X-Clubs Play 23

Lots of lessons to be learnt from this very ordinary deal from a match point session, though it will also have much relevance to teams play.

Board 6 from Tuesday 5/07/22
Dealer East EW Vul


How many pairs across the whole of X-Clubs played the NS hand in a SPADE contract, and how many were in DIAMONDS? None in spades and every pair in diamonds at our club! The bidding may have been more difficult if West doubled South’s 1D opening, but most pairs these days just ignore the double and bid normally. Hence, North bids 1S and South rebids 1NT. Here is where you need to play some sort of checkback, and North bids 2C. South has three card spade support so should show that in preference to anything else, and bids 2S. The 5-3 spade fit has been found so why now worry about a diamond fit? That is how much emphasis should be placed on the major suits when looking for the best part score or game. When South bids 2S, there is nothing to stop North now bidding 3D as a trial bid, looking for game should South have a maximum 17 or otherwise suitable hand. This would be of particular importance in a teams game. South would be delighted to accept North’s invitation and bid 4S.

The other lesson to learn is the play in diamonds, let’s say 5D to make it really relevant. Let’s say West starts with a top club and after seeing dummy shifts to a heart. Declarer has no way of avoiding two spade losers, at least on the surface. He should try his best to create a situation where the defenders can’t take both the spades, and that requires the defender with a doubleton winning the second spade trick. Declarer should ruff a club to eliminate clubs and then, after three rounds of hearts, play ace and a second spade. As you can see, if East now wins the king, and has to give declarer a ruff and discard, which allows declarer’s third spade loser to be discarded while dummy ruffs. Good defenders will ensure that East unblocks the king and lets West make the queen and jack, but how easy r obvious is that? Declarer must not let the defenders see what the intention is, and after ruffing the second club, lead a spade from dummy, which East is likely to play low on. Leading the ace from hand would be an open book, with West following with the queen to tell East of his holding in the suit, allowing East to jettison the king under the ace.

Some good lessons for anyone who wants to improve their declarer play and defence.