Maritha Pottenger

Hands are from Adventures in Bridge, September 20, 2018.

Hand #16

North opened 1. East doubled for takeout, and South redoubled—shows 10 or more HCP and usually warns partner of a misfit hand. 2 would NOT show 10 HCP over the double. West bid 2—which promises nothing in terms of HCP, just shows that West has a preference in terms of length in the unbid suits. North passed because South's redouble guarantees another bid; 3 by North would be like a high-level reverse, and imply a much better hand. East raised the ante to 3. I (South) was not about to trot out my mangy heart suit (especially since East will USUALLY have four hearts on this auction). Since I have no other bid available, I doubled on principle.

Double-dummy we are supposed to set it two tricks, but we set it one, vulnerable for +200. The other scores in the open room were 490 by one wild pair who bid 3NT and made 3 overtricks—it's only supposed to make 3NT; another +200 against the same 3* contract; +110 for 2 making two, and -50 for 3 down 1. +200 was a 70% board. After a redouble by either partner, all subsequent doubles are penalty.

Hand #26

West: 4 QJ10853 4 Q9842

East: 10832 K4 Q107 10753

East and South passed, and West opened a non-standard Weak 2 in third seat. North bid 3NT on sheer power. Usually that bid shows a running minor and a heart stopper, so no one at the table was sure exactly what was going on. In their discarding, both opponents may be worried that they might have to guard against a long minor suit in the North hand.

East led the K, ducked around, and dummy showed up as:

Dummy: A9765 62 A632 J6

Next the 4 went to 10 and A. Declarer reeled off the KQJ. East follows, but West has to discard twice. He chose to discard one lowish club and one low heart. Declarer went to Dummy with the A, and cashed the last two spades, discarding his third heart and then a diamond. West discarded two more hearts (from the bottom up). East felt squeezed on the fifth spade. He is assuming a normal hand in the West, so took West's the 4 as showing three diamonds (standard count). That would leave West with three clubs and Declarer with four clubs. So, seeing Declarer's diamond discard on the fifth spade, East assumed that partner started with the Jxx and therefore East unguarded his the Q to keep all four of his clubs. Now North took 12 tricks!

So, did East simply count too well? Could West have saved him? East's count is accurate if West has a normal hand, but the only way East's the 10 will win the fourth round is if partner has a club honor. It cannot be the Ace, because partner would have kept all his winning hearts. For partner to discard a lowish club from an original holding of Qxx or Kxx seems unlikely. I also feel that West discarding hearts from the bottom up should show a club card. (Discarding hearts from the top down would imply a diamond card.) So, East could work it out. I believe West can make it easier for East by discarding the 4 at his first opportunity. It is clear that North's only entry to the spades in Dummy will be the A, so West need not worry about exposing partner to a finesse in the diamonds. West should want to tell East as soon as possible that East is in charge of diamonds and West will be guarding clubs. If West had done that, as soon as North leads to the diamond Ace and West shows out, the whole hand will be an open book to East. West was probably worried about revealing his distribution by discarding his singleton diamond, but if Declarer is going to finesse him in clubs, it won't matter whether Declarer knows the diamond situation or not. West has good enough club spots to cover the J if it is led from Dummy and still have control of the fourth round of the suit—if Declarer had started with AK10x(x) of clubs which was West's concern.