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Play Bridge: A minor suit transfer

Warren Watson leads readers in an ongoing game of bridge.

The bidding: North, with 15 points, opens one notrump. He has an unstopped doubleton, but that does not deter him from opening one notrump even if the doubleton is spades. All that is really required for a one notrump opening is a balanced hand without five-four in the majors. If one has four spades and two doubletons, then both doubletons must be stopped.

South sees that his hand is worth more with a diamond suit. He bids two spades which is the minor suit transfer showing a weak hand of zero to four points and six or more cards in a minor. With five to seven points, one just lets partner play one notrump.

The bid of two spades asks partner to bid three clubs. South can pass if his suit is clubs or correct to three diamonds if his suit is diamonds.

West doubles two spades because he wants a spade lead and has both length and strength in spades. A double of any artificial bid  such as Stayman, transfers or any response to Gerber or Blackwood is a request for the doubled suit to be led at partner’s first opportunity to do so.

The Lead: The eight of hearts. West knows partner will lead a spade because of his double so he leads a heart, hoping to pin strength in dummy. He knows dummy is strong and the declarer is very weak. He also knows that he may have the lead only twice, with the opening lead and with a spade.

The play: Declarer plays the nine of hearts from dummy, and East wins the ten. He cashes the ace of spades and exits his small spade. Partner wins the queen of spades and plays the king. Declarer must ruff high. The king is more dramatic, but is the same as the seven or six. Declarer cannot ruff with the two or East will overruff.

East ruffs with the ace and cashes the ace of hearts, otherwise declarer will cash the top two clubs and pitch a heart and a spade. With good defense and a heart lead, declarer will go down one.

With a likely spade lead, declarer will make +130 and not -50.

In one notrump, East will lead the ace of spades and then play the six. East and West will get five spades, two hearts and one diamond setting one notrump by two.

Result: Three diamonds by South down one for -50  or one notrump by North down two for -100.

Notes: All the bridge columns may be viewed at

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