Main     Analyses 7N05 by Richard Pavlicek    

Royal Viking Pairs

The 36 deals in this collection were played September 19, 1989 in the third annual “Instant Matchpoint” Pairs, a continent-wide event conducted by the American Contract Bridge League, and sponsored by Royal Viking Cruise Lines. 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.

Note: When this event was held in 1989, the matchpoint scores were based on a 1000 top (ACBL’s choice, not mine) but in this edition I have scaled them to the usual 100 top.

© 1989 Richard Pavlicek

TopMain

Board 1

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

The 1989 Royal Viking Instant Matchpoint Game begins with a partscore deal in which both sides have 20 high-card points. Here is a probable auction by competitive players:

West

Dbl*
2 H
North
Pass
1 NT
2 S
East
1 C
Pass
All Pass
South
1 S
Pass
*negative (4+ hearts)

The 2 S contract brings out an important defensive point. On West’s lead of the C K East should play the three. When it is apparent to both defenders that a short suit is being led, the signal should be suit preference, not attitude. Consequently, West should shift to a diamond. East wins the ace and returns the H 7; nine, 10; West returns a diamond, then accurate defense will net plus 50 against declarer’s best play.

West can make 2 H, thanks to the favorable trump position.

If North is allowed to play 1 NT, he will succeed against a club lead. The killing defense is a heart lead; diamond return; heart; then East-West can score eight tricks — down two.

North-South Matchpoints — Board 1

...
+800
...
+500
...
+470
...
+300
100
99
99
99
98
98
97
97
...
+280
...
+260
...
+200
...
+180
96
96
95
95
95
94
93
93
...
+150
+140
...
+120
+110
+100
+90
92
91
88
86
86
79
68
62
...
+50
0
-50
...
-90
-100
-110
60
55
48
41
35
34
29
21
-120
...
-140
-150
...
-300
...
-470
17
17
11
5
4
3
2
1
...
-500
...
-530
...


1
1
1
1
0


TopMain

Board 2

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

All South can make on this deal is 3 D — exactly what he is looking at — but few players have the discipline (cowardice?) to stop there. I would find myself in this camp:

West

Pass
All Pass
North

1 S
East
Pass
Dbl
South
1 D
3 NT

East’s takeout double may seem strange, but he is a passed hand at favorable vulnerability. Most successful matchpoint players would seize the opportunity.

South’s jump to 3 NT is a good description of his hand; long, strong diamonds, short spades, and stoppers in the other two suits — well, almost. There’s a slight deficiency in the club department, but it’s an excellent gamble that the opponents will not cash five club tricks. Guess what?

The defenders must be careful in running the club suit. Proper play is for West to lead the eight (fourth best) to East’s king, then the deuce is returned. East should drop the 10 on the third round to avoid blocking the suit.

North-South Matchpoints — Board 2

...
+750
...
+690
...
+660
...
+630
100
99
99
98
98
97
96
92
...
+600
...
+500
...
+300
...
+250
88
81
74
74
73
73
73
73
...
+150
+140
+130
...
+110
+100
...
72
72
71
69
66
63
58
58
+50
...
-100
...
-200
...
-300
...
57
57
45
33
23
14
10
6
-400
...
-500
...



4
2
1
0



TopMain

Board 3

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

It is discouraging when “good” bidding lands you in a 5-1 trump fit, but it’s hard to criticize this auction:

West

1 D
North

1 NT
East

2 S
South
Pass
All Pass

The great Al Roth would be appalled by the opening 1 D bid — I can hear the echo, “Is this a joke?” — but the majority of experts would open. Some might prefer 1 H, either systemically or to avoid a rebid problem, but that would not matter here.

Something can be said for East bidding 2 C, intending to bid 2 S over a red-suit bid. But the rebid opportunity may not occur; and even if it did, partner would expect your distribution to be 6-4, resulting in a miscorrection to 3 C if partner held two spades and two clubs.

Two spades can be defeated with continued diamond leads, but might make at some tables. Assume a heart lead; 10, queen; D K; ace and another club. East now can succeed via the heart finesse; H A; S A; heart ruff; S Q to king; D A ruffed; S J; club.

North-South Matchpoints — Board 3

...
+800
...
+500
...
+470
...
+400
100
99
98
98
98
97
97
97
...
+380
...
+300
...
+280
...
+200
96
96
95
93
91
90
90
80
...
+180
...
+150
...
+120
...
+100
70
69
68
68
67
67
67
60
+90
...
+70
...
-50
...
-90
-100
53
52
52
52
51
50
49
41
-110
-120
-130
-140
-150
...
-200
...
27
20
19
18
15
14
14
13
-300
...
-500
...
-670
...
-690
...
10
6
5
3
3
2
2
2
-800
...





1
0





TopMain

Board 4

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

Most will consider North’s 23 points too strong for a 2 NT opening (debatable, even with a 21-22 range), so the popular auction will begin:

West
Pass
Pass
North
2 C
2 NT
East
Pass
Pass
South
2 D
?

I make it a close decision whether South should pass or continue to 3 NT (after a Stayman inquiry). Perhaps this is a case in which you should bid game at IMPs, but pass at matchpoints — at least that would work well here. Two notrump is high enough.

In notrump North has seven obvious tricks. The lack of a dummy entry makes the eighth trick challenging, but declarer can succeed against any defense. Assume East cashes three top spades (West throws hearts) and shifts to a club — a strong defense. Declarer wins three hearts (West must throw a club to keep equal diamond length); then he takes the top clubs and leads the D K. West wins (best) and returns a diamond, but North ducks and East must give dummy the last two tricks.

