Analyses 7P65 Main


ACBL Instant MP Pairs


 by Richard Pavlicek

The 36 deals in this collection were played September 23, 1992 in the sixth annual “Instant Matchpoint” Pairs, a continent-wide event conducted by the American Contract Bridge League. 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. Double-dummy par scores are shown in bold.

Board 1

After a 1 NT opening by East, South will be tempted to enter the bidding. Standard bidders might try:

WestNorthEastSouthNorth dealsS 9 8 6
… 100
+500 99
… 99
+300 98
… 98
+250 97
… 97
+200 96
… 96
+180 95
+170 94
… 93
+150 90
+140 84
… 83
+120 83
+110 79
+100 71
+90 62
… 59
+70 58
+50 56
… 53
-50 33
… 14
-90 13
-100 7
… 4
-150 3
… 2
-200 2
… 1
-300 1
… 0
Pass1 NT2 DNone vulH K 9 4 3
PassPassPassD 8 7
C K 10 8 3
S Q 3TableS A K 10 2
H J 10 5H Q 6 2
D J 9 2D Q 10 3
C J 9 6 5 2C A 7 4
S J 7 5 4
H A 8 7
D A K 6 5 4
2 D SouthC Q

This is down one with best defense, but some will be allowed to make it; for example, after a club or heart lead if East plops down his top spades.

The best strain for North-South is spades, which could be reached with Astro or Brozel. It may not be pretty, but 2 S can always be made, except against the double-dummy defense of three rounds of trumps and a heart shift. Say the lead is a club: If the defense next wins three trumps, South wins the heart shift, draws the last trump and ducks a diamond. Otherwise declarer can ruff a diamond and elope with two trumps in South.

If East plays in 1 NT, the par result is down one. After a diamond lead declarer should attack hearts (not clubs) to develop his sixth trick. Some may steal seven tricks if South shifts to a spade after running his diamonds.

Board 2

Here is a well-judged auction by both sides:

WestNorthEastSouthEast dealsS Q J 9 8 3 2
… 100
+990 99
… 99
+790 98
… 98
+620 97
… 97
+100 96
… 96
+50 95
… 95
-100 94
… 93
-200 89
… 87
-230 86
… 86
-420 85
-430 84
… 83
-450 80
-460 75
… 74
-480 47
-490 19
-500 17
-510 16
… 15
-650 15
… 14
-750 14
… 13
-790 13
-800 12
… 11
-980 7
… 2
-1210 1
… 0
1 DPassN-S vulH 5
1 H1 S2 H2 SD 5
3 S4 SPassPassC A Q 10 7 2
5 HPassPassPassS 5TableS A 10 7
H A J 9 8 7 4 2H K Q 6 3
D A J 2D Q 10 7 3
C 8 3C K 5
S K 6 4
H 10
D K 9 8 6 4
5 H WestC J 9 6 4

West cue-bids 3 S en route to game, since slam would be laydown if East held S x-x H K-x-x-x D K-Q-x-x C A-x-x. North bids 4 S, which from his point of view should be a make or a good save, even at unfavorable vulnerability. East passes the decision to West, who sensibly gives up on slam, since partner usually does not have the magic dummy.

Alas, West is right in theory but wrong in practice. The favorable layout offers 12 tricks with simple play.

North was right to compete to 4 S (down one), but anyone who bids 5 S is destined for a poor score. This will either be doubled (minus 500) or perhaps push the opponents into the makable slam.

Board 3

If South overcalls, I would expect this auction:

WestNorthEastSouthSouth dealsS 9 4 3
… 100
+500 99
… 99
+470 98
… 98
+300 97
… 97
+200 92
… 89
+180 87
… 86
+110 84
+100 66
+90 49
+80 48
… 48
0 47
-50 44
… 42
-90 40
-100 37
-110 34
-120 23
-130 18
… 17
-150 10
… 6
-180 5
… 4
-300 4
… 3
-500 3
… 2
-600 2
… 0
PassE-W vulH A K 4 3
PassPass1 C1 DD J 6 2
1 NT2 DPassPassC J 7 3
3 CPassPassPassS 8 6 5TableS A Q 7
H Q 9 7H J 6 5 2
D Q 5 3D K 7
C A K 8 4C Q 10 9 2
S K J 10 2
H 10 8
D A 10 9 8 4
3 C EastC 6 5

West’s 1 NT response is conservative but prudent with the flat distribution and tenuous diamond stopper. North is likely to raise diamonds, after which West may compete in clubs.

In 3 C East should be down one. After a heart lead the defenders cannot get both a ruff and two spade tricks.

South can win eight tricks in diamonds. It looks like nine with spades and diamonds sitting so friendly, but perfect defense can deny declarer a needed entry to dummy (West must refuse the first diamond finesse in one variation).

In 1 NT West should fail with the indicated diamond lead and later spade switch. From the East side 1 NT should make. Some Easts will win eight tricks after a diamond lead; heart to nine, king; diamond return. North must shift to a spade to hold it to seven tricks.

Board 4

Almost all East-West pairs will reach 4 H, perhaps after this auction:

WestNorthEastSouthWest dealsS 5 3
… 100
+500 99
+400 98
… 98
+300 97
… 96
+200 92
… 88
+140 87
… 87
+110 86
+100 65
… 43
-100 42
… 41
-120 41
… 40
-140 39
-150 37
… 37
-170 36
… 35
-200 33
… 32
-300 31
… 30
-500 29
… 28
-600 28
-620 16
… 5
-650 4
… 3
-800 2
… 0
1 CPass1 H1 SBoth vulH 5 2
2 HPass4 HPassD 7 6 5 4
PassPassC K J 7 5 4
S J 10 7TableS K 8
H A J 6H K Q 10 9 7 4
D 9 3D A 10 2
C A Q 9 8 6C 10 3
S A Q 9 6 4 2
H 8 3
D K Q J 8
4 H EastC 2

West’s raise with three cards is dubious — those who use support doubles will double — but it is unlikely to matter, as East would jump-rebid hearts anyway.

Four hearts is cold at double-dummy, but success may depend on how well declarer reads the defense. If South is too eager to lead a club, declarer may play him for a singleton and refuse the finesse — draw trumps, set up a spade trick, ruff a diamond, etc. Best defense is just to lead diamonds, only shifting to clubs if declarer tries to establish a spade trick.

A few Souths will venture to 4 S, which goes down two with best play. Assume a heart lead and a diamond shift, threatening a ruff. South must not lead trumps but just concede the diamond ruff. Soon he will reach a position like a zugzwang in chess; the defenders cannot lead anything without allowing declarer to pick up the remaining trumps with a finesse.

Analyses 7P65 MainTop ACBL Instant MP Pairs

Board 5

The East-West point count falls slightly short of the slam zone, so most pairs will be content with a standard Stayman auction:

WestNorthEastSouthNorth dealsS 2
… 100
+300 99
… 99
+150 98
… 97
+100 94
… 91
+50 83
… 77
-150 76
… 76
-180 75
… 75
-210 74
… 74
-240 73
… 73
-400 72
-420 70
-430 65
… 61
-450 60
-460 46
… 33
-490 21
-500 11
… 10
-520 10
… 9
-550 9
… 8
-590 8
… 7
-800 7
… 6
-990 5
… 2
-1230 1
… 0
Pass1 NTPassN-S vulH 10 9 7 6 3
2 CPass2 SPassD 8 7 6
3 NTPassPassPassC Q 10 7 4
S K Q 10TableS J 9 4 3
H A Q 5 2H K 4
D 9 5D A K J
C K 8 6 2C A J 5 3
S A 8 7 6 5
H J 8
D Q 10 4 3 2
3 NT EastC 9

After a diamond lead 12 tricks are easy. Declarer can simply take the club finesse; or better technique, squeeze North who must keep a heart stopper in the ending.

