Main   Analyses 7P65 by Richard Pavlicek  

ACBL Instant MP Pairs

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.


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

West

Pass
North
Pass
Pass
East
1 NT
Pass
South
2 D
Board 1
None Vul
S 9 8 6
H K 9 4 3
D 8 7
C K 10 8 3
N-S
...
+500
...
+300
...
+250
...
+200
...
+180
+170
...
MP
100
99
99
98
98
97
97
96
96
95
94
93
N-S
+150
+140
...
+120
+110
+100
+90
...
+70
+50
...
-50
MP
90
84
83
83
79
71
62
59
58
56
53
33
N-S
...
-90
-100
...
-150
...
-200
...
-300
...
MP
14
13
7
4
3
2
2
1
1
0
S Q 3
H J 10 5
D J 9 2
C J 9 6 5 2
TableS A K 10 2
H Q 6 2
D Q 10 3
C A 7 4
S J 7 5 4
H A 8 7
D A K 6 5 4
C 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.


Here is a well-judged auction by both sides:

West

1 H
3 S
5 H
North

1 S
4 S
All Pass
East
1 D
2 H
Pass
South
Pass
2 S
Pass
Board 2
N-S Vul
S Q J 9 8 3 2
H 5
D 5
C A Q 10 7 2
N-S
...
+990
...
+790
...
+620
...
+100
...
+50
...
-100
...
MP
100
99
99
98
98
97
97
96
96
95
95
94
93
N-S
-200
...
-230
...
-420
-430
...
-450
-460
...
-480
-490
-500
MP
89
87
86
86
85
84
83
80
75
74
47
19
17
N-S
-510
...
-650
...
-750
...
-790
-800
...
-980
...
-1210
...
MP
16
15
15
14
14
13
13
12
11
7
2
1
0
S 5
H A J 9 8 7 4 2
D A J 2
C 8 3
TableS A 10 7
H K Q 6 3
D Q 10 7 3
C K 5
S K 6 4
H 10
D K 9 8 6 4
C 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.


If South overcalls, I would expect this auction:

West

Pass
1 NT
3 C
North

Pass
2 D
All Pass
East

1 C
Pass
South
Pass
1 D
Pass
Board 3
E-W Vul
S 9 4 3
H A K 4 3
D J 6 2
C J 7 3
N-S
...
+500
...
+470
...
+300
...
+200
...
+180
...
+110
MP
100
99
99
98
98
97
97
92
89
87
86
84
N-S
+100
+90
+80
...
0
-50
...
-90
-100
-110
-120
-130
MP
66
49
48
48
47
44
42
40
37
34
23
18
N-S
...
-150
...
-180
...
-300
...
-500
...
-600
...
MP
17
10
6
5
4
4
3
3
2
2
0
S 8 6 5
H Q 9 7
D Q 5 3
C A K 8 4
TableS A Q 7
H J 6 5 2
D K 7
C Q 10 9 2
S K J 10 2
H 10 8
D A 10 9 8 4
C 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.


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

West
1 C
2 H
North
Pass
Pass
East
1 H
4 H
South
1 S
All Pass
Board 4
Both Vul
S 5 3
H 5 2
D 7 6 5 4
C K J 7 5 4
N-S
...
+500
+400
...
+300
...
+200
...
+140
...
+110
+100
MP
100
99
98
98
97
96
92
88
87
87
86
65
N-S
...
-100
...
-120
...
-140
-150
...
-170
...
-200
...
MP
43
42
41
41
40
39
37
37
36
35
33
32
N-S
-300
...
-500
...
-600
-620
...
-650
...
-800
...
MP
31
30
29
28
28
16
5
4
3
2
0
S J 10 7
H A J 6
D 9 3
C A Q 9 8 6
TableS K 8
H K Q 10 9 7 4
D A 10 2
C 10 3
S A Q 9 6 4 2
H 8 3
D K Q J 8
C 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.


