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Best line of play?

#1 User is offline   sails01 

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Posted 2021-November-23, 11:52

I had this hand yesterday and we ended in 5 spades and I feel like I missed something?



The ace was led and ruffed. Three rounds of were taken. The best that I could muster at the table was playing the queen next, thinking to duck two (and remove any block) and then win the third in dummy and sluff on dummy's . This seemed ok if the were 3-1 and the king with West, or the were 2-2 or the finesse was on. If the first trick was taken by East and the finesse lost (and assume a is led back), play for the 2-2 split in .

Alas - none of those came to pass. Is there a better line? It seems that the defense must lead a diamond from East after this trick; what card has the maximum chance to avoid this? Is this correct?

Is low on the first club - and ducking in dummy- better. (It works here. Gains with the Jack singleton in west, but loses to the J or 10 singleton in East?)

Can we count out the hand by trick 5 - and with the auction - sufficiently to change the play?

Kudos to the defense for pressing the auction.
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#2 User is offline   mikeh 

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Posted 2021-November-23, 13:40

I know youíre asking about the play, and Iíll comment below, but the bidding is sub-optimal. You deserve, as south, to catch dummy with, say, x xxx KJxxx Axx, where 7D is virtually cold.


I donít know your methods after the 2H overcall. Iíd play double as takeout, but I wouldnít choose it here out of fear that partner may convert, hoping Iím something like 5=1=4=3.

Some form of good-bad or bad-good 2N would help, since you can differentiate between a competitive 3D and a good hand 3D

However, most players donít have that tool available. So I understand the focus on the spade suit. Having said that, 4S was a huge overbid. Surely, if you are suppressing the diamonds, you can bid 3S? Thatís hardly a sign of weakness since you had pass and 2S available. Itís trivial to construct hands on which 3S is the limit (or may be failing) on hands where partner should pass 3S.

After theyíve bid 5H over your 4S, I think you should double.

4S took control. I think most good players would take 4S as not creating a forcing pass situation,,,itís semi-preemptive, often based on 7 spades and a side card or two, short hearts.

Thus partnerís pass of 5H merely said heís not holding an unexpectedly good heart holding (or a spade void) with which heíd double. If 1N could have concealed a limit raise in spades, then heís denying that as well, but otherwise heíll be passing on many hands.

Double of 5H basically says you had a good 4S bidÖgood within the context that 4S doesnít show a high card powerhouse.

Heíd pass.

As for the playÖ.one alternative is to play a low club from hand, ducking.

Your line required west to hold the King or a 2-2 break.

Bear in mind that any line works if clubs ate 2-2, absent doing something silly

In essence your line works on 3-1 breaks only when LHO has KJ10, KJ9 or K109

A low club works when he has stiff K, J, 10 or stiff 9, so wins on 4 3-1 breaks while your line works on only 3.

The kicker is that if RHO has all 4 clubs, youíre cold on low and doomed on Queen, likely doomed even if the unlikely diamond hook winsÖif LHO fails on the club, you have to play RHO for stiff king or Kx in diamonds. Also, if LHO has all 4 clubs, youíre probably down since itís very unlikely that diamonds are coming home even though the hook is almost guaranteed.

So the better line, imo, is a low club to the ace and lead to the Queen, losing only to K third in LHO

As it happens, this line works.
'one of the great markers of the advance of human kindness is the howls you will hear from the Men of God' Johann Hari
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#3 User is offline   sails01 

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Posted 2021-November-23, 20:05

Thanks - much appreciate the bidding review. Pickup game last night with some good opps. Will review this some more. We certainly had no complex bidding tools available to us. I just wanted to get to game - no invite. Thought my hand well worth it - since I bid 5S. That all may be wrong, and I certainly take my lumps.

I have come around to the third line (which I erroneously thought was blocked). Here is the decisions as I see it.

Cards: KJ109
Play low Play low
West East Play Q Duck Take Ace, return club
KJ10 9 W W L
KJ9 10 W L L
K109 J W L L
J109 K L W W
9 KJ10 L L W
10 KJ9 L L W
J K109 L W W
K J109 W W W
4 Wins 4 wins 5 wins

At the table I was concentrating on 4 clubs and a diamond, losing 2 clubs, while 3 diamonds and 2 clubs is good, losing 1 club and 1 diamond.

