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In a round-robin match in the Bermuda Bowl, you have to decide how much to upgrade your hand.

N-S vul, North deals. As South, you hold:

South
A1083
Q10983
7
KJ6
W
N
E
S
1
1
?

1: 11-15, 2+ diamonds. If balanced, 11-13

Double of 1 would show 4 or more spades.

Your call?

South
A1083
Q10983
7
KJ6
W
N
E
S
1
1
?

It has to be right to double in an attempt to locate a 4-4 spade fit. The vulnerability is wrong to go for a penalty of 1. You can bid notrump later if you don't get a spade fit.

You double. The bidding continues:

W
N
E
S
1
1
X
P
1
P
?

1: 3-card spade support. Other calls would be the same bid partner would have made had there been no overcall and you had responded 1, but they would deny exactly 3-card spade support.

1NT by you would be natural, no game interest. 2NT would be natural, invitational. 2 would be to play. 3 would be invitational.

Your call?

South
A1083
Q10983
7
KJ6
W
N
E
S
1
1
X
P
1
P
?

It looks right to bid some number of notrump. Your heart stopper is beefy, and your spade suit isn't the right type of suit to handle a 4-3 fit comfortably. Are the diamonds a danger? Probably not. Partner is known to have exactly 3 spades, and he has at most 3 hearts, probably fewer. The only way he could have a doubleton diamond is if he is exactly 3-3-2-5. He almost certainly has at least 3 diamonds, and probably 4 or 5.

You have 10 HCP. Partner has a maximum of 15, and if he is balanced he has a maximum of 13 (14-16 1NT opening vulnerable in first and second seat). But look at those 10 points. Huge holding in hearts, the suit which is most likely to be led since East did overcall 1. Nice 10 which is likely to help produce an extra spade trick opposite most holdings partner figures to have. A great fit in clubs if partner has 4 or 5 clubs, which is likely to be the case. Points schmoints. This hand isn't your everyday 10-count. It is worth a serious upgrade. This is the type of hand which can roll 3NT with fewer than the normal combined points which are usually needed. It looks worth an invite. If partner has 13 (his maximum if he is balanced) he will accept, and you will be happy to take your chances.

You bid 2NT. The bidding concludes:

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

West leads the 2 (attitude lead).

North
J62
75
AQ10
A10983
South
A1083
Q10983
7
KJ6
W
N
E
S
1
1
X
P
1
P
2NT
P
3NT
P
P
P

Which diamond do you play from dummy?

North
J62
75
AQ10
A10983
South
A1083
Q10983
7
KJ6
W
N
E
S
1
1
X
P
1
P
2NT
P
3NT
P
P
P

It has to be right to play the 10. Both diamond honors might be onside. If the king is onside and the jack is offside, you will still get 2 diamond tricks since the opponents will be continuing diamonds.

You play the 10. East wins the king, and returns the 5. What do you discard from your hand?

North
J62
75
AQ
A10983
South
A1083
Q10983
KJ6
W
N
E
S
1
1
X
P
1
P
2NT
P
3NT
P
P
P

You aren't going to have time to work on hearts, so there is no need to keep all of your hearts. Q1098 wil be quite sufficient to prevent the opponents from running the heart suit. Your fourth spade probably won't come into play, but it has to be better to discard a heart than a spade.

You discard the 3. West plays the 4, and you win in dummy. What do you do now?

North
J62
75
A
A10983
South
A1083
Q1098
KJ6
W
N
E
S
1
1
X
P
1
P
2NT
P
3NT
P
P
P

You are going to have to get the clubs right for 5 tricks if you are to have a chance. That will get you up to 8 tricks, and hopefully you will be able to establish a spade trick for number 9. The opponents are one lead away from establishing the setting tricks in diamonds, so you don't have any margin for error.

You know that East has at least 5 hearts, and in looks likely that the diamonds are 5-4 with West having 5 diamonds. That puts more clubs in West's hand than East's hand. In addition, you can pick up 4 clubs to the queen in the West hand more conveniently than you can pick up 4 clubs in the East hand. Unless there is a high card consideration that makes it likely that East has the queen of clubs, the percentage play is to finesse through West.

East did overcall 1. Would lack of ownership of the Q affect his call? Not in the slightest. There are plenty of other high cards outstanding which would give him an overcall, particularly since he is at favorable vulnerability. It is right to play West for the Q. Of course you will unblock the jack on the second round of clubs, so you can run the suit smoothly if the suit splits 4-1.

You lead to the K, both following. You lead the J, playing small when West plays small. East follows small. So far, so good, but you still need a trick from the spade suit. What is your plan?

