Main     Analyses 7M05 by Richard Pavlicek    

Golden Anniversary Pairs

The 36 deals in this collection were played September 15, 1987 in the Golden Anniversary Pairs, a continent-wide event celebrating the 50th anniversary of the American Contract Bridge League, and sponsored by Royal Viking Cruise Lines. Scoring was by “Instant Matchpoints,” which means players get their matchpoint score from a predetermined chart immediately after playing each deal. The analyses were written by Richard Pavlicek and originally published in a souvenir booklet given to each participant after the game.

Regardless of whether you played in this event, these analyses provide instructive reading with many tips on bidding and play. To benefit even further, prepare these deals in duplicate boards (or have someone else do it) and play them. Determine your matchpoint scores from the tables (top is 100) then compare your bidding and play with my write-up.

© 1987 Richard Pavlicek

TopMain

Board 1

North Deals
None Vul
S K 6 4 3
H K J 9 4 2
D 5
C J 8 2
S Q J 10 8 5
H A 10 8 7
D 2
C K 9 6
TableS A 9
H Q 6
D 9 8 6
C A 10 7 5 4 3
S 7 2
H 5 3
D A K Q J 10 7 4 3
C Q

The Golden Anniversary Pairs begins with an exciting deal that should produce a myriad of results. After two passes South will set the tone with his opening — 1 D, 3 D, 4 D, 5 D or 3 NT (gambling) are possibilities. After a 1 D opening (my choice) the bidding might proceed: 1 S, double (negative), 2 C; then 3 D by South. If West raises clubs, South will compete to 4 D, which goes down one assuming a correct heart guess.

East-West fare all right in clubs (probably 10 tricks) and surprisingly well in spades. Although difficult to reach, 4 S cannot be defeated if declarer takes the second-round club finesse after drawing trumps; and South must shift to a heart at trick two to prevent an overtrick.

North-South pairs who reach 3 NT will usually fail (miserably, if East-West run the club suit), but a few may make it with poor defense such as the S A lead and another spade.

North-South Matchpoints — Board 1

...
+550
...
+500
...
+430
...
+400
100
100
99
98
97
96
96
93
...
+300
...
+150
...
+130
...
+110
90
89
89
88
88
87
87
85
+100
...
+50
...
-50
...
-100
...
80
77
77
77
67
57
47
37
-130
...
-150
...
-200
...
-250
...
35
34
33
31
28
25
23
21
-300
...
-400
...
-420
...
-450
...
16
11
10
9
8
7
7
6
-500
...
-590
-600
...
-1100
...
-1700
5
3
3
2
2
2
1
0
...






0






TopMain

Board 2

East Deals
N-S Vul
S K 5 4 3
H 3 2
D 10 6 5
C 8 6 5 2
S A Q 10 9 6
H J 7 6
D K J 7 2
C A
TableS J 8 2
H A Q 4
D A Q 9 3
C K 9 7
S 7
H K 10 9 8 5
D 8 4
C Q J 10 4 3

Good bidding will not be rewarded on this deal. The best matchpoint contract is 6 NT, with 6 S a close runner-up, but either is destined to fail with both major-suit finesses offside. The only slam that makes is 6 D by East, provided declarer does not take a spade finesse at trick one. (Note the spade suit provides two discards, so the heart finesse is unnecessary.) If West plays 6 D, the contract is scuttled by a heart opening lead.

Using Jacoby transfers, I like this sequence:

West

2 H
3 D
4 C
5 NT
North

Pass
Pass
Pass
Pass
East
1 NT
2 S
3 S
4 H
6 NT
South
Pass
Pass
Pass
Pass
All Pass

Four clubs and 4 H are control-bids; 5 NT says “pick a slam,” and East chooses notrump because of his flat distribution and positional holdings in clubs and hearts. Too bad it doesn’t make.

North-South Matchpoints — Board 2

...
+200
...
+100
...
+50
...
-140
100
100
99
95
91
65
42
40
-170
-420
-430
...
-450
-460
...
-480
38
37
35
33
30
20
15
14
-490
...
-800
...
-920
...
-940
...
12
11
11
10
7
5
4
4
-980
-990
...
-1100
...


3
1
1
0
0


TopMain

Board 3

South Deals
E-W Vul
S A Q 9 7
H 9 6 4
D A J
C K 7 4 2
S K 10 5
H A 10 2
D K 9 8
C A Q 10 9
TableS J 8 6 3 2
H K Q 3
D Q 10 6
C 8 6
S 4
H J 8 7 5
D 7 5 4 3 2
C J 5 3

After a classical 1 NT opening by West, most North players will (wisely) stay out of the bidding. Using Jacoby transfers, East will respond 2 H, then rebid 2 NT to invite game in either notrump or spades. West should accept with his spade fit and well-textured hand, and my choice is to bid 3 NT — with no ruffing potential there’s a good chance the same number of tricks can be won in notrump as in spades (which proves to be true). Without the Jacoby transfer East should respond 2 C (Stayman) followed by 2 S to show invitational strength with five spades. Then West will have a similar decision.

The play in notrump should please West. North cannot attack the hand, and the spade suit can be established for three tricks — finesse the 10, then lead the king and (when South shows out) finesse the eight. Nine tricks are routine, and many will win 10 tricks if North leads a club at any point.

North-South Matchpoints — Board 3

...
+800
...
+500
...
+300
...
+200
100
99
99
98
97
97
97
94
...
+100
...
-110
...
-140
-150
...
91
83
75
74
73
69
61
59
-170
-180
...
-300
...
-500
...
-600
58
52
50
50
49
48
47
36
...
-620
-630
...
-660
...
-800
...
25
24
13
3
2
1
1
0

TopMain

Board 4

West Deals
Both Vul
S J 9 8 2
H K J 9 8 5 4
D Q
C K 9
S 5 3
H 10 6 2
D J 9 6 3
C A 8 5 3
TableS A K Q 4
H A 3
D 8 7 4 2
C J 7 4
S 10 7 6
H Q 7
D A K 10 5
C Q 10 6 2

After a pass by West, North has the values for a weak two-bid. However, his side four-card spade suit should influence him to pass. Most East players will open 1 S, although diehard five-card majorites will bid 1 D. West may or may not keep the bidding open — I would pass 1 S but raise 1 D to 2 D. In any event North should bid 2 H, and this should buy the contract. If East-West bid any higher, they are in serious trouble; 3 D should result in minus 200 even if South does not double.

The play in hearts is interesting. East should begin with four rounds of spades, which gives North a two-way guess for the H 10. The percentages slightly favor playing West for that card (since he is shorter in spades), which leads to the winning play of ruffing with the queen. I would next lead a club, hoping to steal the king (then ditch my other club). But whatever happens, I would later lead the H 7 for a finesse.

North-South Matchpoints — Board 4

...
+1100
...
+800
...
+500
...
+400
100
100
99
98
97
94
91
90
...
+300
...
+200
...
+140
...
+120
89
87
85
80
76
73
69
69
+110
+100
...
+80
...
0
...
-90
59
48
46
45
45
44
44
43
-100
...
-180
...
-200
...
-300
...
25
8
7
7
4
2
1
1
-670
...