It was a fun hand- thanks for taking the time.
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#4 User is offline   gszes 

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Posted 2021-November-25, 21:00

going through the different variations is good practice but a waste of time here. EAST overcalled 2h missing the A, IMHO it would seem to be a virtual certainty that east has the club K. I would put all of my marbles on low club to the A and a club back (unless the club K drops under the ace --- at which point I would start taking the dia finesse and be shocked when it loses.
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#5 User is online   AL78 

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Posted 2021-November-26, 04:13

View Postgszes, on 2021-November-25, 21:00, said:

going through the different variations is good practice but a waste of time here. EAST overcalled 2h missing the A, IMHO it would seem to be a virtual certainty that east has the club K. I would put all of my marbles on low club to the A and a club back (unless the club K drops under the ace --- at which point I would start taking the dia finesse and be shocked when it loses.


I find it incredible that East hand is deemed worth a two level overcall.
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#6 User is online   mw64ahw 

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Posted 2021-November-26, 04:37

I guess my bidding would have gone the same way - no point messing around.

It looks like if you duck the return then you can count the tricks and make 6, 4 & a with a return being more taxing
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#7 User is offline   mikeh 

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Posted 2021-November-26, 13:46

View PostAL78, on 2021-November-26, 04:13, said:

I find it incredible that East hand is deemed worth a two level overcall.

Itís a popular expert style to get into the auction in this sequence, showing essentially a weak two bid

The other day I held Jx AKxx xxx KJxx

I was in second seat at fav.

(1H) P (2D)* 2S (P) to me.

2D was announced as some invitational hand in hearts (our expert opps played a complex big club/relay method)

I passed.

Partner held K1098xx Q Kxx xxx

Now, that was a rock bottom minimum, but our view and experience is that you need to get into these auction.

It does mean that advancer has to be cautious, and this could be problematic. Had I held Jx xxxx AQx KJxx I would have bid, but my AKxx rated to be opposite a stiff, and not usually the Queen, lol.

Note that on other days, the opps might get to 4H making with us cold for 4S or, more likely, a good save. Say I held something like Qxxx xxx AJxxx x? We have no hope of beating game and are on a hook (or the stiff Queen) for our own game. Yet if he doesnít bid 2S, we have no chance of ever getting into the auction.
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#8 User is online   AL78 

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Posted 2021-November-26, 16:36

View Postmikeh, on 2021-November-26, 13:46, said:

It’s a popular expert style to get into the auction in this sequence, showing essentially a weak two bid

The other day I held Jx AKxx xxx KJxx

I was in second seat at fav.

(1H) P (2D)* 2S (P) to me.

2D was announced as some invitational hand in hearts (our expert opps played a complex big club/relay method)

I passed.

Partner held K1098xx Q Kxx xxx

Now, that was a rock bottom minimum, but our view and experience is that you need to get into these auction.

It does mean that advancer has to be cautious, and this could be problematic. Had I held Jx xxxx AQx KJxx I would have bid, but my AKxx rated to be opposite a stiff, and not usually the Queen, lol.

Note that on other days, the opps might get to 4H making with us cold for 4S or, more likely, a good save. Say I held something like Qxxx xxx AJxxx x? We have no hope of beating game and are on a hook (or the stiff Queen) for our own game. Yet if he doesn’t bid 2S, we have no chance of ever getting into the auction.


I understand your logic. I can appreciate the weak two style overcall if opponents have shown at least game invitational strength with a fit (so you have a fit your way as well) and you want to get a moderate six card major in now or never just in case (partner can work out you are very limited and won't hang you), but in the OP's hand, after 1 - 1NT it isn't obvious the hand is anything more than a part score, and a misfitting partscore, so it looks to me to be a bit more dangerous, finding partner with a small singleton in your suit and opponents swinging the axe for example.
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#9 User is offline   Winstonm 

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Posted 2021-November-26, 17:32

View PostAL78, on 2021-November-26, 16:36, said:

I understand your logic. I can appreciate the weak two style overcall if opponents have shown at least game invitational strength with a fit (so you have a fit your way as well) and you want to get a moderate six card major in now or never just in case (partner can work out you are very limited and won't hang you), but in the OP's hand, after 1 - 1NT it isn't obvious the hand is anything more than a part score, and a misfitting partscore, so it looks to me to be a bit more dangerous, finding partner with a small singleton in your suit and opponents swinging the axe for example.


