Source: 41st Spring North American Bridge Championships Reno, Nevada March 19-29, 1998

There are always hands that cause problems. Check out this deal from a Vanderbilt match.

Your hand is: Q 9 5 3   A K 10 5 3   A Q J   3

Your plan is to open 1, but what do you do if your partner responds with a forcing 1NT? 2is a bit much, so you must plan to rebid 2. Of course you have to make your plan early so that you can bid in tempo.

My partnership with Larry Cohen had a different problem. Although I could open a strong club, I too would have to get to 2to show this hand. I decided on a little white lie by opening 1. South overcalled 1, Larry made a negative double and North passed. What now?

1NT? That was the bid at the other table. 2NT? Maybe, but it didn’t feel right. 2? Or maybe 3? Both could easily be right.

Have you figured out the hand pattern yet? If we give our partner at most two hearts, it seems that 2-2- 4-5 or 2-2-5-4 are the most probable distributions he can hold. Our bidding indicates dummy will be bereft of high cards. So I went for the throat — I passed 1doubled for penalties with only queen-9-fourth — a record low for me. This was the full hand:

J 8
Q 9 7 2
8 7 6 5
8 4 2
10 6
6 4
K 9 3 2
A J 9 7 6
Q 9 5 3
A K 10 5
A K 7 4 2
J 8
10 4
K Q 10 5

Larry led his high heart, I led a club, and Larry led his second heart. I cashed two diamonds to prevent declarer from doing any pitching before I led a third heart. Larry’s luscious 10-6 of spades produced +800 for us. Did you pass?