News from the Menorca Bridge Room

Menorca 047

Directors Report

This hand occurred in the Swiss teams at Salgar. What should East open?

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If East/West have a weak 2 available that seems to be appropriate.

East should raise 2 to 3, pre-emptive rather than a game try because if West wanted more information from East with a view to game he would start with a conventional 2NT (which would ask East to rebid 3if minimum or show a no-trump stopper if maximum.

North has 8 tricks. If he bids 3 South may pass, but North has a subtle clue available. The East/West bidding suggests they have nine diamonds, which marks South with a singleton diamond. North would be very unlucky to find South with very short hearts as well, so he has legitimate hopes of dummy covering his diamond losers. Hence 4 looks a good bet.

At  one table West passed 2. Paradoxically this makes it harder for North because he can no longer diagnose diamond shortage in his partner’s hand. North has three choices.

1)      North can jump to 3. Note that even if you play weak jump overcalls a jump overcall of a pre-emptive bid is strong. Ron Klinger succinctly says ‘Don’t try to pre-empt against opposition pre-empts.  Should South raise to 4?  Probably, because of the singleton diamond and three card trump support but it is a close decision.

2)     North can take the pressure off South by jumping to 4. He needs very little in the South hand to make game.

3)     North could bid 3, hopefully asking for a diamond stopper and prepared to settle for 4 if South does not bid 3NT. With a solid heart suit and black aces that might seem attractive but bridge players are given to assuming partner will be on the same wavelength. Have you discussed whether 3 asks for a diamond stopper or is a Michaels cue bid showing both majors? If not, best avoid it!

If you don’t have a weak 2 available then East can pass or open 1.

If East opens 1. West will bid 2♣. What now? North knows that South is likely to be weak and has no reason to believe that South has short diamonds. If 3 would be a weak jump overcall South must choose between 2 and a stronger action, e.g. double followed by bidding hearts. North/South might or might not reach 4.

If East passes as dealer West might open a lead directing 1♣ in third seat.  North is too strong for 1 and doubles, intending to bid hearts later. That shows a hand too strong to bid an immediate 1.

Anyhow, not surprisingly there were lots of different results.

Some Norths played in 3, making easily by means of a diamond ruff (or two) in dummy.

Some East/West pairs sacrificed in 5 over 4 and were doubled for -300, cheap against a vulnerable game, provided the game makes.

Some Norths played in 4. This is easy after a diamond lead. East switches to a trump but it is too late. Declarer wins the A, ruffs a diamond, crosses with the ♣A, ruffs a second diamond and returns to hand with the ♠A to draw trumps.

Suppose East finds an inspired trump lead against 4. Now declarer must realise that playing a diamond leads to making exactly nine tricks. Defenders will win and play a second trump, restricting declarer to one diamond ruff. Declarer must find a line of play that can lead to ten tricks, and he must hope he can use dummy’s 10 9 to help him set up dummy’s spades. He wins A and plays ♠A followed by a spade to the ♠Q. West wins the ♠K but what can he do now? If West forces dummy to ruff a diamond (cutting declarer off from his spades) declarer can ruff two diamonds for ten tricks. Alternatively suppose West continues trumps (or switches to a club).  Declarer wins a trump continuation with dummy’s 9, ruffs a spade with the K, draws the last trump with dummy’s 10 and has two winning spades to cash.

Note the different lines of play in 4. It is not uncommon for declarer to have two possible lines of play available, ruffing a loser or two in dummy and setting up dummy’s long suit. It is often the case as here that declarer must choose one or the other: ruffing declarer’s spades good is incompatible with ruffing diamond losers in dummy. Declarer’s chosen line is determined by how many tricks he needs for his contract.