Join Bridge Winners
The Big One
(Page of 14)

In a round-robin match in the trials, your strong 1 opening gives you an unusual opportunity.

Both vul, West deals. As West, you hold:

West
6
Q1092
1072
AJ1073
W
N
E
S
P
P
1
P
?

1: 16+ points, artificial

If you were an unpassed hand, the range for the negative 1 response would be 0-8 points. As a passed hand the upper limit is dropped a point, so the range is 0-7. Your alternative to 1 with this shape would be to make a positive 2 response, which is natural (5+ card suit) and game-forcing.

Your choice?

West
6
Q1092
1072
AJ1073
W
N
E
S
P
P
1
P
?

If your 5-card suit were a major, it might be right to stretch a point to make a positive response. With a minor suit, there is no need to stretch. You don't have to worry about missing a game, since you can later show that you have a maximum negative if need be. For now, it is more important to limit your hand.

You bid 1. The bidding continues:

W
N
E
S
P
P
1
P
1
1
P
P
?

1: 0-7 points

If partner had doubled, it would have been a takeout double. His other calls would have been natural, and if not jumps they would have been non-forcing.

Double by you here would also be takeout. Other calls are natural and non-forcing.

Your bid?

West
6
Q1092
1072
AJ1073
W
N
E
S
P
P
1
P
1
1
P
P
?

You have an ideal takeout double. Maximum 1 response, and support for all other suits.

You have a singleton spade, and South didn't raise. Partner has a strong hand, but he could have any distribution. His primary suit just might be spades! As you pull the red card out of the bidding box, you can just feel the ground start to tremble. As we say in the earthquake state of California: This could be the big one.

The bidding continues:

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

Partner's penalty pass make all future doubles by your side penalties.

Your call?

West
6
Q1092
1072
AJ1073
W
N
E
S
P
P
1
P
1
1
P
P
X
P
P
XX
P
1NT
P
2
?

Of course you double. The opponents are clearly in trouble. They may have a better home in one of the red suits, but you should be able to handle that also. This is the big one!

You double. The bidding continues:

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

Your call?

West
6
Q1092
1072
AJ1073
W
N
E
S
P
P
1
P
1
1
P
P
X
P
P
XX
P
1NT
P
2
X
P
P
2
?

They ran from your 5-card suit, but instead of running to your xxx suit they ran to your second best suit. Obviously you have an easy double. You can expect a big number here.

You double, concluding the auction.

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

Your lead? 3rd and 5th leads, upside-down carding after trick 1.

West
6
Q1092
1072
AJ1073
W
N
E
S
P
P
1
P
1
1
P
P
X
P
P
XX
P
1NT
P
2
X
P
P
2
X
P
P
P

It is often said that when the auction screams for a trump lead you should lead a trump first and then look at your trump holding. This auction couldn't scream more for a trump lead. You have the clubs behind declarer, and partner has the spades behind dummy. Your side has the balance of strength by a lot. The opponents aren't going to have many tricks outside of the trump suit.

Leading a small trump is very safe. Partner has at least 16 HCP. North overcalled in spades. South's primary suit is clubs. It would be hard to imagine that partner doesn't have at least one trump honor.

You lead the 2.

West
6
Q1092
1072
AJ1073
North
KQ1075
843
K63
64
W
N
E
S
 
P
P
1
P
1
1
P
P
X
P
P
XX
P
1N
P
2
X
P
P
2
X
P
P
P

Partner wins the A, declarer playing the 5. Partner returns the 6, declarer plays the j, and you win your Q. What do you do now?

West
6
109
1072
AJ1073
North
KQ1075
8
K63
64
W
N
E
S
 
P
P
1
P
1
1
P
P
X
P
P
XX
P
1N
P
2
X
P
P
2
X
P
P
P

It looks automatic to continue the trump-drawing. Before making a reflex play, you should take stock of the hand.

Declarer figures to have a singleton spade, since with a doubleton spade he probably wouldn't have run from 1 doubled. He is known to have 4 hearts. His sequence suggests that his distribution is 1-4-3-5.

Do you need to draw the third round of trumps right now? No, you don't. There is no danger of declarer getting a club ruff in dummy, since you will have a club entry before that happens and you can draw the third trump then. You don't have to worry about declarer scoring a small spade ruff in his hand, since you can overruff. Thus, leading a trump now isn't necessary. It might be correct, but there may be something more important to do.

How will the play go if you continue trumps?Declarer will win and lead a spade to dummy's king and partner's ace. Partner will lead his singleton club through. If it is a small club, that will be fine. But if partner's singleton club is an honor, he will still be on lead and will then have to lead away from one of his tenaces.

