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Daily Bridge in New Zealand

An “Open Book”.

If you look at the North-South hands below, with no opposition bidding, you could construct a sensible auction to 3NT by South where there are 9 rock-solid tricks, a bonus tenth if West leads a spade. Unsensational. However, the opposition are not always that submissive. 3NT was never going to be an option when East started proceedings with a natural 4Club-small pre-empt. After that, it was tough for North-South.

This deal occurred in the latest of Thursday night on-line unofficial test matches between members of the New Zealand and Australian Open Teams, including reserve pairs. For those of you who wish to watch the matches, tune in to BBO. The start time does vary a little though 6.30pm NZ time seems a likely time. We will try to keep you informed.

After 144 boards, New Zealand leads by 68 imps.

Bridge in NZ.pngnz map.jpg

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

 

After Peter Gill’s 4Club-small, Matt Brown stepped into the bidding with 4Diamond-small and then turned down Michael Whibley’s 5Club-small slam try. A wise pass from Michael who knew his partner might well have been under pressure to bid and might not have the values one might expect for a 4-level overcall.

Making 11 tricks was going to prove hard enough. Matt was faced with what looked like two heart losers and one spade loser. What could be done? Sartaj Hans led Club-small6 with Peter Gill following with what looked like a fairly middling no side-suit preference Club-small9.

In dummy after winning Club-smallA, Matt cashed Diamond-smallA and then ruffed a club with Diamond-small10, Sartaj discarding Heart-small2 (liking hearts).

Keeping check on East                              8 clubs    1 diamond

Next came Diamond-smallK with both opponents following suit. Matt believed his right-hand opponent (no particular liking for spades) and simply played Spade-smallA followed by Spade-smallQ, with East following with Spade-small2 and Spade-small8 as Sartaj (West) won the second round with his king.

Keeping check on East (still)                 8 clubs  2 diamonds  2 spades

Sartaj exited with Heart-small6 and Matt rose with his ace as Peter Gill followed with Heart-small10.

A final count                                         8 clubs  2 diamonds  2 spades 1 heart

We had better look now at all four hands.

 
East Deals
N-S Vul
J 9 7
A 9 4 3
A J 8
A 7 4
K 10 6 5 3
K Q J 6 2
9 4
6
 
N
W   E
S
 
8 2
10
6 5
K Q J 10 9 8 5 3
 
A Q 4
8 7 5
K Q 10 7 3 2
2
West North East South
Sartaj Hans Michael Whibley Peter Gill Matt Brown
    4  4 
Pass 5  Pass 5 
All pass      

 

It was time for the end-play. Matt led dummy’s last club which Peter Gill just had to cover…but Matt did not ruff. He discarded a heart loser. Peter had been stripped...of his non-club cards, that is!  He had only clubs left allowing Matt to discard a heart from hand on the next club as he ruffed in dummy. 11 tricks made. Not quite as easy as cashing 9 tricks in 3NT but achieved by careful watching and counting.

Note that had trumps not broken 2-2, Matt would still have had an entry to dummy to play a low spade hoping East had doubleton king, the only realistic chance when the throw-in would not work.

It did not matter if East had held the Spade-smallK as the end-play was still going to work. Matt could still play-off two or three rounds of spades to gauge the heart position and then play the third club. If East had two hearts and one spade, Matt was always in trouble unless that one spade was the king. Matt had preserved Spade-smallJ as an entry to dummy to enable him to play the third round of clubs.

Finally, it did not matter if West had exited with a third spade, as Matt would cash the Heart-smallA himself before playing the third round of clubs.

Apparently, the declarer at the other table tried a similar line and also managed 11 tricks in diamonds, though he was in small slam. So, careful and thoughtful bidding and play had won 10 imps for New Zealand. You would really have expected that from Michael Whibley and Matthew Brown. Nevertheless, nice to see in action.

 Michael Whibley 19.jpg              Matthew Brown 2020.jpg 
    Michael                                      and             Matt

I do not think tomorrow’s play problem would tax Matt Brown too much. However, a number of declarers did not make the number of tricks they should or in one case needed. You need 12.

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

 

A good auction with the jump to 4Club-small showing a near opener, four card spade support and a singleton or void club. 4Diamond-small and 4Heart-small were first or second round cue-bids with 5Diamond-small showing one or four key cards.

West leads Heart-smallJ and both opponents follow to the first round of hearts (no Heart-smallQ appears).

The solution tomorrow.

Richard Solomon

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