0
0





TopMain

Board 5

North Deals
N-S Vul
S K 6
H A 7 6 4
D A J 8 4
C K 7 6
S 5 2
H K 9 2
D 10 3 2
C Q J 10 9 8
TableS A Q 8 7
H
D K Q 6 5
C A 5 4 3 2
S J 10 9 4 3
H Q J 10 8 5 3
D 9 7
C

After a 1 NT opening by North (assuming 15-17 or 15-18), East has a difficult problem. A lot depends on defensive methods; but whether East-West use Landy, Astro, Brozel or whatever, it is not easy to uncover the tremendous club fit. Ironically, natural bidders may do better here with a 2 C overcall. The club suit is disgusting, I agree, but you have to do something. South, with his freak distribution, should jump directly to 4 H (or 4 D if using Texas transfers), after which West should bid 5 C only if East has shown a real club suit.

Ten tricks can be won in hearts. This is routine except against a spade lead from West, who is able to ruff the third spade with the H 9 to promote a trump trick. Declarer can counter this by discarding a diamond, then later finessing in trumps and throwing the remaining diamonds on the spades.

Five clubs appears makable at first glance, but the lack of communication means down one — still a good sacrifice.

North-South Matchpoints — Board 5

...
+1050
...
+990
...
+870
...
+790
100
98
98
96
94
93
92
88
...
+730
...
+650
...
+620
...
+500
85
84
81
77
72
68
64
63
...
+300
...
+200
...
+170
...
+140
63
62
61
60
60
59
57
56
...
+110
+100
...
-100
...
-130
...
55
54
51
47
43
39
37
36
-150
...
-170
...
-200
...
-400
...
34
33
33
32
27
22
20
17
-420
...
-500
...
-550
...
-800
...
16
16
12
7
5
2
1
0

TopMain

Board 6

East Deals
E-W Vul
S 10 6 3
H A 9 8
D K J 3
C A Q 9 6
S K Q J 4 2
H 7 4
D Q 7 6 2
C J 4
TableS A 9 8 5
H 3 2
D A 10 9 8 5
C 8 5
S 7
H K Q J 10 6 5
D 4
C K 10 7 3 2

After a pass by East, South has a choice — pass or bid some number of hearts. The lack of defensive strength makes a 1 H bid undesirable; a weak two-bid with 6-5 shape is misdescriptive; and the hand is too rich in playing strength for a 3 H preempt at the vulnerability. Rejecting a pass on general principles, my choice is to open 4 H. This is not a textbook example, to be sure, but the suit is self-sustaining, and preempts often goad the opponents into unsound actions.

Regardless of South’s first call, it appears that all roads lead to 4 H. Since there is nothing to the play (11 tricks are routine), this should be one of the flattest boards in the set. A few overactive East-West pairs may bid up to 4 S, which goes down two or three tricks depending on the diamond guess — a great score for North-South if they double.

North-South Matchpoints — Board 6

...
+940
...
+800
...
+750
...
+690
100
100
99
99
99
98
98
97
...
+650
...
+550
...
+500
+490
+480
96
94
91
91
91
89
88
87
...
+450
...
+420
...
+400
...
+200
86
48
9
9
9
8
7
5
...
+150
...
-50
...


3
3
3
1
0


TopMain

Board 7

South Deals
Both Vul
S 7 5
H 9 8
D J 4
C J 10 8 6 5 3 2
S 8 4 2
H Q 5
D A 9 7 6 5 3
C Q 9
TableS K Q J 10 3
H K 7 4 3 2
D Q 8 2
C
S A 9 6
H A J 10 6
D K 10
C A K 7 4

Though South can easily make 3 NT, that will not be the popular contract on this exciting deal. After a 1 C opening by South, North might raise to 2 C whether or not West overcalls 1 D (seven-card support makes up for the lack of high cards). East will bid his spades, South should try 3 NT, and after that it is anybody’s guess. North may retreat to 4 C (dubious); East may bid 4 H (or 4 D if West overcalled 1 D). South is likely to double any East-West contract, but North may get cold feet and bid 4 NT or 5 C (either contract is down one with best defense).

The play in 4 S in interesting. After a club lead (ruffed), say East leads the S K to the ace and ruffs the club return. A heart is led to the queen, then the D A and another diamond leaves the defense helpless (the S 8 in dummy prevents a heart ruff). South, of course, can foil this or any other attempt by refusing to win the S A on the first round.

North-South Matchpoints — Board 7

...
+950
...
+910
...
+800
...
+750
100
99
99
98
97
96
95
95
...
+710
...
+660
...
+630
...
+600
94
93
92
92
91
87
83
80
...
+500
...
+210
+200
...
+180
...
77
77
76
75
71
67
66
64
+150
...
+130
...
+110
+100
...
-100
56
48
44
40
40
39
38
34
-110
...
-130
-140
...
-200
...
-620
29
28
25
22
21
17
14
13
...
-670
...
-710
...
-790
...
-930
12
11
11
10
9
6
3
1
...






0






TopMain

Board 8

West Deals
None Vul
S K J 3
H A K 10
D K Q J 4
C J 6 2
S 9 8 7
H 8 7 5 2
D 10
C Q 10 9 5 4
TableS 10 6 5 4
H J 6
D 9 6 3 2
C A 8 3
S A Q 2
H Q 9 4 3
D A 8 7 5
C K 7

North and South have balanced distribution and no major-suit fit, so it would be a bidding disaster not to reach 6 NT with 33 combined HCP. At IMP scoring a good pair might play 6 D in case the suit provided an extra trick, but that is a losing proposition at matchpoints. This auction seems most likely:

West
Pass
Pass
North
1 D
2 NT
East
Pass
Pass
South
1 H
6 NT (AP)

Those who play 15-18 or 16-18 notrumps will open the North hand 1 NT, then South will use Stayman followed by a quantitative 4 NT. With a maximum, North will accept to reach the same contract.

Unless East finds the diabolical lead of a small club (ouch!), 6 NT will usually be made with the C A onside; but a fine player might go down by taking a second-round heart finesse through West after discovering he held a singleton diamond.

North-South Matchpoints — Board 8

...
+990
...
+920
...
+490
+480
...
100
76
51
49
47
38
27
26
+460
...
+430
+420
...
-50
...
-100
20
13
13
12
12
8
5
4
...
-150
...
-200
...


3
2
1
1
0


TopMain

Board 9

North Deals
E-W Vul
S A K 10 5
H A J 8 6 4
D 8 4
C Q 9
S 6
H 10 5 2
D A K Q J 2
C 10 7 4 2
TableS Q J 9 8 4 2
H K Q 7
D 5
C A 6 5
S 7 3
H 9 3
D 10 9 7 6 3
C K J 8 3

Beginning with North the bidding is likely to go: 1 H, 1 S, Pass, 2 D; Pass. East then has a problem whether to bid 2 NT, rebid his spades or make an anti-matchpoint pass. Two notrump seems overly aggressive holding a singleton diamond, so I would try 2 S, which should end the bidding.