It could be important to lead a diamond. This will be valuable if partner has AQ of diamonds. Since partner might have AQJx, you should shift to the 10. This will let partner cash 3 diamond tricks before putting his singleton club through. It will also give him a fourth diamond he can lead later on. After that, you and declarer can battle it out in the club suit. Partner is quite likely to have at least AQ of diamonds to have the values for his 1 opening.

You choose to lead the 10. Partner discards a spade. Declarer wins, and leads the 8to dummy's king and partner's ace. Partner leads the Q, and declarer plays small. Do you overtake?

West
9
1072
AJ1073
North
Q1075
K63
64
W
N
E
S
 
P
P
1
P
1
1
P
P
X
P
P
XX
P
1N
P
2
X
P
P
2
X
P
P
P

If you duck, partner will be end-played. There is a temptation to overtake and draw declarer's last trump, reducing the hand to notrump. However, overtaking presents declarer with a trick he wouldn't get otherwise, and partner will still eventually get end-played. It is better to let partner win the trick.

You duck. Partner now leads the 9. Declarer discards a club. What do you do?

West
9
1072
AJ107
North
Q1075
K63
6
W
N
E
S
 
P
P
1
P
1
1
P
P
X
P
P
XX
P
1N
P
2
X
P
P
2
X
P
P
P

It can't gain you anything to ruff this. That will only set up declarer's small trump, and then you would have to break a suit. It is better to force declarer to lead something from dummy. You will welcome anything he plays.

Discarding a club looks best. This keeps your distribution the same as declarer's. Your 10 may come into play.

You discard a club. Declarer wins the 10, and leads the 7. Partner covers with the J. Declarer ruffs, and you overruff. How do you defend from here?

West
1072
AJ10
North
Q5
K63
6
W
N
E
S
 
P
P
1
P
1
1
P
P
X
P
P
XX
P
1N
P
2
X
P
P
2
X
P
P
P

Partner is known to have 4 diamonds and 2 spades, with both spades being smaller than dummy's spades. If he has AQJx, youcan cash your A and lead the 10, taking the last 4 tricks for +1400. If you don't cash the A, you lose it, since after taking four diamond winners partner will have to concede the last 2 tricks to dummy's spades.

What if declarer has the J? Cashing the A sets up declarer's king, but that is okay. You then shift to the 10. Partner ducks, allowing declarer to win the J. Declarer can cash his K, but partner discards his other losing spade and the defense gets the rest for +1100. It is worse if you don't cash the A. Whether partner wins the Q or ducks, he will eventually be forced to concede 2 spade tricks to dummy after winning his diamonds, so you will get only 800. It is clear to cash the A and shift to the 10.

You mistakenly shift to the 10 without cashing the A. Declarer covers with the K. Partner gets 4 diamond tricks, but dummy scores the last 2 tricks and you get only +1100. The full hand is:

West
6
Q1092
1072
AJ1073
North
KQ1075
843
K63
64
East
AJ9432
A6
AQJ5
Q
South
8
KJ75
984
K9852
W
N
E
S
 
P
P
1
P
1
1
P
P
X
P
P
XX
P
1N
P
2
X
P
P
2
X
P
P
P
D
2X South
NS: 0 EW: 0
2
3
A
5
2
0
1
6
J
Q
4
0
0
2
10
8
2
K
3
1
2
8
6
K
A
2
1
3
Q
2
3
4
2
1
4
9
5
7
10
1
2
4
7
J
7
9
0
2
5
10
K
A
4
2
2
6
Q
8
7
3
2
2
7
J
9
2
6
2
2
8
5
8
10
6
2
2
9
11

Clearly you had +1400 coming with proper defense as the play went. Partner shouldn't have squandered the 9, but that didn't make any difference. You had a couple of chances to improve.

How could declarer have done better?

West
6
Q1092
1072
AJ1073
North
KQ1075
843
K63
64
East
AJ9432
A6
AQJ5
Q
South
8
KJ75
984
K9852
W
N
E
S
 
P
P
1
P
1
1
P
P
X
P
P
XX
P
1N
P
2
X
P
P
2
X
P
P
P
D
2X South
NS: 0 EW: 0
2
3
A
5
2
0
1
6
J
Q
4
0
0
2
10
8
2
K
3
1
2
8
6
K
A
2
1
3
Q
2
3
4
2
1
4
9
5
7
10
1
2
4
7
J
7
9
0
2
5
10
K
A
4
2
2
6
Q
8
7
3
2
2
7
J
9
2
6
2
2
8
5
8
10
6
2
2
9
11

There were a couple of ways declarer could have improved. One would be to not finesse the J on the second round of hearts. If he had played small, he probably would have scored his J later. Also, instead of ruffing East's J, he could have just discarded. East would have to lead up to dummy and give up some trick.

Both declarer and defenders lost concentration on this hand. This is quite common when in some doubled contract going for a big number which apparently won't be matched at the other table. If N-S are in 3NT making, there isn't too much difference between +1100 and +1400. Still, every IMP counts. Also, you never know when there is going to be a similar accident at the other table. It is important to keep focus in these situations even when it isn't likely to matter much.

