East west vulnerable

Play Bridge: Holding five clubs and four diamonds

"Although one wants to pre-empt the auction as much as legitimately possible, one does not want to pre-empt bad suits."

The bidding: West has a pass with an exclamation mark. Although one wants to pre-empt the auction as much as legitimately possible, one does not want to pre-empt bad suits, especially when vulnerable. West must pass.

Even when one is not vulnerable, one needs a good suit to draw trump, especially if declaring doubled or starting the defense with a good lead. Furthermore, if partner sacrifices in one’s suit, and one has lots of values only outside the suit, one may have too much defense to want to sacrifice.

At least, West is not Jack high, but he should have better Spade intermediates and at least another honour. Move the three Diamond cards and the Club Queen to the Spade suit, and it is not a bad weak two (KQJ1098), even vulnerable, because of the stiff in the other major suggesting the opponents may have a contract there.

East passes his eleven-count because it is quacky and has a wasted honour. South has a good 14 points but has the problem minor holding where the Club suit is longer than the Diamond suit by one. He cannot open One Club and rebid Two Diamonds or Two Hearts after partner makes the inevitable One Spade response because that would show a reverse in strength, an ace above a good minimum opening. Therefore, South must lie about length and not strength and open One Diamond and rebid Two Clubs.

South could open One Club and rebid Two Clubs, but misrepresenting one’s hand as single-suited when, in fact, it is three-suited is just bad bidding because one should rarely misrepresent one’s hand as single-suited when it is two-suited.

North will pick Diamonds, and South will play in a four-three and not the five-three fit. No problem, it is certainly better than No Trump with a Spade void.

The Play: West leads his stiff Heart, and declarer rises with the Ace, refrains from cashing the Spade Ace and leads a small Diamond. East rises with the trump Ace, cashes the Heart King and exits a Heart for West’s ruff.

If South does not cash the Spade Ace, he will be able to enjoy his fourth and fifth Clubs, otherwise, he won’t see them. South will get one Spade, one Heart, three trump and four Clubs making +110. He will lose zero Spades, one Heart, two trump and a Club.

If South cashes the Spade Ace at trick two, West will play a Spade after his Heart ruff, and declarer will shorten himself in trump too soon and will get one Spade, one Heart, three trump and two Clubs for down one, -50.

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