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Daily Bridge in New Zealand

                              Don’t Go Chasing Rainbows.

We all like to look for any way possible to beat a contract, to find partner with a key card, to force a wrong move out of the declarer. Sometimes, though, we just have to sit back and wait, and hope, give the declarer no help…and, just maybe, you will get rewarded for your patience.

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South Deals
None Vul
A Q J 8
A 3 2
K Q 9 4 2
W   E
West North East South
Dbl 2  Pass 4 
All pass      

Two questions for you to ponder during the week-end. Do you agree with West’s take-out double on this deal?

2Spade-small showed 3 card heart support and 10-11 high card points, Bergen style. What is your choice of lead?

You are soon to be on lead to the opposition’s game. You did not know that at the time you doubled 1Heart-small. Our first question to the Panel was whether they approved of our take-out double, considering our club shortage:

Michael Ware “approve of x: Yes, I agree with double. 1Spade-small/2Diamond-small is terrible in comparison.”

Bruce Anderson “approve of double:  a spade fit will not be missed and the hand is strong enough to bid diamonds if partner responds2/3 Club-small.”

Matt Brown “approve of double: even better when playing a system where correcting clubs to diamonds doesn’t promise extras.”

Nigel Kearney “approve of x:  It won't work well if partner has long clubs and not much else, but often partner will have spades and I may not get a second chance to bid them if I overcall 2Diamond-small. A 1Spade-small overcall could work but puts all the eggs in one basket and is not my style.”

I was surprised at the number of references to 1Spade-small being an option.

Mildly in disagreement was:

Kris Wooles “prefer 2Diamond-small:  but double is not so bad on this hand as I can bid again over 2/3 Club-small. “

Michael Cornell “prefer 2Diamond-small: I am not excited by X but I have made worse bids!

I do believe it has a lot of downside when partner bids clubs virtually at any level. Obviously, I am forced to bid diamonds but neither the suit nor the hand is really strong enough. Imagine if after X, the bidding simply goes 2Heart-small p p. Presumably I now bid 3Diamond-small and if that gets whacked, I may need an ambulance! Especially so when partner runs to his weak 6 card club suit.

My preference is to overcall one of my suits and not vul, I think I will try 2Diamond-small and hope to get the spades in later.”

What intrigues me is when one pulls clubs to diamonds, does that show just a strong diamond hand or strong with diamonds and spades? I am not sure it guarantees spades except where in Matt Brown's wish list, 3Diamond-small does not promise extra value.

We have two more in the “double dislikers group” though their solutions are not mainstream.

Pam Livingston “prefer 1Spade-small: Not a fan of double. After partner bids 2Club-small, I would have to bid 2Diamond-small and I like a “double and bid” suit to be much better than this. Prefer to bid 1Spade-small. If partner raises with only 3, then at least the short trumps are likely with the short hearts.”

Stephen Blackstock “prefer Pass: West’s double is rather odd. What would have happened if East tried 3Club-small? A retreat to those flimsy diamonds? I don’t like 2Diamond-small either on that suit, and this is just the hand not to make the 4-card 1Spade-small overcall. If East raised, you have the values to move but not the trumps! Four card overcalls work best with hands with no offensive ambitions.

I prefer to pass and can back in with 2Spade-small later if the auction sounds like it can end below that level. Partner won’t expect long spades (no 1Spade-small overcall) and hence I am sure to have a longer minor he can move to if he wants.”

United against the double but with very different alternatives. A mixture of views all round, especially about the worth of our diamond suit. If you overcall 2Diamond-small and South makes a re-opening double, you can offer a choice of suits with 2Spade-small. It is not as though you have a hand of which you are ashamed! Moving on, as the bidding progressed as explained and it is our lead to 4Heart-small.

Matt Brown “Diamond-smallK: Leading a club seems pointless when partner is likely broke and we could just be picking up his Jxxx or similar. Diamond-smallK seems right - if it goes round to the ace with the jack in dummy then, oh well. Second choice would be an even more passive low heart.”