TopMain


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

West

2 C
3 NT
North
Pass
Pass
All Pass
East
1 NT
2 S
South
Pass
Pass
Board 5
N-S Vul
S 2
H 10 9 7 6 3
D 8 7 6
C Q 10 7 4
N-S
...
+300
...
+150
...
+100
...
+50
...
-150
...
-180
...
MP
100
99
99
98
97
94
91
83
77
76
76
75
75
N-S
-210
...
-240
...
-400
-420
-430
...
-450
-460
...
-490
-500
MP
74
74
73
73
72
70
65
61
60
46
33
21
11
N-S
...
-520
...
-550
...
-590
...
-800
...
-990
...
-1230
...
MP
10
10
9
9
8
8
7
7
6
5
2
1
0
S K Q 10
H A Q 5 2
D 9 5
C K 8 6 2
TableS J 9 4 3
H K 4
D A K J
C A J 5 3
S A 8 7 6 5
H J 8
D Q 10 4 3 2
C 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.


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:

West

2 D
5 D
6 S
North

Pass
Pass
All Pass
East
Pass
4 S
5 H
South
1 D
Pass
Pass
Board 6
E-W Vul
S 8 3
H J 10 8 3
D Q 8 5 3
C 10 9 6
N-S
...
+200
...
+100
...
-50
...
-100
...
-150
...
-200
...
MP
100
99
99
98
97
97
96
96
95
94
93
92
90
N-S
-230
...
-260
...
-500
...
-650
...
-680
...
-710
...
-800
MP
89
88
86
84
83
82
81
79
72
65
47
29
28
N-S
...
-1100
...
-1400
...
-1430
...
-1460
...
-1700
...
-2210
...
MP
27
26
25
25
24
21
18
10
3
2
1
1
0
S K J 10 7 2
H K Q 9 5 4
D
C A Q J
TableS A 9 5 4
H A 6
D 9 7 2
C 7 5 4 2
S Q 6
H 7 2
D A K J 10 6 4
C 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.


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:

West

Pass
Pass
North

2 C
3 NT
East

Pass
All Pass
South
1 NT
2 D
Board 7
Both Vul
S K
H 8 5 3 2
D K 7 3
C K Q J 7 4
N-S
...
+670
+660
...
+630
...
+600
...
+500
...
+210
+200
...
+180
MP
100
99
86
74
68
62
58
56
55
55
54
53
52
52
N-S
...
+150
+140
+130
...
+110
+100
+90
...
-100
-110
...
-140
...
MP
51
50
49
45
41
36
30
29
28
23
18
18
17
16
N-S
-170
...
-200
...
-300
...
-500
...
-670
...
-730
...
MP
15
14
11
7
5
4
3
2
2
1
1
0
S Q 9 5 3 2
H A K 7 4
D 9 5 4
C 9
TableS A 7 6 4
H J 10
D 10 2
C 8 6 5 3 2
S J 10 8
H Q 9 6
D A Q J 8 6
C 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.


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

West
Pass
2 C
North
Pass
2 H
East
1 C
All Pass
South
1 S
Board 8
None Vul
S J 8
H A 10 7 6 3
D K 8 7 5 4
C 9
N-S
...
+530
...
+500
...
+300
...
+200
...
+180
+170
...
+150
MP
100
99
99
98
98
97
97
96
96
95
94
94
93
N-S
+140
...
+120
+110
+100
+90
...
+50
0
-50
...
-90
-100
MP
88
86
85
77
73
71
70
68
63
59
58
54
45
N-S
-110
-120
...
-150
...
-200
...
-300
...
-500
...
-800
...
MP
40
24
9
7
5
4
4
3
2
2
1
1
0
S 9 6 5
H Q 8 2
D A Q 3
C Q 10 4 2
TableS 10 7 4 3
H K J 4
D J 10 9
C A K 5
S A K Q 2
H 9 5
D 6 2
C 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.


TopMain


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

West

Pass
3 D
North
Pass
1 NT
All Pass
East
1 D
2 D
South
1 S
2 H
Board 9
E-W Vul
S 10 2
H A 5 3
D A 9 3
C Q J 6 5 4
N-S
...
+500
...
+470
...
+300
...
+200
...
+170
...
+140
+130
MP
100
98
98
97
97
96
96
95
94
93
92
88
84
N-S
...
+110
+100
...
-50
...
-90
-100
-110
...
-130
...
-150
MP
83
77
69
67
58
50
48
39
26
20
19
18
13
N-S
...
-200
...
-300
...
-500
...
-600
...
-670
...
-800
...
MP
8
7
6
5
4
4
3
3
2
2
1
1
0
S 8 5
H 9 8 4 2
D 10 7 5
C K 10 7 2
TableS Q J 7 4
H K 6
D K Q J 8 6 4
C A
S A K 9 6 3
H Q J 10 7
D 2
C 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.


