Vital Lead


7th September – Board 1. Love All. Dealer North.
I think South has a pretty straightforward approach on today’s featured hand when partner preempts at a high level, with West the one feeling hard done by!

North:
S K Q 9 7 6 4 3 2
H J 4 3
D Q 8
C none

West:
S none
H A K Q 10 9 7
D 6 5 4 3
C J 3 2

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

South:
S A
H 2
D A K 10 9 2
C A K 10 9 6 5


  West
 North
  East
  South
    
    4S
    No
   4NT
     No
    5D
    No
    6S
    End
  




Although it’s unlikely that North would have an ace outside a semi-solid suit I cant see any harm in South asking via everyone’s favourite bid. Not unexpectedly South has to settle on the small slam and the spotlight then falls on East. A heart lead actually takes the contract two down because West can play two rounds of the suit forcing declarer to ruff in dummy and giving his partner two trump tricks. However on a minor suit lead declarer can win, find out the bad news in trumps after playing the ace and then cash minor suit winners from the top discarding hearts from hand. A frustrated East will have to follow suit four times and then ruff with the trump he was always going to make anyway!

Better Placed


7th September – Board 7. Game All. Dealer South.
Splinter bids are such a good thing and should be a firm fixture in every bridge player’s armoury.

North:
S J 10 6 5
H A 6
D 8 7 6 3
C A 5 2

West:
S K 7 4 3 2
H K Q 7
D A K 10 9
C 8

East:
S A 9
H 10 8 4 3 2
D Q J 4
C K Q 10

South:
S Q 8
H J 9 5
D 5 2
C J 9 7 6 4 3


  West
 North
  East
  South
    
   
   
    No
     1S
    No
    2H
    No
     4C
    N0
    4H
   End


West’s hand is enormous when his partner responds 2H, showing at least a five-card suit, and a splinter bid of 4C fills the bill exactly, showing heart support for game at least and a shortage in clubs. East’s hand is much better than it might be it is true but that club holding is not what is required opposite a splinter in the suit. Much better to have the ace or ideally no values at all there, so 4H it is. As an aside you can see that if East had the ace of clubs and the jack of hearts then a slam would be an excellent proposition – the same number of points but better placed. In all probability declarer will make ten tricks, losing a club and two hearts but as it happens I can see that if declarer led the ten of hearts from hand and then later finessed against the nine he would restrict his trump losers to just one. It’s only the right thing to do though if you’ve had a peek!

Reason Why


10th August – Board 13. Game All. Dealer North.
I gave up playing a weak no-trump when vulnerable many years ago now and the hand below shows why!

North:
S A J 7
H K 10 9 3
D 7 5
C A J 4 3

West:
S K 10 9 4
H Q 7 2
D 8 3
C K Q 5 2

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

South:
S Q 6 5 3
H 8 6 4
D 6 2
C 10 9 8 7


  West
 North
  East
  South
     
    1NT
    Dbl
   End


Very best defence holds declarer to two tricks for a penalty of -1400 and the prospect of finding another pair of teammates next time round. East shouldn’t be worried about the unbalanced nature of his hand, quite the opposite in fact with its rich source of tricks, and West should be tickled pink at the prospect of a big score. So what happens if North opens 1C, a common manoeuvre with a balanced 12-14 when vulnerable? East does best to bid 3C, which may seem strange but simply asks partner to bid 3NT with a club stop, else to bid 3D. I know East’s spade holding is speculative but you can’t have everything.

Open Book


10th August – Board 24. Love All. Dealer West.
West should have had a pretty clear picture of his partner’s hand on the deal shown below making his final decision straightforward.

North:
S 10 4 2
H K Q 7 6 4 2
D 6
C 5 4 2

West:
S Q 3
H 10 9 3
D A 4 2
C J 9 8 7 6

East:
S A K 9 6
H none
D K 10 9 5 3
C K Q 10 3

South:
S J 8 7 5
H A J 8 5
D Q J 8 7
C A


  West
 North
  East
  South
     No
    2H
    Dbl
    4H
     No
    No
    Dbl
    No
     5C
   End




South has an obvious 4H bid at his first turn, not knowing whether it will make or not, but certainly very close. When that bid comes back to East he should double again, still mainly for take-out but essentially showing high cards. Now West knows several things: 1) his partner has more than a minimum double, 2) he almost certainly has no hearts as the opposition are likely to have ten between them, 3) he probably has only a four card spade suit as else he might have bid 4S, and 4) must therefore be 4-0-4-5 or 4-0-5-4. Whatever the case it makes 5C easy to bid, and make too. If North manages a diamond ruff it will be at the expense of their natural trick in that suit.

Just Because


20th July – Board 4. Game All. Dealer West.
Just because you have a balanced hand with 12-14 points you are not obliged to open 1NT if something better is available. Although it took me some time to see it I think that was the case here.

North:
S 7 4 2
H 9 2
D 9 6 5
C Q 10 7 5 2

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

East:
S K 10
H A K Q J 8 4
D K 8 7 2
C 6

South:
S J 8 6 5 3
H 5 3
D 4
C A K J 4 3


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


At several tables 1NT was opened and whether East decides to bid 3H (best) or transfer and then unleash Blackers the fact remains that after the response to said 4NT East still has no idea what to do. After all give West Axxx in diamonds and QJx in clubs and the slam has no play. The reason the slam is laydown is because of the diamond fit and that is what in retrospect I think West should open. You can raise 1M to 2M and rebid 2D over 2C. With the proposed sequence West either has a five card diamond suit or a stronger hand making the slam so much easier to bid for East. Remember, if you don’t know how to continue after a response to Blackwood then do not bid it!