Reaching table one at one point, we slipped to 9th on Saturday evening. Most of our ambitious games slipped through, but it was hard to convert our misunderstandings about what constituted a forcing pass at the five level into a making 3NT! However, Sunday started with two good wins and a narrow loss, and in the final round we found ourselves at table two.
Holding AQ8 J108 Q953 Q53, what do you bid when partner opens 1 and right hand opponent makes a weak jump overcall of 2 (answer later)?
It would be easy to fill you in with the earlier hands where mistakes cost us first place. Instead, I hope you enjoy this moment of madness, which at the end helped pull us up to second. Holding QJ Q7653 A7 AK96 at love all, you hear the auction:
1NT was 10-12, the double 14+ HCPs, balanced. 2 was alerted as a transfer, as was 2, and the 2 bidder could have made a forcing pass.
Opponents were good players, but a first time partnership. Catherine's pass of 1NT doubled had shown some values, but her bid over 2 had suggested a weak hand (perhaps 5-7 HCP with five spades?). However, we play double of 2 here as takeout, and this would often be right with a singleton or doubleton heart. It seemed likely that opponents had had a misunderstanding and 2 must have been natural. Backing my judgement, I upgraded my hand, anticipating a heart lead, and expecting to find three of them in dummy, and invited with 2NT, which Catherine accepted on:
North led a heart from Axx, which I won with the queen. The
spade jack was taken by South's king, and a diamond returned to
my ace. Dummy's spades now proved a useful illusion - LHO
ducked my queen to prevent easy establishment, but this proved
fatal for the defence, as I switched to hearts for nine
Back to the bidding problem. 2NT is the values call, but unfortunately this would have been artificial in our partnership. Nor is it possible to pass and bid 2NT over partner's reopening double. The only solution is to bash 3NT, although with the spade honours well placed and good intermediates, you don't have to feel too bad about it. The hands were:
North led the jack of diamonds, which could have been from
a holding headed by either J10 or KJ10. How do you plan the
Top marks to those who rose with the ace, played a spade to hand, and finessed the club. A quick count of your points (23) indicates that not many will be in this game. What's more, you've also avoided a heart lead which would spell instant defeat if the suit is not 4-4. If the club finesse is right you'll make ten tricks and a very good score. Bonus marks if you deduced that the K is probably with South anyway. LHO could have led a heart - it seems he's chosen to make a passive lead. Why choose a diamond from KJ10x when he could have led a heart from length?
Sadly, RHO proved to have all the missing kings, and four down was a bottom. The winning line is to win the ace of diamonds and play a heart off table. If RHO fails to play the king from Kx (quite likely), the suit becomes blocked and the defence cannot take five tricks before you can take nine. I think our opponents might have given up the game if I'd found that one.