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

West

Pass
North

4 H
East
Pass
All Pass
South
2 H
Board 10
Both Vul
S A 10
H A 10 6 5 4
D K 9 5
C A J 2
N-S
...
+1700
...
+1660
...
+1440
+1430
...
+1400
...
+1100
...
+800
MP
100
99
99
98
98
97
94
94
93
93
92
91
90
N-S
...
+690
+680
...
+660
+650
...
+630
+620
+600
...
+500
...
MP
89
88
83
79
78
58
38
37
33
30
30
29
29
N-S
+200
...
+100
...
-100
...
-200
...
-300
...
-400
-500
...
MP
28
28
27
26
18
8
5
4
3
2
2
1
0
S K 9 8 5 3
H
D Q 7 4
C K 9 8 7 4
TableS Q 7 6 4
H K 9
D 8 6 3 2
C 10 5 3
S J 2
H Q J 8 7 3 2
D A J 10
C 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.


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

West

3 C
All Pass
North

4 C
East

Pass
South
1 NT
4 S
Board 11
None Vul
S A 10 6 4 3 2
H J 10 9 7 3
D J
C 3
N-S
...
+1100
...
+800
...
+690
...
+650
...
+590
...
+500
...
+450
MP
100
99
97
96
95
95
94
94
93
92
92
91
90
69
N-S
...
+430
+420
+400
...
+300
...
+200
...
+170
...
+150
+140
...
MP
49
48
35
23
22
22
21
21
20
20
19
19
18
17
N-S
+100
...
+50
...
-50
...
-100
...
-200
...
-300
...
MP
17
16
16
15
12
8
6
4
3
3
2
0
S 7
H 2
D K 8 5 4
C Q 9 7 6 5 4 2
TableS K Q
H A Q 8 6 4
D 10 6 3 2
C J 8
S J 9 8 5
H K 5
D A Q 9 7
C 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.


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:

West
1 D
1 S
2 H
North
Pass
Pass
Pass
East
1 H
2 C
2 S
South
Pass
Pass
All Pass
Board 12
N-S Vul
S 10 3
H 7 4
D J 8 6
C K 10 9 8 7 2
N-S
...
+250
...
+200
...
+150
...
+120
...
+100
...
+50
0
MP
100
99
98
97
95
91
88
87
86
80
72
57
42
N-S
...
-90
-100
-110
-120
...
-140
-150
...
-170
-180
...
-200
MP
42
41
40
39
38
37
29
20
19
17
14
14
13
N-S
...
-400
-420
-430
...
-450
...
-500
...
-800
...
MP
13
12
7
4
3
3
2
2
1
1
0
S Q J 7 4
H Q J 10
D K Q 9 7
C Q 5
TableS A 9 8 2
H K 8 6 3
D A 4 3
C 6 3
S K 6 5
H A 9 5 2
D 10 5 2
C 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.


TopMain


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:

West

Pass
North
Pass
4 S
East
1 D
All Pass
South
Dbl
Board 13
Both Vul
S K J 9 4 3
H A 6
D J 3 2
C Q 9 8
N-S
...
+800
...
+660
+650
...
+630
+620
+600
...
+500
+400
...
+300
MP
100
99
98
97
94
92
91
72
64
62
61
60
60
59
N-S
...
+210
+200
...
+180
+170
...
+150
+140
+130
+120
+110
+100
+90
MP
58
57
54
49
48
37
27
26
22
19
18
17
14
12
N-S
...
-70
-80
-90
-100
-110
-120
...
-180
...
-200
...
MP
11
11
10
9
5
4
3
2
2
1
1
0
S 10 6 5
H 10 7 5 2
D A 10 7
C 7 6 4
TableS 8 7
H K J 9 3
D K Q 9 8
C K 3 2
S A Q 2
H Q 8 4
D 6 5 4
C 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.