Even without a diamond lead 12 tricks can be made. With routine play declarer can force out the S A, take the club finesse then squeeze North, who cannot keep both the long heart and club.

Not so fast! A clever South can break up the squeeze by ducking his S A three times. Brilliant! Well, almost brilliant. If South is that good he deserves a piece of the action: Declarer can cash all his heart and club winners to squeeze out South’s long spade, then stuff him with a spade for the diamond endplay.

Board 6

After South opens 1 D, West has a close decision whether to overcall, double or use a Michaels cue-bid. I slightly prefer the last:

WestNorthEastSouthEast dealsS 8 3
… 100
+200 99
… 99
+100 98
… 97
-50 97
… 96
-100 96
… 95
-150 94
… 93
-200 92
… 90
-230 89
… 88
-260 86
… 84
-500 83
… 82
-650 81
… 79
-680 72
… 65
-710 47
… 29
-800 28
… 27
-1100 26
… 25
-1400 25
… 24
-1430 21
… 18
-1460 10
… 3
-1700 2
… 1
-2210 1
… 0
Pass1 DE-W vulH J 10 8 3
2 DPass4 SPassD Q 8 5 3
5 DPass5 HPassC 10 9 6
6 SPassPassPassS K J 10 7 2TableS A 9 5 4
H K Q 9 5 4H A 6
DD 9 7 2
C A Q JC 7 5 4 2
S Q 6
H 7 2
D A K J 10 6 4
6 S EastC K 8 3

East has ideal values to bid game, and West probes for slam with a diamond cue-bid. East shows the H A, and West signs off in slam. A case can be made for bidding (or at least trying for) a grand slam, but just getting to six after an opponent opens the bidding is almost always a good score; the additional risk to bid seven is seldom justified.

Straightforward play (dropping the S Q) brings home all 13 tricks. Note that declarer should test hearts before taking the club finesse, since a 3-3 break would make the finesse unnecessary.

If North-South sacrifice in 7 D, this goes for one too many (minus 1700) with careful defense.

Board 7

I would upgrade the South hand — great spot cards, five-card suit — and open a strong 1 NT (15-17) leading to this Stayman auction:

WestNorthEastSouthSouth dealsS K
… 100
+670 99
+660 86
… 74
+630 68
… 62
+600 58
… 56
+500 55
… 55
+210 54
+200 53
… 52
+180 52
… 51
+150 50
+140 49
+130 45
… 41
+110 36
+100 30
+90 29
… 28
-100 23
-110 18
… 18
-140 17
… 16
-170 15
… 14
-200 11
… 7
-300 5
… 4
-500 3
… 2
-670 2
… 1
-730 1
… 0
1 NTBoth vulH 8 5 3 2
Pass2 CPass2 DD K 7 3
Pass3 NTPassPassC K Q J 7 4
PassS Q 9 5 3 2TableS A 7 6 4
H A K 7 4H J 10
D 9 5 4D 10 2
C 9C 8 6 5 3 2
S J 10 8
H Q 9 6
D A Q J 8 6
3 NT SouthC A 10

After a spade lead 3 NT can be defeated with the H J switch, but this is clearly double-dummy. A spade return is correct in theory, as it will defeat the contract if spades are running, or if South has one spade stopper and West has a minor-suit ace. West must win the second spade and cash his top hearts to hold declarer to nine tricks.

West will get in the bidding at some tables, especially if South opens 1 D. In spades East-West can always win nine tricks — even after the best defense of a trump lead — and some will win 10 after a club lead if North-South do not cash their diamond tricks. Spade bids also will make it difficult if not impossible for North-South to bid notrump, so the end result may be an inferior diamond or heart contract.

Board 8

Assuming South is not averse to four-card overcalls, I would expect an auction like:

WestNorthEastSouthWest dealsS J 8
… 100
+530 99
… 99
+500 98
… 98
+300 97
… 97
+200 96
… 96
+180 95
+170 94
… 94
+150 93
+140 88
… 86
+120 85
+110 77
+100 73
+90 71
… 70
+50 68
0 63
-50 59
… 58
-90 54
-100 45
-110 40
-120 24
… 9
-150 7
… 5
-200 4
… 4
-300 3
… 2
-500 2
… 1
-800 1
… 0
PassPass1 C1 SNone vulH A 10 7 6 3
2 C2 HPassPassD K 8 7 5 4
PassC 9
S 9 6 5TableS 10 7 4 3
H Q 8 2H K J 4
D A Q 3D J 10 9
C Q 10 4 2C A K 5
S A K Q 2
H 9 5
D 6 2
2 H NorthC J 8 7 6 3

Those who play responsive doubles might reap a big reward if North instead doubles 2 C, and South converts to penalty. Four rounds of spades brings an easy 300. There will also be some Wests who compete to 3 C for a worse fate.

In hearts North can win eight tricks with best play all around. Assume two rounds of clubs, ruffed; spade to queen; diamond to king; diamond; heart to ace; diamond ruff; spade to jack; heart. East must win this with the king (yeah sure), else declarer can win nine tricks by ruffing the club return and exiting with a trump to force East to give dummy the last two tricks.

The par contract is 2 NT for East-West. This should be down one, but some will make it when South is too eager to cash his top spades.

Analyses 7P65 MainTop ACBL Instant MP Pairs

Board 9

Like Board 8, this should be competitive with a variety of outcomes. Here’s one sensible auction:

WestNorthEastSouthNorth dealsS 10 2
… 100
+500 98
… 98
+470 97
… 97
+300 96
… 96
+200 95
… 94
+170 93
… 92
+140 88
+130 84
… 83
+110 77
+100 69
… 67
-50 58
… 50
-90 48
-100 39
-110 26
… 20
-130 19
… 18
-150 13
… 8
-200 7
… 6
-300 5
… 4
-500 4
… 3
-600 3
… 2
-670 2
… 1
-800 1
… 0
Pass1 D1 SE-W vulH A 5 3
Pass1 NT2 D2 HD A 9 3
3 DPassPassPassC Q J 6 5 4
S 8 5TableS Q J 7 4
H 9 8 4 2H K 6
D 10 7 5D K Q J 8 6 4
C K 10 7 2C A
S A K 9 6 3
H Q J 10 7
D 2
3 D EastC 9 8 3

As North I would be tempted to bid 3 H over 3 D; but the prudent course is to pass, as South is likely to bid 3 H if he had 5-5 shape.

Three diamonds should be down one, but some will make it. After three rounds of spades, ruffed with the D 10, North may overruff and return a heart. Oops. This error might be avoided with a delicate suit-preference signal (South’s third spade), but a better solution is for North to discard a club. If declarer next leads a heart, North ducks; then he can put South on lead in hearts for a spade ruff. If declarer instead leads trumps, North wins the second round as South throws the H Q to clarify the situation; North then exits with a club or a trump.