North-South Matchpoints — Board 4

...
+1600
...
+1100
...
+800
+790
...
100
99
99
96
93
90
87
87
+750
...
+690
...
+630
...
+600
...
87
86
86
86
85
84
79
74
+500
...
+400
...
+300
...
+180
...
74
73
73
72
71
70
69
69
+150
+140
...
+120
...
+90
...
-100
63
54
51
42
33
33
32
20
...
-200
...
-300
...
-500
...
7
5
3
2
1
1
0

TopMain

Board 5

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

A good slam is available with the East-West cards, but it takes fine judgment to reach it. I like this auction:

West

1 S
4 C
6 D
North
Pass
Pass
Pass
All Pass
East
1 D
3 D
4 H
South
Pass
Pass
Pass

Note that both players bid aggressively because they have good suits (a source of tricks) and outside controls. These are the keys to a successful slam — more so than raw point count. East’s 4 H bid shows the ace since it could not logically be natural to play.

Note that 6 D depends on the spade finesse only if South leads a club. Since a heart lead is just as likely, the odds become about 3-to-1 in your favor — slightly less considering the complications of a bad spade break, but clearly worth bidding.

The play in diamonds produces 13 tricks. With a club lead, the correct sequence is: C A; D A; spade finesse; H A; heart ruff; run all the diamonds…

Those who play in spades or notrump also have 13 tricks unless declarer elects to play safe after a heart lead in 3 NT.

North-South Matchpoints — Board 5

...
+50
...
-170
...
-190
-200
...
100
99
99
98
97
96
95
95
-260
...
-400
...
-420
-430
-440
...
94
93
90
85
84
75
67
65
-460
...
-480
-490
...
-510
-520
...
60
56
55
53
52
48
38
31
-550
...
-750
...
-790
...
-920
...
31
31
30
30
30
30
27
25
-940
...
-990
...
-1010
-1020
...
-1440
15
6
5
5
4
2
1
1
...






0






TopMain

Board 6

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

Unless South feels his hand is worth a direct overcall (gulp), he is likely to face a balancing decision after this beginning:

West

2 S
North

Pass
East
1 S
Pass
South
Pass
?

It is clearly right to reopen — opponents have shown a fit, vulnerability is favorable — but should you double or bid 3 D? And if you double, should North bid clubs, hearts or notrump? Nothing stands out. My choices would be to double and bid 3 H, which at first glance looks like a debacle; but in reality it’s the best contract. I will not go into a double-dummy analysis, but chances of making 3 H are good will skillful play.

Those who play in 2 S should be defeated one, maybe two tricks. How about this defense: spade to king; diamond to king; diamond; spade to ace; C J (deceptive), king, ace; diamond ruff; H 9 (safe exit) and wait for two clubs tricks — down two. Of course, declarer can hold it to down one by ducking the C J.

North-South Matchpoints — Board 6

...
+800
...
+530
...
+500
...
+400
100
99
98
97
96
95
95
94
...
+300
...
+200
...
+150
+140
+130
93
89
85
77
69
68
67
66
+120
+110
+100
+90
...
0
-50
...
65
64
54
44
43
43
36
29
-100
-110
...
-140
-150
...
-300
...
21
9
5
4
3
3
2
1
-670
...





1
0





TopMain

Board 7

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

Preempts are famous for causing headaches, and this might be Excedrin #1. What should East do?

West

Pass
North

3 S
East

?
South
Pass

The discreet action is to pass. Your chances of making 3 NT or a four-level contract are not good, especially with partner having passed. You won’t get rich this way; it is simply your best chance for a plus score.

But discretion is not one of the key attributes of a bridge player (and rightfully so). Most East players will do something. A penalty double would be attractive, alas, but unavailable except in old-fashioned systems. The real choices are:

Double (optional or takeout) — West will bid 4 H, down two.

Four clubs — down one (or two if West raises).

Three notrump — down four with a spade lead and routine play (ace and another club). But wait! What if declarer leads a low diamond to dummy’s jack (South can foil this by hopping), then ducks a club to South? Makes 3 NT!

North-South Matchpoints — Board 7

...
+870
...
+800
...
+670
...
+500
100
99
99
98
98
97
97
95
...
+400
...
+300
...
+200
...
+140
94
93
91
90
88
77
65
64
...
+110
+100
...
-100
-110
...
-130
62
60
52
46
41
32
28
27
...
-150
...
-170
...
-200
...
-300
25
25
24
24
24
18
13
12
...
-500
...
-600
...
-620
...
11
9
7
4
1
1
0

TopMain

Board 8

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

Many East-West pairs will bid:

West
1 NT
North
Pass
East
3 NT
South
All Pass

East should not use Stayman because of his flat shape. It is true that a 4-4 heart fit might be a superior game contract (particularly if West held a doubleton club), but there is no way to determine this in standard methods. Therefore, the winning action in the long run is to bid 3 NT without giving information to the opponents.

With the normal spade lead by North, declarer can win 12 tricks. Win the spade in dummy; give up a club, etc., eventually taking the diamond finesse.

Curiously, West also can win 12 tricks without a spade lead. This requires double-dummy play in 3 NT, but not if you happened to be in 6 NT — it would be your best chance. How? Cash your heart and diamond tricks (with a finesse) before conceding the third round of clubs to West, who is endplayed in spades.

Six clubs can be made along similar lines.

North-South Matchpoints — Board 8

...
+100
...
+50
...
-400
...
-430
100
99
98
95
91
90
89
87
...
-460
...
-490
-500
...
-800
...
85
62
38
20
2
2
1
0

TopMain

Board 9

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

This deal should produce a spirited auction, often ending in a doubled contract. Here’s one possibility:

West

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

East’s bidding may seem too aggressive at the vulnerability, but I think it shows good judgment. He knows his side has a double fit; and in view of his spade void, he is odds-on to catch short diamonds in dummy. No guarantee, of course, but few contracts come that way; you have to take a chance now and then.

Five hearts should be made. Declarer must arrange for two ruffs — in either hand but not both — before he draws the last trump, and then play clubs correctly. Five clubs also makes with relative ease.

A common result will be 4 S down one (perhaps doubled by West). Note that East-West can establish a heart trick or get a diamond ruff, but they can’t do both as long as declarer leads trumps at every opportunity.