My “reverse bid” structure dictates this auction:

West

1 D
2 H
3 D
North

Pass
Pass
Pass
East
Pass
1 S
2 NT
3 NT
South
Pass
Pass
Pass
All Pass
Board 14
None Vul
S K 8 3 2
H 9 8 6 2
D A 8
C 9 7 5
N-S
...
+100
...
+50
...
-110
-120
-130
...
MP
100
98
97
96
96
95
94
93
91
N-S
-150
...
-170
-180
...
-210
...
-400
-420
MP
85
80
79
77
76
75
74
66
57
N-S
-430
...
-460
...
-490
-500
...
MP
34
10
6
3
2
1
0
S A
H A K 10 3
D Q 9 6 4 3
C A 6 4
TableS Q 10 5 4
H Q 5
D J 10 7 2
C K 8 3
S J 9 7 6
H J 7 4
D K 5
C 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.


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

West

Pass
All Pass
North

2 NT
East

Pass
South
Pass
3 NT
Board 15
N-S Vul
S A K 8
H A K Q 8
D A 5 3 2
C 10 4
N-S
...
+690
...
+660
+650
...
+630
+620
+600
MP
100
99
98
91
83
82
62
40
25
N-S
...
+210
...
+180
+170
...
+150
+140
...
MP
13
12
11
11
10
9
9
8
8
N-S
+110
...
-100
...
-200
...
-300
...
MP
7
7
6
3
2
1
1
0
S 10 5 3 2
H 9 7
D J 9 8
C J 9 6 2
TableS Q 9 7
H 10 6 4 2
D K 6 4
C A 8 7
S J 6 4
H J 5 3
D Q 10 7
C 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.


Enterprising East-West bidding earns a nice reward:

West
Pass
4 H
North
1 S
Dbl
East
Dbl
All Pass
South
Pass
Board 16
E-W Vul
S A J 10 8 6 2
H 4
D A 10 2
C A K 5
N-S
...
+530
...
+500
...
+420
...
+200
...
+170
...
+140
...
+110
MP
100
99
98
97
96
95
94
88
82
81
80
79
78
77
N-S
+100
...
-50
...
-100
...
-140
-150
...
-170
...
-200
...
-300
MP
71
67
64
60
55
49
48
46
44
43
42
41
40
38
N-S
...
-500
...
-620
...
-650
...
-790
-800
...
-990
...
MP
35
33
31
24
17
16
15
10
4
3
2
0
S K Q 5 3
H Q J 9 8 7 6
D J 6
C J
TableS 7
H A K 2
D K 9 8 5 3
C Q 10 9 4
S 9 4
H 10 5 3
D Q 7 4
C 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.


TopMain


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:

West

Dbl
North
Pass
3 S
East
Pass
4 H
South
2 S
All Pass
Board 17
None Vul
S J 4
H 9 7 3
D A Q 7 5 3
C A 10 2
N-S
...
+200
...
+170
...
+150
+140
...
+110
+100
...
+50
...
-50
MP
100
99
99
98
98
97
96
96
95
94
94
93
90
89
N-S
...
-100
...
-140
-150
...
-170
...
-200
-210
...
-300
...
-400
MP
88
88
87
86
85
84
79
75
74
73
73
72
71
70
N-S
-420
-430
...
-450
-460
...
-500
...
-590
...
-800
...
MP
42
9
6
5
4
4
3
3
2
2
1
0
S K Q
H A K J 6
D K J 10 6
C K 9 7
TableS 5 3 2
H Q 10 5 4 2
D 4
C Q J 6 3
S A 10 9 8 7 6
H 8
D 9 8 2
C 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.


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

West

Pass
Pass
Pass
North

1 D
2 H
4 H
East
Pass
Pass
Pass
All Pass
South
1 C
1 NT
3 H
Board 18
N-S Vul
S 10 7
H K 10 8 6
D A K 9 8 3 2
C 6
N-S
...
+800
+790
...
+690
+680
...
+660
+650
...
+630
+620
+600
...
MP
100
99
98
98
97
96
96
95
92
90
88
74
60
59
N-S
+500
...
+300
...
+200
...
+170
...
+150
+140
+130
+120
+110
+100
MP
59
58
58
57
57
56
56
55
55
53
50
47
45
43
N-S
+90
...
+50
...
-100
...
-200
...
-300
...
-500
...
MP
42
42
41
40
32
20
16
11
8
4
2
0
S J 5 3 2
H J 5 4 3
D Q 5
C A K 3
TableS A 6 4
H 2
D 10 6 4
C J 10 9 8 5 2
S K Q 9 8
H A Q 9 7
D J 7
C 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.


