Breaking the rules

In games, rules are supposed to be respected. But common sense may dictate that you have to break them.

Find out how to react in this new episode of La Doyenne, the near-perfect player that Sally Brock enjoys featuring.

An aggressive overcall

Sally Brock aka La Doyenne picks up the following cards as South:

North-South vulnerable

Her RHO opponent opens 1♥️, giving her a problem. She could pass and hope to bid her hand later, but it may well be harder to get into the auction next time. Although she hates to overcall two of a minor with only a five-card suit, particularly vulnerable, that seems to be the lesser evil here.

She is slightly surprised to hear her LHO bid 4♥️, but not at all surprised that her partner (who surely had no Hearts) bids 4NT, showing Diamonds with some Club support. Thankful that her partner did not bid 5♦️, La Doyenne bids 5♣️ and West’s double closes the auction.

The auction has been:

West leads the King of Hearts and this is what she can see:

Clearly she has her work cut out, but it looks clear to ruff the Heart. Even if she has no black-suit loser, if she just plays on the black suits she can’t hope to come to more than nine black winners plus the Heart ruff. If she is to succeed, she needs to ruff ano-ther Heart. So she ruffs a Diamond (noting West’s Queen), ruffs another Heart and plays the Queen of Clubs covered by the King and Ace. That’s good, she thinks, no Club loser. What does she know of the distribution? It looks as if Hearts are 5-4; it also looks as if East must have the Ace of Hearts, otherwise he would have at most a 10-count including the singleton King of Clubs. If West’s Queen of Diamonds can be taken at face value, then his distribution would seem to be 4-4-1-4.

If West has the longer Spades then he is most likely to hold the Queen of Spades. So, La Doyenne draws all the trumps (no one has any left) and runs the Jack of Spades, followed by a Spade to dummy’s 10 and the King of Spades. East is down to the Heart A-10 and the Diamond A-J and must find a discard. Remember La Doyenne has lost no tricks so far. If East discards a Diamond, de-clarer plays low on the Spade and exits with a Diamond pitching her Ace of Spades. East must give her the Queen of Hearts at trick 13. Alternatively, if East discards a Heart then declarer overtakes the King of Spades with the Ace and exits with a Heart. East must give dummy the King of Diamonds at trick 13.

This was the full deal:

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