Mike Lawrence wrote about these sequences in his book Overcalls and you are right that it is riskier to bid over 1S-1N than 1C-1N. Over the first responder can hold 5 or more of any lower-ranking suit than openerís.
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#10 User is offline   mikeh 

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Posted 2021-November-26, 17:41

View PostAL78, on 2021-November-26, 16:36, said:

I understand your logic. I can appreciate the weak two style overcall if opponents have shown at least game invitational strength with a fit (so you have a fit your way as well) and you want to get a moderate six card major in now or never just in case (partner can work out you are very limited and won't hang you), but in the OP's hand, after 1 - 1NT it isn't obvious the hand is anything more than a part score, and a misfitting partscore, so it looks to me to be a bit more dangerous, finding partner with a small singleton in your suit and opponents swinging the axe for example.

Treating an overcall of 2M after 1M P 1N P (obviously the other major, lol) as a weak two makes a great deal of sense.

The point is to try to be difficult to play against. This is perhaps more important in strong fields than for the average player, since strong opps will usually do very well if left to their own devices.however, less expert opps will often have even more trouble handling interference than do experts, so itís worth doing against almost all opponents.

Spades are, as always, more effective.

Consider 1H P 1N P

Whether 1N is non-forcing or semi-forcing or forcing, opener usually has a straightforward decision. Many good players have science here, such as BART, but even those who donít rarely have problems.

Change it by sticking in a 2S overcall and now problems often ensue.

Even after 1m P 1N a weak two type of 2M can wreak havoc, but itís not unreasonable to require a better hand here.

Yes, you will miss the occasional game, but advancer doesnít have to pass. As for going for a number, thatís possible but I canít recall the last time it happened.

Most good players use double by opener as takeout, and responder will rarely have a hand on which he wants to sit when under declarer. About the only time one is likely to be nailed, and likely is a relative term, would be 1S P 1N 2H P P xÖ.all pass.

So maybe every 10 times one bids one might regret it, but in the meantime youíve created problems for them that simply donít exist if you pass.

In the old days, when I was learning, the mantra was Ďavoid disastersí

Nowadays itís more Ďcreate opportunities for them to have disastersí, even at the expense of the occasional self-inflicted disaster
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#11 User is online   AL78 

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Posted 2021-November-27, 07:03

View Postmikeh, on 2021-November-26, 17:41, said:

Treating an overcall of 2M after 1M P 1N P (obviously the other major, lol) as a weak two makes a great deal of sense.

The point is to try to be difficult to play against. This is perhaps more important in strong fields than for the average player, since strong opps will usually do very well if left to their own devices.however, less expert opps will often have even more trouble handling interference than do experts, so itís worth doing against almost all opponents.

Spades are, as always, more effective.

Consider 1H P 1N P

Whether 1N is non-forcing or semi-forcing or forcing, opener usually has a straightforward decision. Many good players have science here, such as BART, but even those who donít rarely have problems.

Change it by sticking in a 2S overcall and now problems often ensue.

Even after 1m P 1N a weak two type of 2M can wreak havoc, but itís not unreasonable to require a better hand here.

Yes, you will miss the occasional game, but advancer doesnít have to pass. As for going for a number, thatís possible but I canít recall the last time it happened.

Most good players use double by opener as takeout, and responder will rarely have a hand on which he wants to sit when under declarer. About the only time one is likely to be nailed, and likely is a relative term, would be 1S P 1N 2H P P xÖ.all pass.

So maybe every 10 times one bids one might regret it, but in the meantime youíve created problems for them that simply donít exist if you pass.

In the old days, when I was learning, the mantra was Ďavoid disastersí

Nowadays itís more Ďcreate opportunities for them to have disastersí, even at the expense of the occasional self-inflicted disaster


Thanks for this explanation, I'm going to bear this in mind in future and try to be more of a nuisance in such situations, and stop worrying so much about the worst case scenario.
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#12 User is offline   Winstonm 

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Posted 2021-November-27, 08:04

View PostAL78, on 2021-November-27, 07:03, said:

Thanks for this explanation, I'm going to bear this in mind in future and try to be more of a nuisance in such situations, and stop worrying so much about the worst case scenario.

Make sure that your partner is aware
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