Maritha Pottenger

Hands are from Soledad Club, November 5, 2018.

There is a logical reason for the guideline of: “Do not play honors toward higher honors unless you have lower honors to promote.” Today had an excellent example.

Hand #34

West: AK8 109 AJ7654 65

East: Q109 AKJ2 Q8 KQ98

Your contract is 3NT, Declared by East. You get a favorable heart lead and North (RHO) covers Dummy's 9 with the Q. You are now guaranteed four heart tricks. You have eight diamonds, and the proper play is a LOW diamond toward the AJ7654 on Dummy. Do NOT waste your Q when you do not own the 10 or 9 to promote. Proper technique pays off because South (LHO) has the singleton the K. If you play the 8 toward the AJ, you get three diamond tricks. If you play the Q, you get two diamond tricks. Playing low toward the KQ98 will garner you two club tricks since the A is on your right. That's a total of 12 tricks: three spades; four hearts, three diamonds, and two clubs.

Hand #14

North: 7 K92 AQ1085 AQ75

South: 84 Q107643 K764 5

This hand is an interesting one in terms of bidding. East opens 1 as Dealer. South will pass. West has five spades (AJ10xx), but only two doubletons and only six HCPs, so most people will bid only 2 rather than 4—no singleton, no void.

The spotlight turns to North. North would like either one more heart and one less diamond for a “perfect” take-out double; or one less heart and one more club to be able to bid 2NT—which would be unusual on this auction even though it is NOT a jump.

Life is imperfect. A double is the best bid. If partner bids a four card heart suit, at least you will be taking spade ruffs in the short-trump hand. Some Easts will pass, but many will bid 3, liking their KJ108 of clubs behind the take-out doubler. Then South has the problem. I believe South is justified in bidding 4 whether East passes the double of 2 or bids 3. Here is the logic: you are allowed to assume a fit when partner makes a take-out double. With a fit, you convert to losing trick count. You have two spade losers; two heart losers; two diamond losers; and one club loser. 7 losers is an opening hand. Partner promised an opening hand. Bid game.

If E/W push to 4, North will double (having the minimum in terms of strength and in terms of heart length. N/S will get two diamonds, one heart, one club, and two club ruffs (with South leading his/her singleton club) If Declarer misguesses clubs, the defenders will get two club tricks. Down 3 doubled is most likely result.

If West jumps immediately to 4, now North has a headache. Some Norths will pass. Some will double. Some will bid 4NT (takeout—at least two places to play). Ironically, if North bids 4NT, South will bid 5 and they will make 5. If North doubles, South may bid 5—because the South hand has “negative” defense with so many hearts. Partner's likely AK of hearts could be ruffed on this sequence and South “knows” from the auction that North has a singleton or void in spades. So, multiple contracts are possible.

There were a number of +150's N/S which could be 4 down three, undoubled, OR 4 by N/S, making five. There was one likely 5 making 5 (+400) and one 4 or 5 making 5 (+650) for N/S. One E/W pair was allowed to play (and make) 3, and two N/S pairs were minus in some unknown contracts. One E/W pair was doubled and went for 800, while another was doubled (in 6!) and went for 1100.