North-South Matchpoints — Board 9

...
+690
...
+630
...
+590
...
+530
100
99
98
97
95
92
88
87
...
+450
...
+420
...
+200
...
+170
86
84
82
78
74
72
70
66
...
+140
...
+110
...
-50
...
-100
62
55
49
48
48
39
29
21
...
-150
...
-300
...
-600
...
-620
13
13
12
10
9
8
8
7
...
-650
...
-750
...
-790
...
-910
7
6
5
4
3
2
2
1
...
-990
...




1
1
0




TopMain

Board 10

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

I think the East hand was thrown in to test the fidelity of five-card majorites. I would open 1 C not with fondness, but because of the danger in opening 1 S and getting a forcing 1 NT response — if you then bid 2 C, partner may correct to 2 S with a doubleton.

This auction should be common if North-South go quietly:

West

1 D
2 C
North

Pass
All Pass
East
1 C
1 S
South
Pass
Pass

Nine tricks can be made in clubs. The favorable club lie suggests that declarer might do better, but I see no way with the foul distribution of diamonds and spades. In fact, declarer may do worse if he leaves the trumps out.

The best contract for East-West — only as the cards lie — is a notrump partscore, which nets plus 120 for a matchpoint edge.

Some North players may overcall 1 H, after which South may compete to 3 H; and that is trouble. Good defense sets it two tricks, a fine score for East-West.

North-South Matchpoints — Board 10

...
+670
...
+200
...
+110
+100
...
100
99
98
97
95
92
83
77
-90
-100
-110
-120
-130
...
-150
...
72
61
46
30
21
18
16
13
-200
...
-300
...
-500
...
-600
...
9
6
5
4
3
3
2
1
-670
...





1
0





TopMain

Board 11

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

Opening 2 C (strong and artificial) with the North hand has some merit, but not much; so few pairs will sense the imminence of a slam. This auction will be repeated at many tables:

West

Pass
Pass
All Pass
North

1 S
3 H
East

Pass
Pass
South
Pass
1 NT
4 H

With a club lead, declarer faces a common matchpoint problem. Should he settle for 11 routine tricks, or play for 12 (or 10) by risking a diamond finesse through East? In this case I think it is right to take the finesse, because a club may not be led at every table. Winning 11 tricks is likely to be below average, so you have more to gain than to lose. Plus the best reason of all, it works.

A diamond lead gives declarer a picnic for 12 tricks. But what about a trump lead? If West ducks the spade lead from dummy, it would be reasonable for declarer to run the nine-spot, after which he will probably take a ruffing spade finesse — 11 tricks (or perhaps just 10 if East shrewdly shifts to clubs).

North-South Matchpoints — Board 11

...
+980
...
+800
...
+510
...
+480
100
97
96
95
94
93
90
63
...
+460
+450
...
+430
+420
...
+400
36
35
25
16
15
13
13
10
...
+230
...
+200
...
+180
+170
...
7
6
5
4
3
3
3
2
-50
...





1
0





TopMain

Board 12

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

North-South had a touch-and-go slam on Board 11; now it is East-West’s turn. Six clubs is a sound contract (better than 6 H on the last deal), but difficult to reach. Ironically, the club suit may never be mentioned. Is this auction unreasonable?

West
Pass
1 S
3 NT
North
Pass
Pass
All Pass
East
1 D
2 NT
South
Pass
Pass

I think it’s a good, practical sequence. East’s rebid is a subject for scrutiny, but the pattern is awkward for other bids and the hand contains good spot cards. Should West bid clubs over 2 NT? I don’t think so; even if 3 C is strictly natural (many pairs use it as a checkback), it is unlikely to lead anywhere.

Declarer is destined to fail in 3 NT. South leads the S J to North’s king; S 8 ducked; spade to dummy’s ace; force out C A; then North returns a diamond (best). Even if declarer hops ace, he will need the heart finesse (breast your cards, South) — down two.

Six clubs makes easily with the H Q falling doubleton (the ruffing diamond finesse is unnecessary). Hmm… makes me pause to think about my bidding methods.

North-South Matchpoints — Board 12

...
+200
...
+150
...
+100
...
+50
100
99
98
97
96
87
78
70
...
-120
...
-150
...
-170
-180
...
63
62
62
61
60
60
59
59
-200
...
-400
...
-420
-430
...
-450
59
58
50
43
41
33
27
26
-460
...
-490
...
-920
...

17
10
9
8
5
0

TopMain

Board 13

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

Now here’s some excitement — one player actually has a doubleton. (Those who complain about freak computer deals, take note.) I will go out on a limb and predict this auction:

West

Pass
North
1 NT
East
Pass
South
Pass

An aggressive (mindless?) East player may choose to double, hitting a bonanza when West has the balance of strength; but this kind of double usually backfires. East has no attractive lead — a primary consideration when doubling 1 NT in direct position. Conversely, East has an ideal hand for a balancing double — he can support any suit his partner leads (or chooses to bid).

One notrump is routinely defeated. The best defense is a spade lead to the ace; heart shift; run the heart suit; diamond to East’s king; S K (removing declarer’s exit card); diamond. After winning his diamonds, declarer must lead the C Q to endplay East for down two; else he is down three.

North-South Matchpoints — Board 13

...
+200
...
+180
...
+150
...
+120
100
99
99
98
98
97
97
95
...
+100
+90
...
+70
...
-90
-100
92
91
83
75
75
75
74
59
-110
-120
...
-140
-150
...
-170
-180
42
40
39
38
37
37
36
36
...
-200
...
-300
...
-400
...
-500
36
22
9
6
4
3
3
2
...
-600
...