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

West

Dbl
4 NT
6 C
North

Pass
Pass
All Pass
East

2 C
5 C
South
1 H
Pass
Pass
Board 19
E-W Vul
S J 8 6 5 3
H 10 5
D 6 5 3
C J 10 7
N-S
...
+200
...
+100
...
-50
...
-100
...
-150
...
-170
-180
...
MP
100
98
97
96
96
95
95
94
93
92
91
82
73
73
N-S
-210
...
-240
...
-300
...
-500
...
-600
-620
-630
...
-660
...
MP
72
72
71
71
70
70
69
69
68
55
42
41
37
34
N-S
-690
...
-800
...
-1100
...
-1370
...
-1440
...
-1540
...
MP
30
25
24
23
22
21
12
4
3
2
1
0
S A
H K 3
D A K 10 9
C A K Q 8 5 4
TableS 9 7 2
H Q 9 6 2
D Q 2
C 9 6 3 2
S K Q 10 4
H A J 8 7 4
D J 8 7 4
C

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.


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:

West
Pass
Pass
3 H
All Pass
North
1 S
Pass
Pass
East
2 D
Dbl
Pass
South
2 S
Pass
3 S
Board 20
Both Vul
S K 9 8 6 5
H J 5
D A 10 4 3
C A 5
N-S
...
+300
...
+200
...
+170
...
+140
...
+110
+100
...
MP
100
99
98
96
94
93
92
89
86
83
66
54
N-S
-90
-100
-110
-120
-130
-140
...
-170
...
-200
...
-300
MP
52
44
39
38
37
32
28
27
26
20
15
14
N-S
...
-400
-500
...
-620
...
-650
...
-800
...
MP
13
12
10
9
7
5
4
3
2
0
S J 4
H Q 10 8 3 2
D 8 6
C Q J 6 2
TableS Q 10 7
H A K 7 4
D K Q J 7 2
C 3
S A 3 2
H 9 6
D 9 5
C 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.


TopMain


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

West

Pass
Pass
All Pass
North
1 H
3 H
4 S
East
Pass
Pass
Pass
South
2 D
4 D
6 NT
Board 21
N-S Vul
S A 5 3
H A K Q 10 7 6 3
D 4
C 10 4
N-S
...
+2490
...
+2220
...
+2140
...
+1470
+1460
+1440
+1430
...
+1400
+1390
MP
100
99
99
98
98
97
96
94
90
88
85
84
84
80
N-S
...
+1370
...
+720
+710
+690
+680
...
+650
+640
...
+620
+600
...
MP
75
70
65
64
63
62
60
57
56
52
50
45
38
37
N-S
-100
...
-200
...
-300
...
-400
...
-500
...
-800
...
MP
30
22
15
9
6
4
3
3
2
2
1
0
S K J 8 6
H 9 8 5 4 2
D 10
C J 9 2
TableS 9 7 4 2
H J
D 9 6 5
C A Q 6 5 3
S Q 10
H
D A K Q J 8 7 3 2
C 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.


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:

West

1 H
2 D
3 H
North

Pass
Pass
All Pass
East
1 C
2 C
2 NT
South
Pass
Pass
Pass
Board 22
E-W Vul
S A Q 9 6
H 10 8
D 9 5 4
C Q J 9 2
N-S
...
+800
...
+500
...
+400
...
+300
...
+200
...
+100
MP
100
99
98
98
97
96
95
92
89
77
64
49
N-S
...
-50
...
-90
-100
-110
-120
-130
-140
-150
...
-170
MP
34
32
31
30
27
21
16
15
13
11
10
10
N-S
...
-300
...
-500
...
-600
-620
-630
...
-800
...
MP
9
9
8
8
7
5
3
2
1
1
0
S J
H K Q 7 6 5 2
D Q J 10 7
C K 8
TableS K 10 7
H 3
D A 8 3
C A 10 7 6 5 3
S 8 5 4 3 2
H A J 9 4
D K 6 2
C 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.


