The sort of hand that keeps us enraptured with the game
Not a ton happening until the Bermuda Sectional on October 13-16 heralds in the Fall tournament season.
Before that is the Junior-Senior Game on Thursday, starting at 7.30pm. So I will get straight to the hand which is a many-faceted one and is mainly about the declarer play but has some nuances in the bidding.
N/S Vul, Dealer South
South had a really nice hand but not worth more than a One Spade opening bid.
North temporised with a forcing 1NT and South raised to 2NT showing extra values in a 5-3-3-2 type hand and with his good trump support and a doubleton Heart North raised to 4 Spades,
I love the forcing NT bid in 2/1 – it can be used with many different hands and gives you a good sense of what partner holds after his next bid. So if partner opens a Spade and I hold AQJ, Kx, Axxx, Qxxx I would start with 1NT and if partner made some “blah” response like 2 Clubs or 2 Diamonds, I will settle for game in NT or Spades.
If, however, over my 1NT partner raised to 2NT or jumped in another suit then you know that a slam must have a chance. Now to the play, after West leads the 4 of Diamonds and East wins the Ace and returns a Diamond.
The temptation is to cross to the Spade and play a Heart to the King — West wins with the Ace and plays another spade and the alarm bells start to ring. You try the Heart 10 but West wins to play a third Spade and you go down losing three Hearts and a Diamond.
The full hand:
What is the correct play? Well, at Teams, it is a no-brainer as long as you do not get fixated on the Heart king.
Making your contract is paramount at Teams and all you need to make the contract is one Heart ruff in dummy, so after winning the Diamond King just play a low Heart from hand – now you are ahead of the defence and they cannot stop you ruffing a Heart for your tenth trick.
The King of Hearts is a bit of an illusion and if K65 was 654 you would make the hand all day as you would not mind leading a heart from hand.
It is a different story at Pairs where an overtrick could be vital so you have to walk the high wire and make the play of the Heart towards the King hoping that East has the Ace so you can make 11 tricks or that the defence will go wrong and let you make 10.
There is also a further chance if West plays the second Spade after winning the Heart in this position:
Now you must give up on trying for the heart ruff, close your eyes and try three rounds of Clubs. If Clubs are 3-3 you now cross to dummy with a trump and discard a Heart on the 13th Club. Alas, on this hand West ruffs and cashes a Heart for one down as you now can ruff your last Heart.
Fascinating hand, and the sort of one that keeps us enraptured with this game.
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