1
2
2
3
K
7
7
3
3
2
10
A
6
8
0
3
3
J
2
4
6
0
3
4
2
10
Q
7
1
4
4
5
9
3
K
0
4
5
4
10

It is difficult to see how they can. East clearly isn't worth a 3-level overcall over the multi. West has values, but nothing he can do over 3 makes sense. East has the spade shortness, but making a takeout double which commits his side to defending 3 doubled or playing at a higher level is scary. South could be considerably stronger for his 3 call. As it is, 3NT would fail, but E-W can make 5.

What do you think of the opening 2 call?

West
A432
AQ54
K
J752
North
KQ1098
3
10652
A63
East
J
982
AJ97
KQ1094
South
765
KJ1076
Q843
8
W
N
E
S
2
P
3
P
P
P
D
3 South
NS: 0 EW: 0
5
A
10
8
1
1
0
3
2
J
Q
0
1
1
A
8
J
5
0
1
2
2
9
9
6
1
2
2
3
K
7
7
3
3
2
10
A
6
8
0
3
3
J
2
4
6
0
3
4
2
10
Q
7
1
4
4
5
9
3
K
0
4
5
4
10

North's hand simply isn't strong enough to open 1, even with light opening bids. You have to draw the line somewhere, and North's hand is below that line. The fact that North has spades rather than hearts makes Multi less attractive, since holding the boss suit there is less need to over-preempt. The vulnerability isn't great for the action. However, the spade intermediates are strong, so it is unlikely that North will be going for a number since it will be difficult for the opponents to double. The playing strength of the North hand is roughly what South will be expecting, so South isn't likely to do something drastically wrong. Nobody would criticize passing, but when you have something to say it is best to say it as quickly as possible.

At the other table North did pass, leaving E-W room to find their fit. East opened a Precision 1, and the auction went: (P)-1-(P)-1;(1)-DBL-(2)-3;(P)-4-(P)-4;(P)-P-(P). E-W did find their club fit, but they might not have realized it since they subsided in the inferior 4-3 heart game. This eventually went down 2 tricks, so stealing the contract for 3 undoubled turned out to be a big loss instead of a potential big gain.

Declaring and defending messy and unusual part-scores can be difficult, as seen by the several errors made by both declarer and the defenders on this hand. It takes quite a bit of focus to keep on top of the hand and know what is going on. That focus is a must for winning bridge.

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