Jeff Lehman

Entries are the lifeline of bridge

I like this “textbookish” hand that arose at this morning’s club duplicate:


Dealer: 11- S
Vul: none


I am not sure why South opened 1 instead of 1NT, but that opening bid gave me the opportunity to overcall 1 with the West hand.  I know of some players who would fail, even nonvulnerable, to overcall such hand, but the overcall seems automatic to me, as it both enables us to compete in hearts and it directs partner what to lead.  Anyway, North next bid 1NT and the opponents ended in 3NT played by North.

Partner led the 9, a nice card for me to see.  Declarer correctly ducked from dummy and the first textbook play occurred next.  That would be my ducking the heart, too.  The objective on this hand is to get partner to lead his second heart while my diamond entry is retained; the only way to do so is for my hand to duck the heart so that partner still holds one to lead when he is next in lead.

Declarer should adopt the counter strategy of ducking the heart lead, too.  That way when partner returns one, he is now voided in the suit.  Then partner, when in with his entry, would be unable to play hearts and my hand, when in with my entry, will not yet have runnable hearts as declarer’s still singly protected queen will win the fourth round of the suit.  Declarer has nine tricks in the form of three spades and three clubs, and two diamonds with aid of the finesse and the A. Looking at from the perspective of the defense, we have only two hearts right away (the ducked trick one and the later K) as well as two minor suit aces before declarer can take her nine tricks.

Fortunately for partner and me, declarer erred by winning the Q at Trick 1.

Oddly, three times, including at my table, 3NT went down two tricks, and only once did it fail by one trick.  3NT made, sometimes with overtricks, seven times.

Usually, I would expect 3NT to be played by South, but similar principles apply: Declarer should not play the Q on opening lead but instead should duck the heart lead in both hands so as to exhaust my partner of hearts.



Jeff LehmanDecember 9th, 2011 at 12:30 am

Steve McDevitt pointed out to me that one reason that might contribute to so many pairs having made 3NT is that a standard 1NT-2C-2S-3NT auction that puts the West hand on lead informs West that North has four hearts. Although no other lead looks attractive to West either, knowing that North has heart length might scare West off the heart lead.

One thing to note is that if West does decide to still lead a heart, fourth best (or fifth best) is preferred over the J, when knowing that North has length and hoping that partner East has a contributing heart card in what is surely a short heart holding.

RobinDecember 9th, 2011 at 3:55 pm

I would regard the non-vulnerable overcall of 1H with your hand as automatic at matchpoints (as you do). OTOH, suppose RHO had opened 1C (where you have three small) or you were playing IMPs or at unfavorable vulnerability. Now, the overcall is somewhat less attractive and I would probably join the ranks of those who pass. There’s often a wide-range of opinions whenever an overcall is being discussed.

Leave a comment

Your comment