1
1
0




TopMain

Board 14

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

East-West can make 4 S, although bidding it requires one or both players to take a rosy view. A popular auction will be:

West

1 D
1 S
North

Pass
Pass
East
Pass
1 H
3 S
South
Pass
Pass
All Pass

This is well-judged. A key consideration is that neither player holds an honor in his partner’s suit — a good case to be conservative. The decision is borne out by the fact that 4 S is not a good contract — I estimate about 40 percent — as it probably requires a 3-2 spade break with at least one heart honor onside, and it may require a 3-2 diamond break.

Some Wests may open 1 S in third seat, which is more likely to allure East into bidding game.

The play in spades is clear-cut for exactly 10 tricks, but “clear-cut” tends to have little bridge meaning.

If North-South discover their club fit, they can bid safely as high as 3 C (down one). If they bid 4 C, the ax may fall (minus 300) or worse, they may push the opponents into 4 S.

North-South Matchpoints — Board 14

...
+280
...
+150
...
+100
+90
...
100
99
99
99
98
98
97
96
+50
0
-50
...
-90
-100
-110
...
94
91
90
89
89
88
86
85
-130
-140
-150
...
-170
...
-200
...
80
71
66
66
46
26
24
22
-300
...
-420
...
-450
-460
...
-500
21
21
12
4
3
2
2
1
...






0






TopMain

Board 15

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

Some Norths may choose not to bid their emaciated heart suit, but this deal clearly shows that “length before strength” is the proper bidding strategy. The standard auction should be:

West

Pass
Pass
All Pass
North

1 S
2 H
East

Pass
Pass
South
Pass
1 NT
3 H

When North unexpectedly bids hearts, South is happy to invite game — though I suspect not as happy as North is to pass.

With the favorable D K lead, declarer has a chance to win 10 tricks with this line: Win the ace; diamond to queen; club to ace; D J (pitch club); club ruff; heart to king; club ruff; cash two spades (key play); then a heart. West now has no way to win a trick with his H 10.

Sharp defense can foil declarer. When East wins the H K, he must return a spade into the jaws of North’s suit. Now declarer cannot get a second club ruff in time, and West will eventually win two heart tricks.

North-South Matchpoints — Board 15

...
+670
...
+620
...
+500
...
+300
100
99
98
95
90
90
89
89
...
+180
+170
...
+150
+140
+130
+120
88
88
77
67
67
55
43
43
+110
+100
+90
...
+50
...
-90
-100
41
40
39
38
37
37
36
26
-110
...
-200
...
-300
...

15
14
8
2
1
0

TopMain

Board 16

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

I expect many different auctions on this deal, depending on both system and judgment. One possibility:

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

The scenario will be different if South uses a Michaels cue-bid, but 3 H rates to be the popular contract — sometimes doubled by a hungry North player.

The outcome of 3 H depends on whether declarer can force a club lead, since he can’t reach dummy. Assume South wins two spades and switches to a low diamond; queen, ace. Declarer wins one heart (or both) then exits with a diamond; South must lead a third diamond, then North must lead clubs later — down one.

If South (strangely) leads the diamond king at trick three, declarer must return a diamond immediately to go down only one. The perfect defense is a trump shift. If declarer tries ace and another diamond, North wins and continues trumps to preserve his exit card in diamonds — down two.

What about a club shift at trick three? Makes 3 H!

North-South Matchpoints — Board 16

...
+800
...
+630
...
+570
...
+530
100
99
98
98
97
97
96
95
...
+500
...
+470
...
+420
...
+400
93
91
88
88
87
87
86
86
...
+300
...
+200
...
+170
...
+140
86
84
82
75
69
68
67
62
...
+110
+100
...
-50
...
-100
-110
56
54
46
40
37
34
28
21
...
-130
-140
...
-300
...
-500
...
20
19
12
6
4
2
1
0

TopMain

Board 17

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

East has an interesting rebid problem when South’s 1 S overcall is raised to 2 S, or after this Michaels cue-bid sequence:

West

Pass
North
Pass
2 S
East
1 D
?
South
2 D*
*both majors

East’s hand is too hefty for 3 C. It is reasonable to double, but that is more likely to complicate matters than help. I prefer a straightforward bid of 4 C. A jump shift by opener when partner has never acted is a “value” bid, stating what you can make opposite a modicum of trump support for one of your suits. It is nonforcing.

This bid sets the stage well. If South passes, West will correct to 4 D — making easily. If South bids 4 H or 4 S, West should double, expecting his spade holding and East’s strong hand to provide the punch.

Either 4 H or 4 S goes down only one with good play. Assume 4 S. East takes three tricks and leads a club. Ruff and cash the S A to drop the queen (surely a singleton on the bidding); then lead hearts. Your spot cards in trumps prevent West from winning more than one trick no matter what he does.

North-South Matchpoints — Board 17

...
+500
...
+470
...
+300
...
+150
100
99
99
98
98
97
97
96
+140
...
+100
...
+50
...
-50
...
93
92
88
83
72
62
61
60
-100
-110
...
-130
...
-150
...
-170
58
56
55
45
34
31
28
27
...
-200
...
-300
...
-400
...
-420
26
25
24
23
20
16
11
10
...
-500
-510
...
-550
...
-570
...
9
8
7
7
5
4
3
2
-650
...
-750
...



2
1
1
0



TopMain

Board 18

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

A standard road to game will be:

West

Pass
All Pass
North

2 H
East
Pass
Pass
South
1 H
4 H

Some may contend that North’s hand is too strong for 2 H — not true with the flat shape and doubtful C Q — or that North should bid 1 S. The problem with 1 S is that South may rebid 2 D; then North must overbid with 3 H or offer a measly preference to 2 H.

Assume West leads the S K. A question in technique: Should declarer draw trumps right away? Or lead clubs early on? At IMPs the choice is clear — ace and another club — because declarer would be defeated if he drew trumps and found East with four clubs (and at least four spades). At matchpoints, however, the question is moot; declarer would sacrifice an overtrick if West held K-x-x in clubs.

In any case, this is all academic as the cards lie. Declarer will always win 11 tricks, and can win 12 by guessing the doubleton C K — perhaps he should guess it if he adopts the “IMP line” suggested above.

