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Daily Bridge in New Zealand

Tactics…

We left you with two seemingly unconnected problems yesterday, one in the bidding and the other in the play. What was supposed to connect them was a difference in approach playing Pairs as opposed to Teams. However, the reality of the bidding problem seemed to make no difference whichever form of the game we were playing.

The conditions laid down were Pairs:

Bridge in NZ.pngnz map.jpg

     
East Deals
N-S Vul
 
N
W   E
S
 
J 10 9 8 7 6 5
8 4
A K 7 4

 

You are playing Pairs. What would you open? If you open at a high level, South passes as does your partner while North makes a take-out style double. Would you make another bid? Whether you do or do not, South bids hearts.

What I wondered was whether the desire to get the best lead against an opponent’s red suit contract would mean that one would forgo spade pre-emption. We all know that partners are at their most loyal, leading your suit, when you least want that to happen. Indeed, on the actual deal, your partner would probably be on lead to 4Heart-small or 5Heart-small, depending on how high you pre-empted. Apart from dropping the Club-smallA (accidentally, of course!) on the table, how can you stop your partner leading the suit you pre-empted? However, playing on-line, the exposure of all 13 cards would not help yours or my partner much with the lead!foot-in-mouth

Our Panel had a more effective and legal way of trying:

Kris Wooles “4Spade-small: Generally, I like to bid 7/4 shapes up particularly at this vulnerability. I think I would pass the double (of 4Spade-small) but might double 5Heart-small which I hope partner will read as unusual and not to lead a spade   Assuming of course that partner passes!”

Nigel Kearney “4Spade-small: I'd like a better suit but the shape and AK mean it's far too good for only 3Spade-small at this vulnerability. I'll double a heart contract by South to suggest an unusual lead.”

Bruce Anderson “4Spade-small: The bid is not text book but it puts N/S under a lot of pressure; they could well be overboard at the five level. And I am doubling 5Heart-small if that bid is passed back to me. That should stop partner leading my suit, which could be disastrous. I can ruff a diamond lead, and after a club lead, then, hopefully, partner can contribute one defensive trick.

Matt Brown “4Spade-small: I would open 4Spade-small and pass the X - knowing they are always bidding, I would bid 5Club-small because I clearly want a club lead but it could be very stupid if they are passing the X.”

I posed the question as to whether the Panel would take a second bid on the above hand. I did not expect them to take a second bid after opening 4Spade-small, as Matt points out, but had they opened 3Spade-small, then 4Club-small might be an option.

Also, doubling 5Heart-smallcounts as a “second bid” and that was a popular choice among the Panel.

Peter Newell “4Spade-small: With a 7- card suit at favourable, I would have to find an awful lot of flaws not to open the bidding, and preferably at a high level. So, 4Spade-small for me.  Opening 4Spade-small will make it hard to judge slam if partner has a good hand, but more often it will make it hard for the opponents.  At least one opponent will have spade shortage which will tempt them into bidding which will quite often be wrong, and I’ll double anything at the 5 level to tell partner I have a good hand with some defensive values.”

So, 4Spade-small it is and I doubt the answers above would be much different in the Teams environment. The actual hand proves the Panel right though most East-Wests were not on the same wave-length as the Panel:

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

 

The lead of either minor from West would have worked very nicely against even 4Heart-small. After a club lead from West and two further rounds, West should know that their partner would cash Spade-smallA if they had it. Therefore, West can try a diamond. 5Heart-smallx by South down 3…+800 after a diamond lead from West. What a wonderful result for the defence that would be.

At one table, South did find that defence against an undoubled 4Heart-small (East had bid spades but had not opened the bidding) but the vast majority saw 12 tricks conceded mainly against 4Heart-small. Obviously, not many had read the Panel’s advice on opening the bidding!

and as Declarer:

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

 

1NT is 15-17. Partner transfers and you show a mighty good supporting hand with spades. West leads Club-small4 (4th highest leads) with the first trick going Club-small5 Club-small2 and your Club-small8. What is your plan now, both playing Pairs and Teams?

Here, I think there may be a difference between a Pairs and Teams approach. You have reached a very normal game contract, probably reached at most tables playing Pairs and by one’s opponents playing Teams. Were one, of course, in 6Spade-small, there is only one way to play the hand..spade finesse at trick 2!

In the Pairs environment, you would like to make as many overtricks as possible but you do not want to fail unnecessarily either. How could you lose 4 tricks? An unsuccessful trump finesse, two diamonds and a club ruff! Not your day!

So, since the club lead and remarkably small card at trick 1 from East suggests that possibility, play three rounds of hearts discarding a diamond from dummy…and then take the spade finesse. At least, that reduces the chance of losing the finesse and a successful diamond return. However, three losers are still possible even if trumps broke 2-2. 620 would not be a great score as not everyone would receive that club lead.

Safety First 2.jpg

Yet, what about playing Teams? Same lead. What happens when you adopt that line and West ruffs the third round of hearts? Unlikely but possible. One presumes you overruff but you are now faced with the possibility of two diamond losers, possibly Spade-smallK. Probably safe enough as long as you play Spade-smallA immediately but if East had started with Spade-smallK xx and a singleton club, you are no longer safe.

You may say that is unlikely though not a hugely freakish shape. So, perhaps the best Teams line is at trick 2 Spade-small10 before you touch hearts. You are not going to finesse because three rounds of hearts come next. That line should just about cater for most options in coming to 10 tricks. The above, of course, was not the actual lay-out but it might have been:

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

 

The club lead from West was quite common as was the Spade-small10 at trick 2. While playing a spade to the ace first might have its place in the Teams environment, it was interesting that many just took the spade finesse at trick 2. I doubt, even playing Pairs, that was the best line to take.

A Dodgy 3NT...

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

 

2NT showed a balanced 18-19 with North raising quickly to game. Spade-small5 was led to East’s ace with Spade-small9 being returned, West playing Spade-small4. You play a club to the king with West playing Club-smallQ and play Diamond-smallQ losing to West’s king.

West exited with Spade-small9, East playing Spade-small2. You discard Heart-small3 from dummy. What now?
Do you think you should have played Heart-smallK at trick 2?

See you tomorrow.

Richard Solomon

 

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