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Tales of Akarana

The Night of The Long Suits.

They were not all diamond suits but they mostly were…. and the suits were not all bid to the optimum, which was somewhat annoying when this one was…and all I could do was follow suit!

What is your plan of action with the following when your partner opens 1Spade-small, and with no opposition interference, you hold:

Spade-small 765            Heart-small -     Diamond-small AKQT8743   Club-small T7

Almost certainly, the final contract would need to be in diamonds. You bid 2Diamond-small and partner shows a balanced hand of 15-17 hcp with 2NT or an above average hand with 5 spades and 4 hearts. The problem is in finding which honours partner does have… and Key Card Blackwood or Minorwood would not tell all (bacause of your void). Malcolm Mayer was the only East to persist with diamonds and the only player to declare a slam when his partner showed two key cards. After his partner bid no trumps for the second time, Malcolm persisted with a Minorwood 4Diamond-small and he was rewarded when he saw dummy. Indeed, a system that showed two aces of the same colour would have won the day, though such an approach is usually inferior to Key Card.

Board 7
South Deals
Both Vul
3 2
A K 9 4 3
K 9 8 3 2
A Q J 8 4
Q 6 5 2
9 6
W   E
7 6 5
A K Q 10 8 7 4 3
10 7
K 10 9
J 10 8 7
J 5
J 6 5 4


Only a club lead threatens the slam, though after that lead all depends on the spade finesse. Malcolm had no trouble earning 12 imps after the Heart-smallJ lead gave North great hope for a few fleeting seconds.  

Revenge, though, was swift..well part revenge! It required some aggressive action from a weak 2 opener which was too good really to open at the 2 level but not strong enough to open at the 1 level. After the sequence:

West              North            East                South

                        2Diamond-small                  Pass                2Spade-small

Pass                ?

where 2Diamond-small was a standard Multi and 2Spade-small showing less than game interest but better hearts than spades, would you bid again with:

Spade-small KJT975      Heart-small T75       Diamond-small -      Club-small A654

It was certainly right to do so!

Board 13
North Deals
Both Vul
K J 10 9 7 5
10 7 5
A 6 5 4
6 3
A 9 3
A K J 8 3
K J 2
W   E
4 2
Q 6 2
10 9 7 6 5 4
7 3
A Q 8
K J 8 4
Q 2
Q 10 9 8
West North East South
  2  Pass 2 
Pass 3  Pass 4 
All pass      


Both South and West had acted very conservatively and the raise opposite possibly zero spades and hcp was well rewarded. Certainly, that North hand was worth more than a pass of 2Spade-smallafter partner showed some interest/value in the heart suit… but what would you have opened the hand?

The field was divided between the optimists (who bid to game or who took a penalty off 5Diamond-small) and the pessimists who languished in a spade partial.

Back, though, to the diamonds and opportunity lost:

 West             North            East                South

                                             Pass                Pass

1NT                Pass                2Club-small                  x

Pass                2Diamond-small                2Spade-small                Pass

Pass                3Diamond-small               3Heart-small                 Pass

Pass                 ?

Holding as North: Spade-small J6  Heart-small Q52   Diamond-small AKQJ9765    Club-small -

 and after firstly hoping to take the first 8 tricks against 1NT, what is your choice?

The winning action was certainly 3Spade-small asking for a spade hold with your heart holding being good enough to look after that suit.

Board 10
East Deals
Both Vul
J 6
Q 5 2
A K Q J 9 7 6 5
7 5
A K 6 3
4 3 2
A J 5 4
W   E
K Q 10 4 2
J 10 8 7
10 8 2
A 9 8 3
9 4
K Q 9 7 6 3
West North East South
    Pass Pass
1 NT Pass 2  Dbl
Pass 2  2  Pass
Pass 3  3  Pass
Pass ?    


I chose a rather timid 4Diamond-small when 3Spade-small would have earned 600 and even a double either 200 or 500 (are you brave enough to underlead your 4 top diamonds to get back to partner’s hand?), though the favourably placed Club-smallA meant that 4Diamond-small did make.

Fortune favoured the brave, whether one referred to Malcolm Mayer’s persistence with diamonds, the raise by the weak 2 opener, or in attempting 3NT on the third hand above. We will rather conveniently ignore the two declarers who went 7 down vulnerable in their slightly aggressive 3NT (board 15 if you are interested). Long suits produced lots of imps and lots of fun for the declaring sides.

Richard Solomon   


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