Main     Column 7C42 by Richard Pavlicek    

Bidding Not Guilty, Play Indicted

Today’s deal was sent by a reader who, as South, opened two notrump and was raised to three by North. This contract was not a success when the club suit failed to run, and the reader asks, “Should North have mentioned his club suit?” and “Is there a way to reach five clubs?”

3 NT S 9 4 2
H 4
D 9 7 3
C A J 10 9 6 5
E-W Vul

West

Pass


North

3 NT


East

All Pass


South
2 NT
S K 5
H K 10 8 7 6 5
D Q 10 5
C 7 3
Table S Q 7 6 3
H J 9 2
D J 8 6
C Q 8 4
Lead: H 7 S A J 10 8
H A Q 3
D A K 4 2
C K 2

Five clubs can be made by finessing twice in spades to discard North’s diamond loser on the fourth spade; but North cannot be faulted for his bidding. A three-club response would be the Stayman convention (asking for a four-card major suit) so the only way to show the club suit would be to bid beyond three notrump; and that is a doubtful action. Nine tricks in notrump are usually easier than 11 tricks in a suit contract, so I would have bid as North did… right or wrong.

What makes this deal intriguing is the play in three notrump, which was not mentioned. I suspect that, after winning the heart queen, declarer tried to run the club suit by cashing the king and finessing the jack. Ouch! Declarer wins a grand total of one club trick for this effort since he cannot reach dummy. Surely, there is a better play.

The entry problem is annoying but can be overcome with a clever maneuver. Declarer should lead the club two to the jack without cashing the king. If East takes the queen, the rest is easy; declarer can overtake the club king with the ace to win a total of five club tricks.

Aha! East should refuse to take the club queen. Very good, but now declarer changes horses. A low spade is led to the jack and king, then West drives out the heart ace. The club king is overtaken with the ace to lead the spade nine to garner three spade tricks, and the contract.

One other contingency should be mentioned: If West held the club queen and played it when the deuce was led, declarer would duck and later win five club tricks.

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© 4-19-1987 Richard Pavlicek