Jeff Lehman

Lessons Learned

W
West
K976
KQJ1095
8
A8
6
E
East
52
A7
J10632
Q1073

 

 

W
West
N
North
E
East
S
South
1
Pass
1NT1
Dbl
Pass
2
2
All Pass
(1) forcing

From a club duplicate matchpoint pairs event.  How should West play 2?

West has seven top tricks and a probable eighth trick if the A is onside, as is likely.  Is there any play for a ninth trick?

At the table, declarer received a heart lead.  Thinking that if South owned no more hearts, a spade ruff might be available, declarer won the A in dummy and led a spade toward his hand. South hopped with the A and returned a second heart.  Later on in the hand, declarer led a small club from his Ax holding toward dummy’s QTxx, hoping that North would err, inferring a club guess, and duck the K, allowing the otherwise-entryless Q to score.

This was foolish play by declarer.

Even had no trump been led, declarer will be unable to ruff a spade in dummy (unless a spade were led by North!).  The only way that declarer can reach dummy is with the A, and so declarer will be forced to lead a trump to dummy’s ace at some stage in order to lead a spade toward his hand.  Even if South has no second heart, South can force an entry to North’s hand by the simple expedient of ducking the spade lead from dummy and allowing North to win the second round of spades with a lower card, at which time North can lead a second trump to eliminate the chance for a spade ruff.  South ducking the first round of spade might also pay off if it contributes to declarer misguessing the suit, when holding the king and jack of spades.

Instead, declarer should have won the heart lead in hand and led A and a small club.  If clubs were/could be guessed correctly, declarer could use dummy’s A entry to both cash an extra club winner (pitching a pointed suit loser) and lead toward the K.

By the way, the bidding information suggesting that South had no more than three clubs increases the chances that South’s distribution is slightly flawed for the takeout double and hence might have compensating extra strength … so, had declarer correctly won the heart lead in hand, declarer should guess clubs correctly.

 
8
None
West
N
North
J84
643
K75
J652
 
W
West
K976
KQJ1095
8
A8
6
E
East
52
A7
J10632
Q1073
 
S
South
AQ103
82
AQ94
K94
 

 

Alas, I was declarer and suffered a blind spot on a fairly easy deal.

 

What do you think about the bidding?

Not much, I would say.  Let’s start with West’s decision to pass South’s takeout double.  With options to bid, pass, or double, how can West show his general hand type?

I have heard players say that Pass is the weakest option.  I disagree that strength is the primary consideration for opener’s actions.  I think that opener’s choices should be dictated by his Offense-to-Defense Orientation.  With a hand with a stronger offensive than defensive orientation (typically a hand with an extra long suit or a side five card suit and/or strength concentrated in its long suits), opener should bid.  With a hand with a stronger defensive than offensive orientation (typically a hand where high cards appear to be equally useful on offense or defense), opener should strive to Pass (or, with extra strength, redouble).

The best action on the shown hand, which has some extra strength, but also has a very strong suit, is not totally clear, but, in retrospect, I think bidding 2 directly is a superior choice to the Pass chosen at the table.  The fact that West has six hearts should not, IMHO, be conclusive for choosing to bid (if opener’s hand were, instead, something like KQxx, KTxxxx, x, Ax, a Pass is more attractive), but the concentration of heart strength in its length should have made 2 opener’s choice on the actual hand.

How about the bidding of responder?

I think responder erred, too.  IMHO, responder should generally decide what to do by applying Total Tricks to the hand and projecting into opener’s hand exactly two card length in the suit bid by advancer.  Taking that approach, responder would have concluded that the opponents had just contracted for eight tricks when holding only seven trumps and would have chosen to defend.  Stated a different way, responder chose to contract for eight tricks with an expectation that his side had only seven trumps.  With somewhat more strength, or maybe an extra intermediate club, or maybe if the opponents were vulnerable (placing +200 in his sights), responder might even have chosen to double advancer’s 2 call for penalty.

If opener had fewer than two clubs, opener would probably be well-placed to remove the penalty double and bid on, naturally.

Lessons learned.  I hope.

Leave a comment

Your comment