You are in the semifinals of the Grand National Teams, and things have been going smoothly at least until you pick up these cards as South:
East on your right opens the bidding 1 .
What is your call?
This is better than 2 because it describes your balanced shape and point count in one bid. West passes, partner bids 2 , and East competes to 3 . So far it has gone:
Has partner lost his marbles? No. You recall you play Jacoby transfer bids over your 1 NT openings and agreed to do the same after your overcalls.
If East had passed you would be obliged to bid 2 , but partner may have a terrible hand. Your values do not warrant a 3 bid, so the discreet move is to pass. When it gets back to partner he says 3 NT, and East finally passes.
Partner is giving you a choice of contracts. With just two spades you would pass, but here you should prefer a suit contract. Oh no! West doubles. And youre vulnerable!
West leads his partners heart suit, and partner puts down a respectable dummy. Without the double you would be confident, but it looks like West has all the missing trumps. This is what you see:
East wins the heart lead with the ace and returns the Q.
Do you play the king?
Of course. West could easily have a singleton, but there is nothing to gain by ducking. Fortunately, West follows with the 2.
How many hearts did West start with?
His high-low suggests such, and the bidding by East confirms it. You plan to draw one round of trumps.
Which honor will you win?
As expected from the double, East discards a heart.
How many trump tricks will West always win?
There is nothing you can do about that.
Which suit is the most urgent for you to lead now?
Ruffing in the shorter trump hand will gain a trick. You win the A, K, and ruff a club as both opponents follow suit.
Which suit do you lead next?
It is too soon to lead a heart (West could pitch a diamond) so you lead your last spade to Norths queen.
This is what you see now:
You next lead the 4 and East plays the seven.
Which diamond do you play from your hand?
This is not an occasion to finesse the nine. On the bidding East rates to have the K. The finesse wins!
What do you lead next?
Right! If you did not take it now, West might shed his last diamond. Both follow to this (East plays the king).
Excellent! This is the crucial play.
If West discards a club, which card will you play from dummy?
If West instead chose to ruff with the J, which card would you play from dummy?
Congratulations! West may think twice before doubling you again.
The missing hands:
© 1997 Richard Pavlicek