Join Bridge Winners
The Little Trumps
(Page of 8)

In a round robin match in the trials, you get to use a modification of a common convention.

None vul, North deals. As North, you hold:

North
109652
KQ4
10
AKQ6
W
N
E
S
1
P
1NT
P
2
P
2
P
?

1NT: Semi-forcing
2H: Modified Bart, 5 hearts, usually 2 spades, choice of partials

Your call?

North
109652
KQ4
10
AKQ6
W
N
E
S
1
P
1NT
P
2
P
2
P
?

Partner has offered a choice of partials, which means he has no game interest. Still, you have an unexpectedly good hand for hearts, so you may be worth a move. Clearly it can't be right to drive to game yourself since partner might be very weak. However, you could well be worth an invite.

If you do invite with 3, there are 4 possible outcomes:

1) Partner bids 4 and makes
2) Partner bids 4 and goes down
3) Partner passes and 3 makes
4) Partner passes and 3 goes down

Let's suppose the contract is 2 at the other table, and see what the IMP results would be. This will give you an idea of what odds you will be getting for the possible actions:

1) 4 making Win 6 IMPs
2) 4 down Lose 5 IMPs
3) 3 making Push
4) 3 down Lose 4 IMPs

If the gain from 1) outweighs the combined loss from 2) and 4), then you should invite. If the combined loss from 2) and 4) is greater, then you should pass.

If partner does accept the invite, 4 certainly figures to make. You have a great playing hand. As little as AJ10xx of hearts might be enough if he can ruff a diamond or 2 in dummy, and he will certainly have more than that to accept since he knows your hand is limited. Also partner will know your likely shape, so he should be able to evaluate properly.

The danger is that partner is weak, and that 3 is too high. This could certainly happen. However, you have a lot of trick-taking potential. Also your odds are pretty good, winning 6 IMPs when partner bids 4 and it makes while losing only 4 IMPs when partner passes and 3 goes down. On balance, inviting looks like a good bet.

You bid 3. The auction concludes:

W
N
E
S
1
P
1NT
P
2
P
2
P
3
P
4
P
P
P

Over you go to his seat to play it.

West leads the 6 (3rd and 5th leads)

North
109652
KQ4
10
AKQ6
South
J7
A10732
AJ85
103
W
N
E
S
1
P
1NT
P
2
P
2
P
3
P
4
P
P
P

East plays the Q, and you win the A. How do you tackle the hand?

North
109652
KQ4
AKQ6
South
J7
A10732
J85
103
W
N
E
S
1
P
1NT
P
2
P
2
P
3
P
4
P
P
P

Off the top you have only 2 losers, but that won't make the contract. Losers defeat contracts, but it takes winners to make contracts. How can you get up to 10 winners?

If you take a draw trumps and claim approach, assuming the hearts split you have 5 heart winners, 3 club winners, and 1 diamond winner. That's not good enough. You need another trick.

A diamond ruff in dummy will produce the tenth trick. If your hearts were strong enough so you could ruff a diamond and draw trumps, overtaking the heart to get back to your hand, that would be fine. But your hearts aren't strong enough. If you ruff a diamond you will have to cash KQ of hearts and then find a way to your hand. This could be done only via a club ruff or possibly a spade ruff. You would need the clubs to be 4-3 (or the person with the long trumps to not have a doubleton club which is unlikely). Even that might not be enough if West has Jxx of hearts, as there would be serious trump promotion danger. If the hearts are 4-1, this line of play would almost certainly fail.

Since the early diamond ruff and draw trumps line pretty much needs a 4-3 club split, perhaps it is better to cash the clubs first. The plan would be to score the little trumps in your hand, by either ruffing a club or ruffing spades when they are discarded on the clubs. In order to do this, the diamond ruff should be delayed. This will give you entries to dummy to score those little trumps. If the clubs split, all you would need would be to score two small ruffs to get you up to 6 trump tricks (2 ruffs in hand, 1 in dummy, and 3 top trumps) which will be enough. Even if the third round of clubs gets ruffed, there may be some chance to scramble home 10 tricks on a crossruff. This looks like a better plan.

You cash 3 top clubs, discarding a spade. Everybody follows. Now what?

North
109652
KQ4
6
South
J
A10732
J85
W
N
E
S
1
P
1NT
P
2
P
2
P
3
P
4
P
P
P

Your goal is to score as many little trumps in your hand as possible. It must be right to lead dummy's last club and see what happens. If East has the remaining club you can avoid the overruff by discarding a spade.

You lead dummy's last club. East discards a diamond. What do you do?

North
109652
KQ4
6
South
J
A10732
J85
W
N
E
S
1
P
1NT
P
2
P
2
P
3
P
4
P
P
P

You want to score every little trump you can. There is no gain from discarding your last spade. You want to ruff this, ruff a diamond in dummy, and lead a spade. That will prepare you to ruff a spade in your hand with another little trump, which will get you up to 10 tricks for sure.

You ruff the club, ruff a diamond in dummy with West playing the 2, and lead a spade. East wins the A, and returns a trump which you win in dummy. What next?

