Join Bridge Winners
Take It Slow
(Page of 14)

In a semi-final match in the Senior trials, you have to find the best response to partner's takeout double.

None vul, West deals. As South, you hold

South
52
KQ76
Q543
Q98
W
N
E
S
1
X
P
?

Your call?

South
52
KQ76
Q543
Q98
W
N
E
S
1
X
P
?

Your hand is balanced, you have a diamond stopper, and your strength is perfect for a 1NT response. However, if partner has 4 hearts you probably belong in hearts, and if you bid 1NT you won't be finding a 4-4 heart fit. It is better to bid hearts first. You can always get to notrump later if that is right.

You would have to bid 1 on a zero-count, and you have way more than that. Still, it is better to take it slow and respond 1. If partner passes, you won't be missing anything. If partner moves towards game, you can come to life later.

You bid 1. The bidding continues

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

Your call?

South
52
KQ76
Q543
Q98
W
N
E
S
1
X
P
1
P
P
1NT
?

You clearly don't have a game, since partner passed your 1 call. On the other hand, you are strong enough that your side figures to be due a plus score. The question is whether you are more likely to get that plus score defending 1NT or declaring 2.

You need to take 7 tricks to get a plus score defending 1NT. If you play in 2, you need 8 tricks for that plus score. That means that hearts will need to take one more trick than notrump in order for it to be profitable to play in hearts. If partner has 4 hearts, playing in hearts will probably be worth at least one more trick than notrump. However, if partner has only 3 hearts, you will probably be better off defending 1NT.

Partner didn't raise to 2. That doesn't mean he doesn't have 4 hearts. All it means is that he isn't strong enough to have any game interest opposite your 1 call. He could have 4 hearts and a minimal takeout double. A raise to 2 would show some extra strength.

You don't know whether or not partner has 4 hearts, but he does. The solution to your problem is to double. If partner has 4 hearts he will know that you have a 4-4 heart fit, and he will choose to play in 2. However, if partner has only 3 hearts he will not play in the 4-3 heart fit, and will likely pass the double. Your hand is strong enough that you figure to defeat 1NT even opposite a minimal takeout double, and on a good day you might collect 300.

You choose to bid 2, ending the auction.

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

West leads the 6. Standard leads and carding.

North
AK98
A842
97
J105
South
52
KQ76
Q543
Q98
W
N
E
S
1
X
P
1
P
P
1NT
2
P
P
P

You win the ace of spades, East playing the 3. How do you proceed?

North
K98
A842
97
J105
South
5
KQ76
Q543
Q98
W
N
E
S
1
X
P
1
P
P
1NT
2
P
P
P

If trumps are 3-2, you can draw trumps and claim. You would have 5 heart tricks, 2 spade tricks, and 1 club trick. However, East's 1NT call may have been based on a 4-card heart holding. If you test trumps by drawing two rounds, East may have the entries to play a third or even fourth round of trumps.

You want to be prepared to do some ruffing at some point. There is danger that East will be able to overruff in diamonds, but that might not matter since East will have the long trumps. Ruffing spades in your hand is likely to be safer. East definitely doesn't have 5 spades since he bid 1NT rather than 1, and for that reason there is a good chance that he doesn't have 4 spades.

At any rate, the best start appears to be to establish your club trick first. This will prevent East from profitably discarding a club before you have taken your club winner, as well as removing a potential entry from East's hand before he can use it to draw your trumps. The clubs are almost certain to be splitting 4-3 for the auction to make sense.

You lead a club from dummy. East plays the 4, you play the 9, and West wins the king. West shifts to the 10. Where do you win this trick?

North
K98
A842
97
J10
South
5
KQ76
Q543
Q8
W
N
E
S
1
X
P
1
P
P
1NT
2
P
P
P

It has to be right to win in your hand. You want to keep two small trumps in order to potentially ruff two spades later on.

You play small from dummy. East plays the 3. Which heart honor do you win with?

North
K98
A842
97
J10
South
5
KQ76
Q543
Q8
W
N
E
S
1
X
P
1
P
P
1NT
2
P
P
P

You should win with the king. If you win with the queen West will know you also have the king, since if his partner had the king his partner would have won the trick. If you win with the king, West will not know the location of the queen.

You choose to win the queen of hearts. How do you continue?

North
K98
A84
97
J10
South
5
K76
Q543
Q8
W
N
E
S
1
X
P
1
P
P
1NT
2
P
P
P

It has to be right to continue with the plan of establishing your club trick. Since you might want an entry to dummy for a second spade ruff, leading the queen looks best.

You lead the queen of clubs. West plays the 2. East wins the ace, and returns the 7 to dummy's jack, West playing the 6. What now?

North
K98
A84
97
South
5
K76
Q543
W
N
E
S
1
X
P
1
P
P
1NT
2
P
P
P

From East's failure to continue trumps, it is looking even more likely that the trumps are 4-1. At this point, it is best to give up a diamond trick. If necessary, you will be able to ruff a diamond with the ace of hearts and score the low trumps in your hand with spade ruffs.