Against 2 S the defense should begin with the H A and another heart, then declarer starts cashing diamonds. When the third diamond is ruffed low and overruffed, declarer cannot avoid the loss of three spades, a club and heart ruff to go down one — a popular result.

Two notrump has a better chance (although if East bids 2 NT, West may raise to 3 NT). The H 9 is ducked to the queen, and three top diamonds are cashed. North does best to discard a heart, after which perfect defense can prevail; but the situation is complicated and 2 NT may make in practice.

North-South Matchpoints — Board 9

...
+800
...
+400
...
+300
...
+200
100
99
97
97
97
96
96
90
...
+100
...
-80
-90
-100
-110
-120
84
62
40
36
32
31
23
13
...
-140
-150
...
-200
...
-300
...
12
9
6
5
5
4
3
2
-500
...
-600
...
-800
...

2
1
1
1
0
0

TopMain

Board 10

East Deals
Both Vul
S K Q 6 5 3
H K 9 3
D J 2
C A K 9
S J
H 10 4 2
D A 8 6 4 3
C Q 10 7 5
TableS A 10 7 2
H 8 6
D K 10 7
C J 6 3 2
S 9 8 4
H A Q J 7 5
D Q 9 5
C 8 4

Three passes to North will elicit a 1 S opening by most players and a 1 NT opening by some. The latter is less desirable because of the weak diamond holding. After 1 S South has a close decision. I prefer a raise to 2 S (assuming five-card majors), but 2 H is reasonable as a passed hand. Unfortunately, 2 H will propel the partnership to game; North should raise to 4 H. Even a raise to 2 S will result in game if North elects to make a borderline game try, since South should accept.

Game in either major suit is a reasonable venture, essentially requiring a normal spade break with the ace onside. But the 4-1 spade division allows either contract to be defeated two tricks — 4 H simply by getting two spade ruffs, 4 S by leading clubs at every opportunity; forcing dummy to ruff a club ensures three trump tricks for East.

North-South Matchpoints — Board 10

...
+990
...
+650
...
+630
+620
...
100
100
99
98
97
97
94
91
+600
...
+170
...
+140
...
+110
...
88
85
85
85
82
79
75
71
-100
...
-200
...
-300
...
-500
...
56
41
21
2
1
1
0
0

TopMain

Board 11

South Deals
None Vul
S 3
H K Q 7 5
D 9 8 5
C A J 10 9 6
S K Q 8 5 4
H 10 9 6
D 7 6
C 7 4 2
TableS A J 10 9 7 6
H 4 2
D A K Q
C K 3
S 2
H A J 8 3
D J 10 4 3 2
C Q 8 5

After two passes, North will open 1 C (some may prefer 1 H as a tactical maneuver) and East will double since his hand is too strong for a 1 S overcall. South will get his two-cents worth by bidding 1 D or 1 H — most experts would prefer 1 H because of the lead-directing value and the fact that South is unlikely to bid again. West should bid 1 S, North should raise to 2 H if South has bid hearts, and East, after recovering from the shock of his partner’s bid, should raise to 4 S. This contract is an early claimer with the C A onside.

North may be tempted to sacrifice in 5 H, but this is against the odds because it requires two conditions to be successful. First, 4 S must be makable; second, South must be able to win nine tricks to hold the loss to minus 300. As can be seen, the first condition comes through but not the second.

North-South Matchpoints — Board 11

...
+100
...
+50
...
-100
...
-170
100
100
99
98
97
97
97
94
...
-300
...
-420
...
-450
...
-500
91
90
89
49
10
9
7
5
...
-590
...




3
2
0




TopMain

Board 12

West Deals
N-S Vul
S A 7
H A 10
D 8 4 2
C Q 7 6 5 4 3
S K J 9 3
H 8 4 2
D A 7 6 3
C 10 2
TableS 10 8 4 2
H K 9 7 3
D J 10 9
C A J
S Q 6 5
H Q J 6 5
D K Q 5
C K 9 8

The auction will likely begin with three passes, though a few may open the East hand (1 H, I suppose) in third seat at the favorable vulnerability. If South opens 1 C in fourth seat, North has an interesting problem. A 3 C response does not do justice to the hand, nor does 2 NT. After all, 3 NT will be makable opposite as little as C A-K-x and a major-suit king, which is only 10 points; and South should have more than that for a fourth-seat opening, especially vulnerable. If there ever were a hand to respond 3 NT as a passed hand, this is it.

The success of notrump and club contracts by North-South will be varied, depending on the lead and who is declarer. In notrump nine tricks can be won by North with a heart lead, or by South with a spade lead; otherwise, the limit is eight tricks. In clubs the domain runs from eight to 10 tricks. The only sure thing is that this will not be a flat board.

North-South Matchpoints — Board 12

...
+660
...
+630
...
+600
...
+300
100
100
99
99
98
92
87
85
...
+180
...
+150
...
+130
+120
+110
84
83
83
80
77
71
62
51
+100
+90
...
+50
0
...
-100
-110
42
39
37
35
32
31
22
11
...
-200
...
-300
...
-400
...
11
6
2
1
1
0
0

TopMain

Board 13

North Deals
Both Vul
S A Q 9
H K J 4
D A 8
C A J 5 3 2
S K 6 2
H 3 2
D K J 4
C K Q 9 7 6
TableS J 10 8 5 4
H Q 10 7
D Q 5 3
C 8 4
S 7 3
H A 9 8 6 5
D 10 9 7 6 2
C 10

North’s hand is too strong for a 1 NT opening, and most will begin with 1 C and jump to 2 NT over South’s 1 H response. South’s distribution should induce him to bid again — probably 3 D, although some may rebid 3 H. This will lead to the excellent 4 H contract when North indicates his heart support.

A few North players may consider the five-card suit worth an extra point (or two) and open 2 NT, which routinely results in 4 H after South shows a five-card heart suit. Nonetheless, reaching 4 H will be a good score because some pairs will stop below game or reach the inferior 3 NT (unmakable with best defense).

Straightforward play brings home 11 tricks in hearts. After a club lead, declarer should win the ace and immediately play the D A and another diamond. The distribution is friendly. One ruff establishes the diamonds, and with trumps 3-2 and the spade finesse onside, only a diamond and a heart are lost.

North-South Matchpoints — Board 13

...
+1100
...
+800
...
+750
...
+660
100
100
99
99
98
98
97
97
+650
...
+630
+620
...
+600
...
+500
77
58
57
50
44
43
43
42
...
+300
...
+210
+200
...
+180
+170
41
41
41
40
34
29
28
27
...
+150
...
+130
+120
+110
...
+90
27
26
25
24
19
14
14
14
...
+70
...
-100
...
-200
...
-300
13
12
11
7
4
4
3
2
...
-400
...




1
0
0




TopMain

Board 14

East Deals
None Vul
S Q 9
H A 5 3 2
D Q 10 9 2
C K Q 3
S A 10 7 6
H K 8 7
D 8 6 4
C A 6 5
TableS J 8 5 3 2
H Q J 4
D K 5 3
C 10 7
S K 4
H 10 9 6
D A J 7
C J 9 8 4 2

After two passes, West may gain an advantage for his side by opening 1 C. This should silence North until East’s 1 S response is passed around, after which North should double and South should bid 1 NT. West will compete to 2 S and is likely to buy the contract — routinely down one.

