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Tales of Akarana 8

PATHWAY TO DISASTER.

Maybe you know many such ways to get a bad score at the bridge table? One is certainly making a weak hand as declarer and the strong hand as dummy. It gives free licence to imaginative defenders to underlead aces to give declarers impossible guesses at trick 1 when KJx of the suit appears in dummy. (the guess is less hard when dummy produces a singleton king of the suit!)

You should get the strong hand as declarer if at all possible. That’s one reason why, unless you play transfer responses to a 1Club-small opening bid, opening 1 of a minor with a hand which you should be opening at the 2 level because it is so strong is a recipe for disaster.

At least one South opened the following hand 1Club-small when there is a very descriptive opening which will usually make the hand declarer:

Spade-smallA32                        Heart-small A85                        Diamond-smallK3                Club-smallAKQ65

What happened to 2NT or perhaps a Multi 2Diamond-small? The sequence proceeded at a very rapid pace:

West              North            East                South

                                             Pass                1Club-small

2Heart-small                  2Spade-small                 4Heart-small                

at which point,South’s wisest action might well have been to blast 6Spade-small. However, science took over and South, perhaps naively, hoped for a constructive Key Card auction:

West              North            East                South

                                                                        4NT

5Diamond-small                  Pass                5Heart-small                  ?

It was not clear whether South knew whether North’s pass showed the one key-card they held but South had two realistic winning options and one losing one. South bailed out with 5Spade-small which was not a bad idea though North raised to 6Spade-small…and unfortunately, we will never know whether South would have converted to 6NT as the complete auction is shown below the full hand:

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

 

Would South have bid 6NT? Would East have led a diamond to 6Spade-small had they not? We will never know. What is almost certain is that if South had opened at the 2 level, South would have finished as declarer in 6Spade-small or 6NT and that East-West would probably have passed throughout. 7Heart-smallx is a good sacrifice (best defence is club to South followed byHeart-smallA and another heart…-1100) if the opposition bid 6NT or East cannot find the diamond lead to 6Spade-small or if West is on lead to that contract. South got lucky this time.

Of course, opening a strong hand at the 2 level is not a certainty that the strong hand will be declarer. I could not bring myself to open the following at the 1 level:

Spade-small4

Heart-small AKQT

Diamond-smallAJT8

Club-smallAKJ3

22 high and 10 honour cards (10’s are honours when you want them to be!). Since my hand was balanced (in 3 suits!), I was able to open with a Multi 2Diamond-small intending to show 22-23 balanced. However, the opposition were not sworn to silence:

West              North            East                South

2Diamond-small                  2Spade-small               3Heart-small                  Pass

?

Undoubtably, partner had guessed I was likely to hold a weak 2 in hearts and was just competing. “Competing” meant they held some high cards. Thus, there was only one action to take as describing how good my hand had become would be impossible… now worth 25 hcp rather than 22. Thus, I bid an immediate 6Heart-small.

The bad news. The strong hand was about to be dummy.

The better news. South probably had no ace to under-lead.

The excellent news. There had been no double, a double from which East-West could not escape.

This time, South’s spade lead could not trouble the declarer.

Board 22
East Deals
E-W Vul
A Q J 10 6 2
J 5 4
Q 7 4 2
4
A K Q 10
A J 10 8
A K J 3
 
N
W   E
S
 
K 8 5 3
9 8 7 3
K Q 4
8 6
 
9 7
6 2
9 7 6 5 3 2
10 9 5
West North East South
    Pass Pass
2  2  3  Pass
6  All pass    

 

This board is a perfect example of a Lightner double. North should have doubled 6Heart-small, Lightner style, asking for an unusual lead. South should have little difficulty in working out which suit their partner wants led. If East-West stay in hearts, they will lose the first two tricks. If East retreats to 6NT, there are only 11 tricks available. “Death” may be slower but there is no squeeze for the 12th trick.

You can argue that either North or South could equally have a void diamond though it is more likely to be with the player who has length in another suit.

Making West declarer is much more likely for the success of the contract.

Rather like a James Bond movie, there were clues there or available to be there to say that “Diamonds are forever”. In each, it was much better for the strong hand to be declarer. Always lead one, a diamond, that is! Had diamonds been led to 6Spade-small and 6Heart-small, there would be a little more thought given to making the strong hand declarer.

Richard Solomon  

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