In spades or hearts North-South can win eight tricks with best play and defense.

Board 10

All roads lead to 4 H, whether South passes or opens 1 H or 2 H. I prefer the weak two-bid:

WestNorthEastSouthEast dealsS A 10
… 100
+1700 99
… 99
+1660 98
… 98
+1440 97
+1430 94
… 94
+1400 93
… 93
+1100 92
… 91
+800 90
… 89
+690 88
+680 83
… 79
+660 78
+650 58
… 38
+630 37
+620 33
+600 30
… 30
+500 29
… 29
+200 28
… 28
+100 27
… 26
-100 18
… 8
-200 5
… 4
-300 3
… 2
-400 2
-500 1
… 0
Pass2 HBoth vulH A 10 6 5 4
Pass4 HPassPassD K 9 5
PassC A J 2
S K 9 8 5 3TableS Q 7 6 4
HH K 9
D Q 7 4D 8 6 3 2
C K 9 8 7 4C 10 5 3
S J 2
H Q J 8 7 3 2
D A J 10
4 H SouthC Q 6

After a spade lead, the proper play is to win the ace and cash the H A. (If the H K fell, declarer would cross to hand, finesse and eliminate clubs then lead a spade.) Declarer next leads a spade; East should win, cash the H K and lead the C 10 — a key play so that West will not waste the king — then declarer must guess the D Q to make 11 tricks. The diamond guess can be avoided by leading a spade at trick two (not cashing the H A), but this is inferior as it presupposes a 2-0 trump break.

After a club lead by West, declarer can win 12 tricks: Win the C Q; club finesse; H A; C A to throw a spade; S A; spade ruff; exit with a heart and claim.

A few brazen East-West pairs may get carried away (on stretchers?) with a 4 S sacrifice. This can be set four tricks; but even if North-South drop a trick, plus 800 earns 90 percent of the matchpoints.

Board 11

After a standard 1 NT opening, many Wests will be a nuisance with a preemptive 3 C bid:

WestNorthEastSouthSouth dealsS A 10 6 4 3 2
… 100
+1100 99
… 97
+800 96
… 95
+690 95
… 94
+650 94
… 93
+590 92
… 92
+500 91
… 90
+450 69
… 49
+430 48
+420 35
+400 23
… 22
+300 22
… 21
+200 21
… 20
+170 20
… 19
+150 19
+140 18
… 17
+100 17
… 16
+50 16
… 15
-50 12
… 8
-100 6
… 4
-200 3
… 3
-300 2
… 0
1 NTNone vulH J 10 9 7 3
3 C4 CPass4 SD J
PassPassPassC 3
S 7TableS K Q
H 2H A Q 8 6 4
D K 8 5 4D 10 6 3 2
C Q 9 7 6 5 4 2C J 8
S J 9 8 5
H K 5
D A Q 9 7
4 S SouthC A K 10

North’s best action is a 4 C cue-bid, leading to the obvious game. North could have chanced 4 S himself, but the advantage of the cue-bid is to allow for the possibility of a superior heart contract should opener hold four hearts.

The play is straightforward, and the only variance depends on the opening lead. If West leads his singleton — a dubious strategy with a singleton trump — he gets a ruff and holds declarer to 10 tricks. Otherwise 11 tricks are easy.

A few Wests will get doubled in club contracts. Best defense is a heart lead — or the S A and a heart shift — after which accurate defense will hold West to seven tricks. On that analysis the safety limit for East-West is exactly as advertised, 3 C.

Board 12

Is the West hand an opening bid? No, but many Wests will open anyway, as 13 points are hard to pass. This may work out all right, especially if East-West share my philosophy about responder’s rebids:

WestNorthEastSouthWest dealsS 10 3
… 100
+250 99
… 98
+200 97
… 95
+150 91
… 88
+120 87
… 86
+100 80
… 72
+50 57
0 42
… 42
-90 41
-100 40
-110 39
-120 38
… 37
-140 29
-150 20
… 19
-170 17
-180 14
… 14
-200 13
… 13
-400 12
-420 7
-430 4
… 3
-450 3
… 2
-500 2
… 1
-800 1
… 0
1 DPass1 HPassN-S vulH 7 4
1 SPass2 CPassD J 8 6
2 HPass2 SPassC K 10 9 8 7 2
PassPassS Q J 7 4TableS A 9 8 2
H Q J 10H K 8 6 3
D K Q 9 7D A 4 3
C Q 5C 6 3
S K 6 5
H A 9 5 2
D 10 5 2
2 S WestC A J 4

Two clubs is “fourth suit forcing,” 2 H shows three hearts, and 2 S invites game in spades. Many players instead use “limit jump rebids” and would raise 1 S to 3 S, getting dangerously high. (I advocate responder’s second-round jumps as forcing without interference.)

In spades West can win nine tricks, but this requires double-dummy play (S A and another spade) if the defenders lead or shift to hearts. Many will take the spade finesse and suffer a heart ruff. See the merit of stopping in 2 S?

As usual there will be players who overbid to 4 S. Worse yet, a few will actually make it when North-South fail to cash their club tricks.

Analyses 7P65 MainTop ACBL Instant MP Pairs

Board 13

Assuming North passes and East opens 1 D, South has a close decision. The shape, minimal point count and vulnerability suggest passing, but the quality and location of high cards (none in diamonds) suggest doubling. The expert community would probably be split on the issue. A takeout double works well this time:

WestNorthEastSouthNorth dealsS K J 9 4 3
… 100
+800 99
… 98
+660 97
+650 94
… 92
+630 91
+620 72
+600 64
… 62
+500 61
+400 60
… 60
+300 59
… 58
+210 57
+200 54
… 49
+180 48
+170 37
… 27
+150 26
+140 22
+130 19
+120 18
+110 17
+100 14
+90 12
… 11
-70 11
-80 10
-90 9
-100 5
-110 4
-120 3
… 2
-180 2
… 1
-200 1
… 0
Pass1 DDblBoth vulH A 6
Pass4 SPassPassD J 3 2
PassC Q 9 8
S 10 6 5TableS 8 7
H 10 7 5 2H K J 9 3
D A 10 7D K Q 9 8
C 7 6 4C K 3 2
S A Q 2
H Q 8 4
D 6 5 4
4 S NorthC A J 10 5

North’s bid is aggressive perhaps, especially if South is a “loose doubler”; but it gets my approval. Bidding what you think you can make keeps the auction simple and gives no further information to the opponents.

The defenders can cash three diamond tricks, but 4 S comes rolling home with the C K onside as expected. Notice how the C 10 and 9 make the contract excellent, while without those two cards it would be poor.

A few vagabonds will play in notrump, winning nine tricks if East-West cash their diamonds; otherwise 10, perhaps 11 with a defensive error.

