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CHOICES…

Restricted ones. I hate the sound of the words, “Restricted Choice”  (did West have to play an honour or choose to?) so much so that even though today’s hand seems to centre on a “Restricted Choice” situation, I do not believe it does. Take a look:

Bridge in NZ.pngnz map.jpg

 

West Deals
Both Vul
10 4
J 7 6 4
K 10 7 2
K 5 2
   
N
W   E
S
   
 
Q J 9
K 2
A Q 8
A 10 9 8 7
West North East South
Pass Pass Pass 1 NT
All pass      

 

You are playing Teams. Your strong no-trump opening ends the auction. West leads Spade-small8 with East winning with the Spade-smallK. Next came Spade-smallA and then Spade-small6, West following to all three spades.

 You lead a club to dummy and West plays Club-smallJ. You win and play a second club and play…?

 

No apologies that we are focusing on a part-score deal. Even at Teams, they produce many 5-6 imp swings which soon mount up if they are in the “out” column.

 

  • Which club did you lead on the first round?

 

  • Was it Club-small10 or maybe your bottom club?

 

  • Were you intending to play low from dummy on the first round of clubs if West played low?

 

  • Did West suspect that and contribute Club-smallJ from a holding like QJx?

 

  • Who has the remaining spades?

 

  • Which is the danger hand?

 

Lots of questions but perhaps the most important one is the last one and the answer might be surprising.

 

While it is possible that West led from a three- card spade suit or indeed that spades broke 4-4, the spade length would normally be with West. Had East held Spade-smallAKxxx, they would often play a low spade at trick 2 to avoid blocking the suit (and maybe present a relieved declarer holding Spade-smallQ doubleton with an unexpected trick).

 

Yet, despite the fact that West is more likely to have two extra spade tricks than their partner, it is East who you really do not want on lead, with no spade to play. A heart switch from East would be extremely uncomfortable.

 

You want a plus score. Overtricks are neat but not essential. When South played Club-smallA at trick 5 (on the second round of the suit) and West discarded, the contract was in grave danger. A further club was played to East’s queen…. and out came a low heart from East. Are you ready for that? If you lose four spades, two hearts and a club, you are down in 1NT, while others are making two overtricks:

 

 

West Deals
Both Vul
10 4
J 7 6 4
K 10 7 2
K 5 2
8 7 5 3 2
A 10 9
J 5 4 3
J
 
N
W   E
S
 
A K 6
Q 8 5 3
9 6
Q 6 4 3
 
Q J 9
K 2
A Q 8
A 10 9 8 7
West North East South
Pass Pass Pass 1 NT
All pass      

 

In fact, South should always get the heart decision right as East was a passed hand and had already shown up with 9 high card points in the black suits. The Heart-smallA could only have been in one hand, West, but South was very lucky that West did not hold Heart-smallQ as well.

 

Had West won the second round of clubs with their queen, and then cashed two more spades, South will either have to discard two clubs or a club and Diamond-smallQ to preserve their heart holding. Not an easy ending for South but no better than what  could have happened had West held Heart-smallQ. Awkward as that ending might seem for South, West may have difficulty in exiting or may misdefend in exiting a heart.

 

Of course, once a small club held the second round of the suit, South could cash three rounds of diamonds and then repeat the club finesse to score five club tricks, three top diamonds and a spade for nine tricks.

 

 easy decision.jpg

 Easy decision, really!

 So, keep East off lead if you can. No mention of Restricted Choice. Even if East and West had produced low clubs on the first round of the suit, and East on the second, you would/should have played low on the second round of clubs, in case East held Club-smallQJxx. No difference. Chalk up +90 or +150 but not -50. Not a good score in a contract you should make.

 

Defence for Jan’s Day

 

 

West Deals
None Vul
A 3
J 3 2
Q 9 7 2
K Q J 3
K 2
7
A K 10 8 6 5 4
A 6 4
 
N
W   E
S
   
West North East South
you Dummy    
1  Pass Pass 2 
3  3 NT Pass 4 
All pass      

 

2Diamond-small showed both majors. You lead a high diamond and both East and South follow suit. How do you continue at trick2?

 Richard Solomon

 

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