Maritha Pottenger

Our only shining moment today happened on Board #27 at Adventures in Bridge, August 11, 2018. You (West) have KQ86 QJ7 J1054 82. RHO passes. You pass. LHO opens 1 and your partner passes. RHO bids 1. You pass. LHO rebids 2 and your partner doubles. Partner should have real values in this auction because she is NOT in the balancing seat. In fact, partner often has 11-14 HCP with a doubleton spade, so she could not make a take-out double the first time around. RHO passes and you duly bid 2. LHO passes. Partner passes and RHO bids 2. Since you believe partner has that 11-14 HCP hand, your side has half the deck in HCP and your spade holding meets the Rule of 2 (trump tricks) and 4 (trumps), so you double which is penalty on this auction. LHO passes. Partner passes. RHO now runs to 3. You think awhile and decide to double this as well. (If you had not doubled, partner would have.) All pass.

Partner leads the A and Dummy produces: J7543 8432 A8 A6. You encourage and partner continues with King and a low heart which Declarer ruffs with the 3. Declarer now plays the A and a spade. Partner shows you the expected doubleton.

You have two suits you need to lead from your side of the table, so you decide diamonds probably have higher priority. You play the Jack, which is covered by the Queen and your partner's King and the Ace on Dummy. Declarer now plays another diamond and you take the ten. You do not want Declarer ruffing a diamond on Dummy, so you return the 8. It goes 9 by Declarer and 10 by partner, forcing the Ace in Dummy. Declarer plays a low spade and you cover. Declarer ruffs low. Partner over-ruffs with the J, and plays the K, taking away Dummy's other trump. Partner gets out with the 9. Declarer has to lose two more diamonds in the end game.

Declarer is down 3 for 500. Theoretically your side can make 3NT, but you are never bidding it on your 23 HCP.

Declarer erred in trying to get off Dummy with a spade. He should have played another heart and ruffed it. Then he will get a diamond ruff on Dummy and save a trick. It turns out, it was more imperative for you to lead a CLUB when in with the spade—to prevent ANY diamond ruffs on Dummy. Since you know partner still has an exit card with the fourth heart, you must hope that the diamonds can wait.

This hand is another example of how you can get top boards by making below-game penalty doubles at matchpoints.