Board 14

My “reverse bid” structure dictates this auction:

WestNorthEastSouthEast dealsS K 8 3 2
… 100
+100 98
… 97
+50 96
… 96
-110 95
-120 94
-130 93
… 91
-150 85
… 80
-170 79
-180 77
… 76
-210 75
… 74
-400 66
-420 57
-430 34
… 10
-460 6
… 3
-490 2
-500 1
… 0
PassPassNone vulH 9 8 6 2
1 DPass1 SPassD A 8
2 HPass2 NTPassC 9 7 5
3 DPass3 NTAll PassS ATableS Q 10 5 4
H A K 10 3H Q 5
D Q 9 6 4 3D J 10 7 2
C A 6 4C K 8 3
S J 9 7 6
H J 7 4
D K 5
3 NT EastC Q J 10 2

Two notrump (forcing) shows 6-10 points and denies five spades. Three diamonds may appear strange but is required when opener has less than game-going values. The East hand has too much potential to pass 3 D, so he takes a chance on the most likely game.

After the C Q lead, declarer only has to win each trick offered and drive out the D A-K to score up nine tricks. A variation may occur if South wins the first diamond lead and declarer tries a holdup play in clubs. South then must shift to a spade — else declarer is sure to win 10 tricks — then a diamond is led to the ace. North can cash his S K to hold declarer to nine tricks; but he may underlead it, either serving up an overtrick or setting the contract depending on the guess.

East-West pairs who play in diamonds should win 11 tricks, losing only the two top trumps.

Board 15

Does a 2 NT opening require a stopper in every suit? Most players say no, so the practical auction is:

WestNorthEastSouthSouth dealsS A K 8
… 100
+690 99
… 98
+660 91
+650 83
… 82
+630 62
+620 40
+600 25
… 13
+210 12
… 11
+180 11
+170 10
… 9
+150 9
+140 8
… 8
+110 7
… 7
-100 6
… 3
-200 2
… 1
-300 1
… 0
PassN-S vulH A K Q 8
Pass2 NTPass3 NTD A 5 3 2
PassPassPassC 10 4
S 10 5 3 2TableS Q 9 7
H 9 7H 10 6 4 2
D J 9 8D K 6 4
C J 9 6 2C A 8 7
S J 6 4
H J 5 3
D Q 10 7
3 NT NorthC K Q 5 3

Declarer should win 9 to 11 tricks depending on his guesswork. In the worst scenario North wins the heart lead and plays a diamond to the 10; a spade is returned, ducked to the queen; then declarer can win only nine tricks. I don’t like the spade duck — West is unlikely to lead from the queen looking at J-x-x in dummy — so it is better to win and lead a club (or diamond) after which 10 tricks can be won. If declarer guesses diamonds the first time, he can score up 11 tricks.

Those who open the North hand 1 D (or 1 H playing four-card majors) will reach 3 NT from the South side. Then it would be normal to duck West’s spade opening lead around to the jack. After this poor start, declarer probably should lead clubs first to produce nine tricks with the C A onside, and the endgame offers a 10th trick without risk.

Board 16

Enterprising East-West bidding earns a nice reward:

WestNorthEastSouthWest dealsS A J 10 8 6 2
… 100
+530 99
… 98
+500 97
… 96
+420 95
… 94
+200 88
… 82
+170 81
… 80
+140 79
… 78
+110 77
+100 71
… 67
-50 64
… 60
-100 55
… 49
-140 48
-150 46
… 44
-170 43
… 42
-200 41
… 40
-300 38
… 35
-500 33
… 31
-620 24
… 17
-650 16
… 15
-790 10
-800 4
… 3
-990 2
… 0
Pass1 SDblPassE-W vulH 4
4 HDblPassPassD A 10 2
PassC A K 5
S K Q 5 3TableS 7
H Q J 9 8 7 6H A K 2
D J 6D K 9 8 5 3
C JC Q 10 9 4
S 9 4
H 10 5 3
D Q 7 4
4 H× WestC 8 7 6 3 2

North can hardly be faulted. The double of 4 H is not strictly for penalty, essentially just showing a strong opening, and South has the option to remove it to 4 S with a spade fit. This time it goes sour, as South must pass and the contract is cold.

Only reasonable care is required to make 4 H. After the best defense of a trump lead, declarer can lead a diamond toward the king then either establish diamonds or ruff two spades depending on the defense. The only hope to defeat 4 H might be if North cashes a high club then underleads his D A, but declarer should get this right on the bidding.

Those who play in spades (a good sacrifice against 4 H) can win eight tricks with best play and defense, but declarer might do better (say, if East ducks the first diamond lead) or worse if he loses trump control after continued heart leads.

Analyses 7P65 MainTop ACBL Instant MP Pairs

Board 17

The South hand does not meet accepted requirements for any bid; but after two passes, it seems too generous to allow the opponents a free run. Matchpoint events are not won by sitting on the sidelines. Besides, the bridge gods must have dealt me a straight flush for some reason, and it wasn’t just to pass. After an aberrant thought of 3 S, I would settle for a weak two-bid:

WestNorthEastSouthNorth dealsS J 4
… 100
+200 99
… 99
+170 98
… 98
+150 97
+140 96
… 96
+110 95
+100 94
… 94
+50 93
… 90
-50 89
… 88
-100 88
… 87
-140 86
-150 85
… 84
-170 79
… 75
-200 74
-210 73
… 73
-300 72
… 71
-400 70
-420 42
-430 9
… 6
-450 5
-460 4
… 4
-500 3
… 3
-590 2
… 2
-800 1
… 0
PassPass2 SNone vulH 9 7 3
Dbl3 S4 HPassD A Q 7 5 3
PassPassC A 10 2
S K QTableS 5 3 2
H A K J 6H Q 10 5 4 2
D K J 10 6D 4
C K 9 7C Q J 6 3
S A 10 9 8 7 6
H 8
D 9 8 2
4 H EastC 8 5 4

The same final contract should be reached if North passes the takeout double (East would bid 3 H and West would raise to game) or if East passes 3 S (West would double again).

Everyone in hearts should win 10 tricks. It is difficult to imagine any other result as the cards lie.

A few North-South pairs may try a sacrifice in 4 S. This can be set three tricks if South finesses twice in spades or if East gets a diamond ruff — perhaps four if both materialize — so the savers should pay for their poor judgment.

Board 18

A variety of North-South auctions will come to rest in 4 H. I prefer this route:

WestNorthEastSouthEast dealsS 10 7
… 100
+800 99
+790 98
… 98
+690 97
+680 96
… 96
+660 95
+650 92
… 90
+630 88
+620 74
+600 60
… 59
+500 59
… 58
+300 58
… 57
+200 57
… 56
+170 56
… 55
+150 55
+140 53
+130 50
+120 47
+110 45
+100 43
+90 42
… 42
+50 41
… 40
-100 32
… 20
-200 16
… 11
-300 8
… 4
-500 2
… 0
Pass1 CN-S vulH K 10 8 6
Pass1 DPass1 NTD A K 9 8 3 2
Pass2 HPass3 HC 6
Pass4 HAll PassS J 5 3 2TableS A 6 4
H J 5 4 3H 2
D Q 5D 10 6 4
C A K 3C J 10 9 8 5 2
S K Q 9 8
H A Q 9 7
D J 7
4 H NorthC Q 7 4

Whether South should rebid 1 H or 1 NT is debatable. The case for 1 H is that North may have a weak hand with a four-card major; the case for 1 NT is that North may have weak spades and 1 NT may be missed. Many experts prefer the “natural rebid” with strength in both majors and only three clubs, as there is still time to locate a major fit if North can bid again.

