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Takeout doubles lead the way

Play Bridge: Tips and tricks for the bridge player, new to experienced.
None vulnerable

The bidding: West opens one club, bidding four card suits up the line, and North, with opening points and three or four cards in the unbid suits, makes a takeout double. East, with no four-card majors, no five-card club suit and no major stoppers, has nothing to say and passes.

South has to bid, and any simple response shows zero to seven or eight points. With 8 to 12, South will jump and with 13 or more, he will cuebid opponent’s suit. A cuebid also tells partner, “You pick,” and subsequent bids will clarify the strength.

South bids one heart. North passes because if he bids anything, even a simple raise of hearts, he is showing a hand of 16 points or more.

Some may ask whether North should make a raise showing they have a fit. However, North’s double, a very descriptive bid, has already done that.

South could have zero points and then the opponents would have 25, which is enough for their game.

North is wise to pass. East and West with their flat hands have no long suit to bid and do not have an eight-card fit, so they pass it out.

The contract: One heart by South

The opening lead: The three of clubs

Just because West bid the suit is no reason that he must lead it, but he has nothing better to lead. Even if his partner were on lead, one club is often not lead-directive.

The play: It is possible West is leading from the ace of clubs, but it is more likely he is not. South plays the two of clubs and East wins his ace. South wins the club return in dummy and exits a diamond. East wins the ace and exits a spade. West wins the ace and returns a spade which South wins in his hand.

South ruffs a club, ruffs a diamond back to his hand to ruff his last club with the ace of trump. He then exits a heart to West’s king. West plays a spade. South ruffs another diamond and draws trump. He loses a trick in every suit making nine tricks.

The result: One heart plus two for +140.

Notes:  South does not draw trump right away because he has ruffs (clubs) in the short-trump hand to make. Ruffing in the long-trump hand is not ideal, but South needs diamond ruffs for transportation.

-South has to ruff the final club with the ace of hearts to unblock hearts and to preserve enough entries to his hand.