stevesgames (stevesgames) wrote,

Bridge Column

                                                           SECOND CHANCE

        On the first hand of a local Sectional pairs event, I pick up as dealer, with neither vul:

                                                  ♠ AKQ953 ♥ 104 ♦ 76 ♣ 954

        This hand is probably as good as one can hold for an opening weak-two bid, and so I open 2♠
(as an aside, if partner should inquire with 2NT, this pure holding of AKQxxx-and-out is shown with
a special rebid of 3NT, whether one plays “Feature” or “Ogust”). LHO competes with 3♦, and partner
jumps to 4♠, ending the brief auction, which has been:

                                           S           W           N          E
                                         2♠           3♦          4♠   (all pass)

        The opening lead is the ♣7, and I contemplate the dummy:

                                                     ♠ J64
                                                     ♥ K95
                                                     ♦ AQ2
                                                     ♣ KJ32

                                                    ♠ AKQ953
                                                    ♥ 104
                                                    ♦ 76
                                                    ♣ 954

        Partner's jump to game is somewhat optimistic, since I could have a much weaker hand for my
weak-two bid, especially when non-vul, but the intervening overcall forced her to guess whether to bid
game or opt for a competitive 3♠, and she liked the positional value of her side honors behind the
overcaller, so I have sympathy. Unfortunately, the club lead makes it appear that East is likely to
hold the missing club honors over dummy, and this is confirmed when I call for the jack, which is
bested by the queen. I follow with the 5. My fear is that the 7 is a singleton, in which case the
defense can beat me off the the top with the play of the ace and another, giving LHO a ruff on the
third round.

        After considerable thought, though, East decides to shift to a heart, giving me a possible
second chance, at least for the moment. This is won by West's ace, and he plays back the jack of
diamonds (note that West's lead of the jack instead of a low card is a “surrounding play”, to prevent
declarer from scoring the 10, should he happen to hold 10-x). I call for the queen, which holds,
East following with the 10.  I draw the ace and king of trumps with both opponents following suit,
and now try to see if there is any way of bringing this contract home, with the following cards remaining:

                                                     ♠ J
                                                     ♥ K9
                                                     ♦ A2
                                                     ♣ K32

                                                     ♠ Q953
                                                     ♥ 10
                                                     ♦ 7
                                                     ♣ 94

        Assuming that RHO holds the A-10 of clubs over dummy's king, it appears that I am destined to
eventually lose two more tricks in that suit. However, if LHO's club was in fact a singleton, I see a
possible way out, as long as he started with at least six diamonds. First, I eliminate the hearts by
playing to the king, then ruff dummy's small heart in my hand, everyone following suit. Now I lead a
diamond to dummy's ace, as RHO shows out. That confirms West's distribution, as he originally started
life with seven diamonds, and has followed to three hearts and two spades, marking him with 2-3-7-1 shape.
Now I play dummy's deuce of diamonds, but instead of ruffing, I discard a small club from hand, trading
a club loser for a diamond loser. LHO is forced to win this trick, and with nothing left but diamonds
in his hand, he must lead one, and I ruff with dummy's last trump while discarding the remaining club
from my hand to make my contract. The full deal:

                                                     ♠ J64
                                                     ♥ K95
                                                     ♦ AQ2
                                                     ♣ KJ32

                               ♠ 108                              ♠ 72
                              ♥ AJ7                              ♥ Q8632
                              ♦ KJ98543                      ♦ 10
                              ♣ 7                                 ♣ AQ1086

                                                     ♠ AKQ953
                                                     ♥ 104
                                                     ♦ 76
                                                     ♣ 954

        East's failure to continue clubs at trick #2 turned out to be an error, but to be fair,
that play could have been wrong on a different layout. Suppose, for example that West had one
less diamond and a doubleton club, giving South three diamonds and two clubs. In that event,
had East played ace and a third club at tricks #2-3, South might have been able to ruff high,
then draw trumps and use the established king of clubs for a diamond discard. Furthermore,
from East's point of view, there appeared to be little danger in defending passively at that
point and waiting for the club tricks to come to him, since it didn't seem at the time that
declarer had any apparent way of getting rid of his club losers.

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