Maritha Pottenger

Hand #27

North: QJ108 Q1096 108 AK8

South: A9764 53 KQ63 74

South passed. West opened 1. North doubled for takeout. East bid 1 and South bid 1 (which only promises 4 cards opposite a takeout double). West bid 2. North bid 2. East bid 3 and South correctly took the push to 3, having an extra trump— and shortness in clubs, and also expecting partner to be short in diamonds.

The lead was the Q. Your contract is fairly safe. You will lose two heart tricks and one diamond, expecting to ruff two diamonds in Dummy. You may or may not lose a trick to the K. Once Dummy comes down, you note that the opponents' clubs must be 4-4 from the auction. LHO (West) must have five diamonds. Since the opponents have only 19 HCP between them, those points are likely to divide 12-7 or 13-6. Both opponents have taken two bids with relatively few points, so expect either appealing quick tricks or some distribution somewhere. West is a likely candidate for a singleton. When a bidder opens a diamond and rebids 2, he promises at least 9 cards in the minors and usually has a singleton. [Once in a great while, the bidder will be 4-1-4-4 or 1-4-4-4, but you know that is not the case here.] So you suspect that West MIGHT have a singleton spade.

Before you decide about the spade finesse, it costs nothing to lead a low heart from Dummy. If East ducks and West wins cheaply, you won't have learned anything. (When you win the second club, you will play a diamond from Dummy.) In this case, however, East will win the K—revealing that East owns both the A and the K. Now you know that West MUST have the K for his opening bid, so you won't be taking the finesse. After you force out the A, you will cash the A, hoping for a singleton K—which works. Making 4!

Hand #18

West: AK9 AQ106 106 K1073

East: 7 K AK52 AQJ9864

The auction was a bit confused at our table. I would recommend the following sequence (opponents passing throughout). 1 1; 2—yes I know you are 7-4, not just 5-4, but it puts both your suits in play, and the reverse states your strength well. Now partner can bid 3 which shows a good hand (Lebensohl over reverses). 4 would be Minorwood. West respond will 4 (1430) to show all three missing Key Cards—the A, the A, and the K. My agreement with partners is that if the answer does not mention the Queen of trumps, the next suit up (4 in this case) is Queen ask. 4NT is normally a sign-off, as would be 5. So, 5 becomes the King ask—and confirms possession of all five Key Cards AND the Queen of trumps. Partner will bid 5 (specific King if you play that, or one King if you play number of Kings). At this point, East can count 13 tricks: seven clubs; two diamonds; two hearts; and two spades. So, the correct bid is 7NT.

In the open game, one pair played in 5, making seven; one pair in 3NT, making seven; three in 6 making seven; and one in 7NT (making seven). In the limited game, 7 pairs were in 5; 2 were in 3NT; 5 were in 6; 3 were in 6NT; and one pair was in 7NT.