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WEEK BEGINNING MONDAY, 30 MARCH 2020
HAND OF THE WEEK – THE EXTRA CHANCE
BY MIKE FERGUSON
The following hand is taken from the final Yorkshire League match of the season but the bidding shown here did not happen at the table.
It is the final set and your team is 34 imps ahead. The opponents are known to be aggressive bidders, especially when they are behind in a match.
West, the dealer on your right, opens 3NT. This is alerted by their partner as the Gambling 3NT. It shows a hand with a 7-card solid minor and nothing more than a Queen outside. You do not like to pass but you do not have a suitable bid.
The hand on your left thinks for a moment and passes, as does your partner. What do you lead?
The standard defence against a Gambling 3NT is to cash your winners before they can get in. You know that declarer does not have the KS (no aces or kings outside) so the correct lead is the AS.
This is what you see when dummy is put down
??? ♠ KJ65
??? ♥ Q86
(seven solid♦) ♦ 75
??? ♣ AK94
That is a depressingly good dummy. Declarer has seven diamond tricks, two clubs and a spade to take, so you need to make four tricks in hearts. What cards do you need your partner to have to beat the contract?
Partner certainly needs to have the AH but they are marked with this on the bidding. They need to have at least three hearts for you to be able to cash four tricks. So you could lead a small heart (remember partner knows you have the KH on the bidding) and hope that partner, with A10x, will play the ten, cash the ace and lead a third round to you. They can also see that declarer has a lot of tricks so they know that playing the 10 is the only way to take four heart tricks
That is fine but what if partner does not have the ten of hearts? If declarer has 10x you could lead the KH and then play the J to pin the 10. That needs partner to have four hearts. But what if they only have Axx? In that case, there is only one card you can play – the JH. If declarer plays small on this, you can cash three more cards. If they cover with the queen, partner wins the Ace and leads through declarer’s 10 to your K9x. The lead of the JH will beat the contract whenever partner has at least three hearts to the Ace.
Points of interest
1) The gambling 3NT shows seven solid in a minor. That means AKQJxxx, although you might choose to count AKQ10xxx as a solid suit. You should not do it with AKQxxxx, which is what declarer held on this hand.
2) They opened 1D at the other tables and your hand had no reason not to lead the 5H against 3NT, after which it could not be beaten
3) When thinking about the defence, work out the minimum partner needs to have – do not assume that they have any more than that.
“We welcome feedback on this column from members, either about this hand or suggesting another hand to cover in future articles. Feedback should be sent to Mike Ferguson on firstname.lastname@example.org”