North
10965
K
South
A107
J8
W
N
E
S
1
P
1NT
P
2
P
2
P
3
P
4
P
P
P

You have 7 tricks in -- ace of diamonds, 3 top clubs, a small ruff in each hand, Clearly you will ruff a spade to your hand. The question is how high should you ruff?

Ruffing with the A can't help. You will still have to worry about an overruff on the next round. Ruffing with the 10 will gain if West has a singleton spade and no jack of hearts, but that is almost impossible. He is known to have started with 4 clubs, and the diamond plays indicate that he started with 4 diamonds. That means that if he does have a singleton spade he has J9xx of hearts, and you are dead whether you ruff with the 7 or the 10. You might as well ruff with the 7 and go for the overtrick.

You ruff with the 7. West follows. You ruff a diamond with the K, and lead a spade off. Your 10 scores, and you make an overtrick. The full hand is:

West
KQ83
6
K962
J974
North
109652
KQ4
10
AKQ6
East
A4
J985
Q743
852
South
J7
A10732
AJ85
103
W
N
E
S
1
P
1NT
P
2
P
2
P
3
P
4
P
P
P
D
4 South
NS: 0 EW: 0
6
10
Q
A
3
1
0
3
4
A
2
1
2
0
K
5
10
7
1
3
0
Q
8
7
9
1
4
0
6
3
2
J
3
5
0
5
2
4
4
1
6
0
2
A
J
3
2
6
1
5
3
6
Q
1
7
1
5
4
7
8
3
8
1
8
6
K
7
1
9
1
10

Scoring the little trumps in your hand was quite important. If you had not done so, the 4-1 trump split might have defeated the contract.

What do you think of West's opening lead?

West
KQ83
6
K962
J974
North
109652
KQ4
10
AKQ6
East
A4
J985
Q743
852
South
J7
A10732
AJ85
103
W
N
E
S
1
P
1NT
P
2
P
2
P
3
P
4
P
P
P
D
4 South
NS: 0 EW: 0
6
10
Q
A
3
1
0
3
4
A
2
1
2
0
K
5
10
7
1
3
0
Q
8
7
9
1
4
0
6
3
2
J
3
5
0
5
2
4
4
1
6
0
2
A
J
3
2
6
1
5
3
6
Q
1
7
1
5
4
7
8
3
8
1
8
6
K
7
1
9
1
10

West should have been listening to the bidding. North couldn't have much of a 3 call without a singleton diamond, so North's shape figures to be 5-3-1-4. West has secondary cards in all the side suits. The bulk of declarer's tricks will be coming from ruffs. Even though a singleton trump is usually not a good lead, on this auction it should be clear to West to lead a trump. Declarer can still come to 10 tricks, but it would be a lot more difficult.

Do you agree with South's 2 call?

West
KQ83
6
K962
J974
North
109652
KQ4
10
AKQ6
East
A4
J985
Q743
852
South
J7
A10732
AJ85
103
W
N
E
S
1
P
1NT
P
2
P
2
P
3
P
4
P
P
P
D
4 South
NS: 0 EW: 0
6
10
Q
A
3
1
0
3
4
A
2
1
2
0
K
5
10
7
1
3
0
Q
8
7
9
1
4
0
6
3
2
J
3
5
0
5
2
4
4
1
6
0
2
A
J
3
2
6
1
5
3
6
Q
1
7
1
5
4
7
8
3
8
1
8
6
K
7
1
9
1
10

It looks accurate. The South hand isn't strong enough to expect to make a game with North being limited to 15 points, unless he strikes a good fit. If South didn't have the convention available it might be right to invite with 2NT, since South couldn't be confident of getting to the right part-score if he instead bids 2 or 2. With the convention available South can expect to find the best partial by bidding 2, and that gain overrides the small possibility of making 3NT.

Initially the Bart convention had 2 being a signoff, while 2 showed either a choice of partials or some kind of invitational hand which would be described later. The modification inverts these calls, making 2 either a heart signoff or some kind of invitational hand while 2 is choice of partials. There are two reasons for this inversion.

1) When responder has the weak hand with just hearts, it is advantageous for opener to declare.

2) One of the strong hands is an invitational hand with a doubleton spade. With normal Bart, the plan would be to bid 2, and then convert opener's 2 call to 2. The problem is that opener might choose spades for the partial and bid 2 himself. This prevents responder from showing the invitational hand with a doubleton spade and still be able to stop in 2. With the inversion there is little danger that opener will cross responder up. Opener will almost always bid 2 since he must cater to the weak hand with hearts, and now responder is free to carry out his planned sequence.

The concept of risk vs. reward regarding invitational bids which take you to the danger zone (3 of a major or, for slam purposes, 5 of a major) is misunderstood by many players. Being in 3 of a major or 5 of a major down is obviously not optimal, since you lose when you go down without a corresponding gain. This fear of the 3-level or 5-level leads to many missed games or slams. The proper way to examine the problem is to calculate the gain from bidding and making the game or slam, and compare that to the loss from reaching a contract which fails. If the chances of the game or slam making are good enough, it is worth taking the risk of reaching the 3 or 5-level and going down.

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