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SCBA County League 2022-3 Round Seven

Surprise! The previously unbeaten top team was beaten by a team in the relegation zone at the start of the match! We are looking at the big swings.

Board 6 was the first.

East - West can make 3 no trumps from either hand or 4 spades if played by West but East opens 1S of course and both teams played in 4 spades after the auction 1S - 2C -2S - 4S.

A club lead leaves declarer no chance but one South led the 6 of diamonds to East's Ace and the other led the 6 of hearts to West's King. Double dummy analysis shows that both declarers could now make their contracts but only one did. The winning plays are far from clear, however. You are missing KT9xx in spades. You have a loser in diamonds and three possible club losers. Even Jack, an excellent card player, only made it after the 6 of diamonds lead and went down after the 6 of hearts lead.

The question that I would like to ask, though, is why did so many pairs play in 4 spades? 15 out of 22 pairs played in 4 spades and only 7 played in 3 no trumps. If you are playing a system which guarantees that the 2S rebid shows 6+ spades then West's 4S bid is reasonable but for Acol players, presumbly in the majority in this competition, surely West should bid 3NT over 2S? This shows your values and. even without a diamond stop, seems the more practical bid since you have no ruffing values and may have only a 7 card fit. Swap the two of spades with the two of hearts and you cannot make 4 spades from either hand.

The next swing came on the very next board.

Systemic differences meant that two different auctions were produced. The first auction was: 1C - (2S) - 3H - (3S) - 4H - (P ) - P - (4S) - P - (P ) - 5H

while the second was: 1NT - (2D) - 2H - ( X ) - P - (2S) - 3C - (3S) -

P - ( P ) - X

5 hearts went one down while their teammates conceded 500 in 3 spades doubled

I must say, I would not have bid 2 spades over 1 club or 2 diamonds (showing an unspecified 6 card suit presumably) over 1NT when vulnerable but each to their own. My main interest on this hand is what an Acol player sitting South should bid over 4S in the first auction. (i.e. assuming South had a hand consistent with opening an Acol 1C and not the 1NT opener they actually have) . An Acol player in this situation would suspect that they may only have a 5:3 fit in hearts. Also, partner may well have 5 clubs and certainly has 4. That being the case, the hand may well play better in clubs than hearts since you will be forced to ruff spades in the long suit hand when playing in hearts. If you are not going to double 4S then it would be better to bid 5C than 5H since when you are forced to ruff spades with clubs you will be generating extra tricks. This hand is a good example of how you can oftern generate more tricks playing in your 4:4 fit than your 5:3 fit. since 5 clubs makes but 5 hearts does not.

The bad break on Board 17 tripped up a number of declarers playing in 4 hearts.

The bidding was the same at both tables. 1NT - 2D - 2H - 4H. South's hand may only be 11 high card points but they are 3 quick tricks, with a six card suit and a singleton plus good intermediate cards. Yes, it's a 7 loser hand and partner can have an 8 loser hand for a weak NT but aces are undervalued in the losing trick count and queens are overvalued. With equal numbers of aces and queens then things balance out but this is much better than your average 7 loser hand. Bid game - don't invite and risk partner passing. You transfer first, however, since partner's hand may benefit from the lead coming up to them.

When you first see dummy you have a spade loser, posibly two heart losers, a diamond loser and a club loser. You can discard a loser on a club honour and may only have to lose one trump trick so it looks a reasonable contract. After winning the 5 of spades lead, the losing declarer immediately led the 10 of clubs and was rewarded when West immediately put up their Ace, setting up two club tricks in dummy for discards. West switched to the Queen of diamonds, taken by the ace and declarer played the Jack of hearts losing to the King and the Jack of spades was returned, taken by declarer's King.

At this point, declarer was worried that if they fetched trumps and lost a heart then they wouldl have a spade to lose. They therefore lead a diamond to try to enter dummy and discard a spade on a winning club. West ruffed small, however, and still had the Queen of hearts to defeat the contract.

When West took the Ace of clubs, they switched to the Queen of diamonds. East led a small spade, indicating an honour, so West had a safe return with the Jack of spades. Why switch? You have to knock out two stoppers in diamonds to set up a trick but only one in spades. The Queen looks suspiciously like a singleton.

The winning line of play is to play the Ace and 10 of hearts since West has no spade to lead and has to return a trump or a club. Would you have found this line? Jack did but I don't think that I would have.

Board 20 was a missed game due to the final decision being taken in different hands.

After the auction 1D - 1S - 1NT - 2NT West is looking at a maximum 17 points with a 5 card suit and excellent controls. A bid of 3NT is clearly indicated.

After the auction 1NT - 2C - 2NT (which I assume shows no 4 card major and a maximum?) East is looking at an 8 point flat 4333, albeit with good fillers. It is well known that such hands underperform in no trumps. Indeed, Bernard Magee goes as far as advising people to deduct a whole point when evaluating such a hand for no trumps. 3NT is now not such a clear-cut bid. East passed and missed a vulnerable game.

I'll be looking at Lebensohl next time - a very full version that helps when the opposition compete over your 1NT opening. Contact me using the form below if there is anything you would like me to cover.

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