The deal actually belongs to North-South, who can win eight tricks in notrump. After the best defense of a spade lead, declarer drives out the C A, allows the opponents their fun in spades, and then wins the rest with the aid of the diamond finesse.

North-South may do even better in a club contract, albeit virtually impossible to reach after West’s 1 C opening. Nine tricks are the limit if the opponents attack hearts, but many will not. Declarer will then discard a heart on the fourth diamond to score plus 130, beating all the plus 120s.

North-South Matchpoints — Board 14

...
+500
+490
...
+430
...
+300
...
100
100
99
99
98
97
95
92
+210
...
+180
...
+150
+140
+130
+120
90
89
80
71
69
65
61
54
+110
+100
+90
...
+50
...
-50
...
48
43
37
35
24
13
12
11
-100
-110
...
-140
...


9
4
1
0
0


TopMain

Board 15

South Deals
N-S Vul
S 10 6 5
H 10 7 3
D A 4
C 8 7 6 3 2
S A Q
H Q 9 5 2
D Q 10 6
C A K J 4
TableS 7
H 8 6 4
D 9 8 7 5 3 2
C Q 10 9
S K J 9 8 4 3 2
H A K J
D K J
C 5

After South’s 1 S opening, West should double. This is much better than 1 NT because of the potential for locating an excellent heart contract. North should pass (note the vulnerability), East will bid 2 D and South will rebid spades; my choice is 3 S. This is a slight overbid with partner silent, but the best strategy in these situations is to bid as high as you intend to immediately rather than inch up slowly. Over 3 S West may gamble 3 NT (sometimes partner will have a better diamond suit). This contract would go down three tricks, but North may raise to 4 S (I would), which will be a popular contract — often doubled.

Careful defense is required to defeat 4 S. After a high club lead, West must shift to a diamond immediately. If clubs are continued, declarer ruffs and succeeds via D K, D A, club ruff and a spade exit. West now must establish the fifth club in dummy, else lead hearts or concede a ruff and discard.

North-South Matchpoints — Board 15

...
+1070
...
+930
...
+870
...
+790
100
99
98
96
95
94
94
88
...
+730
...
+620
...
+500
...
+300
81
79
77
75
73
72
71
64
...
+250
...
+170
...
+150
+140
...
58
57
57
54
51
51
46
43
+100
...
+50
...
-100
-110
...
-130
41
40
37
33
31
27
25
24
...
-150
...
-200
...
-500
...
-800
24
24
23
13
2
1
1
0
...






0






TopMain

Board 16

West Deals
E-W Vul
S A 8 5
H A 10 3 2
D A K
C Q 6 3 2
S 9 7
H 7
D Q J 8 7 6 5
C A J 9 5
TableS Q 10 6
H 9 8 6 5 4
D 10 2
C K 8 7
S K J 4 3 2
H K Q J
D 9 4 3
C 10 4

Those who play weak two-bids in diamonds may open the West hand, but many will pass, allowing North to open 1 NT. Using Jacoby transfers, South will respond 2 H and then jump to 3 NT to offer a choice of games. North should choose 4 S. The same contract should be reached without transfers (but from the South side) after a direct 3 S response or a Stayman sequence. A few gamblers will ignore the spade fit to play 3 NT and be rewarded with 11 tricks — don’t tell me you’d lead a club from the East hand.

The play in spades offers several options. With the likely heart lead declarer may: (1) Play routinely by drawing three rounds of trumps with a finesse; (2) play safe by cashing the top trumps, or (3) play all out by trying for an early diamond ruff. Line 1 brings home 11 tricks, and Line 2 only 10 assuming perfect defense. Line 3 could be a disaster if West gets a heart ruff.

North-South Matchpoints — Board 16

...
+800
...
+500
+490
+480
...
+460
100
99
99
98
97
96
95
81
+450
...
+430
+420
...
+400
...
+200
48
30
27
18
11
10
10
10
...
+140
...
-50
...
-100
...
-150
9
9
9
5
1
1
1
0
...






0






TopMain

Board 17

North Deals
None Vul
S 6 3 2
H J 10 9
D Q 8
C 9 6 5 4 2
S 9 4
H K 8 4
D 10 7 4
C A J 10 8 3
TableS Q 10 8
H 7 6 5
D J 9 6 5 3
C K 7
S A K J 7 5
H A Q 3 2
D A K 2
C Q

After two passes, South should consider his hand too strong for 1 S and open 2 C, assuming that is the partnership’s strong, forcing bid. To be sure, South cannot guarantee game, but with length in both majors the chance must be taken. Going down in game is more honorable than being passed out in 1 S and seeing the dummy hit with H K-x-x-x-x and out. The partnership bidding is likely to go:

West

Pass
Pass
Pass
North
Pass
2 D
3 C
3 S
East
Pass
Pass
Pass
Pass
South
2 C
2 S
3 H
4 S (AP)

North’s 3 C bid is the popular “second negative” — a courtesy to keep the bidding open without promising any values. Any other rebid by North would show about 5-7 points.

Routine play in 4 S will net 11 tricks. Declarer should cash one top trump, use the D Q entry to take the heart finesse, then use the heart entry (or a diamond ruff) to take the spade finesse.

North-South Matchpoints — Board 17

...
+480
...
+450
...
+430
+420
...
100
100
99
76
52
51
46
42
+400
...
+230
...
+200
...
+180
+170
42
41
40
39
26
13
13
9
...
-50
...
-100
...


5
3
1
0
0


TopMain

Board 18

East Deals
N-S Vul
S K 9 5 3
H 5
D A K 9 8
C Q J 7 2
S Q J 8 6 2
H 6
D J 2
C A 10 9 6 5
TableS
H K Q J 10 7 4
D Q 10 6 3
C 8 4 3
S A 10 7 4
H A 9 8 3 2
D 7 5 4
C K

This will be an action hand. At favorable vulnerability East should forgo a weak two-bid and open 3 H (conservative) or 4 H (my choice) to put more pressure on the opponents. After: pass, pass, double, South will start licking his chops. It may seem obvious to pass for penalty, but with 4 S odds-on, South must achieve a four-trick set to get a good matchpoint score. East can win six tricks in hearts with best play all-around, so South will be right to pass 4 H (OK, they got me) but not 3 H.

Four spades will be a common contract, sometimes doubled, and it should be made despite the horrible trump break. After a heart lead, declarer should force out the C A, win the club or diamond return and cross to the S A, discovering the bad news. Next he cashes all the minor-suit winners, ruffs a club and leads a heart. If West ruffs (best), declarer discards a diamond. If West discards, declarer ruffs small, then ruffs a diamond with the S 10.

North-South Matchpoints — Board 18

...
+1400
+1100
+1070
...
+990
+800
+790
100
100
99
97
96
94
87
80
...
+730
...
+620
...
+500
...
+300
79
78
77
74
71
68
65
58
...
+250
...
+200
...
+170
...
+150
51
51
51
50
49
48
47
47
...
+120
+110
+100
...
+50
...
-100
46
45
44
35
26
24
21
18
-110
...
-200
...
-300
...
-470
...
13
11
7
3
3
3
2
1
-800
...





