Bridge Deal of the Week (April 20 2016)

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Problem

The Auction:

 

West North East South
    Pass 1♣
Pass 1 Pass 2♣
Pass 3NT Pass ?
       
       

Your partner has done it again, going straight to 3NT. What are you going to bid? You have a singleton in spades and a doubleton heart, but as you partner has bid hearts, hearts probably won’t be a problem. Should you pass or should you go on? If going on, should you bid clubs one more time or should you indicate your lack of spades?

 

Solution

Of course it`s quite normal and expected to try 3NT with a good minor suit and no fit in major. You should have sufficient points as your partner has indicated plus 12 HCP by bidding 3NT. But you do not know if your partner has any stopper in spades and the issue with 3NT is that you can be quite sure that the opponents will lead the most uncomfortable suit there is for you.

As the opponents have not bid, they will probably lead one of the unbid suits – spades or diamonds. Spades are more probable, as the opponents know neither of you has four spades.

Taking all that into account you should not pass.

But what is the right bid? Should you bid clubs one more time or should you indicate your lack of spades?

If you bid 4♣, you partner might pass and you might lose the opportunity of game. So there really are two possibilities: to go straight to 5♣ or to bid 4♠ to indicate you have no control in this suit. After that your partner will probably go to 5♣.

  K93  
  AQ1075  
  A84  
  97  
QJ72 Deal A8654
9632 KJ
J1096 72
10 J643
  10  
  84  
  KQ53  
  AKQ852

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

As you can see, 5♣ seems like a piece of cake. Although you miss the K and the ♠A it is quite reasonable to hope to take six tricks with clubs plus four tricks with the diamonds (if lucky split) and depending on the placement of the K, also a trick or two with hearts.

But it is not plain sailing. There are two crucial moments of decision; the first one coming right after West leads the ♠Q. If you cover it with the ♠K, it is probable East will take the trick with the ♠A and thus you lose the possibility to win a trick later with that king, a trick, which enables you to discard something from your hand. So the right way to play is not to play the ♠K.

No, if West leads spades again (as he will do), you play the ♠9 from dummy and as East plays the ♠A, you ruff, promoting your ♠K to the winner status.

The next crucial moment comes when you start pulling down the trumps. After you lead the ♣A from hand, West plays the ♣10. Now you must decide if you believe that to be the sign of the trump split being 4-1 or not.

If you believe that East has the remaining three clubs, you must act accordingly and start finessing the ♣J. To do so, you must return the lead to dummy by leading a small diamond and then taking the trick with the A. Incidentally you can also cash in the ♠K while in dummy and discard one of your hearts.

To catch the ♣J, you should lead the ♣9 from dummy and as East plays the ♣3, duck. You were right, West has no more clubs. Now it is easy to take three tricks with clubs, at least two tricks with diamonds and one trick with the A.

 

3 NT might be tricky. If you manage not to lose the lead, you can take eleven tricks in NT too, but only if you do not lose the lead and squeeze the opponents out of their spades.

After taking the first rick with the ♠K (yes, East will lead spades in that case too), you will of course lead clubs and take the first trick with the ♣A taking into consideration the fact that the ♣10 is played into that trick by West. The winning strategy will be the same: you must finesse the ♣J to get six tricks in clubs and to do that you must use diamonds for transportation between your hand and dummy.

Playing hearts and finessing the K is out of the question this time, as you have no defense in spades left and you cannot afford to lose the lead.

Par Contract Analysis

The par contract on this deal is 5NT by North.

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