Ten tricks can always be won in hearts with careful play. Assume the C J lead; club ruff; spade to queen; diamond to king; spade to ace; club ruff; D A. Any crossruff scheme will now work (even if West gets an overruff) but the guaranteed sure-trick line is: Diamond ruff high; spade ruff high; diamond ruff high; spade ruff, which ensures the H J can be the only trick lost.

Board 19

As on Board 6, East-West have an opportunity to bid a laydown slam after South opens the bidding:

WestNorthEastSouthSouth dealsS J 8 6 5 3
… 100
+200 98
… 97
+100 96
… 96
-50 95
… 95
-100 94
… 93
-150 92
… 91
-170 82
-180 73
… 73
-210 72
… 72
-240 71
… 71
-300 70
… 70
-500 69
… 69
-600 68
-620 55
-630 42
… 41
-660 37
… 34
-690 30
… 25
-800 24
… 23
-1100 22
… 21
-1370 12
… 4
-1440 3
… 2
-1540 1
… 0
1 HE-W vulH 10 5
DblPass2 CPassD 6 5 3
4 NTPass5 CPassC J 10 7
6 CPassPassPassS ATableS 9 7 2
H K 3H Q 9 6 2
D A K 10 9D Q 2
C A K Q 8 5 4C 9 6 3 2
S K Q 10 4
H A J 8 7 4
D J 8 7 4
6 C EastC

West is surprised but delighted to hear a club response, after which he can envision 12 tricks if partner has as little as a doubleton diamond. Using Blackwood seems like a waste of time but costs nothing.

I do not recommend Flannery, but a 2 D opening by South could show an advantage here. Would you have the tools to reach 6 C? It looks tough to me.

North-South have a profitable save in 6 S (probably down five) and a few lunatics no doubt will find it.

Many Wests will play in notrump. A spade lead holds this to 10 or 11 tricks, probably the latter as South will usually discard a diamond (or if not, declarer will guess the ending). After a heart lead, declarer should win 12 tricks on the same basis.

Board 20

Whether East should double or overcall a 1 S opening is a matter of system and style. I prefer the overcall, perhaps leading to this auction:

WestNorthEastSouthWest dealsS K 9 8 6 5
… 100
+300 99
… 98
+200 96
… 94
+170 93
… 92
+140 89
… 86
+110 83
+100 66
… 54
-90 52
-100 44
-110 39
-120 38
-130 37
-140 32
… 28
-170 27
… 26
-200 20
… 15
-300 14
… 13
-400 12
-500 10
… 9
-620 7
… 5
-650 4
… 3
-800 2
… 0
Pass1 S2 D2 SBoth vulH J 5
PassPassDblPassD A 10 4 3
3 HPassPass3 SC A 5
PassPassPassS J 4TableS Q 10 7
H Q 10 8 3 2H A K 7 4
D 8 6D K Q J 7 2
C Q J 6 2C 3
S A 3 2
H 9 6
D 9 5
3 S NorthC K 10 9 8 7 4

East’s reopening double is good matchpoint strategy; if West removes it to 3 C (as usually happens) East’s intention is to correct to 3 D. This time West obligingly bids 3 H — a laydown contract — after which South is likely to try 3 S (perhaps East should double this).

A spade contract is treacherous. Assume the H K lead; D K, ducked; H A; then D Q won by the ace. Declarer can win nine tricks at double-dummy: Lead a spade to the ace; run the C 10 (West cannot gain by covering); S K; C A, etc. In the real world, however, the best result is eight tricks. Many will win less if they fail to duck the first diamond lead, or if West gets to overruff dummy.

Analyses 7P65 MainTop ACBL Instant MP Pairs

Board 21

Here’s an effective auction to the best contract using a popular expert treatment:

WestNorthEastSouthNorth dealsS A 5 3
… 100
+2490 99
… 99
+2220 98
… 98
+2140 97
… 96
+1470 94
+1460 90
+1440 88
+1430 85
… 84
+1400 84
+1390 80
… 75
+1370 70
… 65
+720 64
+710 63
+690 62
+680 60
… 57
+650 56
+640 52
… 50
+620 45
+600 38
… 37
-100 30
… 22
-200 15
… 9
-300 6
… 4
-400 3
… 3
-500 2
… 2
-800 1
… 0
1 HPass2 DN-S vulH A K Q 10 7 6 3
Pass3 HPass4 DD 4
Pass4 SPass6 NTC 10 4
PassPassPassS K J 8 6TableS 9 7 4 2
H 9 8 5 4 2H J
D 10D 9 6 5
C J 9 2C A Q 6 5 3
S Q 10
H
D A K Q J 8 7 3 2
6 NT SouthC K 8 7

In the “two-over-one game forcing” genre, North’s jump to 3 H shows a solid suit (or so he thinks) with an outside ace or king. South bides time with 4 D, North cue-bids the S A, and South places the contract. South might instead use Blackwood (over 4 S) if it were possible for North to have two outside aces.

Six notrump is laydown, and West must lead a club to prevent the overtrick.

Notice how inferior a suit slam is on this deal, and I don’t mean scorewise. Six hearts has no chance with the 5-1 trump break, and it would be far from secure even if hearts behaved. Six diamonds can be made after a spade lead only by the frightening play of ducking the first trick to South’s queen.

Board 22

East-West will have difficulty stopping low enough on this deal, and many will get to a hopeless game. In my methods the bidding should go:

WestNorthEastSouthEast dealsS A Q 9 6
… 100
+800 99
… 98
+500 98
… 97
+400 96
… 95
+300 92
… 89
+200 77
… 64
+100 49
… 34
-50 32
… 31
-90 30
-100 27
-110 21
-120 16
-130 15
-140 13
-150 11
… 10
-170 10
… 9
-300 9
… 8
-500 8
… 7
-600 5
-620 3
-630 2
… 1
-800 1
… 0
1 CPassE-W vulH 10 8
1 HPass2 CPassD 9 5 4
2 DPass2 NTPassC Q J 9 2
3 HPassPassPassS JTableS K 10 7
H K Q 7 6 5 2H 3
D Q J 10 7D A 8 3
C K 8C A 10 7 6 5 3
S 8 5 4 3 2
H A J 9 4
D K 6 2
3 H WestC 4

Two diamonds promises game interest, then 3 H is invitational in hearts. Pairs who play “limit jump rebids” as responder would jump to 3 H over 2 C, and East should pass to reach the same contract.

Even 3 H is too high, as declarer must lose three trumps, a spade and a diamond with routine play. I see no way around this barring a defensive error.

Those who play in notrump can win eight tricks — not enough since most will be overboard in 3 NT. The play is likely to begin with a spade to the ace; spade to 10; heart to queen; diamond finesse, losing; then a spade return. Declarer now can do nothing but cash out his remaining winners.

