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Daily Bridge in New Zealand

The Low Road or The High Road.

“You’ll take the low road and I’ll take the high road and I’ll be in Scotland before ye…” Such are not the first words of the chorus of the Scottish song "Loch Lomond”. In the song, the singer took the low road. In today’s deal, the writer took the high road and survived, just.

“What’s he on about” you may well ask?

Bridge in NZ.pngnz map.jpg

East Deals
N-S Vul
   
8 2
10 9 2
A Q J 9 6 5 3
7
 
N
W   E
S
   
West North East South
    1 NT Dbl
?      

 

You are playing Pairs and your partner’s 1NT is 12-14 with South producing a standard 15+ penalty double. Where to from here?

Any road or bid which has anything lower than a “3” on it would not be the “low” but positively “under-ground”. Fortunately, our Panel do not go that low but they are staunchly in favour of the bid that kind of sums up our hand and takes away some of their bidding space:

Andy Braithwaite “3Diamond-small: 3Diamond-small natural to play for me!”

Nigel Kearney “3Diamond-small: 1NT doubled may make but hoping for that is too speculative and risks a bottom. 3Diamond-small is not completely safe but will usually be ok and I doubt we can buy it in 2Diamond-small so I'll bid 3 immediately to give them as tough a decision as possible.”

Kris Wooles “3Diamond-small: I could redouble to show an unspecified single minor suit. I could do that as part of an “escape “strategy. However, in practice I would bid a non- forcing 3Diamond-small conveying a good Diamond-small suit and taking some space away from the opponents who might well have a decent contract of their own. 

I would say it is almost a certainty the doubler or their partner has a good suit of their own and I really doubt whether a jump to the 3-level would impede them from finding it. An interesting style from:

Michael Cornell “3Diamond-small: which is what I effectively would have bid without the X.

I am good for the bid but surely there is no law against that! I will be listening carefully to the bidding and if 3 Major comes back to me, I will double to show this sort of hand.”

Julie Atkinson “3Diamond-small: Tempted by 3NT and then 4Diamond-small if doubled. Will just settle for the pre-emptive 3Diamond-small.”

And for the longer route to the same spot:

Bruce Anderson “2NT: shows a long minor without the strength to pass 1NT doubled; the bid forces partner to bid 3Club-small, which will either be passed or converted to 3Diamond-small. The bid has the advantage of being pre-emptive and making it difficult for N/S to find their likely major suit fit. I am not passing as South could reel off a solid 6 or 7 card suit and an ace for good measure.”

I agree with the last statement but the more time you give the opponents, the more opportunities they will have to bid. There are thoughts of and even more than thoughts of other action from:

 

Stephen Blackstock “3Diamond-small: (pre-emptive). A middle of the road policy, but only at Pairs. I want to go plus and to inhibit a plainly weak North from introducing a long suit: it may be their hand in a part-score or even at game level. At IMPs I bid 3NT, which could be cold or making if South guesses the wrong lead. The Diamond-smallK rates to be with East or on side. It’s a more effective pre-empt than 3Diamond-small, and while it will go minus much more often, there’s a big payoff when it makes.

 

I don’t like the cunning pass hoping for +180 or 280. With any shape, North will pull the double and we may regret letting the opponents into the auction too easily. As a final variation, I might try 3NT even at Pairs if my session required a good result, as 3Diamond-small will likely be only average plus. And if they double 3NT? Ask me when it happens!”

 

Peter Newell “3NT: kind of a 2-way shot.  I think it will make a fair bit of the time, and other times it is pre-emptive and makes it hard for the opponents to judge what to do, as they may have a vulnerable major suit game.  With the likelihood of 7 diamond tricks, unless the opponents have a running suit and they find it, we have reasonable chances of 9 tricks. 

 If we got a couple down, -100 may well be an ok score too.  Of course, 3NT may not end the auction. The opponents may choose to double and then I’ll have to reconsider (but I would probably still pass), and the opponents will probably be able to guess what kind of hand I have and try their luck at the 4 level.  Given the number of diamonds I have and partner having 2+, they are likely to have a good fit somewhere.  

 

At least 3NT makes it harder for them to judge.  If I were to bid diamonds it’s quite likely North would have a take-out double.  If I pass 1NT, given that the opponents are vulnerable, North is more likely to pull the double with some shape knowing they may have a vul game, or that scores of 110/140 would be better than defeating 1NTx by 1 anyway.”

 

As unusual as the 3NT bid may sound, I find it  more attractive than 3Diamond-small which does allow North to bid a major or South to double for take-out. Would it have stopped North from bidding? I doubt it….and would 3NT have made if left in? Almost and maybe:

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

 

3NTx would have attracted a high heart lead from South. It would be interesting how South interprets North’s card to trick 1. A second heart would be fatal for the defence. They would need to find a spade switch before East gained the lead.

4Spade-small is makeable though declarer must be careful not to allow their Club-smallA to be ruffed by West. Drawing trumps and then leading clubs away from the ace is a winning line.

survivors.png

Survivors…from Loch Lomond?

 

However, North-South were not given that option at my table. Deferring to 3NT as being perhaps a better start, our table reached “Scotland” or the 5-level (5Diamond-small) very quickly and surprisingly neither doubled nor receiving a spade lead or switch. Best defence sees this contract 4 down as there is only one entry to dummy and declarer cannot repeat the diamond finesse if South covers dummy’s card with Diamond-small10.

In the song, the soldier who took the high road survived. I much preferred a higher road than 3Diamond-small though was somewhat fortunate to survive very unscathed in my final resting place. 3NT…why not?

 

Starting high.

 

The bidding has taken a very “high” turn on this next board. That was your partner’s fault. What do you with your nice hand?

 
East Deals
E-W Vul
   
A Q 2
A 10 9
K 9
K 10 7 6 3
 
N
W   E
S
   
West North East South
    3  Pass
4  Dbl Pass 4 
?      

 

You are playing Pairs.

Richard Solomon

 

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