Maritha Pottenger

Hands are from Adventures in Bridge, October 10, 2018.

Hand #20

East: A54 Q8642 Q QJ73

West: KQ7 AK753 42 AK2

This hand was a challenge for East. West opened 1. Some Easts bid 4 which ended the auction. One East bid a Forcing NT because he “wanted to find out what partner would bid next.” His partner bid 3NT and East gambled on 6. Not scientific, but it worked.

I would suggest that the East hand is good enough to splinter with 4. It is true that you have only 11 HCP (and 2 of it is that singleton Q). However, you do have a 7-loser hand by Losing Trick Count. Partner will be thrilled to hear that you are short in her worthless doubleton, can inquire for Key cards and get to 6, losing only one diamond trick.

Hand #7

NT slams are just arithmetic.

North: K9 104 AQJ3 KQJ74

South: AQ2 A652 K95 A96

Most people got to 6NT the usual way. 1NT by South. 4NT by North (quantitative raise). 6NT by South who has a maximum in HCPs. The play is trivial since clubs break reasonably. One pair bid seven. Given that it was reached by a wild bidder paired with a beginning player, I assume the wild man “took a flyer.” Amazingly all 13 pairs reached slam, rare no matter how obvious the arithmetic may be.

Even if people are playing 4-suit transfers, I don't see how they can count past 12 tricks. North bids 2 (transfer to clubs) followed by South's 3 (super-accept promising four club or three to an honor). North can bid 3 (control). South bids 3 (control). Now 4 would be Minorwood. South shows three Key Cards with a response of 4. 4 would be inquiring about the Queen of trumps and 4NT is a sign-off, so 5 asks for Kings. 5 would show specific the K.

Partner canNOT hold another King because she has already shown 15 HCP for a 15-17 1NT opening. She does NOT have to have anything more, so gambling on her having the Q seems very risky. You can only count five clubs; four diamonds; one heart and two spades. Since the “wild man” bidder was sitting North, I could imagine an auction that went 1NT/4NT/6NT/7NT or some such.....

Hand #1

North: A5 K1064 AKJ10765

South: QJ AQ42 A732 432

We did not get to our slam on this, though 3 pairs out of 13 did. North opens 1 and East bids 2 (Michaels for the majors). South doubles—showing desire to penalize one or both of the majors. As North, I was sure the “desire to punish” was for hearts given my void. West bid 2, taking a preference. I jumped to 5. Partner might have ventured 6 with her Aces, but it is tough with two quick spade losers a possibility.

My better bid would have been 3, forcing but space preserving. East will probably pass. Partner can bid 3—which does not thrill me. I would bid 3, temporizing. Partner said she would probably bid 3NT but she might bid 6.

Hand #14

South: A 84 AK10432 KJ42

North: QJ108 A52 QJ AQ98

East opened a Weak 2 and South bid 3. North bid 3NT and South had a problem. You know partner has a diamond fit with you, and she has either the QJx(x) of Kx(x) of spades. She is likely to have a filling diamond honor, such as the Q. (If she does not have a filling honor in diamonds, she should have a stronger hand for the 3NT bid.) She should have something in both clubs and hearts to bid 3NT. If she has the rounded suit Aces, the Q, and the K, you are on a finesse in clubs to make seven. If she has the rounded suit Aces, the Q and the Q, you could lose a heart trick, but if she has the QJx(x), the ruffing finesse in spades will develop a discard for your losing heart. If she has the K, the K, QJ, and the Q, you are off two Aces and should settle for 3NT. [I think this hand, or any hand with ZERO Aces is unlikely because she only has one spade stopper on this auction. I think the odds favor her having a filling diamond honor and two Aces.]

One pair got to 6NT and another got to 6. One pair beat 5* for 800, and the rest of us played 3NT, making sox or sever. Only 12 tricks are legitimate in notrump, but you have the chance to “snooker” East. At our table, East led a spade (to the singleton A). I played the 8 under the A, and unblocked the QJ. After a club to Dummy, I ran the diamonds, carefully discarding the J and then the Q as well as two low hearts on the long diamonds. Then I returned to my hand with the clubs.

Poor East has to decide whether my last two cards are AJ or A and the 10, as he is discarding at trick 11 from the K and KQ doubleton of hearts. Good defenders will know that their partner (West) should discard ALL her spades to clarify the count in that suit. Then East can work out the correct discard. One other pair made seven. Most pairs were held to six by correct defense.

Addendum from Kent Hartman:

How about finding seven club?

Suggested auction: (2) - 3 - 3N - 4 (second suit) - 4 (control, agreeing to clubs) - 4N (Key Cards) - 5 (2 Key Cards with the Queen)- 7 (“Hope partner has the Q or we get a 2-2 break if she has three small diamonds”).

About the only thing that can't be handled is 5-0 clubs or a diamond ruff at trick one.