North-South vulnerable

North-South vulnerable

Responding with five-four in the majors

The bidding:

North, with 13 high card points, opens one club, his better minor. South will bid his suits up the line except when he has a five-card suit. South bids spades, his five-card suit. North, without four-card support, bids one notrump.

The bidding:

North, with 13 high card points, opens one club, his better minor. South will bid his suits up the line except when he has a five-card suit. South bids spades, his five-card suit. North, without four-card support, bids one notrump.

Now South can bid two hearts showing ten plus points and a four-card suit. Spades must be longer since he bid them first. That is all North needs for game so he places the contract in four spades.

The contract: Four spades by South

The opening lead: The queen of diamonds

The play:

Declarer wins the opening lead in his hand with the king and then cashes the ace of diamonds. The queen from QJ9x is a safer lead than QJxx because declarer is less likely to finesse the defense out of both honours.

Declarer plays trump from dummy. West gets in and exits a trump. East wins the king and plays a heart. Because declarer played two rounds of diamonds, the defense does not have a safe diamond exit card.

Declarer wins the jack of hearts and draws the last trump ending in dummy. He then plays a little club to the queen. East wins the king and exits a club to the queen.

The result: Four spades making for +620

Note: It is important to think of the hand in terms of exit cards. When the defense is forced to lead a suit, it often helps the declarer. The defense needs to keep a small defensive footprint by not helping the declarer.