Maritha Pottenger

Hands are from Adventures in Bridge, November 9, 2018.

Hand #1

South (Dummy): KQ A432 J1098 AQ8

East: AJ92 KQ107 KQ7 42

You open the East hand 1NT (15-17) and South doubles—which is penalty-oriented, showing equal or better in HCPs. Partner bids 2. (Systems are on over doubles.) You announce the transfer, and North (RHO) bids 3. You bid 3—which guarantees three or more spades (and that you like your hand) since you did NOT have to accept the transfer over interference. South and West pass, and North takes the push to 4. What do you lead?

You can try a passive trump lead as partner clearly has nothing (maybe a Jack) on this auction, but you elect to risk the K since you hold the 10 as well, and a 4-card suit. Dummy comes down, and partner gives you a discouraging heart, confirming that he does not even have the J. Declarer ducks.

If Declarer started with Jxx of hearts, you cannot continue the suit without giving up a trick. You are very worried about getting end played on this hand, but you try your best by shifting to the A and then the J to Dummy's Q. (You want to emphasize to partner that you want a HEART through if, by some miracle, he does have an entry.) Realistically, you can now count Declarer for five or six clubs to the K and J, the A, and the J.

If Declarer has six clubs, you canNOT beat this contract. You know he has only two spade from the auction. If, however, Declarer has only five clubs, he is likely to be 2=3=3=5, and you have a shot at four tricks. You just have to avoid being end played TWICE.

Declarer plays three rounds of clubs as your partner follows. You discard a spade on the third round. Declarer plays a fourth club and you discard your 7, Declarer discarding a low heart from Dummy. On the fifth club, and you are forced to give up your last spade. Declarer discards a low diamond from Dummy. You must keep three diamonds and three hearts to have the expected “parity” with Declarer's holdings in the red suits.

If you go down to a doubleton diamond, Declarer can play A, felling one honor and low diamond and you will be forced to take your K (setting up J on Dummy) AND end up being end played in hearts to boot—forced to give up a trick in hearts whether you play your Q or a low heart. Declarer will make 4.

If you discard another heart, coming down to Kx, Declarer can play the A and a heart. You will win the K (setting up his J) and you will be end played in diamonds (having to give up a diamond trick on the lead.

Declarer leads a LOW diamond. You hop up with the Q. You are truly end played at this point. If you lead a low diamond, Declarer can play J (winning) and then the A on the third round, dropping your K. However, you can afford to give up a heart trick now, as long as your protect your second diamond winner. So you play your K to Dummy's A and Declarer takes the J. He shrugs and plays the A (hoping your KQ was doubleton). You get the third round of diamonds for down one. (3 your way would have been down one.)

Hand #2

East: K8 J532 A98 9752

West: AQ7542 K109 K53 8

West opened 1 and North (LHO) doubled for takeout. East bid 1NT—which promises 8 to 10 HCP in competition and should promise a heart stopper (the unbid major). Roger Doughman, sitting South, made an excellent bid. He bid 2. This had two good points: (1) suggested a promising lead to partner; (2) was “safe” because he also had four diamonds. Most experts play “Equal Level Conversion,” (ELC) so we can double one major with four cards in the unbid major and five or six diamonds. This ensures that we do NOT miss a 4-4 major fit if it exists. If partner bids clubs, and we correct to diamonds, partner knows it is NOT the 18+ HCP hand, but ELC.

Partner rebids 2 and all passed. Roger’ bid got his partner off to the club lead. (With no bidding by South, North will lead the Q—much safer than leading away from a KJ10x with a passed partner.) Roger won the club and shifted to the 7 and got his heart ruff. With a diamond lead, my partner can pull trumps immediately, and Roger will not get a ruff. Our plus +140 did not score well (38%) against a number of +170's (75%)

Hand #26

This hand was an example of what we call “Negative Defense.”

East (you) held: 10652 KQ83 86 Q109 and passed as Dealer.

South opened 1 and partner preempted to 4. North bid 5. You pass, as does South and partner doubles. You have “negative defense” with four hearts to the KQ. Partner is going to be disappointed when his A fails to take a trick. So, you pull the double to 5 (which goes down one). N/S make 6.