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

Mountnessing Bridge Club



Board 13: Lessons from a part-score hand



Hand played on 

6th September 2007

Board number 13

Red Section





Submitted by

Alaric Cundy

































































At a quick glance, this hand looks rather mundane and uninteresting, but there is more to it than meets the eye!


Playing a natural style, the first three bids take care of themselves, but South's bid on the second round needs a bit of thought, and the conclusion might be influenced by the format - i.e., teams or pairs - and the match position.  


The first consideration is whether or not you should bid anything other than pass at this point.  One obvious candidate is 3 - but that would be a sign-off bid, and it is where the hand would be played.  Obviously, at match-pointed pairs, it is usually better to opt for a major suit part-score rather than a minor suit.  On this hand, you know you have at least 7 spades between you, but you could possibly only have six diamonds.  If you play the hand in spades, the two top diamonds look very much like two tricks, and the heart values and shortage might provide a trick and / or a ruff.  On top of that, 3 scores the same as 2, of course.  No, 3 does not look right!


Optimists might look at that diamond suit as a potential source of tricks in a No Trump contract.  Give partner the Queen of diamonds, or three small ones, and the chances of rattling off six tricks looks good.  There is some merit in inviting a No Trump game by trying 2NT, but that is high-risk: it looks like a situation that might yield about ten tricks if things go well, or six if they don't!  In a teams of four context where there was a big need to generate a swing in, I might have tried 2NT, but at match-pointed pairs I think that such a bid is 'gambling' rather than 'steady'.


Having got into 2, 8 tricks should be plain sailing, with three obvious club losers, and two obvious trump losers, but the rest should be wrapped up with ease.  The pressure falls onto East / West to see if they can cajole Declarer into a sixth loser.  Faced with the East hand, I think that given the good trump holding, I would have tried a heart lead - the idea being to lead a long suit and play a 'forcing' game.  If Declarer only has five trumps and if partner has a useful supporting holding in hearts, then Declarer could be in trouble.  That is the lead that was chosen at our table.  A club lead looks as though it could be more effective, given partner's excellent holding in the suit.  Starting off with three top clubs and then playing a fourth looks promising from the Defence's perspective, but now Declarer cannot get this hand wrong, given that if East ruffs in, it will be with a natural trump trick.  However, an initial heart lead gives Declarer a fine opportunity to dig a spot of bother for him / herself.  Playing safe, you settle on your five losers, but this is pairs, and maybe that diamond suit could offer the potential for an overtrick, given that the top clubs have not been cashed...  Declarer might be tempted to win the heart in hand, cash two top diamonds and then ruff a diamond.  That will get over-ruffed, but if East continues with another heart, then a club loser could go on an established diamond and ...  This line of play is very unsafe.  East over-ruffs the third diamond and switches to a club.  West cashes three top clubs and plays the fourth one.  Whatever Declarer does, East will now win a third trump trick to go along with partner's three clubs...  Personally I think that if you have concluded that this is a situation for steady bidding, then it's right to opt for steady play too!


A score of +110 provided North / South with a top, shared with two other pairs.  So what else can happen?


Obvious potential differences are:


East might be tempted to bid 2 over the 1 opening - very flimsy, but there is some merit, e.g., with a nice holding in the enemy suit sitting over the bid, you might contribute to pushing them too far.  In practice, with opening values opposite, it could be East / West who go too high...  Alternatively, West might be tempted to try 3 over the 2 bid, but that would be extremely rash, with only a 5-card suit, and given the vulnerability.


If South tries 3, then he / she can expect to lose three clubs, one trump, and the Ace of spades, for minus 100

If South tries 2NT, then North may bid 3 - also doomed to one off - or may choose to pass, in which case West will be on lead, and this contract will be horrible.  The Defenders should be able to take seven or more tricks - the obvious five clubs and a spade, plus either a second spade or a diamond, and maybe even more.


In practice, the traveller actually revealed:

Three successful 2 contracts, 2 unsuccessful No Trump contracts, two Declarers failing by one in 3, and the eighth score looks as though it might have come from a 'greedy' Declarer in 2 who fell foul of attempts to engineer an overtrick.