North-South Matchpoints — Board 18

...
+1430
...
+1370
...
+800
...
+690
100
96
93
92
91
91
90
89
+680
...
+660
+650
...
+620
...
+600
78
66
66
42
18
17
17
16
...
+500
...
+300
...
+230
...
+200
15
14
13
13
13
12
12
11
...
+150
...
-100
...


11
11
10
5
0


TopMain

Board 19

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

North-South may steal the contract if North relishes the vulnerability and opens in third seat:

West

Pass
All Pass
North

1 S
East

Pass
South
Pass
1 NT

No one could seriously argue that East should overcall 2 H. A takeout double is barely palatable — at least it offers a better chance to find a fit — but pass is the norm. A case can be made for balancing after 1 NT; but East gets no blame on my scorecard.

The defenders can do a job against 1 NT — probably down three after a heart lead. A score of plus 150 will salvage some matchpoints and redeem respect, but it still falls short of the 170 makable in hearts.

If North passes, East will open 1 H and probably wind up in 3 H; or perhaps only 2 H after a Drury 2 C response by West. A few players will overbid to reach game. What else is new?

Ten tricks are available in hearts with a correct spade guess. This should be routine if declarer learns that North has the D A and H K — but beware of a tricky South player.

North-South Matchpoints — Board 19

...
+300
...
+200
...
+100
+90
...
100
99
99
98
98
94
91
90
0
...
-50
...
-100
...
-120
...
90
89
88
86
84
82
82
81
-140
-150
...
-170
-180
...
-200
...
76
69
68
51
34
33
32
31
-250
...
-300
...
-500
...
-600
...
31
30
30
29
29
28
27
27
-620
-630
...
-650
...
-790
...
15
4
3
2
1
1
0

TopMain

Board 20

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

A typical competitive auction will be:

West
Pass
2 H
3 H
North
1 D
Pass
All Pass
East
1 H
Pass
South
Dbl*
3 C
*negative (4 spades)

West’s 3 H bid is based on the sound strategy that, in competitive situations, you should generally bid for as many tricks as your side holds trumps. West expects a nine-card fit, so he competes for nine tricks. If 3 H goes down, then 3 C would surely make (based on the “law of total tricks”). Further, the presence of a ninth trump decreases the chance of being doubled when you are going down.

Three hearts makes easily with the D A onside and friendly breaks. I suppose a few may be fooled by a low diamond shift from North after winning the second club lead; but the bidding and the C K lead clearly indicate the right play.

A few North superheroes may try an adventurous 4 S after South indicates four spades. Make that a Moysian misadventure, as South’s weak trumps and the horrible break spell disaster, no doubt doubled by West.

North-South Matchpoints — Board 20

...
+710
...
+200
...
+130
...
+110
100
99
98
96
92
91
89
89
+100
+90
...
-100
-110
...
-140
...
84
79
78
77
75
74
53
32
-170
...
-200
...
-300
...
-400
...
29
26
25
25
24
23
21
20
-500
...
-620
...
-730
...
-790
-800
18
16
16
15
14
12
12
10
...
-1070
...
-1100
...
-1400
...
-1700
9
9
8
7
6
4
3
1
...






0






TopMain

Board 21

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

West’s hand is too strong for a 1 NT or 2 H overcall, so the bidding is likely to begin:

West

Dbl
?
North
Pass
1 NT
East
Pass
Pass
South
1 S
Pass

With a balanced hand and both opponents bidding, it may be right to pass now; but a drawback is that partner may choose the wrong lead since he does not know about your heart suit. Most will bid 2 H; or double again, then 2 H after East runs to 2 C.

North should double 2 H. The vulnerability makes it likely that partner has sound values. More important, you don’t win matchpoint events without capitalizing on opportunities, and surely this is a prime one.

Against 2 H North leads the S J and South should duck. It now appears that declarer can be held to just three hearts, a spade and a club (down three); but sooner or later the defenders must surrender a second spade or a diamond trick. Down two is par, and some declarers will do better against weak defense.

North-South Matchpoints — Board 21

...
+800
...
+670
...
+500
...
+300
100
99
99
98
98
95
93
89
...
+200
...
+180
...
+160
+150
...
85
84
83
82
82
81
77
72
+120
+110
+100
+90
...
+50
...
-90
71
70
58
36
35
22
9
8
-100
-110
...
-200
...
-400
...
-500
6
5
4
3
2
2
1
1
...






0






TopMain

Board 22

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

North-South are on for 6 C or 6 D (good contracts) as well as 6 NT — not so good since both minors have to break — but few are likely to reach any slam. Here’s one optimistic route:

West

Pass
Pass
Pass
North

1 H
3 D
6 C
East
Pass
Pass
Pass
All Pass
South
1 C
3 C
3 S

South’s jump to 3 C is aggressive — many experts would prefer 2 C (or to start over and open 1 NT). The key bid is 3 S, which implies the ace with no other honor. Clearly, South could not have a real spade suit; and if his holding were something like A-Q-x or K-Q-x, he would bid 3 NT. North then knows the hands fit well (no wasted spade honors), so slam should be sound.

If East opens the bidding (check his cage), I see no way to get to slam — especially if he opens 1 D.

In 6 C declarer can win 13 tricks without a heart lead; but an attempt to do so results in defeat if diamonds do not break 3-2. Since the slam will not be bid at most tables, the proper play with a spade lead is to lead the H K immediately.

North-South Matchpoints — Board 22

...
+1100
...
+920
...
+800
...
+650
100
99
99
98
96
96
95
95
...
+550
...
+520
...
+500
+490
...
94
94
93
90
85
85
63
41
+460
+450
+440
+430
+420
...
+400
...
37
33
32
32
28
25
25
24
+300
...
+240
...
+210
+200
+190
...
24
23
22
21
21
20
19
18
+170
...
+150
...
-50
...
-100
...
11
4
4
3
3
2
2
1
-200
...





