Hands are from Adventures in Bridge, October 6, 2018.
Kathy Moyer has set the bar higher: 26 out of 27 stars today.
East: ♠964 ♥A108 ♦K6 ♣109873
West: ♠AK10 ♥42 ♦AQJ932 ♣K6
After two passes, West opens 1♦, being too good to open 1NT with 17 HCP and an excellent 6-card suit. North overcalls 1♠. East passes as does South. What should West do?
West should bid 1NT. This bid promises 18-19 HCP (adding one or two points for your lovely 6-card suit) opposite a passed partner. For those of you worried about the small doubleton heart—life is imperfect. (1) They have bid spades; they will probably lead spades. (2) Partner might have a heart card for you. (3) They would have to lead hearts and be able to take five tricks off the top in the suit.
Partner may find a raise to 3NT holding the key ♦K and an Ace. 5 pairs out of 13 got to 3NT. The rest played diamond partials (or went down in 5♦).
Sometimes undisciplined preempts work. East opened 3♦ on her four jacks hand and West passed his 15 HCP hand which included the ♦AQ. (I would be worried about missing 3NT if partner has the ♥A.) Undisciplined preempts mean you cannot tell when partner really does have something.
However, it worked today. Partner (North) with 4-5 in the majors, doubled. Even discounting her the ♦K, it is tempting to compete. 3♥ would have won—but it has to be played double-dummy to make it. Since West has EVERYTHING, N/S can actually make 3NT, but it won't be bid.
My preferred auction would go Pass/Pass/1NT by West and an overcall by North showing the majors. South will take a preference to spades which makes 110. Some Easts may use a Lebensohl sequence to play in 3♦ which is down one for a reasonable sacrifice. In our game, two Wests tried 3NT which failed spectacularly. Several E/W pairs were in diamond partials, three were doubled at 4♦ and 5♦. Four N/S pairs were in hearts. 3♦ made twice and went down once. 4♦ undoubled went down two.
West: ♠J5 ♥J106 ♦1083 ♣AQJ98
East: ♠K92 ♥A8 ♦AQ7 ♣105432
After two passes North opened 1♦ and East passed, lacking a bid despite holding 13 HCP. South responded 1♠ and West and North passed. East balanced with 2♣ and South pushed to 2♠. West raised gently to 3♣ with fabulous trump support.
The ♦J was led to Declarer's ♦Q. A low club to the ♣Q won to Declarer's surprise. The opponents have made three bids with only 18 HCP between them. Clearly RHO (North) opened light. The question is whether RHO (South) has the ♠Q or the ♠A.
Since you are hoping to end play the opponents to force them to break spades, you start to eliminate the hearts by playing the ♥J from Dummy. As expected, RHO covers. You kill the ♥Q with the ♥A and play the ♥8 back, ducking when South covers with the ♥9. LHO carefully returns the ♦5 to prevent RHO from being end played in diamonds. RHO’s ♦9 forces your ♦A.
Now you play club to the ♣A, removing the last trump from RHO and ruff the third round of hearts. Then, you play a low diamond, which LHO will win. LHO has to either give you a ruff-and-sluff by playing another diamond or a fourth heart, or she will have to lead a spade.
You have decided that LHO has the ♠A and RHO has the ♠Q for a couple of reasons. (1) LHO taking the push to 2♠ with only 6 HCP and a ♠Qxxxx suit seems unlikely. (2) RHO clearly opened light, ready to pass whatever partner bid with a 3=4=5=1 pattern. RHO has shown up with 8 HCP in the red suits. The ♠Q will make 10 HCP—enough for a light third-hand opening.
So, when North leads a spade, you duck (thanks to that ♠J in Dummy) and South is forced to take her ♠A.