1
0





TopMain

Board 19

South Deals
E-W Vul
S Q J 7 3 2
H 10 6
D 2
C A K 8 7 2
S A K 9 5
H Q J 3
D A 6 3
C J 9 5
TableS 8
H A K 9 7 2
D J 7 4
C Q 10 6 4
S 10 6 4
H 8 5 4
D K Q 10 9 8 5
C 3

This time South has favorable vulnerability, and a preempt is in order, except for squeamish players. A weak two-bid is OK, but less effective than 3 D, which would be the choice of most expert members of the hyperactive school. Large pair events are rarely won by playing down the middle on every hand. Opportunities must be sought to create problems for the opponents — if they stumble enough times, a good game may be converted into a winning one.

Over 3 D West should double, and East should jump to 4 H. If South passes originally, the same 4 H contract should be reached after a 1 NT opening, even after some probable interference by North.

A club lead and subsequent ruff seal the fate of 4 H because declarer has no way to avoid a diamond loser; but some Souths may lead the D K, giving declarer an easy route to 10 tricks. Some pairs will reach 3 NT, which is (luckily) makable against any defense.

North-South Matchpoints — Board 19

...
+1100
...
+470
...
+400
...
+200
100
100
99
99
98
98
97
95
...
+100
...
-100
...
-140
-150
...
93
84
75
74
72
70
68
68
-170
...
-300
...
-500
...
-600
...
67
65
61
56
48
41
40
39
-620
-630
...
-800
...
-1100
...
-1400
33
21
16
12
7
4
1
0
...






0






TopMain

Board 20

West Deals
Both Vul
S 5 2
H K
D A K Q J 3 2
C K Q 9 4
S 10 9 7 3
H 7 5 4 3
D 6
C A 10 8 7
TableS Q J 8 6
H A J 10 8
D 10 8 7
C J 3
S A K 4
H Q 9 6 2
D 9 5 4
C 6 5 2

Accurate bidding should land North-South in 3 NT. After a pass by West, North will open 1 D and then jump to 3 D after a 1 H response. South, unless he is a wild gambler, should next bid 3 S to indicate a stopper. Bidding a three-card spade suit may seem dangerous, but North won’t be raising spades on this bidding — he can’t have four. If North happens to bid 4 H, South can correct to 5 D, which describes his hand well. Over 3 S North has a comfortable 3 NT bid, having clubs well protected.

The play in notrump should produce 10 tricks. After winning the likely spade lead and playing a club to the king, declarer cannot establish an additional trick in both clubs and hearts because of entry problems. Whether or not he runs the diamonds now, the best he can do is lead the H K, ensuring 10 tricks. However, some defenders will err (or lead clubs originally) to allow an additional overtrick.

North-South Matchpoints — Board 20

...
+950
...
+690
...
+660
...
+630
100
100
99
98
97
87
76
51
...
+600
...
+500
...
+150
...
+130
25
18
10
10
9
8
6
6
...
-100
...
-200
...


5
3
1
1
0


TopMain

Board 21

North Deals
N-S Vul
S J 7 3
H Q 10 9
D J 9 7 2
C A 8 2
S 9 8 5
H K J 8 7 6 5
D
C K J 6 5
TableS A Q 10 6
H 3 2
D A K Q 8
C Q 9 4
S K 4 2
H A 4
D 10 6 5 4 3
C 10 7 3

After a pass by North, East will usually open 1 NT, although some traditionalists may reject this because of the worthless doubleton heart. A good case can be made for a 1 D opening because East has a convenient 1 S rebid over 1 H. However, my style is to open 1 NT and worry about it later.

After 1 NT it is easy to reach the best contract of 4 H — West should just bid it (or use a Texas or Jacoby transfer). But after 1 D the road is a winding one: 1 D, 1 H; 1 S, 2 H; 2 NT … and what should West do now? Maybe that’s the reason I prefer to open 1 NT.

The play in 4 H is routine for 10 tricks, except when West is declarer with a spade lead. He wins the S A, takes the D A-K to throw two spades, and must beware! If declarer cashes a third diamond and leads a heart to the jack, he can be defeated by continued diamond leads (North gets a trump promotion). Of course, declarer can avoid this by not cashing the D Q prematurely (or by leading to the H K).

North-South Matchpoints — Board 21

...
+150
...
+100
...
+50
...
-130
100
100
99
99
98
90
81
81
...
-170
...
-400
...
-420
-430
...
81
80
79
79
79
41
2
1
-450
...





0
0





TopMain

Board 22

East Deals
E-W Vul
S A 8 7 3
H K J 3
D A J 10 8 2
C 9
S J 6
H Q
D K Q 9 7 5 3
C A 10 8 6
TableS K Q 10 5 2
H 9 6 2
D 4
C Q 5 4 2
S 9 4
H A 10 8 7 5 4
D 6
C K J 7 3

The normal contract will be 4 H, but this may not be a particularly good score for North-South because some East-West pairs will be going for numbers. After a weak 2 H bid by South in second seat, West may venture 3 D, which North will greet with a welcome-to-my-world double. (The ambiance of North’s double might be a good test of the ACBL’s “Active Ethics” policy — if it sounds like an ordinary takeout double, the policy is working; but if North’s feet crash through the table…) Even if East rescues to 3 S, the least he can escape for is minus 500, which is too much.

Most declarers in hearts will win 11 tricks. After the D K lead to the ace and a club from dummy, declarer’s natural play is to finesse the jack, because most East players would grab the ace if they held it. Then it is a simple matter to ruff two clubs. If South misguesses clubs, West must shift to a trump to limit declarer to 10 tricks.

North-South Matchpoints — Board 22

...
+2300
...
+1400
...
+1100
...
+800
100
100
99
99
99
97
96
93
...
+730
...
+690
...
+590
...
+550
89
89
88
87
87
86
85
85
...
+500
...
+450
...
+420
...
+400
85
82
80
65
49
38
26
26
...
+300
...
+200
...
+170
...
+140
25
24
23
19
14
11
8
7
...
+100
...
-50
...
-100
...
-200
7
6
6
4
1
1
1
0
...






0






TopMain

Board 23

South Deals
Both Vul
S A 7 5 4 3
H Q 9 3
D J 8 5
C A 6
S Q 8 2
H 8 7 4
D K Q 10 9 2
C 9 3
TableS K J 9
H K 5
D 7
C K Q 10 8 5 4 2
S 10 6
H A J 10 6 2
D A 6 4 3
C J 7

North probably will open the bidding 1 S in third seat, after which East will bid 2 C and South 2 H. This should be passed around to East, who cannot be faulted for competing to 3 C. This contract can be set two tricks with best defense (spade to the ace, heart shift, spade, etc.), which gives North-South plus 200 for a good score. Some South players will increase their profit with a close matchpoint double. If South passes 3 C, North is likely to compete to 3 H, a frequent contract.