1
0





TopMain

Board 23

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

East has an intriguing problem after this beginning:

West

Pass
North

1 H
East

?
South
1 D

Many East players will be obliged to pass — standard procedure when an opponent bids your long suit — then bid hearts later. But some partnerships engage a useful treatment: A bid in opener’s suit is a cue-bid (Michaels or whatever), and a bid in responder’s suit is natural. This allows an immediate 2 H overcall, which West should raise to 3 H (an ace and a king surely warrant some action).

In any event, expect a lot of heart contracts by East, ranging from 2 H to 4 H, occasionally doubled, and almost always making.

After ruffing the D K lead, the proper play is a spade to the king (suggested by the bidding); ruff a diamond; S J to ace; H 10 (no defense matters) to jack; spade ruff; diamond ruff; cash the top clubs, etc. Declarer wins 10 tricks — one spade, one spade ruff, two clubs and six hearts. Note that this succeeds regardless of the location of the C Q.

North-South Matchpoints — Board 23

...
+800
...
+500
...
+300
...
+200
100
99
99
98
98
97
97
96
...
+150
...
+120
+110
+100
+90
...
95
94
93
91
88
86
83
82
-90
-100
-110
...
-140
...
-170
...
82
74
65
63
57
50
45
39
-200
...
-300
...
-400
...
-500
...
31
22
20
18
18
17
15
13
-600
...
-620
...
-730
...
-790
-800
12
12
11
11
9
7
6
4
...
-870
...
-930
...


3
2
2
1
0


TopMain

Board 24

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

This deal should produce the same dull action as Board 13:

West
Pass
North
Pass
East
1 NT
South
All Pass

It is difficult to imagine any variations except those dictated by system. Weak notrump bidders, for example, will open 1 C and probably reach the same contract after a 1 D response.

Against 1 NT South should lead a heart, not because of the actual layout but based on sound theory. It is safer than a spade lead, and more likely to be productive. The chances are good that partner will have at least one of the three missing honors.

After winning the H A (hold up if you wish), proper play is a low spade to the jack — don’t tell me South would hop ace — then a diamond to the 10. Later you will reach dummy with a club to run the D J — well, Merry Christmas, eight tricks. Note that seven tricks are safe unless South held both diamond honors.

The alternative play, setting up clubs, offers no better chance for seven tricks and virtually none for eight.

North-South Matchpoints — Board 24

...
+110
+100
...
+50
...
-50
...
100
99
98
98
97
96
93
91
-90
-100
-110
-120
-130
...
-150
...
79
66
62
46
30
26
17
9
-180
...
-210
...
-300
...
-500
...
6
3
3
2
2
1
1
0

TopMain

Board 25

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

If everyone had a breakfast of Wheaties and not milk toast, I would expect an auction like this:

West

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

Each player stretched a little — South with 2 H; West with 2 S; North with 4 H; and East with his final double — but replacing any of those actions with a pass would be timid. The only call I question is 2 H; if the partnership plays 1 NT forcing, a 1 NT response is preferable to avoid undue encouragement.

In 4 H with a spade lead, declarer should lead a low diamond from his hand immediately. Unless East makes the incredible shift to the H 7 (I must admit I would not put up the jack), routine play results in down one. This score (minus 100) comes in about average, suggesting the above auction is well-judged all around.

East-West will buy the contract in 3 S at many tables. Nine tricks are easily made.

North-South Matchpoints — Board 25

...
+500
...
+200
...
+170
...
+140
100
99
98
96
94
93
92
84
...
+110
+100
...
-50
...
-100
...
76
75
72
69
64
59
51
43
-140
-150
...
-170
...
-200
...
-300
35
25
23
20
17
16
15
13
...
-500
...
-620
...
-730
...
-790
10
7
5
4
3
2
2
1
...






0






TopMain

Board 26

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

The theme of this set seems to be borderline slams. Witness Board 5, 11, 12, 22 and now this. As usual it takes an optimistic approach:

West

2 C
3 D
4 H
6 C
North

Pass
Pass
Pass
All Pass
East
1 S
3 C
4 C
5 D
South
Pass
Pass
Pass
Pass

Six clubs is far from laydown, but solid play should bring it home. North should lead a trump (note his spade holding), which West wins to lead a spade. North takes the ace and returns another trump, won by the ace; H A; heart ruff; spade ruff; heart ruff; D 10 to the king. The last is an unblocking play in case a third-round diamond finesse becomes necessary. Draw the last trump and North is squeezed; he cannot keep his stopper in both spades and diamonds.

Back to the real world. Most East-West pairs will play in 3 NT. Declarer will not be comfortable with a heart lead, but any reasonable play will produce nine tricks. Ten tricks can be made — e.g., duck two hearts and lead a spade before testing diamonds — but this may have a four-eyed flavor.

North-South Matchpoints — Board 26

...
+300
...
+200
...
+100
...
-140
100
99
98
97
95
90
85
84
-150
...
-500
...
-600
...
-620
-630
83
83
82
81
71
61
60
41
...
-660
...
-750
...
-800
...
-1370
23
20
17
16
16
15
14
8
...
-1540
...




2
1
0




TopMain

Board 27

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

Did I mention borderline slams? This deal fits the bill from a different angle: a lousy slam, but difficult to stay out of. Who’s at fault in this auction?

West

Pass
Pass
Pass
North

1 D
3 C
6 C
East

Pass
Pass
All Pass
South
1 C
1 NT
3 NT

It looks as if North stepped out of line, but that’s not true. His hand is rich in controls and diamond texture, so there should be a good play for slam opposite almost any opening. Did you spot my catchword? Opening. Despite 13 points, South lacks two quick tricks; he has no shape; no suit texture, and (excuse me) no brain. He should pass; clear and simple.

If South passes, North will open 1 C or 1 D then jump to 2 NT over 1 H. South will bid 3 NT.