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

West

Pass
Pass
North

1 H
2 H
East

Pass
All Pass
South
Pass
2 C
Board 23
Both Vul
S K Q 2
H A 10 9 6 5
D 10
C 10 8 7 5
N-S
...
+670
...
+500
+400
...
+300
...
+200
...
MP
100
99
99
98
97
97
96
95
93
89
N-S
+170
...
+140
...
+110
+100
+90
...
0
...
MP
88
87
77
76
66
55
50
49
45
40
N-S
-80
-90
-100
-110
-120
...
-200
...
-300
...
MP
39
29
15
11
7
4
3
2
1
0
S J 8 7 3
H Q 8
D K 9 7
C Q J 9 6
TableS A 5 4
H J 4 3
D 8 6 5 4
C A K 2
S 10 9 6
H K 7 2
D A Q J 3 2
C 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.


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

West
Pass
Pass
Pass
Pass
All Pass
North
Pass
2 D
3 H
4 H
East
Pass
Pass
Pass
Pass
South
2 C
2 H
3 S
6 H
Board 24
None Vul
S 2
H Q 6 2
D J 8 6 5 4 2
C 10 7 3
N-S
...
+1210
...
+980
...
+800
+790
...
+510
+500
...
+480
...
+460
MP
100
99
98
89
83
82
81
80
79
76
75
67
57
56
N-S
+450
...
+430
+420
+400
...
+300
...
+260
...
+230
...
+200
...
MP
46
39
38
35
29
28
27
27
26
25
22
19
16
13
N-S
+170
...
+150
+140
...
+110
+100
...
-50
...
-100
...
MP
11
10
9
8
7
7
6
5
4
3
2
0
S J 10 4
H 8 7 5 4
D A 10 9
C Q J 2
TableS Q 7 6 5 3
H J
D K Q 7 3
C 8 6 5
S A K 9 8
H A K 10 9 3
D
C 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.


TopMain


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

West

Pass
Pass
North
1 NT
2 S
4 S
East
Pass
Pass
All Pass
South
2 H
2 NT
Board 25
E-W Vul
S A 3 2
H J 10
D A Q 9
C A Q 10 3 2
N-S
...
+500
...
+480
...
+450
+440
...
+420
+400
...
+230
MP
100
99
99
98
98
97
96
95
72
58
57
56
N-S
...
+200
+190
...
+170
...
+150
+140
+130
+120
+110
...
MP
55
54
53
52
46
41
40
36
31
21
20
19
N-S
+90
...
-50
...
-100
...
-150
...
-300
...
MP
18
17
11
4
3
2
2
1
1
0
S 9 6 4
H Q 9 5
D J 6 5 3 2
C J 5
TableS K J
H A K 8 7 3
D 10 7 4
C 9 7 4
S Q 10 8 7 5
H 6 4 2
D K 8
C 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.


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

West

1 H
Pass
North

1 S
4 S
East
Pass
Pass
All Pass
South
Pass
3 S
Board 26
Both Vul
S A J 8 6 5 3
H K 8 6
D Q 9 2
C A
N-S
...
+1430
...
+1400
...
+1100
...
+990
...
+800
...
+710
...
MP
100
99
99
98
98
97
97
96
96
95
95
94
93
N-S
+690
+680
...
+650
...
+630
+620
+600
...
+500
...
+300
...
MP
93
62
32
22
13
12
10
9
8
8
7
7
6
N-S
+260
...
+230
...
+200
...
+170
...
-100
...
-200
...
MP
6
5
5
4
4
3
3
2
2
1
1
0
S 10 4
H Q J 10 9 4 2
D A K 8
C K 5
TableS Q
H 7 5
D 10 7 4 3
C 9 7 6 4 3 2
S K 9 7 2
H A 3
D J 6 5
C 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.


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

West

1 S
4 S
North

Pass
All Pass
East

1 NT
South
Pass
Pass
Board 27
None Vul
S 9 8 6 4 3
H K
D A K
C K 9 8 5 2
N-S
...
+500
...
+300
...
+100
...
+50
...
-50
...
-100
...
-140
MP
100
98
98
97
96
92
87
83
79
78
78
77
76
72
N-S
...
-170
...
-200
...
-300
...
-400
-420
-430
...
-450
-460
...
MP
67
61
55
52
51
50
49
49
42
33
31
28
25
24
N-S
-500
...
-590
...
-630
...
-690
...
-730
...
-800
...
MP
23
22
16
10
9
8
5
4
3
2
1
0
S K Q J 10 7 5
H A 7
D Q 7
C A Q 10
TableS A
H Q 6 5
D J 9 6 5 4 2
C 7 6 4
S 2
H J 10 9 8 4 3 2
D 10 8 3
C 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.


