Source: ABF Bulletins

Liam Milne
Liam Milne

In the last week of November, 64 teams from across Australia travelled to sunny Tweed Heads (NSW) to contest the Grand National Open Teams Final. As always, there were a few hands with instructive themes. Try this hand from the fourth round of knockout matches:

aaxx

At favourable vulnerability, you open 2 (Precision, 6+ clubs) and partner responds 2 inquiry. East overcalls 4 and you venture 4, buying a very good dummy on the diamond lead to the 8 and your A.

Seeing no issues, you lead the Q from your hand, which wins. Do you see any problems?

On this type of hand, with good trumps and a useful side suit, a frequent idea to keep in mind is “side suit first”: nurture your source of tricks to ensure that the side suit doesn’t get lost.

With this hand, if you play a second trump next, the difference is two tricks. West wins the A as East shows out, and can simply return their third heart. You try the clubs, but they break 4-0, and you are short of the entries to both establish then run the suit. East is 4=1=8=0; down one.

In our match, declarer played a club at trick 3 to ensure the contract. In the other room, the contract was 4 doubled, but declarer didn’t find the side suit safety play: 11 IMPs to SYDNEY 2, rather than 6 the other way (an early club play leads to an overtrick, only losing a heart and a spade).