Real Deal #32 (From Audrey Grant Magazine)

Author: Larry Cohen
Date of publish: 08/02/2021
Level: General Interest

This Real deal was dealt by the computer program Baron.


Dlr: Both
♠ KJ2
♥ AJ82
♦ K73
♣ J108
♠ Q106
♥ 10765
♦ 9852
♣ 95
  ♠ 4
♥ KQ943
♦ J106
♣ AK64
  ♠ A98753
♥ --
♦ AQ4
♣ Q732


  1♠  1♠  1♠
 Pass  1NT  Pass 4♠ 
 All Pass      









The Bidding 

With 13 HCP, North surely opens—and in “Standard” his choice is 1♠ (as shown). With 3-3 in the minors, the correct opening bid is 1♠—not 1♠. A 1♠-opening on a 3-card suit should be made only in the specific case when opener is 4=4=3=2 in that exact order (4 spades, 4 hearts, 3 diamonds, 2 clubs). Only if you are playing “better minor” (I don’t recommend it) should you open the North hand 1♠. Using the “standard” method, a 1♠ opener turns out to be a 4-card or longer suit 97% of the time.

East has plenty in reserve for his 1♠ overcall. He doesn’t make a takeout double, because he has a singleton in one of the unbid suits (spades).

South has a wonderful hand (especially when his partner has opened the bidding in clubs). For the time being, he shows his spade suit by responding 1♠. After the 1♠ overcall, this promises at least 5 cards in spades. With only 4 spades, South would start with a negative double.

West has nice heart support, but his hand isn’t good enough to take action here—especially vulnerable. What should North rebid? He knows of at least an 8-card spade fit, but the 1NT bid shown feels better. North is completely flat and has strong cards in the opponent’s suit. While it wouldn’t be wrong to raise into the sure 8+ card fit, 1NT just looks right.

East doesn’t have enough to bid a second time. South ends the auction by jumping to 4♠. Why? After his partner’s 1NT rebid, South knows his side has at least a 6-2 (and maybe a 6-3) spade fit. North wouldn’t rebid 1NT with a singleton. Given his heart void, South has no interest in notrump—no matter how well his partner has them stopped.  South also wouldn’t want to raise clubs—why look for an 11-trick game when a 10-trick game is available?  South could dream about slam. But, his partner has shown a minimum opener with some heart cards. It isn’t likely all of South’s potential losers (ace-king in clubs, king of spades and diamonds) can be covered.


The Lead:

The doubleton club would strike gold (ace-king and a ruff), but West has no reason to lead anything but his partner’s suit.


The Play:

South can see 2 sure club losers, and maybe a spade loser as well. This looks to be a cold contract, with only overtricks at stake. Declarer might as well take the ♠A and throw a low club from hand. This assures that only 2 club tricks will ever be lost. What next? This is clearly the time to draw trumps—the only question being how.

With 9 cards missing the queen, the odds favor playing for the drop instead of finessing. The famous adage: “8 ever, 9 never” refers to this situation. It means that with 8 cards in a suit missing the queen, always (“ever”) finesse. With 9 cards, never finesse.  This is a general guideline only. If the auction (or play) dictates otherwise, you can sometimes go against “8 ever, 9 never.” Here, East overcalled so has more hearts than West. That means he has fewer “non-spade” cards than his partner. Maybe this indicates finessing in spades, but probably isn’t enough evidence. Most declarers would probably lay down the ♠A, then the ♠K and lose a trick to the ♠Q. Any inspired declarer who guessed to finesse in spades would get a near top for +650.


Lesson Points: 

1) With 3-3 in the minors, open 1♠—not 1♠.

2) A 1♠ response after an opposing 1♠ overcall guarantees at least 5 spades.

3) With 9 cards missing the queen, the odds favor playing for the drop.