This Real Deal was dealt by Paul Harrington.
*Jacoby Transfer (spades)
With a balanced 15 HCP, North should open 1NT. This does not promise all 4 suits stopped. If North were to open 1, he would never be able to convey to his partner that he held a balanced 15-17. After East’s pass, South will show his spades, via a transfer. His 2 bid shows 5 or more spades (and any number of HCP). West should come into the auction. He could double to show hearts. A double of an artificial bid (such as a Jacoby transfer) shows that suit and is considered a “Lead-directing double.” On the two-level, at least a decent (two of the top three honors) suit and five or more cards are required. However, West has such a good hand that he can overcall 3. Why overcall when he could just double? The overcall shows a better hand/suit and also takes away a level from the opponents.
North is no longer obligated to complete the transfer. He is permitted to voluntarily bid 3 with a super maximum hand and four-card spade support. With his actual hand, he doesn’t have enough to go to the three level (remember that the 2 bidder could have only 5 spades and 0 HCP).
After North passes, East might raise to 4, but let’s say he passes as shown. South now should bid again. Though he has only 7 HCP, his 6-4 shape warrants another action. Rather than show clubs, he should repeat his 6-card suit. At worst, it will be a 6-2 fit. The 3 bid is not forcing, so is a bit of an underbid.
West continues with 4, a bit frisky. Still, there is an old expression “6-5 come alive.” On this round, North should bid. His partner has shown decent values and probably six spades (for his “rebid”). With such excellent spade support facing a likely 6-card suit North raises to 4. East, who has said nothing yet has two defensive tricks and doubles 4 for penalty.
As much as I like to lead a singleton, I prefer to lead a suit with the ace-king. West leads a high heart (ace from ace-king is standard these days).
Declarer sees that he has to lose a trick in each red suit. In the black suits, he has finesses he can take. We can see that the cards lie poorly for him and the contract should be set. On West’s high heart lead, East would play hi-lo with a doubleton. When West sees East’s 5, he knows his partner did not start with a doubleton. It is either a singleton 5 or 965. How can West tell which? He can’t.
If West continues with another high heart, declarer will probably go down one (though he can make it if he guesses the actual layout). West’s best play at trick 2 (looking at all 4 hands) is the singleton diamond. East can read it as a singleton (because with a doubleton, West would lead hi-lo – and likely wouldn’t shift unless he had a singleton). East can win and give West a diamond ruff. Declarer will still go down only one. He can throw three clubs on three diamonds, but has to lose to the trump king. Plus 100 for East-West.
This would be an interesting deal to watch at multiple tables in a duplicate game. Many North-South pairs would buy it in spades, taking anywhere from 8 to 10 tricks. At some tables, East-West would play in hearts. How would they do? Likely, they would make 10 tricks. They have to lose the black-suit aces and a trump trick. But, club losers can be ruffed in dummy, and the defense can’t stop 10 tricks. Thanks, Paul, for such an exciting deal.
1) A 1NT opening doesn’t promise all 4 suits stopped.
2) A Jacoby transfer does not promise any HCP (it could be 0 HCP).
3) A double of an artificial bid (like a Jacoby Transfer) is lead directing.
4) On defense, play hi-lo with a doubleton.