Maritha Pottenger

Hands today are from San Diego Bridge Club (on Home Ave), October 9, 2018.

Hand #12

East: 853 Q43 A98 KQ104

West: A K9 KQ63 AJ9876

West opened 1 and East bid 2NT—wanting to “show her points.” I believe, playing Inverted Minors, that 2 is a superior bid. Do not worry about supporting partner with only four clubs. Kantar tells us that when partner opens 1, 85% of the time s/he has at least four clubs. [I would not jump to the 3 level in support of clubs without 5 of them.] There are three reasons NOT to grab the no trump with the East hand: (1) you have no spade stopper; (2) your heart stopper is not ideal; (3) it is usually better for the stronger hand to be Declarer whenever possible.

If East bids 2, promising a good 10 or more HCP and four or more clubs, West should get excited with her 6-card suit and control-rich hand. If they are playing Minorwood, a bid of 4 is now Key Card for clubs. East would show two Key Cards and the Queen of trumps (a 4NT response). Missing only one Ace (or the K), West should be happy to bid 6. This has many ways to work. If they are missing the A, West will have to hope partner has the J, or a doubleton diamond, or that the A is onside. If they are missing the A, West will have to hope partner has Q or that the A is onside. If they are missing only the K, they are on a finesse for making seven.

Hand #18

No Trump Slams are Just Arithmetic!

North: AK K7 KQ108 K9865

South: Q1075 A3 A652 AQ7

If South opens a strong (15-17) NT, North's bid is simply 6NT. Your combined HCP total is 33-35: enough for 6NT, not enough for 7NT. Since the clubs break nicely, you actually take 13 tricks.

Even if the club break 4-1 you will make 13 tricks in many cases. If the 10 or J drops on your right when you play the A, restricted choice says it is roughly 2:1 odds to finesse the 9 on the second round. If both defenders play small to the A and one shows out on the Q, you may still take 13 tricks on black suit squeeze. Test diamonds in two rounds. If they are 3-2, unblock the AK, and return to hand to play the Q. If the J drops, you have your thirteenth trick. If not, cash winners until you have 10 7 opposite K9. If the defender with four clubs also has the J, he will have been squeezed out of a black card. If you can envision the ending, this is an easy squeeze to track because you only have to keep an eye out for the J. If you haven’t seen it you try clubs and may be pleasantly surprised to find that your 9 is a winner if you haven’t been paying careful attention.

Hand #7

South: 10 AJ76 KJ974 A108

North: AK7 KQ854 A102 42

South opens 1 and North responds 1. South raises to 2. [It is a lovely hand, but you still have 7 losers.] North is excited because it looks like you have a double-fit in the red suits, but cannot just blast into asking for Key Cards with a worthless doubleton in clubs. Best to temporize with a 3 call. Partner will take that as a “help suit” game try and you want to find out if she likes her diamonds anyway!

South is happy to accept the game try and bids 4 along the way—showing a control JUST IN CASE partner has aspirations for something more. [This principle is worth remembering. If you are going to game anyway, it doesn't hurt to show a control along the way. Usually partner is only making a game try, but something partner is making a slam try.] 4 is music to North's ears, so now he bids 4NT (Key Card for hearts) and South shows two Key Cards without the Queen. North bids 6.

With the Q favorably placed, you take 13 tricks.