X-Clubs Play 29

I believe that this deal has been written up elsewhere but here is my perspective on it, aided by some of my own panelists.

Board 4 from Tuesday 13/09/22
Dealer West All Vul


This is a great hand for the basic ‘weak two’ opening bid if North considers the hand good enough for an all vul 2S. The bid is there to try and make life difficult for opponents, which is why North should have no compunction and open it 2S. Some Easts might bid an immediate 3NT but that would be unilateral and East does have four hearts, so double seems obvious to me. The problem is compounded because some pairs play Lebensohl and some not. As you can see, Lebensohl doesn’t make life any easier for EW. Since I don’t like and don’t play Lebensohl, nor do most of my less sophisticated readers, let’s say that West bids 3C, which I am led to believe actually comes close to a 3C bid if playing Lebensohl. So, West would bid 3C in a non Lebensohl partnership. What does East bid? I believe that East must make one more try to reach the best contract if it is No Trumps, and that is to cue bid with 3S, hoping for an unlikely partial spade stopper, which West does not have. What then? Does West rebid clubs or bid the four card diamond suit? I would bid 4D, telling partner a bit more about my shape but not if East is the sort to go ballistic and bid 6C now. Maybe even better to bid the three card heart suit now that East knows you don’t have four of them! If West does bid 4D (why not, having had his button pushed by partner?), I believe I have the answer that only one panelist suggested: double 2S which should elicit a 3H response if West has four hearts. But when West bids 3C, try again with 3S and unless West bids 3NT, bid 4H if West now bids 4D. If West is 4-4 in the minors and cannot bid 3NT, chances are that West has only two spades, which gives 4H a sporting chance as long as the clubs can be used as a side suit as long as West has the king or even as little as five to the J10 and defenders can’t find a club ruff after a spade lead. This, after all, is a match point game and the best contract should be looked for from that standpoint. Bidding 4H after this sequence is no riskier than an immediate 3NT or 3NT after the double.

As it happens West does have a doubleton spade and East’s trumps are protected from a 4-2 break as long as clubs can be brought into play. Declarer, after a spade lead, must take just two rounds of trumps before embarking on clubs. Then North can not ruff the second club whereas dummy can take care of a third round of spades. And an immediate ace of clubs and club ruff does the defenders no good either since the clubs are now set up and the defence never make their spade trick.