Todays deal is no. 12 in the analysis booklet from last months continent-wide Royal Viking Pairs. Freakish hands tend to produce a wide variety of bidding sequences; and there is no right way to bid the North hand. A lot depends on bidding system, partnership style, status of the contest, and Norths mood at the time. Another way of putting it is that the right bid is the one that works.
One possible sequence is shown in the diagram. Two diamonds is a Michaels cue-bid a popular convention to show both major suits then North later improvises by bidding four diamonds to force South to take a preference to hearts. West competes to five diamonds as a sacrifice, and North takes the push to five hearts.
Mrs. Marge Harrison of Mobile, Ala., wrote that her bidding began the same way except West jumped to five diamonds directly over three diamonds (a good tactical bid). North now had to put up or shut up, and elected the latter. Five diamonds was passed around to Harrison, South, who could not find the courage to bid with four points; so the opponents stole the contract. What went wrong? she asks.
How can you pass holding two queens? Heck, I would have bid a slam. Im kidding, of course. North was at fault for the timid decision to pass five diamonds. I would gamble with five hearts, although an optional double is a reasonable alternative. Some risks must be taken to achieve good results; occasionally you get a zero, but in the long run youll show a handsome profit.
The play in five hearts is interesting. The opening diamond lead should be ruffed with the seven of hearts. Cash the heart ace, then lead the ten to the queen to take the spade finesse, which wins.
As the cards lie, declarer could plunk down the spade ace and win 12 tricks; but this is lucky. Declarer would be defeated if the spade king did not drop. The correct play is to lead the heart four the importance of saving that card is now obvious to the six to repeat the spade finesse. When the spade king appears, declarer has 11 tricks.
© 1988 Richard Pavlicek