xmlns:w="urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:word" xmlns="http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40"> Mountnessing Bridge Club

Mountnessing Bridge Club



Board 13: Sweat and tears - probably! 



Hand played on 

18th October 2007

Board number 13

Combined Section





Submitted by

Alaric Cundy
































































This hand offers several challenges, starting with the North / South bidding!  The first three bids are pretty much routine, but what should South bid after the 2 from partner?  There is a case for 3, which would get over both the basic hand shape and strength - but that is going to attract a near inevitable diamond lead against the likely end-point of 3NT, and from South's perspective, that doesn't look like a good idea.  In practice I opted for 3NT, which I judged gave me a 50% chance of attracting a club lead round into my hidden and undisclosed holding.  Partner now faces a dilemma.  There is a school of thought that says if your long suit is good quality then you may as well play in 3NT if you know there is a mis-fit, because your suit will yield tricks whatever the contract, but if your suit is 'straggly' then it might be best to play in the suit, because the long cards will make tricks if they are trumps.  However this was match-pointed pairs, and looking at the good holdings in both the unbid suits, partner passed.


West has a difficult choice of lead.  It is not usually a good idea to lead round into a suit bid by Declarer - especially as the 2 bid implies a 5-card suit.  A case could be made for a spade - leading through Dummy's suit, as partner could well have four of them sitting awkwardly over Dummy.  Of the unbid suits, diamonds looks less attractive as a lead away from the queen could be costly (as indeed it would have been!).  Personally, I think I would have fallen into the trap laid by Declarer and chosen a club, but in practice West fell back on the 4th best heart.  Things looked up from West's point of view when Dummy had a void, and partner provided the Jack.


Declarer faces an issue as soon as Dummy goes down - how are we going to play this hand?  There are enough entries to Dummy to think of playing on spades, but there is a high risk of losing two spades and three hearts, so I  decided to abandon Dummy's suit and instead play to make seven tricks in the minor suits plus a spade and a heart.  I won the opening lead and played a club to the Ace and a small one back to the Jack - with eyes shut!  Had that lost to West, I might have picked up an extra heart trick because West would have been leading the suit round to my hand.  As it happened, the club suit fell very nicely, and I quickly had 5 tricks in the bag.  Next I ducked a diamond to East's ten, who came back with the 9 of hearts.  I was pleased to see that card!  I covered and the trick was taken by West.  Now West was a bit fixed, and in practice I finished up making 4 clubs, 3 hearts, 2 diamonds, and a spade, for a score of 630.  West can do slightly better by returning a spade - especially as I had been steadily shedding them from Dummy - and now I only make one heart but I get a third diamond, for just the nine tricks in total.


Can East / West defeat this 3NT contract?  On a heart lead, it can be held to 9 tricks, but I can't see a way of taking it down to 8.  A diamond lead would be a disaster for the defence, as it immediately gives away a free trick in the suit, plus enough tempo to do something with Dummy's spades, and at least 9 tricks are inevitable.

A club lead doesn't look good from the defence's perspective, but as the cards lie it doesn't give anything away.  To get up to nine tricks now, Declarer has to play on Dummy's spades, and is likely to lose two tricks in each major suit.   An initial spade lead requires both Declarer and East to be good at card reading!  Declarer might be tempted to try the 9 from Dummy, hoping to 'force out a big one' from East, but if East is alert, he / she should play small - reading Declarer for the singleton Ace - and now Declarer will be sunk, as there is no hope of bringing the spade suit in.  Declarer should play small from Dummy, then play on Dummy's spades, and he / she should restrict losers again to two each in hearts and spades.


So it looks as though it requires a slip-up by Declarer plus some sharp-witted defence to defeat 3NT.


The alternative contract of 4 looks somewhat nervy but I think it should come home, unavoidably losing two trumps, plus either a third trump or a diamond to hold Declarer to ten tricks.  I think it requires a mistake by Declarer to allow the defence to take three trumps AND the diamond, even after the lead of a small heart by East at trick one. 


In practice, the hand was played 6 times in 3NT, making 10 tricks (4 times), 9 (once), and 8 (once), and it was played 4 times in 4, three of them successful.  The remaining pair subsided in a part-score.


So, it looks like a hand to sweat over, but whichever game contract North / South play in it is likely to result in tears for East / West - probably!