TIPS FOR IMPROVERS
Points of interest from the December 2012 duplicates from Michael Newman
1 Visualise the distribution and always bear in mind the principle of vacant spaces
Board 22 Wednesday 5 December – Vulnerability East West
East South West North
3 Hearts Double Pass 4 Spades
Pass Pass Pass
East’s opening lead is the Jack of Diamonds. As it is extremely unlikely that East would lead from KJ10 of Diamonds rather than from a known 7 or 8 card Heart suit you should rise with the Ace. At trick two we unblock the Ace of Hearts and then at trick three we cross to the King of Spades, both defenders following but the Queen does not appear. Before playing a second round of Spades we then cash the King of Hearts at trick 4 discarding a Diamond. At trick 5 you have to decide whether to play for the drop of the Queen of Spades or finesse through West. The answer is that you should finesse through West ignoring the mantra “eight ever nine never” which as a generalization means that when you have nine trumps then other things being equal you should play for the Queen to drop. However other things are not at all equal in this instance. East is known to have at least seven Hearts while West has a maximum of three Hearts. Therefore if the Hearts are 7-3 then outside the Heart suit there are six unknown cards or vacant spaces in the East hand and ten unknown cards in the West hand. Therefore the odds are 10 to 6 that any particular card (in this case the Queen of Spades) will be in the West hand. If in fact the Hearts are 8-2 (which is quite possible at the prevailing Red vulnerability) then the vacant spaces odds are actually 11 to 5 (because East now has 5 unknown cards outside the Heart suit and West has 11). Thus at trick 5 we successfully run the Jack of Spades and East now shows out. At trick 6 taking advantage of being in the Dummy we temporarily abandon trumps and play a low Club to the Queen on which East discards a Heart ! We now at trick 7 draw the outstanding trump and pause to visualize the distribution of the two defenders hands. As East has only one card in the black suits his distribution must be 1=8=4=0 which correspondingly means that West must be 3=2=2=6. Thus we now know that West’s King of Diamonds must now be bare. We play a low Diamond ducking in the Dummy and West is now endplayed from his King of Clubs round to Dummy’s Jack and 12 tricks are the result for +480.
2 As a Defender always be alert for playing second hand high when it important that you get the lead
Board 23 Wednesday 12 December – Vulnerability Amber
1NT (15-17) 3 NT
Note that North does not waste time with Stayman when holding a 3=4=3=3 shape.
Say West leads the 7 of Clubs (second highest from a poor suit). Declarer should win in the Dummy with the King or Queen and then play a low Spade. Let us see what happens if East dozily plays second hand low. West will probably win with the Ace and continue with Clubs but the horse has already bolted. Declarer drives out the other Spade honour and emerges with 11 tricks for +660. However look what happens if East rises with the King of Spades on the first round. He then switches to a low Diamond. If Declarer tries the Queen he risks being defeated so to give himself the best chance of making the contract he is forced to play low and the 8 of Diamonds forces the Ace. Now when West wins the third round of Spades (he should hold up to get a better count of South’s hand) he knows that South must have the rounded Aces in order to have 15 points and accordingly cashes the King of Diamonds to restrict Declarer to ten tricks and +630.
How does East know that it is correct to rise with the King of Spades? The answer is that he knows it cannot do any harm since as the Dummy has only small cards in Spades Declarer can always take a finesse if required. However East does know that if Declarer’s Diamonds are either Qx or Qxx then it is essential for the Diamond lead to come from East’s side of the table. Morever it has to come from the East hand before Declarer’s Spades are established. So it cannot cost to rise with the King and is highly likely to gain.
3 Deciding on the best way to compete after your RHO opens with a pre-emptive bid
Board 17 Tuesday 18 December – Vulnerability White
You pick up:-
What would you bid if:-
Your RHO opens 1 Club
Your RHO opens 3 Clubs
a) Over an opening 1 Club you would overcall a simple 1 Spade. This shows at least 5 Spades and a hand between 8 and 17 (occasionally 18) points. Thus your hand is the strongest possible for such action. Should your LHO raise Clubs to the two or three level and this comes back to you then you will re-open with a double to show a strong overcall with tolerance for the two unbid suits.
b) Over an opening 3 Clubs the best call is double and not 3 Spades. Why is this? The reason is that at the three level an overcall of 3 Spades is too unilateral putting all your eggs in one basket so to speak and lessens the chances of playing in either Hearts or Diamonds.
The full deal:- xxx
Over an opening 3 Clubs if you make the mistake of bidding 3 Spades then an astute West, realizing that North South almost certainly have game on will pass rather than bidding 4 Clubs. North will almost certainly pass 3 Spades with only four high card points and game will be missed.
However if you double 3 Clubs then West will probably bid 4 Clubs. North will make a disciplined pass but you will now re-enter the bidding with a second double to show a strong take out. North with a six card Heart suit will be very happy to bid 4 Hearts which will make comfortably.