“Hey coach. Can I talk to you about a deal?”

Bridge article the Sunday Night Question by Wilfried Libbrecht

This Sunday evening, it’s Clothilde who reaches out to me. She is without doubt one of the very best girls in my group. She evolves in a very bridgesque environment. Her family and friends all play bridge and they talk about bridge a lot. As a consequence, she is technically stronger than most of the others. This weekend, she played a training match against the polish girls team.

“Hey coach. Can I talk to you about a deal?” she asks me.

“Sure, Clothilde, tell me.”

“OK, so I had 8 HCP and six Clubs, and my partner opened 1NT. West overcalled at 2♠, showing Spades and a minor. What should I say? Double, 2NT, or 3NT?”

I tell her: “I can’t answer like that, I need to know if you had a Spade stopper and how good your Clubs were.”

Clothilde: “I had six Clubs headed by King-Queen and Queen third of Spades.”

Me: “In that case, I would have said 3NT. I would have considered that my hand – with a good six-card suit and the well-placed Queen third in Spades was well worth 10 points. 2NT is a transfer to Clubs that I use either when I have a weak hand or when I don’t want to play 3NT. As for the Double, it is true that you have to use it when you have eight points or more, but with more balanced distributions, without a six-card suit.”

Her: “Don’t worry, I bid 3NT but I was wondering if I should announce my Clubs first.”

Me: “Careful Clothilde, it’s like when the opponents pass. If you choose to transfer to Clubs, it means that you have a serious dislike in playing 3NT. Here, bidding 2NT then 3NT would show a stopper problem in Spades.”

Her: “Okay, so we bid well. Here are the two hands. West started with the King of Spades for East’s two. She set up her Spades and I went down because the Clubs were blocked. They were 3-0 and East had three cards.”

Me: “I can’t see why you went down.”

Her: “Well, you can see that to draw East’s J109 I have to play Ace-King and Queen of Clubs. And then, in the fourth round of the suit, my fourth Club is necessarily bigger than the Clubs in dummy. So I’m blocked and can only get four Club tricks. And since the King of Diamonds is offside, I went down.”

Me: “Thank you Clothilde, I saw the blockage, but you could discard a Club on the third round of Spades to unblock the suit.”

Her: “Yes, I promise you that I would have thought of it if she had played three rounds of Spades but unfortunately, she played the Jack of Spades on the second round!”

Me: “Well yes, it’s true that she didn’t make it easy for you. But you could still win.”

Her: “But how? The Diamond finesse fails and attempting to communicate with the Jack of Hearts is also doomed. They will get on lead and cash their Spades.”

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