APBF Captains Log 13 June

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APBF Captains Log 13 June

Thursday 13 June

With only two matches to play in the open and women’s neither Australian team can win.  The open team won all three matches today and have moved up to sixth place; they may be able to improve further.  The women lost two matches and are fifth but have hopes of finishing third.  The seniors’ team put their run of losses behind them with two large wins.  They are again at the front but with three tough matches today.  The Lusk team is now twelfth.

This deal from the second match proved too hard a test for most pairs.  See if you can bid and play better.  You hold AKJ73 T52 K9 Q72 at nil vul.  Partner opens 1D playing standard and rebids 1NT over your 1S response.  Can you offer a choice between 4S and 3N, even when partner has three-card support?

That was necessary on this deal – as it is on others – as 4S has no play while 3NT does.  My preference is to play transfers over a 1NT rebid, so I could transfer to spades and then bid 3NT to offer a choice.  When playing two-way checkback (where 2C forces opener to bid 2D and now all bids are invitational, while a direct 2D is a Stayman-like game-forcing inquiry) I like to bid 2C then 3NT to allow partner to choose.  Another method is for opener to bid 2NT over the 2D game-forcing inquiry to show a 4333 shape.  That worked on this deal – responder knows there will not be any ruffs – but tells the opponents declarer’s exact shape, making the defence MUCH easier.

Now see if you can make nine tricks as declarer.

AKJ73
T52
K9
Q72

1094
AJ7
A874
K65

The opening lead is the H6, RHO plays the queen and you win the ace.  Plan the play.  (Answer below.)

Now try another bidding problem.  You are vulnerable, they are not, and you hold

K KT5 AKQT5 KQT6.

Your RHO opens a weak 2S and you double for takeout.  LHO raises to 4S and partner bids 4NT.  This isn’t Blackwood in a competitive auction like this but for takeout.  Exactly what it shows is a matter for agreement.  If partner’s double of 4S would be penalties or values then this might be for two or three suits.  If partner’s double would be responsive, more takeout-oriented, then 4NT shows any two suits.  My preference is for 4NT to promise hearts as one of the two suits, but it would take another article to explain why that’s best.

So, you have to decide what level to bid at and which suit to bid, or to offer partner a choice of suits.  (5NT would do that, kicking the ball back into partner’s court – to mix my sporting metaphors.)  For the open team David Beauchamp decided, very reasonably, that there were too many shapely hands where Ian Thomson would bid without two aces, even at this vulnerability.  But then he carefully bid 5C, not 5D, to cater for partner’s having a two-suiter with hearts and clubs.  If that were the case he wanted to play in the 5-4- club fit rather than the 5-3 heart fit.  (Note that this would have meant playing in a 5-4 club fit when they might have had a 5-5 diamond fit.)  David was right about strain – Ian was 1-5-2-5 – but wrong about level, as partner had two aces.  In the other room Andy Braithwaite opener a multi 2D instead and Ian Robinson was unable to compete immediately so the Hong Kong opponents were able to bid slam easily.

Back to the play problem.  It looks obvious to take a spade finesse but think what will happen if it loses.  A heart will come back and the suit will be cleared.  If the hearts are 5-2 (possible from the opening lead as the H3 and H4 are missing), and the opening leader has the CA as well, you will go down.

You can guard against that layout by leading a club to the queen.  If LHO has the hand you are worried about then he will have to duck the CA allowing the queen to win.  (If he rises with the CA you have two club tricks.)  Now, should you come back to hand to take the spade finesse?

No.  Say you return to the DA and take a losing spade finesse.  The opponents can now knock out your DK to establish two diamond tricks to go with their spade, heart and club – one down.

Count your tricks: you have one club, two diamonds and can get a second heart trick.  That means you only need four spade tricks, so the finesse is an illusion.  If you played this way you matched George Bilski for the senior’s team who was one of only five declarers out of thirteen to make 3NT.  The 22 declarers in 4S had no chance.

The point of this hand is to recognise the safe and danger hands.  Note that the winning line of play was not risk-free: the opponents could have won the CQ and continued clubs to set up tricks there but George, and the other successful declarers, judged this less likely and more difficult for the opponents to find.

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