Maritha Pottenger

These hands are from Adventures in Bridge, September 21, 2018.

Hand #5

East (Dummy): Q9765 653 53 AJ4

South: J102 A98742 J64 5

I've emphasized in class about the importance of defenders knocking out Declarer's no trump stopper(s) as early as possible—while the defenders still have communication with each other in the suit they are developing. After two passes, South, vulnerable, bid a terrible 2 even by the lowered standards of third seat (but got lucky). West bid 3NT. That is an ambiguous bid on this auction—it could be a “source of tricks” NT with a running minor suit and a heart stopper; or it could be just a big hand that hopes to make 3NT with a little something from partner. (Mike Lawrence says partner has an average of 7-9 HCP on auctions like this.)

North led the Q. South, with NO outside entry, had to hope that North had a second heart and DUCKED—knocking out Declarer's stopper as early as possible! Declarer (me) had no choice but to take the K with my KJ tight, less the defense take six heart tricks off the top. I then ran six club tricks and cashed the two Aces in the pointed suits. I was sure from the defenders' carding that North had both the K and the K (plus one heart remaining), so I couldn't mess around.

But if South overtakes partner's Q at trick one and returns a heart, I can afford to risk a low spade to the Q and make four. More likely, however, other Souths did not bid that terrible heart suit and West got a diamond lead, allowing Declarer to take 10 tricks.

Hand #2

East: 5 K97 KQ32 KJ973

West: Q7 J10543 A7 A1082

Partner (East) opened 1 to avoid the potential rebid problem of reversing into 2 after opening 1 without the appropriate extra values. South passed and I responded 1. North jumped to 2 (Weak Jump Overcall) and partner passed. South passed, though he had enough to raise partner's spades, continuing the preempt. I balanced with 3. North passed and partner bid 3. East's hand has improved greatly after my 3 call. I believe a 3 call is one option. So is gambling 4 (hoping partner has a five card suit, which is likely) or raising clubs. But in practice partner passed.

The lead to 3 was the 10. I took the A and led a heart to the 9 on Dummy which fetched the A from LHO, who returned a second diamond. I then played a spade from Dummy—to cut communication between the opponents in case someone was going for a diamond ruff. North returned a spade which I ruffed on Dummy. Then I played the K and the Q fell from the North. I played the Q, and South ruffed with the 8, while I overruffed with the J.

I now have a complete count on the hand. North started with six spades and two hearts. North also had five diamonds (because South had only two). Therefore North is VOID in clubs, i.e. 6=2=5=0. So I played a club to Dummy's K (as North showed out), and finessed South out of her the Q. Making 11 tricks.

Hand #20

We had to defend perfectly to beat this hand because they competed to 3 over our 3 (which was making). North opened 1; East bid 1; South bid 1; I bid 3 (preemptive) and North end the auction with 3.

I elected to lead my singleton club, hoping for a ruff—even though Dummy's had started with a club bid. Partner won the Q—so I know he has the K as well. Ray Sachs was sure my club is a singleton, but he is getting a natural club trick anyway, so there is no reason to return a club. He cashed the A, looking for a signal from me. I signaled encouragement and he led a heart to my J. I believe the correct heart from his hand is the 10 to reinforce the idea that he wants me to shift to a diamond. However, if partner is afraid I might duck the 10, he can simply lead the 3. I took my high heart and shifted to the 10. Ray took his K and got out with a diamond. Declarer still had to give Ray a club in the end game for down one.