By Linda Lee
When you are playing a bridge hand you often have the chance to be a detective. If you get out your magnifying glass, your decoder kit but most importantly your thinking cap you can be a better declarer or defender.
In today’s example which is a real life hand I played a few days ago I am going to focus on listening to the auction for clues. Here is your hand:
Not vulnerable against vulnerable
Your partner passes in first chair. Are you thinking about preempting in clubs? I was. But you are surprised when your right hand opponent opens the bidding 1♣ . You don’t really have a sensible bid so you pass. The auction continues:
Your partner has bid 1♠. What should you do? You could bid 2♣ now. The problem is that it sounds like a cue bid. A bid of the enemy’s suit in this position is used by many players to show support for partner and a good hand. In any case you are not unhappy to play in 1♠. You have some help for partner. Partner is a passed hand so your side does not have game. You should pass.
The opponents are not done, however. West doubles. This bid is for takeout, asking his partner to bid something. East bids 2♥ and it is your turn again. Is it worth it to bid here? What would you do? There are three sensible choices:
If you made any of these bids you did something very reasonable. I bid 3♣ and here is why. I have found that when I have a weak hand with a long suit without great support for partner it usually plays better in my suit. The problem is that partner often can’t get to my hand to get at all my juicy club tricks. Everyone passed now and for better or worse we are in 3♣. Here is the whole hand:
The opening lead is the ♦Q and right away you know you are going down. You can count four red suit losers since it appears that the diamond ace is offside and a spade loser on top of that. Five losers, too many and you are may lose the club king as well.
Still they are likely to be able to make 2♥ at least. They have at least seven red suit winners along with the spade ace. We shall see what they can make later. For now our goal is to the best we can on this hand.
The opponents take their four red suit winners and lead a third diamond which you trump.
Let’s put on our detective’s thinking cap. The only challenge at this moment is to try to avoid losing a club trick. There are two ways to do that. The first way is to take the club finesse. After all East opened 1♣. Unfortunately you can only finesse one time. So this only will help you if East started life with exactly the doubleton club king. Is that possible? For it to be possible at all East-West must play a system where they would open 1♣ with two of them. As is usually the case, our opponents did not do that. So that meant that the club finesse would not help me. It might work but it wouldn’t really do any good!
So there is only one chance to avoid a club loser. You have to hope for the singleton king. There is no point in trying a finesse. Just lay down the ♣ A. Today, you will get your reward because East does indeed have the singleton king. If you got this one right you are now a detective first class. Here is the whole hand.
How well do the opponents do in hearts? They can make 3♥ but will not make 4♥ on the likely spade lead. Try it yourself and see if you can make 3♥ on a spade lead.