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

West
Pass
1 S
Dbl
North
Pass
Pass
2 C
East
1 D
Pass
2 S
South
Pass
1 NT
All Pass
Board 28
N-S Vul
S 8
H Q 8 7 5 4
D Q 9
C K 10 9 8 7
N-S
...
+500
...
+300
...
+150
...
+110
+100
+90
...
MP
100
99
99
98
98
97
96
95
85
75
74
N-S
+50
0
...
-90
-100
-110
-120
...
-140
-150
...
MP
65
54
52
50
46
33
18
15
10
7
6
N-S
-200
...
-300
...
-400
-420
...
-500
...
-800
...
MP
6
5
5
4
4
3
2
2
1
1
0
S J 9 6 4 2
H A J 3
D 10 8 5
C A 5
TableS A 10 7 3
H K 9
D A 7 4 3
C J 6 2
S K Q 5
H 10 6 2
D K J 6 2
C 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.


TopMain


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

West

2 H
All Pass
North
Pass
3 C
East
1 H
3 H
South
2 C
5 C
Board 29
Both Vul
S A 7 5 4 2
H 8 6 3
D 2
C K 10 9 4
N-S
...
+1100
...
+950
...
+800
...
+750
...
+640
...
+620
+600
MP
100
99
99
98
98
97
97
96
94
93
92
91
66
N-S
...
+500
+400
...
+300
...
+200
...
+170
...
+150
...
+100
MP
45
44
42
41
41
40
36
33
32
31
28
25
21
N-S
...
-100
...
-140
...
-170
...
-200
...
-620
...
MP
18
15
12
10
9
8
7
6
3
2
0
S Q 10 8 6 3
H A 7 5 2
D J 9 7
C 5
TableS J 9
H K Q J 10 9
D A 10 6 5 4
C 7
S K
H 4
D K Q 8 3
C 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.


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:

West

Pass
Pass
2 S
North

Pass
2 D
All Pass
East
Pass
1 NT
Pass
South
1 H
Pass
Pass
Board 30
None Vul
S 8 6 3
H 8
D K J 9 7 6 3
C J 5 2
N-S
...
+500
...
+300
...
+200
...
+150
+140
...
+110
+100
MP
100
99
98
98
97
97
96
91
86
85
84
75
N-S
...
+80
...
+50
...
-50
...
-100
-110
-120
-130
-140
MP
67
66
65
59
53
45
38
26
13
12
11
10
N-S
-150
...
-200
...
-300
...
-400
...
-500
...
MP
7
5
4
4
3
3
2
2
1
0
S K 9 7 5 4
H Q 10 6
D A
C 10 8 7 3
TableS Q 2
H K 7 4
D Q 5 4 2
C K Q 9 6
S A J 10
H A J 9 5 3 2
D 10 8
C 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.


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

West

Dbl
4 H
North

2 S
All Pass
East

3 H
South
1 S
Pass
Board 31
N-S Vul
S A J 4
H 8
D 10 7 6 2
C 10 9 5 4 2
N-S
...
+670
...
+110
+100
...
+50
...
-90
-100
...
MP
100
99
99
98
96
94
91
87
86
82
79
N-S
-120
...
-140
...
-170
...
-200
...
-300
...
-420
MP
78
77
74
70
63
49
47
46
45
44
34
N-S
...
-450
...
-500
...
-590
...
-800
...
MP
15
14
11
7
4
3
2
1
0
S 7 5
H A Q J 3
D A K 8
C Q J 8 7
TableS 9 8 6
H 10 9 7 5 2
D Q 4 3
C K 3
S K Q 10 3 2
H K 6 4
D J 9 5
C 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).


