This real deal was dealt by Stephen Smith of Bridge Baron.
| All Pass
South opens 1 (always the higher-ranking suit when 5-5). West might be tempted to preempt, but a glance at the vulnerability should quell any such thoughts. If not vulnerable, I’d recommend a 3 preempt (only 1 HCP, but not the worst suit ever). Vulnerable, let’s have West make a sensible Pass. North, with good 4-card trump support should add for the doubleton (at least 1 point) and make a limit raise of 3. Now it is East who should be deterred by the vulnerability. With 16 HCP, it is tempting to bid, but vulnerable (and with partner marked with zilch), East is shown as passing. South should go to game as shown. When partner makes a 4-card limit raise of a major, a good rule of thumb is to always go to game (even with a dead minimum in HCP) if you have a singleton or a void.
The doubleton is possible, but getting a ruff is a real long shot (if you play with partners who are smart enough to have the AK of clubs in this situation, you are a very lucky player!). I’d prefer to start with the J, top of the sequence.
In a suit contract, declarer should count losers. Here, with the diamond into his AQ, there are no losers there. Aside from the two black aces, there are potential losers in hearts (the king) and clubs (the queen). Both can be dealt with by taking 50-50 finesses. On a great day, both finesses win and declarer has an overtrick. On a bad day, both lose and the contract is down. On a medium day (as Stephen dealt out the cards), one wins, one loses and the contact should make on the nose.
After winning the diamond, should declarer start trump? Should he play a spade? Something else? My rule for drawing trump is: “If there is no reason not to, then draw them.” Can you find a reason not to? I can’t. So, why play a spade (increasing the possibility that something might go wrong—such as suffering a club ruff)? Declarer leads the Q at trick 2 and takes a finesse. It loses and let’s say East returns a diamond. Declarer wins and should draw trump ending in dummy. The percentage play in clubs is to finesse against the queen (the ace has to be lost no matter what). Lead the J, intending to let it run. No matter what East does, only one club trick will be lost. Declarer doesn’t need to worry about how to get back to dummy. Aside from having a trump entry (if needed), the defense (upon winning the A) has no choice but to return something that allows declarer to repeat a finesse against the Q. Declarer makes 10 tricks and +420.
1) Even with a decent 7-card suit, don’t preempt with only 1 HCP if vulnerable.
2) If vulnerable, it is dangerous to enter an auction on the 3-level (especially if partner is known to be broke).
3) When partner makes a 4-card limit raise of your major, go to game any time you have a
singleton or void.
4) Lead a suit with a sequence as opposed to a small doubleton.
5) If there is no reason not to draw trump, then draw them.
6) With J10x opposite K98xx, finesse against the queen.