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Daily Bridge in New Zealand

The Only Chance.

Despite your interference, the opponents drift into 3NT. You start off in normal fashion but perhaps there is a time to stop and take stock.

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North Deals
N-S Vul

K Q 6 4

3 2

A 3

K J 5 4 3

10 5 3

K Q 10 6 5 4

K 7 6 4

 

N

W

 

E

S

   

 

West

North

East

South

you

dummy

   

 

1 ♣

Pass

2 ♣

2 

2 ♠

Pass

2 NT

Pass

3 NT

All pass

 

2Club-small was natural and forcing to game, denying a major suit. You have your say but the bidding continues with South showing a heart hold as the opposition rest in 3NT.

You lead Heart-smallK which systemically asks your partner to drop an honour (here the jack) or if they have none, give reverse count. They duly drop the Heart-smallJ at trick 1 as the Heart-smallK wins the trick. You continue with Heart-smallQ which produces Heart-small9 from East and South, who had followed with Heart-small7 at trick 1, then playing Heart-small8.

Yes, you are still on lead at the end of trick 2. Any thoughts?

What you know is that South holds the Heart-smallA and an opening hand. What you have to hope is that there is a bad club break from which South cannot recover. As you have overcalled, South should correctly play you as being shorter in clubs than your partner. If East has a club hold, how can that benefit your side to actually beat the game? South just must have at least two of Spade-smallA, Diamond-smallK and Club-smallA. Which of those three cards would you like your partner to hold?

Spade-smallA would be worth one trick but then presumably South has 4 club tricks, and one in each major. If only one spade trick, then surely they have 3 diamond tricks?

The same poor situation arises if East holds Club-smallA. Now, declarer will make spade and club tricks.

Are you there? Is Diamond-small4 on the table yet?

North Deals
N-S Vul

K Q 6 4

3 2

A 3

K J 5 4 3

10 5 3

K Q 10 6 5 4

K 7 6 4

 

N

W

 

E

S

 

9 7 2

J 9

Q J 9 8 5

Q 10 7

 

A J 8

A 8 7

10 2

A 9 8 6 2

 

West

North

East

South

you

dummy

   

 

1 ♣

Pass

2 ♣

2 

2 ♠

Pass

2 NT

Pass

3 NT

All pass

 

A third round of hearts just would not help in the unlikely but possible situation that East did have a club trick. You needed your partner to have some good cards in diamonds….and they certainly did! Indeed, only Diamond-smallQ was needed as if South ducked, the Diamond-smallA can be forced out with your Diamond-smallK defeating the contract (2 hearts, at least 2 diamonds and a club trick).

Was South asleep to the danger of a switch (defenders rarely seem to switch in this kind of situation) or did they just presume clubs would break 2-1 and the contract would be an easy make? That is a little hard on South as were the heart suit to break 5-3 and the above club break to occur, then they would need to duck hearts twice to break communications to the West hand.

It's a tough deal for North-South. 5Club-small is by far a better game than is 3NT, though playing Pairs, were there a 2-1 club break, declarer has an easy 11 top tricks in 3NT. 3NT is makeable as long as South wins the second round of hearts. Even 4Spade-small should be made comfortably after Heart-smallJ lead. Declarer would be wise to play Spade-smallAJ before playing a low club towards the king. If West ruffs, then declarer can ruff the third round of hearts high, and draw trump and if they discard, trumps can be drawn and declarer gives up a club.

Of course, even 6Club-small can be made with a 2-1 club break. As it is, in the club game, two rounds of clubs and then 4 rounds of spades sees South’s diamond discarded and declarer just loses a trump and a heart.

It’s not an easy deal for East-West either. They do not want to be too active in the bidding and frighten their opponents to the club game, away from 3NT. However, West does need to take “the only chance” if South does try to make the no-trump game and misguesses the heart position.

Did you record +100 as West? Maybe you led a diamond at trick 1!

Richard Solomon

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