The play in hearts can produce from eight to 10 tricks. The most productive line is to win the C A, lead the H Q, covered by the king and ace, then duck a spade. East will take his club trick and return a diamond to the ace. Declarer can establish the spades with a ruff and draw trumps ending in dummy (note the H 9 is high). Simple, but it does require friendly breaks.

North-South Matchpoints — Board 23

...
+1400
...
+930
...
+800
...
+730
100
100
99
99
99
97
95
95
...
+620
...
+500
...
+300
...
+200
94
93
92
90
87
86
85
82
...
+170
...
+140
...
+110
+100
...
79
72
65
52
39
37
31
26
-100
-110
...
-200
...
-500
...
-670
18
8
7
5
2
2
1
1
...
-710
...




1
0
0




TopMain

Board 24

West Deals
None Vul
S K 10 7 6 5 4
H 7 2
D Q 6
C A J 9
S A 3
H A 9 8
D A 10 9 8
C Q 8 4 3
TableS J 9 8
H K 6 3
D K J 3 2
C 7 6 2
S Q 2
H Q J 10 5 4
D 7 5 4
C K 10 5

The bidding usually will begin with 1 D by West and 1 S by North, but then the road contains many forks. Some East players will raise to 2 D, but my choice is to bid 1 NT. This will not always be successful, but with a semblance of a spade stopper and 4-3-3-3 shape, a diamond raise is nothing to be proud of either. After that, who knows? South might bid hearts; West might compete further; North might rebid his spades — no two auctions may be alike.

The final contracts should range from 1 NT to 3 D, unless someone goes berserk. Depending on the opening lead and the diamond guess, East-West can win six to eight tricks in diamonds. The play in spades by North is straightforward for seven tricks, and hearts by South probably scores the same. One thing is clear — your chances for a plus score are better if you defend.

North-South Matchpoints — Board 24

...
+470
...
+300
...
+150
+140
...
100
99
99
98
98
97
95
94
+110
+100
...
+50
...
-50
...
-90
93
84
77
68
59
53
46
42
-100
-110
-120
...
-150
...
-180
...
29
18
11
7
6
5
4
3
-280
...
-300
...
-500
...

3
3
2
1
1
0

TopMain

Board 25

North Deals
E-W Vul
S A 4 3 2
H 2
D A 7 5 4
C A J 9 2
S J
H K 6 5 4
D K Q 10 8 2
C 6 5 3
TableS 10 6
H A Q J 7 3
D J 6 3
C Q 8 7
S K Q 9 8 7 5
H 10 9 8
D 9
C K 10 4

North-South are on a finesse for slam despite holding only 21 HCP, but few pairs are likely to get beyond 4 S. After a 1 D opening by North (some may open 1 S), 1 H by East and 1 S by South, West is likely to bid 3 H, a contract that can be ripped for 800. However, this kind of double materializes only in the postmortem. North should overbid slightly with 4 S, since his hand is rich in controls, and he’d compete to 3 S with a minimum. This momentum may persuade South to make a slam try with 5 C or 5 D — at least that’s the only conceivable way to get there.

Regardless of the level, South must guess the C Q to get a good score. Before committing himself, South should ruff three diamonds in hand and two hearts in dummy to find out something about the distribution — assuming hearts are 5-4, he learns that East began with 2-5-3-3 shape. With clubs 3-3 there is little to go on, but I think I’d play the overcaller for the C Q — in fact I know I would, looking at all four hands.

North-South Matchpoints — Board 25

...
+1100
...
+980
...
+800
+790
...
100
99
98
98
97
97
96
95
+500
...
+480
...
+450
...
+420
...
95
95
66
37
24
11
10
10
+230
...
+200
...
0
...

8
6
3
1
0
0

TopMain

Board 26

East Deals
Both Vul
S K 5 4 2
H A Q 10 8
D K Q J 3
C 7
S Q 9 8 3
H 5 3 2
D 10 9 2
C K 4 3
TableS A 6
H 6
D A 8 7 6 5 4
C A Q 9 5
S J 10 7
H K J 9 7 4
D
C J 10 8 6 2

North-South can make a game in hearts, but the enemy bidding and vulnerability make 4 H difficult to reach. After a 1 D opening by East and a 1 S response, North has no convenient action and should pass. East should rebid 2 C, and West should give a preference to 2 D. North might now speculate with 2 H, anticipating a useful dummy; East will bid 3 D, and South should raise hearts (I like 4 H but I can’t quarrel with 3 H — whether North would continue to game over 3 H is moot). East, of course, must exercise restraint not to double 4 H.

The best defense against 4 H is a trump lead, but declarer needs only to time the play properly to develop 10 tricks: Win the heart in North, lead the D K to ruff out the ace and play the C J. West wins the king (a good play) and returns a trump, won in South. Declarer rides the S J to the ace, wins any return, cashes the diamonds and crossruffs (losing a trick at the end). Some pairs will make 5 H against softer defense.

North-South Matchpoints — Board 26

...
+1400
...
+1130
...
+1100
...
+1030
100
100
99
99
99
98
97
96
...
+990
...
+850
...
+800
+790
...
96
95
94
94
93
90
84
82
+730
...
+650
...
+620
...
+600
...
82
81
74
67
60
53
53
53
+500
...
+200
...
+170
...
+140
...
50
47
43
39
35
32
31
29
+110
+100
...
-70
...
-90
-100
-110
29
24
19
19
19
17
13
8
...
-180
...
-200
...
-500
...
-870
7
7
7
4
1
1
1
0
...






0






TopMain

Board 27

South Deals
None Vul
S 8 3
H 10 8 6 5 4 3
D Q 6 3
C Q 7
S A K Q 9 5
H Q
D A K J 5
C 10 6 4
TableS J 7 6 4
H K
D 2
C A K J 9 5 3 2
S 10 2
H A J 9 7 2
D 10 9 8 7 4
C 8

Most East-West pairs will reach the excellent spade slam on a straightforward sequence:

West

1 S
2 D
4 NT
6 S
North

Pass
Pass
Pass
All Pass
East

2 C
3 S
5 D
South
Pass
Pass
Pass
Pass

There are sure to be some fancier auctions, but it’s hard to think of a better one than this. Even dedicated splinter bidders will realize the futility of that bid in describing the East hand — unless they have invented a double splinter that shows two singletons.

There is nothing to the play, except that few pairs may receive a gift if North does not lead a heart. It’s hard to see why North would lead anything else in view of his hand and the bidding, but some players go out of their way to be imaginative. Against one of them you may as well bid 7 NT.

North-South Matchpoints — Board 27

...
+1100
...
+200
...
+50
...
-480
100
100
99
99
99
98
97
95
...
-510
...
-920
...
-980
...
-1010
93
90
87
87
86
57
29
16
...
-1100
...
-1510
...


3
2
1
1
0


TopMain

Board 28

West Deals
N-S Vul
S 10 8 2
H K 9 7 5 3
D A K 9
C 9 2
S K J 9 6 4 3
H 10
D Q 10 3 2
C 5 4
TableS 7
H A Q J 6 2
D J 6 4
C K Q 10 3
S A Q 5
H 8 4
D 8 7 5
C A J 8 7 6

This misfit deal is likely to be opened 2 S (weak) by West, although some may take advantage of the favorable vulnerability and open 3 S. Whatever the choice, no one else has the values to bid, and West should buy the contract. Any North-South pair who enter the fray will probably regret it.