North
J62
75
A
A109
South
A1083
Q1098
6
W
N
E
S
1
1
X
P
1
P
2NT
P
3NT
P
P
P

You know that East has at least 5 hearts, a doubleton club, and probably 4 diamonds. His most likely shape is 2-5-4-2. Your plan will be to play him for honor-doubleton of spades. You will be leading a small spade from dummy, putting in the 10 if East plays small. Before doing this, you will have to run the clubs since otherwise the defense may be able to keep you out of dummy. You will have to make 2 discards. You can afford to discard 1 spade and 1 heart. Then you will lead a small spade from dummy. There is some danger that the ace of diamonds may get stranded, but it will be difficult for the defense to get 5 tricks without playing another diamond.

You run the clubs, discarding the 9 and the 3. East discards 3 small hearts. West discards the 5 and 7. What do you do next?

North
J62
75
A
South
A108
Q108
W
N
E
S
1
1
X
P
1
P
2NT
P
3NT
P
P
P

The spade discards make things even easier. The hand appears to be what you thought it was. It is clear to lead a small spade from dummy.

You lead a small spade. East plays the Q. Now what?

North
J62
75
A
South
A108
Q108
W
N
E
S
1
1
X
P
1
P
2NT
P
3NT
P
P
P

You are definitely home now. All you have to do is win the ace of spades and lead the 10. If this knocks out the king, dummy's J and A get you to 9 tricks. If an opponent can duck the 10 of spades, you just play another spade and they will have to give you your ninth trick in one of the red suits. The opponents cannot possibly take 3 heart tricks.

You lead the 10. East wins the king, and leads a diamond. You claim 9 tricks. The full hand is:

West
9754
A
J9432
Q72
North
J62
75
AQ10
A10983
East
KQ
KJ642
K865
54
South
A1083
Q10983
7
KJ6
W
N
E
S
1
1
X
P
1
P
2NT
P
3NT
P
P
P
D
3NT South
NS: 0 EW: 0
2
10
K
7
2
0
1
5
3
4
Q
1
1
1
3
4
K
2
3
2
1
J
7
8
5
3
3
1
6
Q
A
6
1
4
1
9
2
9
5
1
5
1
10
4
3
7
1
6
1
2
Q
A
4
3
7
1
10
9
6
K
2
7
2
8
10

Could the defense have done better?

West
9754
A
J9432
Q72
North
J62
75
AQ10
A10983
East
KQ
KJ642
K865
54
South
A1083
Q10983
7
KJ6
W
N
E
S
1
1
X
P
1
P
2NT
P
3NT
P
P
P
D
3NT South
NS: 0 EW: 0
2
10
K
7
2
0
1
5
3
4
Q
1
1
1
3
4
K
2
3
2
1
J
7
8
5
3
3
1
6
Q
A
6
1
4
1
9
2
9
5
1
5
1
10
4
3
7
1
6
1
2
Q
A
4
3
7
1
10
9
6
K
2
7
2
8
10

They did the best they could. The diamond lead was clearly their best start. They were both correct to keep all of their diamonds and hope that declarer didn't have enough tricks in spades.

What do you think of North's 3NT call?

West
9754
A
J9432
Q72
North
J62
75
AQ10
A10983
East
KQ
KJ642
K865
54
South
A1083
Q10983
7
KJ6
W
N
E
S
1
1
X
P
1
P
2NT
P
3NT
P
P
P
D
3NT South
NS: 0 EW: 0
2
10
K
7
2
0
1
5
3
4
Q
1
1
1
3
4
K
2
3
2
1
J
7
8
5
3
3
1
6
Q
A
6
1
4
1
9
2
9
5
1
5
1
10
4
3
7
1
6
1
2
Q
A
4
3
7
1
10
9
6
K
2
7
2
8
10

North's expected balanced range is 11-13, and he has 11 HCP. But what an 11 points! Two tens, both with higher honors. A good 5-card suit with intermediates which could be a source of tricks. Jack in partner's suit. Two aces. Points schmoints. This isn't your everyday 11-count. It is well worth upgrading to an acceptance.

It is worth noting that every ten played a role. The 10 was worth a second diamond trick and stopper. The 10 allowed the club suit to run for 5 tricks. The 10 was potentially needed for producing a second spade trick. The 10 was good protection against the opponents doing anything in the heart suit. And the 21-point 3NT comes rolling home. Sure, there was a bit of luck. But luck has a way of favoring aggressive game bidding on these sorts of hands, and N-S are rewarded with a nice 10-IMP win.

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