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Wednesday, January 23, 2008

A Courageous Bid, An Expert Defense
by Jim Kaplan

Paul and his mother Lois Laliberte expertly defended a hand while playing in an on-line OK Bridge tournament last week. West was dealing, with North-South vulnerable:

NORTH (Lois)
S 10
H 9 8
D 10 5 2
C Q 9 7 6 5 4 3
S K J 4 S 9 8 7
H Q 3 2 H A K J 6 5 4
D A Q J 4 D K 6 3
C K J 8 C 10
SOUTH (Paul)
S A Q 6 5 3 2
H 10 7
D 9 8 7
C A 2

The bidding proceeded as follows:

West North East South
1NT Pass 2D* 2S
3H Pass 4H All Pass

* Transfer to hearts
Opening lead: spade 10

“Despite unfavorable vulnerability, I chose to introduce spades over East’s transfer bid,” Paul says. “With three hearts, West opted to complete the transfer and East gladly raised to game. Since Mom didn’t raise spades over West’s 3H, I decided that the only way to defeat the contract was to play her for spade shortness.”

Paul won the opening lead with the ace and played a low spade, giving his mother a ruff and alerting her to return a club. West needlessly went up with the spade king at Trick Two — North would have led the spade queen if she had it — giving Paul the setting trick with his spade queen after he cashed the club ace. Even if West had played low at Trick Two, Paul could have given Lois a second spade ruff on Trick Four.

The +50 result gave the Lalibertes 4.41 international matchpoints (imps) in the team game. Allowing 4H to make would have cost them 5.50 imps. Marching where other Souths feared to tread, Paul bid 2S with unfavorable vulnerability to give Lois an opening lead. He figured correctly that his ace-queen-sixth holding would not be doubled for penalty.

Here’s another bidding decision. Sitting North, with South dealing and no one vulnerable, you hold:

S K Q 8 5 3
H K Q 3
D K J 8
C Q 7

The bidding has proceeded as follows:

South North
1H 1S
2C ?

What do you bid?

With a trick better than an opening hand, you should investigate heart slam possibilities. Going directly to 4H could end the auction. A better bid is 2D, an artificial fourth-suit bid that’s forcing to game. If you bid 2D, then 4H, you’ll be showing more strength than if you jumped to 4H on your second bid.

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