In clubs or notrump declarer can win 11 tricks with routine play in the diamond suit. There is no way to win 12 — even double-dummy — unless declarer receives a favorable lead, such as a major from West or a low spade from East.

Curiously, six diamonds can be made, as the 3-3 trump break allows you to ruff out the H Q.

North-South Matchpoints — Board 27

...
+990
...
+920
...
+490
...
+460
100
95
90
89
88
78
69
59
...
+430
+420
...
+400
...
+210
...
49
47
44
43
42
41
41
40
-50
...
-100
...
-150
...
-200
...
30
19
13
8
5
3
1
0

TopMain

Board 28

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

All West players who opened please reread Board 27. Here’s a reasonable auction using “reverse Drury”:

West
Pass
Pass
Pass
North
Pass
2 C
2 S
East
Pass
Pass
All Pass
South
1 S
2 D

Two clubs is an artificial, one-round force; 2 D shows a normal opening (2 S would show a subminimum); and 2 S shows minimal values for the sequence (about 10-11 points). This allows South to check out, as he was not thrilled with his opening in the first place.

A friendly deal. With the D K lead, declarer can win 11 tricks. Win the D A; return a diamond; win the club shift; finesse spades; take your discard; and guess hearts. The only doubtful play is the spade finesse, which if lost would let the opponents cash their club trick. The heart guess is easy once West is found to have the S K and both diamond honors.

Should 4 S be bid? I think not. It’s a poor contract with a club lead, and only fair with most other leads. But on your side of the score sheet, any contract that makes is a good contract.

North-South Matchpoints — Board 28

...
+1070
...
+930
...
+800
+790
...
100
99
99
98
97
97
95
94
+730
...
+650
...
+620
...
+500
...
93
91
90
89
88
85
84
82
+300
...
+200
...
+170
...
+150
+140
80
78
74
71
56
41
39
29
...
+110
+100
...
+50
...
-90
-100
20
19
15
12
10
9
8
5
-110
...





1
0





TopMain

Board 29

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

East will face a nasty predicament after this sequence:

West

1 S
North
Pass
4 H
East
1 D
?
South
1 H

Who knows what is right? My inclination is to bid in these situations, as there is usually more to be gained than lost; so I would try 5 C — doubled by South, down one, and not a good score.

The above appears to be a phantom sacrifice, as 4 H cannot be made with a spade lead. But West, the fool, would have led the D K, after which declarer should win 11 tricks: D A; H A (no finesses, thank you); heart; D Q; C A; club ruff; D 10, and a spade goes away. At least this makes my minus 200 feel a little better.

At some tables North may bid only 2 H or 3 H and allow East to play 4 C, but that is poor judgment. This is another example of the strategy noted on Board 20. North expects a 10-card heart fit, so he should bid for 10 tricks; and the best time to do it is right away to make it as difficult as possible for the opponents.

North-South Matchpoints — Board 29

...
+1100
...
+990
...
+800
+790
...
100
99
98
97
96
95
94
93
+650
...
+620
...
+500
...
+300
...
91
89
88
87
86
85
84
83
+200
...
+170
...
+140
...
+110
+100
71
60
58
57
55
54
53
48
...
-100
...
-130
-140
-150
...
-170
44
42
41
27
13
11
11
10
...
-200
...
-500
...
-620
...
-710
10
9
8
8
7
7
6
4
...
-800
...




2
1
0




TopMain

Board 30

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

A wide variety of results can be expected on this deal. Here is a beautiful auction — well, if you ignore the hands that go with it:

West

Dbl
North

3 S
East
Pass
4 H
South
2 S
All Pass

Some Norths may double 4 H, but I think that is wrong. Partner is unlikely to take more than one trick on defense, and the double may help declarer in the play.

The funny thing is — despite four natural trump losers — 4 H has a chance to make. Assume South leads a spade (wouldn’t you?) and dummy’s 10 wins. Lead the H J and North is likely to cover with the ace or queen. This looks like an error, but ducking would be a weak play whenever East held the king. Following the crash, declarer can succeed by force: Assume a spade return; heart to North, etc. If North breaks the club suit, declarer wins three clubs and three diamonds; else declarer wins two clubs and four diamonds.

North-South Matchpoints — Board 30

...
+500
...
+470
...
+300
...
+170
100
99
99
98
98
97
96
95
...
+150
+140
...
+110
+100
...
+50
95
92
88
87
86
76
67
53
...
-50
...
-90
-100
-110
-120
-130
39
37
35
34
31
27
24
23
-140
-150
...
-170
-180
...
-200
...
20
16
15
14
13
12
12
11
-300
...
-400
...
-420
-430
...
-500
10
10
9
8
7
5
4
2
...
-550
...




1
1
0




TopMain

Board 31

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

Many pairs will reach game after this auction:

West

1 H
3 C
4 H
North

Pass
Pass
All Pass
East

1 S
3 S
South
Pass
Pass
Pass

West’s jump shift to 3 C is questionable with a spade void, but I think correct with such great playing potential (the C 10 persuades me). The other possibility is to rebid 3 H, which East should pass.

The outcome of 4 H depends on the lead. If North leads a spade or a diamond, declarer is presented with a 10th trick. But the standout lead is a trump, after which declarer must fail barring a defensive error. Note that there is no way to negotiate a second diamond trick.

Some Wests will rebid 3 NT (over 3 S), which should fail with the normal diamond lead. North can establish his long diamond before declarer can establish a club trick. But if the entire heart suit is run immediately, North might pitch a diamond (enamored by S Q-10-2); then declarer can succeed by leading a diamond.

North-South Matchpoints — Board 31

...
+150
...
+100
...
+50
...
-110
100
99
98
96
94
80
65
64
...
-140
-150
...
-170
...
-400
...
63
59
53
52
43
34
33
31
-420
-430
...