Board 23

Here’s a good application for the Drury convention. Using “reverse Drury” as most experts advocate, the bidding would go:

WestNorthEastSouthSouth dealsS K Q 2
… 100
+670 99
… 99
+500 98
+400 97
… 97
+300 96
… 95
+200 93
… 89
+170 88
… 87
+140 77
… 76
+110 66
+100 55
+90 50
… 49
0 45
… 40
-80 39
-90 29
-100 15
-110 11
-120 7
… 4
-200 3
… 2
-300 1
… 0
PassBoth vulH A 10 9 6 5
Pass1 HPass2 CD 10
Pass2 HPassPassC 10 8 7 5
PassS J 8 7 3TableS A 5 4
H Q 8H J 4 3
D K 9 7D 8 6 5 4
C Q J 9 6C A K 2
S 10 9 6
H K 7 2
D A Q J 3 2
2 H NorthC 4 3

Two clubs is artificial and asks if North has a full opening. Rebidding the major is the denial, and South passes to avoid getting too high. (In regular Drury 2 D is the denial, and South would correct to 2 H.)

In hearts North can always win nine tricks, but the defenders can make him guess correctly. After a high club lead, the most effective defense (difficult in view of the diamond suit) is a trump shift. On the surface this blows the defenders’ trump trick, but it forces declarer to do two things right for nine tricks: Take the ruffing diamond finesse (running the 10 will not work) and finesse against the S J. Declarer’s task is easier if the defense begins with three rounds of clubs; then he only needs to do one thing right.

Board 24

It is easy to supply an auction to the reasonable heart slam, but it may be tainted by hindsight:

WestNorthEastSouthWest dealsS 2
… 100
+1210 99
… 98
+980 89
… 83
+800 82
+790 81
… 80
+510 79
+500 76
… 75
+480 67
… 57
+460 56
+450 46
… 39
+430 38
+420 35
+400 29
… 28
+300 27
… 27
+260 26
… 25
+230 22
… 19
+200 16
… 13
+170 11
… 10
+150 9
+140 8
… 7
+110 7
+100 6
… 5
-50 4
… 3
-100 2
… 0
PassPassPass2 CNone vulH Q 6 2
Pass2 DPass2 HD J 8 6 5 4 2
Pass3 HPass3 SC 10 7 3
Pass4 HPass6 HS J 10 4TableS Q 7 6 5 3
All PassH 8 7 5 4H J
D A 10 9D K Q 7 3
C Q J 2C 8 6 5
S A K 9 8
H A K 10 9 3
D
6 H SouthC A K 9 4

Two clubs is strong and artificial; 2 D is negative; 2 H is forcing; and 3 H shows useful values — with a terrible hand North would bid 3 C, a “double negative.” South then is justified to take a stab at slam, though he first bids 3 S in case North has a spade fit as well.

Twelve tricks can always be won in hearts. After a trump lead, declarer must ruff two spades using club entries to return to his hand; then trumps are drawn and a club is conceded to establish the C 9. After a diamond lead, declarer must play a complete crossruff (four side winners and eight trumps); even if West annoyingly ruffs the fourth spade with the H 7, declarer can overruff and later ruff a club with the H 6.

Analyses 7P65 MainTop ACBL Instant MP Pairs

Board 25

Using strong notrumps and transfer bids, the bidding is likely to go:

WestNorthEastSouthNorth dealsS A 3 2
… 100
+500 99
… 99
+480 98
… 98
+450 97
+440 96
… 95
+420 72
+400 58
… 57
+230 56
… 55
+200 54
+190 53
… 52
+170 46
… 41
+150 40
+140 36
+130 31
+120 21
+110 20
… 19
+90 18
… 17
-50 11
… 4
-100 3
… 2
-150 2
… 1
-300 1
… 0
1 NTPass2 HE-W vulH J 10
Pass2 SPass2 NTD A Q 9
Pass4 SPassPassC A Q 10 3 2
PassS 9 6 4TableS K J
H Q 9 5H A K 8 7 3
D J 6 5 3 2D 10 7 4
C J 5C 9 7 4
S Q 10 8 7 5
H 6 4 2
D K 8
4 S NorthC K 8 6

Two hearts is a Jacoby transfer showing at least five spades; 2 S is automatic; 2 NT invites game in notrump or spades, and North accepts in spades.

Suppose the defense starts with three rounds of hearts, ruffed by North. Declarer can easily win 10 tricks by leading ace and another spade, or a low spade first. Note that the latter option would be necessary if West held S J-x-x; otherwise a fourth heart lead by East would promote the S J. Not cashing the S A neatly prevents the promotion.

Is there any way to go down in 4 S? Sure. “Backward Bart” would ruff the third heart, cross to South and lead the S Q, losing to the king. Even this doesn’t seem to matter with the S J coming down, but a fourth heart is deadly. Enough foolishness.

Board 26

Standard bidders will probably follow this route to the easy spade game:

WestNorthEastSouthEast dealsS A J 8 6 5 3
… 100
+1430 99
… 99
+1400 98
… 98
+1100 97
… 97
+990 96
… 96
+800 95
… 95
+710 94
… 93
+690 93
+680 62
… 32
+650 22
… 13
+630 12
+620 10
+600 9
… 8
+500 8
… 7
+300 7
… 6
+260 6
… 5
+230 5
… 4
+200 4
… 3
+170 3
… 2
-100 2
… 1
-200 1
… 0
PassPassBoth vulH K 8 6
1 H1 SPass3 SD Q 9 2
Pass4 SPassPassC A
PassS 10 4TableS Q
H Q J 10 9 4 2H 7 5
D A K 8D 10 7 4 3
C K 5C 9 7 6 4 3 2
S K 9 7 2
H A 3
D J 6 5
4 S NorthC Q J 10 8

Many partnerships play weak jump raises of overcalls, so those Souths will instead cue-bid 2 H (or 3 H if it systemically shows a four-card limit raise) but the same contract will be reached.

With the indicated heart lead everyone should win 12 tricks: Win the H K; lead a spade to the king; spade to ace; C A; heart to ace; C Q, bingo. Even if the C K did not appear, declarer probably should let it ride (pitching a diamond) based on the bidding.

How did some turkey win all 13 tricks? I’m glad you asked. He got a club lead; eight, king, ace. Now aren’t you glad you weren’t around for the postmortem?

Those who made only 11 tricks probably played 4 S from the South side (perhaps after a deranged takeout double by North) and West cashed his two tricks.

Board 27

West is likely to reach 4 S at most tables. If North and South remain quiet, the bidding may go:

WestNorthEastSouthSouth dealsS 9 8 6 4 3
… 100
+500 98
… 98
+300 97
… 96
+100 92
… 87
+50 83
… 79
-50 78
… 78
-100 77
… 76
-140 72
… 67
-170 61
… 55
-200 52
… 51
-300 50
… 49
-400 49
-420 42
-430 33
… 31
-450 28
-460 25
… 24
-500 23
… 22
-590 16
… 10
-630 9
… 8
-690 5
… 4
-730 3
… 2
-800 1
… 0
PassNone vulH K
1 SPass1 NTPassD A K
4 SPassPassPassC K 9 8 5 2
S K Q J 10 7 5TableS A
H A 7H Q 6 5
D Q 7D J 9 6 5 4 2
C A Q 10C 7 6 4
S 2
H J 10 9 8 4 3 2
D 10 8 3
4 S WestC J 3

Of course, some Souths will open 3 H (count his marbles) or some Norths will overcall 2 C (not bad) so the auction will take different turns. Many of those in 4 S will be doubled — I can see the foam dripping from North’s mouth already.

