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Daily Bridge in New Zealand

Safety First.

There was lots of bridge played over the past weekend especially in Auckland, Hastings and Wanaka. All three Congresses featured Teams events where if we can, one's aim is to find to the safest game, given there is a choice. With that in mind, what would your next bid be on the deal below, playing Teams, maybe at any form of the game?

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East Deals
None Vul

   

A K Q 10 7 6 2

9 6 5

Q 9 8

 

N

W

 

E

S

   

 

West

North

East

South

 

 

1 NT

Pass

2 

2 ♠

Pass

Pass

?

 

 

 

Your partner’s 1NT opening was 12-14 hcp. You transfer to hearts (2Diamond-small) but North intervenes with 2Spade-small and it is then passed round to you for further action. 

Whether your partner would have bid 3Heart-small is a moot point. You could, of course, be extremely weak and pass from partner would be a sensible action whatever their holding. However, while pessimistically, partner could hold a doubleton, you do seem most of the time have 7 tricks in the heart suit.

Slam is not really in the equation. You could certainly produce a magic holding of partner’s honour cards where 12 tricks can make though if the holding has to be “that magic”, then you really should forget that.

Scott Smith was sitting West with the above holding and he chose to bid 3Spade-small, certainly no take-out double with a one-suit hand nor the perhaps more normal 4Heart-small bid. When his partner, Grant Jarvis, responded with 3NT, Scott passed. Grant received a low spade lead and he was not disappointed with the dummy Scott produced:

East Deals
None Vul

K J 9 8 7 5

4

K 8 4

K 6 3

A K Q 10 7 6 2

9 6 5

Q 9 8

 

N

W

 

E

S

 

A Q 6

J 8 3

A 10 3

J 7 5 2

 

10 4 3 2

9 5

Q J 7 2

A 10 4

 

West

North

East

South

 

 

1 NT

Pass

2 

2 ♠

Pass

Pass

3 ♠

Pass

3 NT

All pass

Grant could count to 9 on any lead and scored a bonus 10th trick by virtue of the opening lead. You might argue, playing Pairs, that on a non- spade lead, + 400 would not be a great score were 4Heart-small to make but will it? Indeed, Scott and Grant’s team won a game swing when 4Heart-small did not make at the other table.

It will make if either opponent does lead a spade, giving the declarer two discards for losing diamonds. The declarer has the luxury of making their contract for the loss of 3 club tricks. Even a club lead allows 4Heart-small to make. There is only one diamond discard but the declarer will now lose just two clubs and one diamond.

Say, though, that the defence find a red suit lead, Diamond-smallQ being a standard lead from South though with no clues from the bidding, it is an even money bet which minor North would choose.

On a diamond lead, the declarer can draw trumps discarding one diamond on Spade-smallA but will be forced to guess the club situation for themselves. Don’t we hate two-way finesses, this time having to guess which opponent holds Club-small10. Some declarers were not so lucky with this guess.

What about a sacrifice?

The  flatness of both North and South in the minors and the equal nil vulnerability seems to have put all bar one of the other 33 pairs from bidding on to 4Spade-small. Assuming 4Heart-small can be made (and the majority did make thanks to a friendly lead or a lucky club guess), then 4Spade-small is a good sacrifice.

When in with the first round of trumps (even better after one high heart), the defence need to switch to clubs to score a 5th trick (to go with 2 trump tricks, a heart and Diamond-smallA). Otherwise, down one would be an extremely profitable sacrifice.

Yet, only at 2 tables out of 34 was 3NT the end contract and both made 10 tricks. Apart from Scott and Grant, the other wise pair were David May and Simon Louisson. Alas for them, they lost an imp as 4Heart-small made an overtrick at the other table. An imp lost in a very good cause.

Richard Solomon

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