Two spades can be made on the button (too bad if you bid 3 S) provided declarer doesn’t finesse the S 9 on his one play from the dummy. The proper play in spades is almost a toss-up, but there’s a slight edge in playing the king or jack. If North has 10-8 doubleton, winning one honor then leading the other holds South to two tricks (note the spots). In contrast, if North has Q-8 or A-8 doubleton, finessing the nine doesn’t help — three tricks must still be lost. Further, if North’s opening lead is the D K (or the ace from A-K), the chances are greater that South has the S A — so put up the king.

North-South Matchpoints — Board 28

...
+800
...
+500
...
+300
...
+200
100
99
99
98
98
97
97
96
...
+150
...
+100
...
+50
...
-100
95
91
88
77
65
55
44
43
-110
...
-140
...
-200
...
-250
...
31
21
20
19
18
16
16
15
-300
...
-500
...
-700
...
-800
...
15
14
12
10
9
9
6
3
-1100
...





1
0





TopMain

Board 29

North Deals
Both Vul
S 9 7 6
H K 2
D A J 7 5 4
C K 7 4
S Q 3
H J 10 8 6 5 3
D K 6
C J 6 2
TableS A 10 8 4 2
H Q
D Q 8 3 2
C A 10 5
S K J 5
H A 9 7 4
D 10 9
C Q 9 8 3

This deal may be passed out at some tables, since no one has a clear-cut opening bid. But I suspect that a few Norths will open 1 D; or if not, many Easts will open 1 S (my choice); or failing that, some Souths will open 1 C in third seat. (Bridge players like to get their entry fees’ worth.) After the most probable 1 S opening, West is too weak to respond 2 H and must bid 1 NT. However, when East obligingly rebids 2 D, West can bid his hearts after all, resulting in the best contract.

The play in hearts is arduous, but declarer is aided by North having to lead. After, say, the D A and another diamond, North is put back on lead with the H K. Then what? A diamond allows declarer to finesse the eight to advantage; a club or heart blows a trick. Suppose North plays a spade, ducked to the king; club back (best) to the king, ace; D Q (South throwing a club, best); diamond ruff; S Q to the ace; spade ruff; H J, and West can make 2 H. (Don’t bet on it.)

North-South Matchpoints — Board 29

...
+500
...
+300
...
+200
...
+120
100
97
95
94
93
88
84
83
...
+100
+90
...
0
...
-80
-90
82
68
53
52
47
43
42
40
-100
-110
-120
...
-140
-150
...
-200
37
27
15
13
9
5
5
4
...
-300
...
-400
...
-500
...
-730
3
3
2
2
1
1
1
0
...






0






TopMain

Board 30

East Deals
None Vul
S K Q 6 3 2
H 8 6
D 6 3
C J 10 8 3
S
H A J 10 7 5 4
D Q 9 4
C A 9 5 4
TableS A J 5 4
H 2
D A K 8 7 2
C K 7 2
S 10 9 8 7
H K Q 9 3
D J 10 5
C Q 6

An interesting bidding deal for East-West. Most tables will reach 3 NT or 4 H, but I like this auction:

West

1 H
2 C
4 D
5 C
North

Pass
Pass
Pass
Pass
East
1 D
1 S
3 NT
4 S
6 D
South
Pass
Pass
Pass
Pass
All Pass

It may seem that West should repeat his hearts, but East denied three when he bid 3 NT. Furthermore, East could bid 4 H over 4 D with a doubleton. The 4 S and 5 C bids show controls.

Six diamonds is no cakewalk, but it should be made. The H K opening lead makes it easy, so assume a spade lead. Discard a club and win the S A; heart to the ace (South should not split his honors); then ruff a heart. If a heart honor fell on the second round, declarer would play D A, D Q, H J. But no, so continue with a spade ruff and a heart. When North shows out, the hopes of establishing the heart suit are dead, but declarer ruffs, cashes two clubs and succeeds on a crossruff. Only an unlikely trump lead would defeat 6 D.

Four hearts should yield 11 tricks (losing two trumps), and 3 NT 10 tricks against best defense.

North-South Matchpoints — Board 30

...
+200
...
+150
...
+100
...
+50
100
100
99
99
98
97
95
94
...
-130
...
-170
...
-200
...
-300
92
91
91
90
90
89
87
87
...
-400
...
-420
-430
...
-450
-460
87
76
65
59
45
37
25
11
...
-500
...
-650
...
-920
...
9
8
8
8
7
4
0

TopMain

Board 31

South Deals
N-S Vul
S 9
H 9 4 3
D Q J 3
C K J 10 8 6 3
S A K J 4 3
H 2
D 10 9 5
C A Q 5 4
TableS Q 10 8
H J 8 7 6 5
D K 7 6 4 2
C
S 7 6 5 2
H A K Q 10
D A 8
C 9 7 2

I consider myself a devout five-card majorite, but I still would open 1 H with the South hand; something about 1 C does not resemble bridge. West will overcall 1 S, and North will raise opener’s suit — clubs gladly (North-South can make 4 C) or hearts obligingly. East should raise to 2 S (even over 2 H), and West should try for game, although some may gamble 4 S. It is hard to gauge the exact value of the East hand, but only a real pessimist would refuse a game invitation.

Four spades is doomed with routine defense, thanks to the 4-1 trump break. After a heart lead to the 10, South should shift to a trump in view of dummy, which rides to the 10. Declarer’s best effort is a low diamond; eight, five (cute), which may cause South to misread the diamond position and continue trumps. If he does, declarer wins the S A, ruffs a club and leads a low diamond — making 4 S. South, of course, must tap declarer by returning a heart.

North-South Matchpoints — Board 31

...
+1070
...
+930
...
+910
...
+870
100
99
99
98
97
97
97
96
+800
+750
...
+710
...
+580
...
+500
95
93
92
91
88
88
87
87
...
+300
...
+200
...
+150
...
+130
86
85
83
83
82
80
77
77
...
+100
...
+50
...
-100
-110
-120
77
66
55
42
30
30
27
24
...
-140
...
-200
...
-420
...
-500
23
20
16
14
11
9
7
6
...
-530
...
-590
...
-690
...
-800
5
4
3
3
2
2
1
1
...






0






TopMain

Board 32

West Deals
E-W Vul
S A K J 5 2
H J 6 2
D J 5 3
C K 2
S
H 9 5
D K Q 10 8 6 2
C A Q J 9 4
TableS Q 9 7 3
H Q 10 8 7
D A 7
C 10 8 3
S 10 8 6 4
H A K 4 3
D 9 4
C 7 6 5

This should be a competitive deal, with West usually buying the contract at four of a minor. A likely auction:

West
1 D
3 C
4 C
North
1 S
Pass
All Pass
East
Dbl
Pass
South
2 S
3 S

The double is negative showing hearts, although some East players will bid 1 NT instead. Four clubs is made easily, declarer losing two hearts and a trump.