Four spades is not a good contract but should make. Assume a diamond lead and a trump shift. Declarer can give up a diamond and win the rest for an overtrick, but he doesn’t know the miraculous heart lie; so he may use the entry for a losing club finesse. Eventually, he will have no alternative but to cash the H A — all smiles.

Three notrump also comes rolling home. If East is declarer, a heart to the king (would you play the ace?) and a spade shift limit declarer to nine tricks; but North is more likely to cash D A-K and hand over 10. If West is declarer, 11 tricks are available.

Board 28

A variety of auctions will land East-West in a spade partscore. Here’s one with a little excitement:

WestNorthEastSouthWest dealsS 8
… 100
+500 99
… 99
+300 98
… 98
+150 97
… 96
+110 95
+100 85
+90 75
… 74
+50 65
0 54
… 52
-90 50
-100 46
-110 33
-120 18
… 15
-140 10
-150 7
… 6
-200 6
… 5
-300 5
… 4
-400 4
-420 3
… 2
-500 2
… 1
-800 1
… 0
PassPass1 DPassN-S vulH Q 8 7 5 4
1 SPassPass1 NTD Q 9
Dbl2 C2 SPassC K 10 9 8 7
PassPassS J 9 6 4 2TableS A 10 7 3
H A J 3H K 9
D 10 8 5D A 7 4 3
C A 5C J 6 2
S K Q 5
H 10 6 2
D K J 6 2
2 S WestC Q 4 3

East’s pass of 1 S is conservative — game is possible opposite some passed hands — but a raise is likely to get the partnership overboard, as it would here. South’s reopening bid is doubtful, though he is likely to escape. It is unrealistic for East to double 2 C holding four spades, even though 2 C (or 2 H) could be set one trick for a matchpoint triumph.

In spades only eight tricks can be won legitimately. Declarer might steal a ninth trick if he is convinced that South has S K-Q with this line: Assume the C 10 lead, jack, queen, duck; win any return and eliminate clubs and hearts; cash the D A, and exit with a diamond which South is likely to win. When South next leads the D J, North must ruff his partner’s good trick; else declarer will ruff the next diamond with the S 9 and endplay South in trumps.

Analyses 7P65 MainTop ACBL Instant MP Pairs

Board 29

At matchpoints there is probably no such thing as a routine minor-suit game, but this board comes pretty close. The obvious auction:

WestNorthEastSouthNorth dealsS A 7 5 4 2
… 100
+1100 99
… 99
+950 98
… 98
+800 97
… 97
+750 96
… 94
+640 93
… 92
+620 91
+600 66
… 45
+500 44
+400 42
… 41
+300 41
… 40
+200 36
… 33
+170 32
… 31
+150 28
… 25
+100 21
… 18
-100 15
… 12
-140 10
… 9
-170 8
… 7
-200 6
… 3
-620 2
… 0
Pass1 H2 CBoth vulH 8 6 3
2 H3 C3 H5 CD 2
PassPassPassC K 10 9 4
S Q 10 8 6 3TableS J 9
H A 7 5 2H K Q J 10 9
D J 9 7D A 10 6 5 4
C 5C 7
S K
H 4
D K Q 8 3
5 C SouthC A Q J 8 6 3 2

Each bid speaks for itself, and the contract is laydown. Some declarers will be given an overtrick if West leads a black suit or if East ducks his D A, but each of these actions is abnormal. No doubt some East-West pairs will do both, handing declarer all 13 tricks.

A few East-West pairs may sacrifice in 5 H. This will usually be successful (down two) as routine defense cannot get two diamond tricks. Do you see the double-dummy attack? South has to underlead his C A on the opening lead, then a diamond shift will nail declarer for the maximum — down three, or four if he ducks the diamond. Note that the S K opening lead followed by a low club is not good enough; declarer can grab the D A, draw trumps and lead a spade.

Board 30

A lot of decisions here: Should East open? Should West overcall? Should North respond? If all of your answers are no, the auction might be:

WestNorthEastSouthEast dealsS 8 6 3
… 100
+500 99
… 98
+300 98
… 97
+200 97
… 96
+150 91
+140 86
… 85
+110 84
+100 75
+90 67
+80 66
… 65
+50 59
… 53
-50 45
… 38
-100 26
-110 13
-120 12
-130 11
-140 10
-150 7
… 5
-200 4
… 4
-300 3
… 3
-400 2
… 2
-500 1
… 0
Pass1 HNone vulH 8
PassPass1 NTPassD K J 9 7 6 3
Pass2 DPassPassC J 5 2
2 SPassPassPassS K 9 7 5 4TableS Q 2
H Q 10 6H K 7 4
D AD Q 5 4 2
C 10 8 7 3C K Q 9 6
S A J 10
H A J 9 5 3 2
D 10 8
2 S WestC A 4

In 2 S West is down one after two heart ruffs. In 2 D North would also have been down one (spade ruff). Only South and East could have made their bids.

Some Souths will play in 2 H, also down one. Besides the five obvious tricks, the defenders can score an extra trump — either a spade ruff or a diamond ruff. It looks like the defense might do even better with: D A; club to queen, ace; H A; heart to 10; club to East (finesse against jack); diamond ruff; club. But South can ruff, exit with a heart, ruff the club return, then lead ace and another spade to endplay East.

Curiously, all plausible contracts on this deal produce seven tricks — not exactly a bidder’s dream.

Board 31

Many tables will duplicate this auction to the sound heart game:

WestNorthEastSouthSouth dealsS A J 4
… 100
+670 99
… 99
+110 98
+100 96
… 94
+50 91
… 87
-90 86
-100 82
… 79
-120 78
… 77
-140 74
… 70
-170 63
… 49
-200 47
… 46
-300 45
… 44
-420 34
… 15
-450 14
… 11
-500 7
… 4
-590 3
… 2
-800 1
… 0
1 SN-S vulH 8
Dbl2 S3 HPassD 10 7 6 2
4 HPassPassPassC 10 9 5 4 2
S 7 5TableS 9 8 6
H A Q J 3H 10 9 7 5 2
D A K 8D Q 4 3
C Q J 8 7C K 3
S K Q 10 3 2
H K 6 4
D J 9 5
4 H EastC A 6

Some will quarrel with East’s free bid of 3 H. If East passes, West will surely double again; but then East must guess whether to bid 3 H or 4 H. I prefer to make my noise the first time.

Four hearts basically depends on the heart finesse — a favorite through the opening bidder — but declarer can be tested with three rounds of spades. If he ruffs low he might be defeated: Diamond to queen; heart finesse; C Q, ducked; club to king, ace; diamond, then South must make his H K. This trap can be avoided by cashing the top diamonds before losing the club; but a simpler solution is just to ruff the third spade with an honor then run the H 10.

The vulnerability should prevent North-South from being too frisky in spades, where only seven tricks can be made with best defense (trump leads).

