Good 8 Is Better than Bad 9


Author: Larry Cohen
Date of publish: 02/01/2016
Level: Intermediate

To keep in shape (I plan to play in the Fall NABC this year), I have been playing some online bridge. On this deal, I was South holding:

♠ J4  
♥ QJ10765  
♦ A3  
♣ A54.

With both sides vulnerable, IMP scoring, my partner dealt and opened 1♠. I responded 2♠ (partner unknown, but on this European site, everyone must use 2/1 GF). My partner rebid 2♠. To my way of thinking that tends to show 6 or more spades. Still, I thought my six-card heart suit, with the QJ10 were worth a rebid. Over my 3♠, partner bid 4♠. What's that? A good general rule in uncontested auctions is "no new natural suits on the 4-level." Trusting my partner was on my wavelength, I interpreted 4♠ as a control-bid agreeing hearts (if he didn't wish to agree hearts, he could have bid a forcing 3♠). I thought I was worth one more peep, so I control-bid 4♠. Partner used Blackwood (presumably with hearts trump). I showed two keycards with the queen and he placed us in 6♠. LHO led the ♠K and I saw:

 

♠ A976532
♥ AK
♦ K102
♣ J
 
♠ J4
♥ QJ10765
♦ A3
♣ A54

We had an obvious spade loser, so the question was what to do with my two small clubs. Do you like the idea of trumping them in dummy?

That would work if hearts were 3-2 (♠A, club ruff, ♠A, club ruff and hope to get back to hand to draw trump).

Rather than rely on 3-2 hearts (plus the small entry issue), it must be better to work on spades. I won the ♠A and played a spade. Ducking the first round completely is way too dangerous (they could ruff the next round!). So, I played to the ♠A at trick two (RHO played the king) and played another spade. RHO threw a club as West won the queen. He played a high club, but I was now in great shape. I trumped in dummy and laid down dummy's other high trump (all following). A spade ruff to hand (regardless of whether or not East trumped in) let me draw trumps and claim (my other small club could go on dummy's now-good spades). 

This was the Real Deal:

Vul:Both
Dir: North
♠ A976532
♥ AK
♦ K102
♣ J
 
♠ Q108
♥ 9843
♦ J854
♣ KQ
  ♠ K
♥ 2
♦ Q976
♣ 10987632
  ♠ J4
♥ QJ10765
♦ A3
♣ A54
 

As you can see, trumping two clubs in dummy (the inferior line) would have led to the loss of a trump trick and down one. On this deal it was right to play with the good 8-card suit as trump and use the bad 9-card suit to set up the tricks.