Thursday, April 1, 2010

Partner's uncomfortably high preempt

You pick up this nice collection:

♠ A Q 3
A 6 4 3
K J 8
♣ A J 7

You're not very excited to hear pass on your left, 4♣ by partner, pass.  What now?

My first instinct was to bid 6N, protecting my positional holdings.  But upon further examination, the hand doesn't seem good enough for that.  You presumably have 8 club tricks and two aces, but you need another fitting card to produce two more tricks, and if it's slow (e.g. Q), you might not have a good enough heart stopper.  If partner has a heart singleton it might be right to play 6C instead.  Partner knows he's bypassing 3N, so I wouldn't expect him to have good clubs as well as a prime card outside.

So anyway, I decided to bid 4N.  I really don't think this should be Blackwood.  With clubs as trumps, there's only one response that doesn't commit to slam.  Plus being able to play in NT is quite important at matchpoints.  But anyway, I figured if partner did take it as blackwood I'd just bid a slam and hope it worked out.  (Maybe 4♣ - 4 should be blackwood, but we hadn't discussed it.)

My partner was on the same wavelength and passed 4N, even though he had a hand that might have wanted to pull a natural 4N:

♠ -
10 7 5 4 3
♣ Q 10 9 8 4 3 2

They led a spade into my tenace.  I could cross to dummy to take a club finesse, which gains against Kx onside, but that would be a complete disaster against either 3-0 club layout and also loses to singleton K.  So I banged down the ♣ A and was gratified to see the K drop on my left.  I ran all my tricks but the defenders discarded well and I misguessed diamonds in the end to make only 5.  This was only worth 27 out of 39 matchpoints, which was a bit disappointing -- I would assume anyone in slam would take the club finesse.


  1. You kinda hope the club king is doubleton offside -- you will still usually take 10 tricks in NT which means you are in the perfect spot. Too bad it didn't score higher.

  2. Always down when someone has Kxx clubs (can only score 9 of your 10 because of blockage) but your play does save a bunch of undertricks. Probably you were right to make the play that gains in 3 cases vs. 2, but hard to say for sure. Interesting that the contract is never at stake, either overtricks or undertricks are.

  3. Turns out there were a lot of pairs in NT making 6. Once you drop the CK, you can guess the diamonds for a 12th trick. Including, possibly, trying the DK out of your hand (DQ was stiff on left).

  4. RE: JW's comment. I think if clubs are 3-0, you play your 2nd club to dummy and lead a diamond and play the J under the Ace, hoping for AQ tight onside or Qx offside. If 2nd hand plays low, you have to guess which hand holds Qx.

    Or maybe at matchpoints you just take your 9 tricks and go home.

  5. Right, I noticed just as I was posting that you can still try working on diamonds for the contract. But like you say, not even clear to play that way at mps.

  6. Ok, just a second, you pitched a diamond from dummy at trick one, right? So the miracle diamond layout leaves you with only 9 tricks.