Michael Cornell “Diamond-smallK:  despite having a short club. I don’t think partner will have an entry and I don’t want to rip up the club suit. Declarer may have to play for a ruff in the dummy so I could get a ruff myself anyway and the diamond lead could be profitable in some cases e.g. a doubleton with partner or even the Diamond-smallJ.”

Aggression is just not the name of the game as your club lead could work out disastrously. Most of the Panel go completely passive or ruff reducing.

Stephen Blackstock “Heart-small2: Maybe declarer will need some ruffs on dummy (a black 2-suiter would not be a big surprise). Everything else looks dangerous; a club is pointless given East hasn’t room for Club-smallA or Heart-smallK. Leading the Diamond-smallK at least looks at a straightforward way to defeat the contract, but is low percentage: both opponents need to have 3+ diamonds unless East has an unlikely overruff with say the Heart-smallJ – and it’s not a given that East has two trumps either.”

Pam Livingston “Heart-small2: I’m leading a small trump.  My partner has almost no points.  Let declarer do the work.” 

Bruce Anderson “Heart-small2: Partner has little or nothing and so a lead that will reduce ruffs in dummy and gives nothing away in side suits is called for.”

Kris Wooles “Heart-small2: cannot see any point in leading a club as partner will have nothing and I could open the suit up for declarer.  I’m aiming to stop ruffs in dummy.”

And then we have those who are sure they are being lured into a trap!

Nigel Kearney “Diamond-smallK: seems like the obvious lead. I assume it didn't work or the question would not have been asked.”

Michael Ware “Diamond-smallK: easiest lead in ages - must be a trap. Partner too unlikely to have Club-small A or quick entry to make singleton club lead higher percentage winner when we could have 2 diamonds to cash or a diamond ruff, or declarer is on club guess we have just given away.”

It would be good to be able to report two nice big catches but, in fact, the contract was cold on any lead. So, what’s the fuss?

South Deals
None Vul
9 7 4
Q J 10
A J 7
Q 9 6 4
A Q J 8
A 3 2
K Q 9 4 2
W   E
5 3 2
7 5
10 6 5 3
J 8 7 5
K 10 6
K 9 8 6 4
A K 10 3
West North East South
Dbl 2  Pass 4 
All pass      

 There is a difference in a contract being cold and declarer making that contract!

Diamond-smallK lead was completely passive as long West did not continue with a second diamond when in with Heart-smallA. Declarer can win and must play a club to the ace and a heart towards dummy. West can win or win when the second trump is played and exit a third trump. A spade to the Spade-small10 leaves West in a hopeless position, unable to play a diamond and thus left to cashing Spade-smallA.

One and only one round of clubs must be played. Not so easy. (If a second club is played early, West can ruff and still eventually score two spade tricks and Heart-smallA.)After a trump lead, declarer must play a high club and a diamond to the Diamond-smallQ and ace at an early stage.

The trick for the defence was to do nothing flash. At the table, West led their club and when in with Heart-smallA, tried to find their partner with Spade-smallK or Spade-small10, giving declarer an overtrick! Don’t chase the impossible. If South makes this contract, they will have done very well. Diamond-smallK or a trump gave nothing away. Even the club lead did not “give”South the contract. South had still to time the ending right though it was easier for South once the Club-smallJ had been played at trick 1.

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Are you any more successful than I am at reaching the tip of a rainbow? If so, I will be rubbing shoulders with you soon for good luck!

A decent dummy 

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

Indeed, it is! It is likely declarer’s hand is not quite as good!

Your partner leads Club-small3 with their diamond suit not really being up to scratch! South calls for the Club-smallQ from dummy and you win the ace and continue clubs. South puts up Club-small10 and your partner discards Diamond-small2 (low encouraging!...yeh, right!).

Next comes Spade-small7 to the Spade-small4, dummy’s queen and your king. What next?

Richard Solomon

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