Ashes To Ashes


2nd November – Board 4. Game All. Dealer West.
It’s always so irritating when a good hand goes to waste but to be fair the defence to 3NT on the hand shown below shouldn’t be too hard to find.

North:
S Q 10 6 5
H K 9 8
D K 8 3
C K J 7

West:
S J 8 2
H 10 5 2
D Q 9 6 2
C 6 4 2

East:
S A K 9 7
H A Q 4
D A J 7
C A Q 3

South:
S 4 3
H J 7 6 3                   
D 10 5 4
C 10 9 8 5


  West
 North
  East
  South
     No
    No
   2C/2D
    No
  2D/2H
    No
     2NT
    No
     3NT
    End
    
   


Everyone would surely end up in 3NT and South has the most obvious club lead in the world but even though this gives declarer two tricks in that suit he is still a long way from home. The best bet is to play the jack of diamonds from hand but North should not be fooled, letting the jack win. After all he knows declarer has the ace from the bidding and assuming South gives a count signal of the four, showing an odd number, then it is obvious what declarer is up to. If North mistakenly wins this trick then declarer will make two spades, two hearts via a finesse, three diamonds and two clubs. Stuck in hand however, declarer will ultimately concede defeat. (I see that Deep Finesse, the program that analyses these hands from a double dummy viewpoint, shows that 3NT can be made. See if you can work it out.)

Too Good


2nd November – Board 9. East/west Game. Dealer North.
I can hardly remember seeing a hand as bad as West’s on the featured hand, yet strangely he had an important role to play.

North:
S K 10 7 4
H A K J
D Q 10 9 4
C 6 2

West:
S 5 3 2
H 8 5 4 2
D 6 3
C 8 5 4 3

East:
S A Q J 9
H 9 7
D 5 2
C A K Q J 10

South:
S 8 6
H Q 10 6 3                   
D A K J 8 7
C 9 7


  West
 North
  East
  South

    1NT
   Dbl
   Redbl
     2C
    No
    No

    2D
    End
   
    
   


Of course at a lot of tables the contract would be 1NT X and West should be pleased that costs as little as -180, although East would have been slightly shaken at the outcome. However once South has redoubled West has to take action for the simple reason that if made, as likely, the opposition would have been redoubled into game. So 2C it is and fingers crossed and naturally East must understand that his partner is bidding from abject weakness, not strength. As an aside, many players cannot redouble for penalties in this position. Someone sitting not a million miles away from me now plays that redouble shows a long minor and asks partner to bid 2C which is either left or converted to 2D. 2C is Stayman and 2D and 2H are red suit transfers. As a further aside I see that East is too good. Give West the ten of clubs and he has an entry to push a spade through North.

Chance To Shine


Chance To Shine.
26th October – Board 7. Game All. Dealer South.
Some slams are easier to bid than others and when they come along it is important to seize the opportunity.

North:
S 9 8 7 6
H A K 10 4 3 2
D none
C 6 5 3

West:
S A K Q J 5
H 8
D K 5 3
C K Q 10 9

East:
S 10
H 9 5
D A Q T 8 6 4 2
C A J 8

South:
S 4 3 2
H Q J 7 6   
D J 9 7
C 7 4 2            



  West
 North
  East
  South
    
   
    
    No
     1S
    2H
     3D
    3H
     4NT
    No
     5S
    No
     6D
   End
   



3D shows a good hand of course and all West really wants to know about are the missing key cards and if partner disappointingly only turns up with one of those you can reside in 5D. Playing pairs it might be tempting – very tempting as it happens – to bid 6S on that West hand to get a better score but that gives North a chance to shine. A low heart lead would lead to a surprised South winning the trick who should be able to work out what his partner is after. If not he would find himself partnerless the following week, as likely as not.

Total Confidence


26th October – Board 20. Game All. Dealer West.
Freak hands come along from time to time and often we don’t have enough experience to deal with them. But remembering a few basic rules can often show the way.

North:
S Q J 5
H J 10 5 4
D Q 10 8 7
C 7 6

West:
S A 9 8 7 6
H Q 9 8 3 2
D K
C K 10

East:
S none
H none
D A J 9 5 4 2
C A Q J 8 5 4 3

South:
S K 10 4 3 2
H A K 7 6
D 6 3
C 9 2


  West
 North
  East
  South
     1S
    No
     2C
    No
     2H
    No
     3D
    No
     3H
    No
     4D
    No
     6C
   End
   



It all boils down to total trust and confidence in partner I suppose. In the auction above 3D is, in the first instance, fourth suit forcing, to game as it happens because it is at the 3-level. 3H shows 5-5 in the majors and now 4D shows a slam going hand with the minors. Slam showing because without any such lofty aspirations the bid would surely be 3NT. So given all that West can hardly bid less than 6C holding those precious minor suit kings.

Not So Hard


12th October – Board 8. Love All. Dealer West.
It was disappointing to find only one pair bidding a small slam on the hand featured below, especially when thirteen tricks were easily accessible in three denominations!

North:
S Q 4
H Q J 3
D K Q J 6 5 3
C A 9

West:
S 7 3
H 8 4
D 7 4 2
C K 10 7 6 4 2

East:
S K J 5 2
H 9 5 2
D 9 8
C Q 8 5 3

South:
S A 10 9 8 6
H A K 10 7 6
D A 10
C J


  West
 North
  East
  South
     No
    1D
     No
    1S
     No
    1NT
     No
    3H
     No
    4NT
     No
    5D
     No
    7NT
    End



North has a choice of rebids over 1S, with 3D and 2NT  - in view of the six card suit - all being candidates. Whatever he chooses the key is to understand that 3H must show a five-card suit because North has surely denied four. Then it’s off to the races and although I am not a fan of galloping Blackwood I think for once it is appropriate here. South shows four key-cards (with hearts tacitly agreed as trumps) whereupon North can count thirteen tricks in no-trumps, hearts or diamonds. It’s really not so hard.