The Real Deal


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Texas in Competition

This deal comes from a New England fan, who in self-effacing style, chooses to remain nameless. In a team game, South held:

♠ A K 7    K 4    K 4 3   ♣ Q 7 5 4 2

Vulnerable against not, he opened 1NT. West overcalled 2♣, Alerted as showing clubs and a major. North bid 4. What’s that?

It is important to discuss what your bids mean after interference over your 1NT opening. I recommend ignoring artificial doubles or 2♣ overcalls (unless it specifically shows both majors).

Texas transfers are like four-level Jacoby transfers: 4 transfers to 4 and 4 transfers to 4♠. While a Jacoby transfer can be made on a five-card suit, a Texas transfer will always show at least six. And best of all, Texas transfers are “on” over opponents’ two and three-level interference.

Partner’s 4 says, “Bid 4♠,” and assuming you don’t like playing in 2–1 fits, you accept the transfer. Your 4♠ bid buys the contract. The ♣10 (standard) is led and you see:

Dlr:
South
Vul:
N-S
North
♠ J 9 8 5 3 2
2
6 5 2
♣ A K 3
South
♠ A K 7
K 4
K 4 3
♣ Q 7 5 4 2

If you trust the lead and bidding, West must hold ♣10 9 8 6 and East the singleton ♣J. No doubt, West’s major is hearts, and he likely has five of them (he wouldn’t interfere with only 4–4). West is more likely than East to be short in spades, but running the ♠J is probably too big of a play.

It is better to win the ♣A (East contributes the ♣J) and play spades from the top. This wins if they are 2–2, or if West has a singleton queen. The ♠A draws the queen from West and you continue with two more trumps, East having started with ♠10 6 4. Now what?

You can run clubs (as expected, they are 4–1) and set up your long club by ruffing the fourth round in dummy. But then what? You’d have to come off dummy in a red suit. If the A is wrong (quite likely on the bidding), you would lose three diamonds and a heart.

There is something much better. Play the top clubs, but on the fourth round do not ruff in dummy. Let West have the trick. Throw dummy’s heart.

West now tries the A. Do you ruff?

No chance. If you ruff, you will have to play diamonds. Let West have his A as well. He now has a heart trick and a club trick. If he plays more hearts, your long club comes back to life (you throw diamonds from dummy on the K and long club). If West plays diamonds, your K is safe. This was the Real Deal:

Dlr:
South
Vul:
N-S
North
♠ J 9 8 5 3 2
2
6 5 2
♣ A K 3
West
♠ Q
A Q J 6 5
A Q 9
♣ 10 9 8 6
East
♠10 6 4
10 9 8 7 3
J 10 8 7
♣ J
South
♠ A K 7
K 4
K 4 3
♣ Q 7 5 4 2

As you can see, playing hearts or diamonds yourself leads to the loss of four tricks. Letting West hold the fourth club is the way to make the contract.