X-Clubs Play 15

From “The Archives”. I came across this deal while reviewing some of my more interesting files from many years ago. This one was from an Open match point tournament. There are some interesting aspects and I asked a number of current players what they would do with the South hand.

Dealer North All Vul


North passed and East opened 1H. Pass from South and 1NT from West. Should North have doubled now? I wouldn’t think so, since East’s hand is as yet not limited. But East now bid 2H which was passed round to North, who now did double. It was now South who had the decision of what to do next. The temptation must be to go for the jugular and pass, but other options are 2S, knowing NS have a 4-3 fit but that the suit is almost certain to break 3-3, or 3C which will probably find a 4-4 fit but take the bidding to the three level, not an ideal push at match points. With hearts stopped twice, another alternative is 2NT.

If you decided to PASS, would you also have then made the best lead possible to give your side the much sought after +200 in a part score battle at match points? I am pleased to say that the few Souths who decided to pass, having faith in partner and courage of their convictions, did make the lead that gave them +200. That was the TEN OF HEARTS. A trump lead usually does not seem very attractive in a part score battle, but there were valid reasons for this one, as long as South led a low one: the lead would enable the removal of two trumps from dummy while still ensuring that South had two trump tricks, and that is also why the lead of the king of diamonds is not only risky but likely to achieve nothing even with a successful ruff since South has two heart tricks anyway. A club is a possibility, but a low one allows declarer to make by playing low from dummy, and the queen, if covered by the king, needs an immediate trump switch from North.

I will leave it to the reader to decide what would have happened to a 2S, 2NT or 3C contract had South decided to bid any of those. Best match point play requires aggressive but safe bidding as well as best defence. Would you and your partner have found that had you been playing this session 15 years ago, or the same deal now? Replay it by clicking here.