Hand of the Week, Vol. 2 No. 1

Hand of the week celebrates its first birthday today. Our first hand was published on the listserv on 04 January 2008.

With the cold weather, there hasn't been any new bridge in Fairbanks this past week, so we feature another hand from 15 December. With both sides vulnerable you deal yourself:

S K Q 7 4
H A 6 5
D A J 7
C A T 6

If you play a 15-17 notrump, this hand is just barely too strong to open 1NT, so you open 1C planning to rebid 2NT. But the auction doesn't continue that way. Instead, it goes 3H - 3S - 4H back to you.

Did you settle for just bidding 4S? If so, you aren't being very imaginative. Your partner ought to have 10HCP or so for his 3S bid. And -- this is the key part -- your opponents bid and raised hearts, even though you have three of them. You know your partner has a singleton or void in hearts. His ten points have to be in the other three suits. You almost certainly have a slam.

Perhaps an expert partnership would have ways to decide scientifically between six and seven. But with a pickup partner, keep it simple, and just rebid 6S. The full hand:

Dealer North
Both vul
S K Q 7 4
H A 6 5
D A J 7
C A T 6
S J 5 2
H T 9 8
D K 8 6 3
C 9 7 5
[table marker] S 3
H K Q T 9 8 7 4
D Q 5 4
C J 3
S A J 6 5 2
D T 9 2
C K Q 8 4 2

East and South have nice sound 3H and 3S calls. West faces an interesting decision. If he trusts his partner to have a proper preempt -- at most one trick on defence, and possibly none -- he knows there is at least a 50-50 chance that N-S have a slam, and he ought to do his best to make their lives difficult. My preference is for West to bid 5H immediately rather than 4H, depriving N-S of any chance to use science before they commit themselves to slam. (Theoretically a 7H sacrifice over 6S shows a profit, too, but there is a risk of pushing N-S into bidding and making 7S.)

The play is simple, pulling trump, ruffing two hearts, and discarding the losing diamonds on long clubs, making seven as the cards lie. That line produces only 12 tricks if clubs are 4-1. An alternative line, that declarer might consider if East had more spades, is to expect a 4-1 club break, and play a club to the CK and then finesse the CT.

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This page last updated 04.01.09
©2009 Gordon Bower