You lead the 7. East plays the 2, you play small, and West wins the 8. West leads the 7 to dummy's king, East playing the 4. What next?

North
98
A84
9
South
K76
Q43
W
N
E
S
1
X
P
1
P
P
1NT
2
P
P
P

This looks like the time to score a small trump in your hand with a spade ruff. You can then exit with a diamond, and the defense won't be able to prevent you from scoring that second small spade ruff which will be your eighth trick.

You choose to lead the 9 off dummy. East plays the 10. You duck, and West overtakes with the jack. West now plays the thirteenth club. How do you handle this?

North
98
A84
South
K76
Q4
W
N
E
S
1
X
P
1
P
P
1NT
2
P
P
P

It looks like the diamonds are 4-3, since if West had 5 diamonds he would have continued diamonds. You don't want to give East a chance to discard his diamond and threaten to overruff dummy. Your best bet is to ruff in dummy, forcing East to overruff.

You ruff with the 4. East overruffs with the jack, and you overruff with the king. And now?

North
98
A8
South
76
Q4
W
N
E
S
1
X
P
1
P
P
1NT
2
P
P
P

You can't safely lead a heart to the ace. If East has the remaining two hearts, he might be able to overruff the third round of diamonds. You need to lead a diamond.

You lead a diamond. West plays the jack. What do you ruff with?

North
98
A8
South
76
Q4
W
N
E
S
1
X
P
1
P
P
1NT
2
P
P
P

It looks like East has another diamond, but you don't have to bank on that. You can simply ruff with the ace of hearts, ruff a spade, and ruff your last diamond with the 8. East will overruff, and you will win the last trick with your remaining trump.

You choose to ruff with the 8. East follows. You ruff a spade, and take 8 tricks. The full hand is

West
J1076
10
AKJ8
K632
North
AK98
A842
97
J105
East
Q43
J953
1062
A74
South
52
KQ76
Q543
Q98
W
N
E
S
1
X
P
1
P
P
1NT
2
P
P
P
D
2 South
NS: 0 EW: 0
6
A
3
2
1
1
0
5
4
9
K
0
1
1
10
2
3
Q
3
2
1
Q
2
10
A
2
2
2
7
8
6
J
1
3
2
7
2
5
8
0
3
3
7
K
4
5
1
4
3
9
10
3
A
0
4
4
3
4
J
K
3
5
4
4
J
8
6
1
6
4
8
Q
6
10
3
7
4
11

How was the defense?

West
J1076
10
AKJ8
K632
North
AK98
A842
97
J105
East
Q43
J953
1062
A74
South
52
KQ76
Q543
Q98
W
N
E
S
1
X
P
1
P
P
1NT
2
P
P
P
D
2 South
NS: 0 EW: 0
6
A
3
2
1
1
0
5
4
9
K
0
1
1
10
2
3
Q
3
2
1
Q
2
10
A
2
2
2
7
8
6
J
1
3
2
7
2
5
8
0
3
3
7
K
4
5
1
4
3
9
10
3
A
0
4
4
3
4
J
K
3
5
4
4
J
8
6
1
6
4
8
Q
6
10
3
7
4
11

The opening lead looks like a needless position. West has a perfectly safe and possibly productive diamond lead. While it is likely correct for the defense to be leading spades at some point, it could be costly. It has to be better to take a look at the dummy before making this commitment.

After that, there wasn't much to be done. West's play of the thirteenth club was reasonable. He saw that nothing else could work, so he might as well give everybody a discard and hope something good comes of it.

Do you agree with East's auction?

West
J1076
10
AKJ8
K632
North
AK98
A842
97
J105
East
Q43
J953
1062
A74
South
52
KQ76
Q543
Q98
W
N
E
S
1
X
P
1
P
P
1NT
2
P
P
P
D
2 South
NS: 0 EW: 0
6
A
3
2
1
1
0
5
4
9
K
0
1
1
10
2
3
Q
3
2
1
Q
2
10
A
2
2
2
7
8
6
J
1
3
2
7
2
5
8
0
3
3
7
K
4
5
1
4
3
9
10
3
A
0
4
4
3
4
J
K
3
5
4
4
J
8
6
1
6
4
8
Q
6
10
3
7
4
11

While East's first pass could work out well, it is generally better to bid when you have something to say. East could have bid 1 or 1NT and gotten his hand off his chest rather than pass, give the opponents a free ride, and then back in later when the opponents have had a chance to exchange information. It's a bidder's game.

At the other table, East did bid 1 over the takeout double. South doubled, showing hearts, and the same 2 contract was reached for a push.

South's 2 call is a common type of error. South judged that competing to 2 was likely to be the winning action, so he made the call. If South knew that his bid would be the final decision whatever he chose, then 2 would be correct. However, South does not have to make the final decision. By doubling 1NT, South leaves the final decision to his partner who is better placed. On the actual hand North would bid 2, and the same contract would be reached. However, imagine North having the hand he held but with one more club and one fewer heart. Now N-S do better defending 1NT doubled than declaring 2. North would know the heart fit was a 7-card fit, so passing 1NT doubled would be the percentage action.

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