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TALES OF AKARANA

INSPIRED LEADERS

Does that description fit you? Jacinda Ardern or Winston Peters, perhaps? Maybe they had other things on their minds last Wednesday evening.

 There were plenty of imps available on the following two boards….Will you do as well as our politicians and play the right card? What is your choice to be after the following two auctions:

West                     North                    East                        South

                                                                You

                                                                1Heart-small                          2Diamond-small

Pass                       2NT                        Pass                       3NT

All Pass

You have “10 and 2 10’s”:

Spade-small AT6

Heart-small AJ832

Diamond-small 74

Club-smallJT2

Opening the bidding did not seem to be a great success. Can you do better with your opening lead?

Or try this one:

West                     North                    East                        South

                                You

2NT 1                     Pass                       3Club-small2                                    Pass

3NT3                      Pass                       6NT                        All Pass

1 20-22                  2 major suit enquiry         3 no 4/5 card major

You have far less to look at this time:

Spade-small QJ75

Heart-small 9863

Diamond-small 863

Club-small62

On the outset, both problems seem fairly random. When the sun is shining, you choose well but you may have noticed it has not shone much lately!

With the lead to 3NT, could your partner produce either heart honour and declarer not enough tricks without losing one to your Spade-smallA first? While the Heart-smallQ could be partner’s only honour, the lack of a 2Heart-small or even a pre-emptive 3Heart-small call from partner, lessens the chance of this being correct…and if partner has nothing in the minors, surely declarer can get enough tricks from those two suits without touching spades? Let’s look elsewhere.

Club-smallJ? Safe enough but is this really going to beat the contract? Partner has 6 clubs to the king. Maybe…or maybe not! What about looking at the suit they have ignored…spades? They have shown no interest in that suit. Could partner indeed hold it? Seems a chance. Which spade to lead? That 10 could get in the way. Put it on the table at trick 1!

 

Board 2
East Deals
N-S Vul
K 4 3
K 9 7 4
10 6 2
K Q 3
Q 9 8 5 2
6
K 8 5
8 6 5 4
 
N
W   E
S
 
A 10 6
A J 8 3 2
7 4
J 10 2
 
J 7
Q 10 5
A Q J 9 3
A 9 7
West North East South
    1  2 
Pass 2 NT Pass 3 NT
All pass      

 

The Spade-small10 spells certain defeat whether or not North holds up for one round. Even the Spade-small6 will work as long as West does not insert the queen on the first round. North may well expect the diamond finesse to work and will get a rude shock.

Were East to hold AKx of an unbid suit, especially a major, they would lead that suit. So why not ATx? The only declarers who failed in 3NT were those who received a spade lead from West. It was harder but not impossible for East to find the killing lead too.

Leading to 6NT

What then to 6NT? Unless we have a good suit holding, we normally go defensive to this contract, selling out occasionally when an attacking lead was called for. The bidding indicated that East, the dummy, had greater length in the majors than West. That would put me off a heart lead, fearful that I will give West a free finesse at trick 1. Partner has around 3-5 hcps. East and West have some length in the minor suits. A diamond lead should be passive. Is that what you want to do?

Board 23
South Deals
Both Vul
Q J 7 5
9 8 6 3
8 6 3
6 2
10 9
A 10 5
A K Q 7 4
A K 7
 
N
W   E
S
 
K 8 4
K J 2
J 10
Q J 10 9 8
 
A 6 3 2
Q 7 4
9 5 2
5 4 3
West North East South
      2 NT
Pass 3  Pass 3 NT
Pass 6 NT All pass  

 

Well, not on this night! All bar two pairs played no-trumps from the wrong side, but only one North-South pair recorded a plus score. At that table, North led the Spade-small5 and West must have felt that the chance that North had underled the Spade-smallA was greater than South having neither the queen nor the jack.

One other North found the same lead with West holding their nerve, shutting their eyes, and when they re-opened them, found that the Spade-smallA had been played after dummy's 4. A good duck by declarer. Others in 6NT survived thanks to the wrong major being led.

Time will tell whether our new political leaders will make the grade. There was a bucket load of imps to be gained if you found the right lead while others sought the right leader! Were they, the imps that is, in your “in tray”?

Richard Solomon   

 

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