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:

West
Pass
Pass
Pass
Pass
North
Pass
2 C
2 NT
3 NT
East
Pass
Pass
Pass
All Pass
South
1 NT
2 H
3 H
Board 32
E-W Vul
S J 8 6 5
H 9 6
D K 4
C A 8 5 3 2
N-S
...
+590
...
+550
...
+420
+400
...
+170
...
MP
100
99
98
98
97
96
93
92
91
90
N-S
+150
+140
...
+120
+110
...
+90
...
-50
...
MP
88
83
80
72
61
58
57
56
42
23
N-S
-100
...
-150
...
-200
...
-300
...
MP
16
7
6
4
3
2
1
0
S 9 7 4
H K 8 7 2
D Q 7 6 5
C Q 6
TableS K 10 3
H 10 4
D A 10 8 2
C J 10 9 7
S A Q 2
H A Q J 5 3
D J 9 3
C 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.


TopMain


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

West

Pass
2 C
All Pass
North
1 D
1 NT
Pass
East
Pass
Pass
Pass
South
1 S
Pass
2 NT
Board 33
None Vul
S 9 4
H A K 10 3
D Q J 10 6
C A 3 2
N-S
...
+550
...
+500
+490
...
+470
...
+400
...
+300
MP
100
99
99
98
97
96
95
94
93
91
88
N-S
...
+180
...
+150
+140
...
+120
+110
+100
+90
...
MP
87
86
85
79
70
69
56
41
35
30
27
N-S
+50
...
-50
...
-90
-100
...
-180
...
-300
...
MP
23
18
14
9
8
5
3
2
2
1
0
S A K 6 3 2
H 9 8 2
D
C J 10 8 7 6
TableS 10 7
H Q J 5
D K 9 8 5 2
C Q 9 5
S Q J 8 5
H 7 6 4
D A 7 4 3
C 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.


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

West

Dbl
Pass
4 C
North

2 C
3 S
All Pass
East
1 C
3 C
Pass
South
1 S
Pass
Pass
Board 34
N-S Vul
S A Q 10 5
H 9 3
D J 5 4 2
C A 7 2
N-S
...
+730
...
+150
+140
...
+110
+100
...
MP
100
99
98
96
84
79
77
73
72
N-S
+50
...
-100
-110
...
-130
-140
-150
...
MP
67
62
58
52
51
37
24
21
20
N-S
-200
...
-400
...
-500
-510
...
-570
...
MP
14
8
7
6
5
3
2
1
0
S 4 3 2
H K Q 8 6 2
D K 8 6
C 10 3
TableS 7
H J 7
D A Q 9
C K Q J 9 6 5 4
S K J 9 8 6
H A 10 5 4
D 10 7 3
C 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 passS, 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.


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:

West

1 NT
North

Pass
East

3 NT
South
Pass
All Pass
Board 35
E-W Vul
S Q 7 5
H J 6
D A 10 9 2
C J 9 8 5
N-S
...
+200
...
+100
...
-150
...
-170
-180
MP
100
99
98
97
95
94
94
93
92
N-S
...
-200
-210
-230
-240
...
-600
-620
-630
MP
91
90
88
86
85
84
83
80
73
N-S
...
-650
-660
...
-680
-690
...
MP
69
51
21
9
6
2
0
S A 10 3
H A 10 8 3
D 7 6
C A K 6 2
TableS K 9 2
H Q 9 7 5
D K Q J 3
C Q 10
S J 8 6 4
H K 4 2
D 8 5 4
C 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.


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:

West
Pass
Dbl
Pass
North
1 H
Pass
Pass
East
2 D
2 S
3 S
South
2 H
3 H
All Pass
Board 36
Both Vul
S A J 7
H A J 8 4 3
D J 10
C Q J 10
N-S
...
+800
...
+500
...
+300
...
+200
...
+150
+140
...
MP
100
99
98
97
96
95
94
90
86
85
83
82
N-S
+120
+110
+100
+90
...
-90
-100
-110
...
-140
...
-170
MP
81
78
67
58
57
56
50
39
34
27
21
20
N-S
...
-200
...
-300
...
-500
...
-620
...
-800
...
MP
18
14
10
9
8
5
4
3
2
1
0
S 10 6 5 4
H K 2
D 5 2
C A K 9 4 3
TableS Q 9 8 2
H 10
D A K 9 8 7 4
C 5 2
S K 3
H Q 9 7 6 5
D Q 6 3
C 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. TopMain

© 1992 Richard Pavlicek