Board 32

Many will open the South hand with 1 H, but I think most experts prefer 1 NT to avoid a rebid problem after a 1 S response. This may produce:

WestNorthEastSouthWest dealsS J 8 6 5
… 100
+590 99
… 98
+550 98
… 97
+420 96
+400 93
… 92
+170 91
… 90
+150 88
+140 83
… 80
+120 72
+110 61
… 58
+90 57
… 56
-50 42
… 23
-100 16
… 7
-150 6
… 4
-200 3
… 2
-300 1
… 0
PassPassPass1 NTE-W vulH 9 6
Pass2 CPass2 HD K 4
Pass2 NTPass3 HC A 8 5 3 2
Pass3 NTAll PassS 9 7 4TableS K 10 3
H K 8 7 2H 10 4
D Q 7 6 5D A 10 8 2
C Q 6C J 10 9 7
S A Q 2
H A Q J 5 3
D J 9 3
3 NT SouthC K 4

South’s 3 H bid shows five cards and offers a choice of games (North might have held S J-x-x-x H K-x-x D x-x C A-x-x-x). A slight disadvantage of this bid is that it tips South’s mitt when North returns to 3 NT.

After a diamond lead, declarer faces an uncomfortable decision. Normal play to ensure a stopper is to duck, but in desperate need of two entries to dummy I would play the king. Oops. At least this turns out not to cost when the nine forces the queen. After winning the third diamond, it is poor to use dummy’s only entry for a heart finesse that may not gain; so lead the H A then H Q to the king. When hearts don’t split, the long heart can be established, and the C A entry allows the spade finesse. Unfortunately, all this gets you is down one.

Analyses 7P65 MainTop ACBL Instant MP Pairs

Board 33

North-South are likely to come to rest in 1 NT, but West may decide to get in his two cents:

WestNorthEastSouthNorth dealsS 9 4
… 100
+550 99
… 99
+500 98
+490 97
… 96
+470 95
… 94
+400 93
… 91
+300 88
… 87
+180 86
… 85
+150 79
+140 70
… 69
+120 56
+110 41
+100 35
+90 30
… 27
+50 23
… 18
-50 14
… 9
-90 8
-100 5
… 3
-180 2
… 2
-300 1
… 0
1 DPass1 SNone vulH A K 10 3
Pass1 NTPassPassD Q J 10 6
2 CPassPass2 NTC A 3 2
PassPassPassS A K 6 3 2TableS 10 7
H 9 8 2H Q J 5
DD K 9 8 5 2
C J 10 8 7 6C Q 9 5
S Q J 8 5
H 7 6 4
D A 7 4 3
2 NT NorthC K 4

The 2 C bid is good strategy, especially considering that partner’s lead against 1 NT is likely to be a red suit. South probably should continue to 2 NT rather than be talked out of his best strain.

In notrump eight tricks can be won after a club lead: Duck the first club; win the C K; heart to ace; D Q, king (best), ace, spade discard; duck a heart; club to ace; D J; D 10. Declarer now only needs to lay down the H K; but he could go wrong if he thinks West has honor-small in hearts left, in which case he may exit with a spade and try for an endplay.

In diamonds North-South can win eight tricks with a heart lead, or nine with any other lead.

In clubs East-West can win seven tricks with a trump lead (or trump shift) or eight with any other defense.

Board 34

This will be a competitive battle — clubs vs. spades — and guess what? Clubs should win for a change:

WestNorthEastSouthEast dealsS A Q 10 5
… 100
+730 99
… 98
+150 96
+140 84
… 79
+110 77
+100 73
… 72
+50 67
… 62
-100 58
-110 52
… 51
-130 37
-140 24
-150 21
… 20
-200 14
… 8
-400 7
… 6
-500 5
-510 3
… 2
-570 1
… 0
1 C1 SN-S vulH 9 3
Dbl2 C3 CPassD J 5 4 2
Pass3 SPassPassC A 7 2
4 CPassPassPassS 4 3 2TableS 7
H K Q 8 6 2H J 7
D K 8 6D A Q 9
C 10 3C K Q J 9 6 5 4
S K J 9 8 6
H A 10 5 4
D 10 7 3
4 C EastC 8

South’s overcall is nothing to be proud of (but who would pass?); West makes a negative double; North cue-bids; East shows his long clubs, and North bids the obvious. East should pass 3 S, and West is the one who should compete to 4 C, because his red-suit honors will be useful with East marked for spade shortness.

In clubs East has 10 easy tricks, with no real chance for any more or less.

Some North-South pairs will continue to 4 S. This is obviously down one, so their matchpoint fate hinges on whether it is doubled. West probably should double, especially after the auction shown. Of course, there will be East players who never stop bidding a seven-bagger and continue to 5 C.

Board 35

After a 1 NT opening, East’s normal procedure is to use Stayman. But is this wise with soft values and two honors in his weakest suit? Even if a 4-4 heart fit exists, I think it’s at least even money that the same number of tricks can be won at notrump. Therefore, especially at matchpoints, I prefer:

WestNorthEastSouthSouth dealsS Q 7 5
… 100
+200 99
… 98
+100 97
… 95
-150 94
… 94
-170 93
-180 92
… 91
-200 90
-210 88
-230 86
-240 85
… 84
-600 83
-620 80
-630 73
… 69
-650 51
-660 21
… 9
-680 6
-690 2
… 0
PassE-W vulH J 6
1 NTPass3 NTPassD A 10 9 2
PassPassC J 9 8 5
S A 10 3TableS K 9 2
H A 10 8 3H Q 9 7 5
D 7 6D K Q J 3
C A K 6 2C Q 10
S J 8 6 4
H K 4 2
D 8 5 4
3 NT WestC 7 4 3

Declarer can win 11 tricks against any defense. If North leads a club, East’s 10 wins; then only routine play is required. If North leads a diamond, it appears that declarer must finesse the C 10 on his own but not really; North is forced to surrender a trick as he discards on the heart suit. Food for thought: What is North’s best lead? And what is his worst lead? Answers are the S Q and H J, respectively.

Those who play in hearts should also win 11 tricks for an inferior matchpoint score. In fairness to the Stayman bidders, 4 H could certainly be right; for example, if opener held weak clubs or a matching doubleton.

Board 36

East-West are likely to buy this contract if they have the tools to find their spade fit. Here’s one possibility using a responsive double:

WestNorthEastSouthWest dealsS A J 7
… 100
+800 99
… 98
+500 97
… 96
+300 95
… 94
+200 90
… 86
+150 85
+140 83
… 82
+120 81
+110 78
+100 67
+90 58
… 57
-90 56
-100 50
-110 39
… 34
-140 27
… 21
-170 20
… 18
-200 14
… 10
-300 9
… 8
-500 5
… 4
-620 3
… 2
-800 1
… 0
Pass1 H2 D2 HBoth vulH A J 8 4 3
DblPass2 S3 HD J 10
PassPass3 SPassC Q J 10
PassPassS 10 6 5 4TableS Q 9 8 2
H K 2H 10
D 5 2D A K 9 8 7 4
C A K 9 4 3C 5 2
S K 3
H Q 9 7 6 5
D Q 6 3
3 S EastC 8 7 6

South uses good judgment to bid only 2 H with his flat shape. West’s double shows length in the unbid suits, and East has no problem choosing. South competes one higher, as does East.

In spades East can win eight tricks with best play and defense. Heart leads at every opportunity whittle down declarer’s trumps such that he must lose four trump tricks. Some will emerge with nine tricks against less brutal defense.

In hearts North can win eight tricks assuming East gets a club ruff. Some will do even worse when they reject the heart finesse after East has ruffed. Without the ruff, nine tricks are available.

Analyses 7P65 MainTop ACBL Instant MP Pairs

© 1992 Richard Pavlicek