TIPS FOR IMPROVERS
Points of interest from the December 2015 duplicates
1 North dozes off
Board 2 Thursday 10 December – Vulnerability North South – Dealer East
North East South West
1 Club Pass 1 Diamond
Pass 2 Hearts Pass 3 Diamonds
On the above hand I ended up in the wrong game of 3NT instead of 5 Diamonds but was allowed to make it when North dozed off at trick four.
East correctly jumped to 2 Hearts in response to West’s response of 1 Diamond which was a game forcing jump shift showing a minimum of 18 points with at least five Clubs and four Hearts. I repeated my Diamonds to show a six carder and denying three Clubs and now East had to decide what to say for his third bid. He should have bid 4 Diamonds because the Ace and King is excellent support opposite a six card suit and he knows that West cannot have more than one stop in Spades as otherwise West would have rebid 2NT over 2 Hearts. However East chose to bid 3 Spades as fourth suit forcing and now West had no choice but to bid 3NT. The reason why 3NT is highly likely to fail is that on the expected Spade lead West’s entry to the long Diamonds will be immediately knocked out and unless West has the Queen of Hearts only two Diamond tricks will be made.
North opened with the King of Spades against 3NT. South unblocked the Jack (because North had promised at least KQ10xx). North continued with Spades and I won the third round of the suit. As the Diamonds were blocked it was pointless to play Diamonds at trick four so instead I turned my attention to the Club suit. As I was in my hand for the one and only time I needed North to have the Jack of Clubs. Accordingly I played the NINE of Clubs and North dozily followed with the EIGHT. I played small from Dummy and South ducked. I continued with my second Club at trick five and this went Jack, King and Ace. Now I had nine tricks with four Club tricks, two Diamond tricks, two Heart tricks and the Ace of Spades.
What is wrong with that you might ask. Well if North covers the nine of Clubs with the Jack on the first round of the suit then South’s SEVEN of Clubs is promoted to winning rank on the fourth round of the suit.
So the moral is that in Defence you must be careful not merely to cover honours with honours but to be alert to the occasions when it is essential to cover cards below the rank of honour.
A more common situation when the nine must be covered is as follows:-
Here West must cover the nine with the King to promote East’s 8 to winning rank on the fourth round.
2 The Vanishing 5th Trick
Board 4 Monday 21 December – Vulnerability Amber – Dealer West
Assuming that East opens 1NT then West has a choice between inviting game via non-promissory Stayman or going straight to game in notrumps. If West chooses to use non-promissory Stayman then he has little choice but to raise the response of 2 Hearts to 3 Hearts. East should pass 3 Hearts because although he has a fifth trump he is minimum in points and it is not an asset to have six of his points as AQ doubleton of Spades.
Playing in Hearts there is no chance of making more than nine tricks as long as South does not make his opening lead in Diamonds. On a Spade lead Declarer loses the Ace of trumps, one Diamond and two Club tricks. On a Club lead Declarer loses the Ace of trumps, one Spade and two Club tricks (the Jack of Spades now being available to park the third round Diamond loser).
Alternatively let us suppose that West attaching due importance to the 10 of Clubs chooses to go straight to game in notrumps. Against this contract South will definitely lead the 10 of Spades (top of an interior sequence). Declarer wins with the Queen and plays the Jack of Hearts at trick two which North allows to win. A second Heart is played at trick three to the Queen and Ace on which South discards his low Diamond. At trick four North continues with a second round of Spades to Declarer’s Ace. It would appear that the Defence are now going to make five tricks with three Spade tricks plus the Heart and Club Aces but appearances can be deceptive. East now continues with three more rounds of Hearts. South can discard his two low Clubs on the third and fourth round of Hearts but on the final round of Hearts at trick seven South has to discard from ♠K9x ♥None ♦K109 ♣Q. What can he throw? If he throws the nine of Diamonds then Declarer can make three Diamond tricks. Accordingly he will probably throw the Queen of Clubs. However at trick eight Declarer now finesses the Jack of Diamonds and then at trick nine endplays South by exiting with the Jack of Spades from the Dummy. On the run of the Spades Declarer now throws all his Clubs from both hands (one Club having already been discarded from the Dummy on the fifth Heart) and at trick twelve South is endplayed from the K10 of Diamonds round to Declarer’s Queen with Ace and a small Diamond in the Dummy. The Ace of Clubs vanishes into thin air for the Defence !
3 Patterning out the shape helps to reach slam
Board 18 Wednesday 23 December – Vulnerability North South – Dealer East
North East South West
Pass 1 Diamond Pass
1 Heart Pass 1 Spade Pass
2 Clubs Pass 2 Diamonds Pass
3 Diamonds Pass 3 Hearts Pass
4 Diamonds Pass 4 Spades Pass
4NT Pass 5 Spades Pass
6 Diamonds Pass Pass Pass
Only two pairs out of nine managed to reach slam on the above hand.
North employs fourth suit forcing after South rebids 1 Spade. It is definitely correct for South to emphasize the strength of the Diamonds by bidding 2 Diamonds in response to fourth suit forcing. North is now interested in a slam in Diamonds holding 16 points with six controls (Ace = 2 controls, King = 1 control) so he raises to 3 Diamonds. South should now bid 3 Hearts. This is patterning out his shape ie he must be 4=2=6=1. North now knows that there is no danger of losing two Club tricks and so bids 4 Diamonds hoping that South can cue-bid the Ace of Spades. This he duly does and now Roman Key Card is wheeled out leading to the excellent slam. Assuming that the Defence start off with a Club lead then the second round of Clubs is ruffed. Trumps are then drawn in three rounds. Declarer can now establish the Hearts (even assuming the most likely 4-2 split). Should the Hearts prove to be 5-1 then the contract will still make if the Spades split 3-3 or if the hand with five Hearts holds four Spades then he will be squeezed when the last trump is drawn (for instance if the West hand were originally ♠10xxx ♥Q109xx ♦xx ♣KQ and the East hand were ♠J9 ♥x ♦109x ♣A109xxxx).
Suppose we make the South hand somewhat weaker say ♠AJxx ♥Qx ♦K98xxx ♣x then now South should give a simple preference to 2 Hearts in response to the fourth suit forcing bid of 2 Clubs rather than emphasize such a threadbare six card suit.