Mike’s Advice


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♠ 10 8 7
A Q 3
K J 7 3
♣ A K Q

West North East South
Pass Pass ?

Sitting South, you are in third seat with two passes. The normal bidding for this hand is to open 1 and then jump to 2NT on the next round if partner bids 1 or 1♠, and to raise to 3NT if partner responds with 1NT. That would be the correct bidding if you were in first or second seat.

In third seat, you have another useful option. Given you have 19 HCP, there are 21 missing points. Your partner is a big favorite to have six or more of them. I suggest you open 2NT. This is not an attempt to swipe the hand, but rather to get to a game without telling the opponents much about your hand. You are safe in doing this because you know your partner won’t have enough points to look for slam. Almost always, he will raise to 3NT or will use Stayman or Jacoby or Texas. All of these bids are fine with you. This is a very reasonable treatment (it can be used in fourth seat too), and is one that should earn you a few uneducated opening leads.

Your partner bids 3♣ and you bid 3, denying a major. Partner’s 3NT bid closes the auction. The lead is the ♠K and you see that this was not the perfect moment to overbid.
♠ J 6 3
10 6 4 2
A 5 4 2
♣ 7 4

♠ 10 8 7
A Q 3
K J 7 3
♣ A K Q

West, who was dealt the three top spades, has no trouble cashing the first four spade tricks. You discard a heart from each hand and East discards a small club. West exits with the ♣J to your king.

You are going to need some luck to make 3NT. East must have the K and you need the diamonds to behave too.

What is your line of play? If you see the problem, you will see that you need to make a wish. Assuming you are wishing for the right things, what card do you lead now? Be very specific. Only one card will do.

Lead the 7 to the ace. Take the diamond finesse. It wins, so the first part of your needs is home. The second part is that West follows. You need a 3-2 split, which you get. Cash the K, clearing up the suit. Now you can go dummy with your remaining small diamond. Good thing you led the seven earlier because if you still had that card you would not be in dummy now, which is where you must be. Here is the entire hand.

♠ J 6 3
10 6 4 2
A 5 4 2
♣ 7 4
♠ A K Q 2 ♠ 9 5 4
J 7 5 K 9 8
10 9 Q 8 6
♣ J 10 3 2 ♣ 9 8 6 5
♠ 10 8 7
A Q 3
K J 7 3
♣ A K Q

You are in dummy after leading your 3 to dummy’s five. You take the heart finesse, which wins, and you are home with nine tricks. Note that on the fourth round of spades you had to keep all four diamonds in both hands. If you discarded a diamond, all the wishing in the world would not allow you take advantage of your good luck.

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