During each day of the NABC (National American) Eddie Kantar, one of the best American bridge writers, analyzes one bridge hand, for players who want to improve their bridge. This is the second hand of the San Francisco NABC 2012:
| K J 9
A K J 8
A 6 5 4
| A 10 4
K Q 10 9 3
K J 2
| Q 8 7 3 2
8 7 6
9 8 7
| 6 5
Q 10 9 7 6
A 4 2
Q 10 3
Bidding commentary: As South, take atleast one extra point for a five-card major facing a takeout double. This ups your count to 9-plus revalued points, enough to jump to 2 when East passes. A jump response to a takeout double is not forcing and shows 9-11 revalued points. North counts his hand as having 16 HCP (but not counting the J) plus one support point (SP) for the doubleton diamond. The North hand weighs in at 17 SP, enough to bid game facing a jump response.
Play commentary: As South, as a matter of course, add your HCP to dummy’s and then use the bidding as a guide to determine how their HCP are divided. Your side has 25 HCP and they have 15. West figures to have at least 12 of those 15, so West is a virtual lock to own the A and a heavy favorite to be gazing at the K as well.
Duck the opening lead and win the likely continuation of the Your ducking play gives you later control of the suit, which is helpful. The plan is to strip the hand before leading a club to the 10, the critical suit.
Start by leading a spade. If West plays low, rise with the king and play another spade. If East wins and exits a club, play the 10, but you are basically dead. If, however, East doesn’t put up the Q (not an easy play), West will win.
West will probably continue with a spade. If so, ruff in hand, ruff a diamond in dummy, pull trumps, staying in dummy, and lead a club to the 10. As the card lie, West wins the J, but is in big trouble. He can’t safely lead a club from the king. A diamond return, which provides a ruff and a sluff, is not good either. If a diamond is led, ruff in dummy and discard a club from your hand, the hand that is shorter in clubs. This is the proper way to handle a ruff and a sluff when you have a more-or-less equally divided suit with a loser or two.
Defensive commentary: As East, you have a chance to be the hero here. If you get in with the Q and find a club shift, you break up the later throwin play that declarer is planning. The shift allows the defense to take two club tricks, just enough to defeat the contract.