TIPS FOR IMPROVERS
Points of interest from the November 2012 duplicates
1 Always try and count up the points which a defender has shown up with during the play – sometimes this will tell you where an outstanding Queen is
Board 20 Tuesday 6 November – Vulnerability Amber
West was the dealer and the bidding proceeded:-
West North East South
Pass 1 Diamond Pass 1 Spade
Double 1NT Pass 3NT
Pass Pass Pass
West’s delayed double implied 9 cards in Clubs and Hearts.
East’s opening lead was a low Heart to the Ace and West returned 4th highest Club to the 9 and Jack. East now returned a second Club to the 10 and King.
Declarer cashed three rounds of Spades and found that the Jack was still outstanding in East’s hand. To make the contract Declarer now needed to work out who had the Queen of Diamonds. The odds overwhelmingly favour playing East for the outstanding Queen. Why is this? The answer lies in the fact that originally West passed and yet has already turned up with:-
AQ10xx (by inference)
If West had been dealt the Queen of Diamonds he would have almost certainly opened the bidding. Therefore come to hand with the King of Hearts and play a Diamond to the Jack making 11 tricks when as expected the finesse works.
It may seem a great effort at first but the rewards of counting points soon become evident.
2 After 4th suit forcing a jump to 4NT is natural not keycard since a trump suit has not been agreed
Board 1 Wednesday 28 November
1 Spade 2 Hearts
2 Spades 3 Clubs
3 Diamonds 4NT
After South bids 3 Clubs forcing to game North should bid the 4th suit 3 Diamonds as he has no Diamond stop and xx in Hearts is hardly good enough for delayed support. South who has 17 points and very good controls now jumps to 4NT. This cannot be asking for keycards since no trump suit has been agreed. Rather it shows a strong hand which is very close to slam.
It is not clear whether North should accept the invitation since the only reason why a 6NT slam makes is because East has all the outstanding strength and is mercilessly squeezed on the run of the Spades. 6 Spades would however be quite a good contract because the long Heart can be established but is difficult to reach.
The play is interesting. Assuming that West leads the Jack of Clubs against 4NT. It would be poor play to cover with the Queen in dummy since West should be looking for a safe lead against opposition who are close to a slam. South wins with the Ace and cashes the Ace of Hearts. He now runs six tricks in Spades on which he discards his remaining three Clubs, the Jack of Diamonds and a low Heart. It is clear from East’s discards that he is under pressure. If East discards three Diamonds and keeps all his Hearts at trick 9 a low Diamond to the King and Ace is followed by the nine of Diamonds overtaken with the 10 at trick 10 and the 8 of Diamonds at trick 11 on which East now comes down to the bare Queen of Hearts. Result all 13 tricks and 520.
3 Always be on the lookout to upgrade a hand with good intermediates
Board 19 Wednesday 28 November – dealer South EW Vulnerable
If we assume that you are playing a weak no trump on this hand then the South hand is a routine 1NT opener especially not vulnerable. Yes it only has 11 points but is has a strong 5 card suit with three honours plus the 10 of Diamonds. North employs Stayman and over a 2 Heart response North should jump to 3NT. The reason why North jumps to game with only 12 points is because North has a very good 12 points with the 10 of Spades and three nines. Indeed the nine of Hearts is a crucial card allowing three Heart tricks to be established even though the Hearts break 4-2. The nine of Clubs is equally crucial. On a Club lead the only problem is whether to play the Jack hoping that the lead is from AQ or the 9 hoping that the lead is from Q10. Assuming that you guess right by playing the 9 then nine tricks cannot be prevented and the most that the defence can score is two Hearts, a Club and a Diamond. Indeed if when West wins with the Queen of Hearts he fails to switch to a Diamond then 10 tricks and 430 will result.
Of course for those playing a strong no trump then likewise the South hand is opened 1 Heart and when North responds 1 Spade South rebids 1NT and North again goes straight to game.
It is interesting to note that four of the six North South’s failed to appreciate the significance of the intermediate cards and played in 2NT either because South failed to open the bidding or because North mistakenly stopped in a part-score.