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Deal of the Week (Dec 08, 2006) Click here for Archives

West   North   East   South
1♠      2♣      3♠*     pass
pass    dbl      pass     3NT
all pass

* Preemptive bid, with at least four trumps

East's 3♠ call is preemptive, an attempt to disrupt your auction, and promises at least four spades. You and your partner handle the preempt effectively, and eventually reach 3NT, which is a sound contract.

The ♠Q is led, East wins the Ace and plays a spade back to your King. You play a club to the Ace, both opponents follow with low cards. You quickly realize that you need to bring in the club suit to land the contract. But first, you turn your attention to the diamond suit, to learn more about the hand. You try the 10 from dummy, hoping RHO might cover. When he plays low, you play the Ace, and play a diamond to the King, LHO discarding the 8. So much for tempting RHO to cover the 10... You play a diamond to the Queen, LHO discards the 2, completing an echo. You play a club towards dummy, and LHO plays small. The moment of truth has arrived - do you finesse or play for the drop?

The maxim "eight ever, nine never" suggests that you try to drop the ♣Q (you have nine combined clubs, and according to the maxim, when you have nine cards, you never finesse). However, East's 3♠ preempt might have been based on a singleton club, as players tend to preempt more readily if they have a distributional hand.

Let us try and consolidate the information we have. LHO has shown up with 5 spades, and 1 diamond, and has followed to 2 clubs. She might have started with 4 hearts and 3 clubs, in which case it is right to finesse. However, if she started with 5 hearts and 2 clubs, you have to play the ♣K, dropping East's Queen.

When you take a look at their convention card, you learn that they play Michaels cue-bids. So, if LHO has 5 spades and 5 hearts, she would have made a Michaels Cue-Bid. Is that conclusive evidence? Not quite. A lot of partnerships make a Michaels Cue-Bid with a weak hand (7-11 HCP) or a strong hand (16+ HCP), and overcall with an intermediate hand (12-15 HCP). LHO has shown up with the QJ of spades (3 HCP), is likely to have the A (4 HCP), and possibly the J (1 HCP), for a total of 8 HCP. So LHO cannot have five hearts, as she would have had a perfect hand to make a Michaels cue-bid. You should play her for 5-4-1-3 distribution, and finesse the club. East's spade discard is a pleasant sight, as you claim 10 tricks.

 QJ1093 Deal  A762
 A872  J1053
 5  J972
 Q63  2

Taking inferences is not very hard. Knowing which inferences to take, that is the hard part. This deal illustrates the importance of knowing conventions, even if you don't play them yourself. You might want to check out our latest product Learn and Practice Bidding Conventions, which will help you learn conventions, their responses and rebids, and provide millions of practice deals for each convention.

The double dummy solver is not appropriate for this deal, as looking at all four hands would make the play trivial.
Par Contract Analysis:
East-West have a good sacrifice in spades, up to 6♠. In fact, the par contract is 6♠X.

Bridge Baron deal No : N1010-84234-49746-54086-02623-73812

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