Do you agree with South's decision to run, and assuming he runs do you like his scrambling approach?

West
6
Q1092
1072
AJ1073
North
KQ1075
843
K63
64
East
AJ9432
A6
AQJ5
Q
South
8
KJ75
984
K9852
W
N
E
S
 
P
P
1
P
1
1
P
P
X
P
P
XX
P
1N
P
2
X
P
P
2
X
P
P
P
D
2X South
NS: 0 EW: 0
2
3
A
5
2
0
1
6
J
Q
4
0
0
2
10
8
2
K
3
1
2
8
6
K
A
2
1
3
Q
2
3
4
2
1
4
9
5
7
10
1
2
4
7
J
7
9
0
2
5
10
K
A
4
2
2
6
Q
8
7
3
2
2
7
J
9
2
6
2
2
8
5
8
10
6
2
2
9
11

It looks right to get out of the frying pan, even though the fire might be hotter. North didn't open a weak 2, so it is quite likely that N-S have a 5-1 spade fit. East doesn't think 1 will make, and he is clearly right. My philosophy is that if two players at the table don't think we are making and I'm one of those players, I run.

I think the initial redouble is right. When West bids 1NT instead of a suit West is known to not have a 4-card suit, since he would certainly bid a second suit if he had one. Therefore, South should stand his ground in 2 doubled, since he knows that the partnership has at least as many clubs as hearts. For all South knows, North could have 3 clubs and 2 hearts. There isn't much of an inference to be drawn from West's double of 2. N-S are clearly in trouble, and will be probably be doubled in anything. 2 is not going to survive undoubled.

Is East's pass of 1NT correct?

West
6
Q1092
1072
AJ1073
North
KQ1075
843
K63
64
East
AJ9432
A6
AQJ5
Q
South
8
KJ75
984
K9852
W
N
E
S
 
P
P
1
P
1
1
P
P
X
P
P
XX
P
1N
P
2
X
P
P
2
X
P
P
P
D
2X South
NS: 0 EW: 0
2
3
A
5
2
0
1
6
J
Q
4
0
0
2
10
8
2
K
3
1
2
8
6
K
A
2
1
3
Q
2
3
4
2
1
4
9
5
7
10
1
2
4
7
J
7
9
0
2
5
10
K
A
4
2
2
6
Q
8
7
3
2
2
7
J
9
2
6
2
2
8
5
8
10
6
2
2
9
11

Yes, it is. East has already shown 16+ points and a spade stack, and that's all he has. West's takeout double might have been based on shape, not strength. With the hand West has, West will be doubling 1NT of course, but if he is substantially weaker 1NT might be making.

What do you think of the overcall which got N-S into trouble?

West
6
Q1092
1072
AJ1073
North
KQ1075
843
K63
64
East
AJ9432
A6
AQJ5
Q
South
8
KJ75
984
K9852
W
N
E
S
 
P
P
1
P
1
1
P
P
X
P
P
XX
P
1N
P
2
X
P
P
2
X
P
P
P
D
2X South
NS: 0 EW: 0
2
3
A
5
2
0
1
6
J
Q
4
0
0
2
10
8
2
K
3
1
2
8
6
K
A
2
1
3
Q
2
3
4
2
1
4
9
5
7
10
1
2
4
7
J
7
9
0
2
5
10
K
A
4
2
2
6
Q
8
7
3
2
2
7
J
9
2
6
2
2
8
5
8
10
6
2
2
9
11

The overcall couldn't have worked out any worse. Despite this result, I believe it is clear to overcall. There are many ways the overcall can win IMPs.

1) Lead-directing. This is probably the biggest potential gain. East will often have a balanced hand with which he is about to rebid 1NT or 2NT. A spade lead could be the difference between 3NT making or 3NT down. If this happens the gain is 12 IMPs, just about as much as the cost of going for 1100 or 1400 vs. an enemy game.

2) Space consumption. East may have a 1 rebid, after which E-W can use all their fancy gadgetry for their 1 auctions to get them to the best contract. The little 1 overcall takes all this away from them. Now East must bid his heart suit at the 2-level, which will hamper the enemy auction.

3) Competitive value. Just because East opened a strong 1 doesn't mean the hand belongs to E-W. Spades is the ranking suit. The overcall may permit N-S to compete to a making partial or to push E-W one trick too high.

Spectacular results such as -1100 or -1400 tend to stick in the memories of players, and these memories cloud their judgment about percentage actions. When the 1 overcall leads to going for a big number, as it did here, players are quick to criticize the call. They overlook the many times the overcall gains IMPs against the rare case when the overcall gets nailed. This kind of selective memory distorts the evaluation of actions such as this 1 overcall.

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