There are sure to be many variations. North-South may bid up to 4 S — down two doubled for minus 300 and a poor score. East may play 3 NT — down three if he tries to make it, down one if he cashes out. Some East-West pairs will bid game in a minor, down one. Five clubs appears to be even money, requiring only the club finesse, but declarer also needs diamonds 3-2 (or a singleton jack) and clubs no worse than 4-1, which reduces it to about 35 percent.

North-South Matchpoints — Board 32

...
+800
...
+530
...
+400
...
+300
100
100
99
98
97
96
96
95
...
+200
...
+140
...
+110
+100
...
93
90
87
86
85
84
75
66
-50
...
-100
-110
...
-130
...
-300
63
59
56
53
52
36
19
13
...
-500
...
-600
...
-710
...
7
5
4
3
3
1
0

TopMain

Board 33

North Deals
None Vul
S Q 7 4 2
H A 3
D 6 4 3 2
C 10 8 3
S A K 8
H J
D K Q 10
C K 9 7 6 5 4
TableS J 10 6 3
H Q 8 6 4
D A 8 7
C Q 2
S 9 5
H K 10 9 7 5 2
D J 9 5
C A J

After two passes, South will open a weak 2 H bid (unless he is a suit-quality fanatic or plays a different system). Some West players may overcall 3 C, but it seems better to double because of the lopsided strength. Change West’s clubs to A-K-9-x-x-x and his spades to K-x-x, and 3 C probably would be the expert consensus. After the double, East should respond 2 S. West will do well to pass, although some will venture further with 3 C, which leads to 3 NT by East — down two with the inevitable heart lead.

The play in spades is interesting. Say South leads a heart to the ace, and a heart back is ruffed. A club goes to the queen and ace. If South returns a trump, the play goes: C K; club ruff with the 10; spade to dummy; good club. North can win only his S Q no matter how hard he tries — making 10 tricks. If South returns a third heart, declarer is held to at most nine tricks.

North-South Matchpoints — Board 33

...
+500
...
+300
...
+200
...
+150
100
100
99
99
99
98
97
93
...
+100
...
+50
...
-50
...
-100
88
76
63
54
45
44
44
43
-110
-120
-130
-140
-150
...
-170
...
37
31
25
19
18
17
17
16
-300
...
-400
...
-420
-430
...
-460
16
15
14
13
11
6
4
4
...
-500
...
-800
...


3
3
2
1
0


TopMain

Board 34

East Deals
N-S Vul
S 8 7
H A K Q 8
D K 8 7 5
C K 10 9
S A Q 9 2
H 4
D A J 4 2
C Q J 7 2
TableS J 6 5 4
H 10 9 7 2
D 9 6 3
C A 3
S K 10 3
H J 6 5 3
D Q 10
C 8 6 5 4

In third seat West will usually open 1 D. North has the option of a 1 H overcall (my choice), an aggressive 1 NT, or a pass (the puritanical choice). Everyone else has a borderline decision as well. East may scrounge up a 1 S bid or a negative double; South may raise to 2 H; West may double hearts for takeout (if East passed).

Assuming East-West discover their spade fit, they should buy the contract. However, they do better to defend if North-South push to 3 H, which is routinely set two tricks for the matchpoint goal of plus 200.

Straightforward play in spades produces nine tricks. After two rounds of hearts, ruffed, and the C Q, covered by the king and ace, declarer can crossruff hearts and clubs with impunity. It seems declarer might do better by exploiting the favorable diamond position (the D 9 can be established), but analysis shows that nine tricks is still the limit.

North-South Matchpoints — Board 34

...
+300
...
+180
...
+150
...
+120
100
100
99
99
99
98
98
93
+110
+100
+90
+80
...
+50
...
-90
86
84
79
74
74
71
67
67
-100
-110
-120
-130
-140
...
-170
...
62
52
46
46
32
18
16
14
-200
...
-300
...
-420
...
-500
...
11
8
7
7
6
6
4
3
-530
...
-570
...
-800
...

2
1
1
1
0
0

TopMain

Board 35

South Deals
E-W Vul
S 5
H 9 7 6
D A 3 2
C A J 10 9 8 3
S 10 7 2
H Q 10 4
D J 10 9 8 5
C Q 4
TableS K Q 8 6 3
H A 3 2
D K 7 6
C 7 5
S A J 9 4
H K J 8 5
D Q 4
C K 6 2

After a 1 C opening by South, North has the values to make a forcing raise (borderline perhaps). Traditional bidders will have the easiest route — 3 C, then 3 NT by South. Limit raisers may temporize with 1 D, allowing East to interject a 1 S overcall; but South will bid 1 NT, leading to the same contract.

Inverted raisers (my camp) will respond 2 C (forcing) and then raise 2 NT to 3 NT. The best North-South scores will go to those who catch a wayward East in 2 S doubled, which nets an easy 500 (maybe 800); or better yet, 3 S doubled!

Nine tricks are easy in 3 NT, and some declarers will make more. After the S 2 lead to the queen, ducked, East is likely to continue the suit to give declarer nine top tricks. Then a correct heart guess makes 10. If West leads the D J to the king, East should shift to a low spade. Now declarer could win 11 tricks by finessing the jack, but odds favor finessing the nine.

North-South Matchpoints — Board 35

...
+1100
...
+800
...
+650
...
+500
100
99
98
97
96
95
95
93
+490
...
+460
...
+430
+420
...
+400
92
91
87
83
70
57
56
46
...
+300
...
+200
...
+180
...
+150
36
35
35
35
34
33
31
29
...
+130
...
+110
...
+90
...
-50
28
19
10
10
9
8
8
4
...
-100
...




1
0
0




TopMain

Board 36

West Deals
Both Vul
S K J
H 10 7 5
D J 8 7
C A Q 9 8 3
S 10 7
H Q 8 3
D A 9 6 5 3
C 6 5 2
TableS A 8 5 4 2
H A J 6
D K 10 2
C K 4
S Q 9 6 3
H K 9 4 2
D Q 4
C J 10 7

Unless North gets frisky, East will open in third seat with either 1 S or 1 NT. I prefer the latter because the hand is notrump oriented, i.e., the spade suit is meager and the strength is scattered. In this case, however, either opening should lead to the same contract. One notrump will be passed out, and 1 S will elicit a 1 NT response, also passed out. A diversion may occur with those who play 1 NT forcing over a major opening, in which case East must rebid 2 D. This should please West (2 D makes three), but some matchpoint fanatics will give a false preference to 2 S, down one for a dismal score.

One notrump should produce seven tricks with a spade or club lead regardless of who is declarer. Eight tricks will be made if East is declarer with a heart lead. The diamond suit is easily established by leading the king, then the 10, ducking to retain communication.

North-South Matchpoints — Board 36

...
+300
...
+200
...
+150
...
+120
100
100
99
96
93
93
92
90
...
+100
+90
...
-80
-90
-100
-110
89
82
72
69
69
50
30
25
-120
-130
...
-150
...
-180
...
-200
16
11
11
8
4
4
3
1
...






0






TopMain

© 1987 Richard Pavlicek