orlando-2016-1 ORLANDO-FALL NABC 2016-NOV. 24-DIC. 4

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December 03       


With both sides vulnerable, you open 1NT in first seat. West overcalls 3 and partner bids 3NT. You and partner are playing negative doubles after a three-level overcall. A double here would have shown four hearts. In any case, it is unlikely that West has solid spades. As West, with a solid suit to lead against a notrump contract, one usually passes. However, if the opponents aren’t about to play the contract in notrump, now you can compete in your suit. West leads the K. Plan the play.


The full deal:

Start by winning the second spade. West should have seven spades for his vulnerable threelevel overcall of a strong 1NT. Now what? You have five black-suit tricks and two sure diamond tricks so you need two more. If you knew for sure that East had the A, you could just drive out that card. But it is far from clear that East has the A. Besides, if East has the A, you are always going to make this contract. You should be thinking about diamonds in case West has the A.

If West has the A, you are going to need four diamond tricks to get to nine tricks. The best play for four diamond tricks is to begin by leading a low diamond, intending to finesse the jack. Why is this better than leading the ace first? Because by leading low you guard against a singleton queen in the West hand, a holding that allows you to take four tricks in the suit via an eventual finesse of the 9. If East has the singleton queen and West the 10-8-7-6, you can take three only diamond tricks no matter how you play the suit.

If the diamond finesse loses and West has the A, well, it’s just too unpleasant to discuss. By the way, it can’t hurt to cash four club tricks before leading a diamond. Notice that with all the high-card points between your hand and dummy (28), East-West with 12 HCP can take eight tricks at a spade contract. That’s the power of distribution.