The Real Deal


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Good 8 is better than bad 9

I have been playing some online bridge. On this deal, I was South holding:

♠ J 4   Q J 10 7 6 5    A 3  ♣ A 5 4

At IMP scoring with both sides vulnerable, my partner dealt and opened 1♠. I responded 2 (partner unknown, but on this European site, everyone must use 2/1 game forcing).

My partner rebid 2♠. To my way of thinking that tends to show 6 or more spades. Still, I thought my six-card heart suit with the Q J 10 was worth a rebid. Over 3, partner bid 4♣. What’s that?

A good general rule in uncontested auctions is “no new natural suits on the four level.” Trusting partner was on my wavelength, I interpreted 4♣ as a control bid agreeing hearts; if he didn’t wish to agree hearts, he could have bid a forcing 3♠.

I thought I was worth one more peep, so I control-bid 4. Partner used Roman Key Card Blackwood, presumably with hearts as the trump suit. I showed two key cards and the Q, and he placed us in 6. Left-hand opponent led the ♣K and I saw:.

Dlr:
North
Vul:
Both
North
♠ A 9 7 6 5 3 2
A K
K 10 2
♣ J
South
♠ J 4
Q J 10 7 6 5
A 3
♣ A 5 4

We had an obvious spade loser, so the question was what to do with my two small clubs. Do you like the idea of ruffing them in dummy?

That would work if hearts were 3–2: ♣A, club ruff, A, club ruff and hope to get back to hand to draw trumps.

Rather than rely on 3–2 hearts – plus the small entry issue – it must be better to work on spades. I won the ♣A and played a spade. Ducking the first round completely is way too dangerous: They could ruff the next round! So, I played to the ♠A at trick two (RHO played the king) and played another spade. RHO threw a club as West won the queen. He played a high club, but I was now in great shape. I ruffed in dummy and cashed dummy’s other high trump (all following). A spade ruff to hand (regardless of whether or not East ruffed in) let me draw trumps and claim. My other low club would go on dummy’s now-good spades.

This was the Real Deal:

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

As you can see, ruffing two clubs in dummy, the inferior line, would have led to the loss of a trump trick and down one. On this deal, it was right to play the good eight-card suit as trump and use the bad nine-card suit to set up the tricks.