16
1
0




TopMain

Board 32

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

Almost all North-South pairs will bid to 4 S, but the auctions will vary by system. Some will bid this way:

West
Pass
Pass
North
1 S
4 S
East
Pass
All Pass
South
3 NT

Three notrump shows a forcing raise with no singleton or void. (This is played in conjunction with limit raises and splinter bids.) Some Norths may feel their hand is worth a slam try (debatable) and bid 4 D, but South is likely to cool the proceedings with 4 S.

In spades, 10 tricks are easy, and some declarers will connive 11 by leading a low club from dummy (after the H A is dislodged). If West ducks, declarer can cash one or more diamonds, strip hearts, and exit with a club for a ruff and discard. West shouldn’t fall for this, of course, but some people are adamant that aces are meant to take kings. Sorry, not this time.

A few pairs will get to 5 S, usually after Blackwood, which raises the stakes on declarer’s chicanery in the club suit.

North-South Matchpoints — Board 32

...
+500
...
+460
+450
...
+430
+420
100
99
98
98
87
77
76
47
...
+400
...
+200
...
+170
...
-50
18
17
17
16
16
15
14
8
...
-100
...




2
1
0




TopMain

Board 33

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

I thought Board 10 was the tester; but if you wouldn’t open 1 H with this East hand, your devotion to five-card majors is an obsession. I like this auction:

West

Dbl*
4 D
North
Pass
2 S
All Pass
East
1 H
3 D
South
1 S
3 S
*negative (both minors)

Some Souths may overcall 2 S, but West should still make a negative double — probably resulting in the same contract.

Four diamonds should make. The only hope for the defense is to cash one spade and play three rounds of clubs. Good try, but declarer’s most logical play is to ruff with the D J.

Some North-South pairs will play in spades, where the limit is eight tricks with best defense (four rounds of hearts). Bidding up to 3 S is safe; but going to four, the ax won’t ignore — minus 300 and a lousy score.

Some misguided Easts will open 1 NT. The outcome is difficult to predict, though it would be fitting if West raised to 3 NT — down four.

North-South Matchpoints — Board 33

...
+530
...
+300
...
+200
...
+170
100
99
98
97
96
94
93
92
...
+140
...
+110
+100
...
+50
...
91
90
89
88
81
73
63
52
-50
...
-100
...
-130
-140
-150
...
50
48
47
46
29
11
10
9
-210
...
-300
...
-400
...
-450
-460
9
8
8
7
7
6
6
6
...
-500
-510
...
-610
...

6
5
2
1
1
0

TopMain

Board 34

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

This is the flattest board of the set — a routine contract and an inevitable result. Those who use Jacoby transfers should follow this route:

West

Pass
Pass
Pass
North

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

Two hearts shows five spades, and 3 NT offers a choice of games, which is about the easiest decision North will ever have. Some Norths may even bypass (superaccept) the transfer by jumping to 3 S over 2 H, but I reserve this to show a maximum in high cards (besides four trumps).

Without transfer bids, South would respond 3 S (or perhaps use Stayman), ending in the same contract. And there are other routes: North may open 1 C (certainly reasonable), or South may open 1 S (you be the judge). But all roads lead to 4 S.

The play is a bore. I can’t conceive of any way to make more or less than 11 tricks.

North-South Matchpoints — Board 34

...
+800
...
+690
+680
...
+660
+650
100
99
98
98
97
96
95
53
...
+630
+620
...
+200
...
+180
+170
13
12
9
7
5
4
3
2
...
-100
...




1
1
0




TopMain

Board 35

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

Many Wests will open 1 C, spawning this auction:

West

1 C
1 S
3 NT
North

Pass
Pass
All Pass
East

1 H
2 NT
South
Pass
Pass
Pass

I’m in the camp that opens 1 NT. Hands containing two doubletons, each with an honor, are best treated as balanced. The advantages are to simplify your bidding and give less information to the enemy, which makes it harder for them to compete, and sometimes gains a trick on the lead. In fairness, there are also disadvantages; but I think they could be engraved on a pinhead.

Three notrump should be made with routine play in clubs (two finesses). Many will win 10 tricks; and some will win 11 — for example, if South leads a low heart, or if hearts are never led.

An interesting situation arises if North leads the H 9 (either originally or after winning the first club). The play goes 10, queen, ace; then later comes the H 8. Declarer can win 10 tricks by ducking; but he may decide to play North for 9-8-6, in which case it would be necessary to cover — down two.

North-South Matchpoints — Board 35

...
+300
...
+200
...
+100
...
-90
100
99
98
97
96
82
68
67
...
-130
...
-180
...
-600
...
-630
66
65
64
63
62
53
43
31
...
-660
...




20
10
0




TopMain

Board 36

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

Almost every North-South pair will reach a major-suit game, but which one? Here’s a sensible auction:

West
Pass
Pass
Pass
All Pass
North
Pass
1 S
3 H
East
Pass
Pass
Pass
South
1 H
2 S
4 H

The same contract might be reached after a Drury sequence (witness Board 28). Nonetheless, many pairs will play in 4 S because of the often superior prospects of a 4-4 fit.

Four hearts is a breeze for 10 tricks. The only chance for 11 is to catch East napping when a club is led from dummy.

Four spades appears to be comfortable but is actually a nightmare. Good defense prevails. Assume East leads ace and another club, ruffed in dummy. Declarer leads the S Q to West’s ace, then a diamond is returned to the king. Declarer cannot afford to draw trumps with a club in his hand; and if he ruffs a club, he can’t return to hand without opening up the diamond suit. The key defense was to tap dummy only once, which spoils declarer’s transportation. If West leads a third club after winning the S A, declarer can succeed.

North-South Matchpoints — Board 36

...
+930
...
+800
...
+680
...
+650
100
99
99
98
97
97
96
89
...
+620
...
+300
...
+170
...
-100
83
50
17
16
16
13
11
8
...
-200
...
-300
...


5
3
2
1
0


TopMain

© 1989 Richard Pavlicek