Zach Brescoll and I had the following defensive disaster at the club the last time we played together in what was otherwise a very good game. See if you can do better than I did.
Playing West (the hands are rotated), with our opponents vulnerable, I picked up the following pretty collection:
Following 3 passes to me, I opened 1♦ (which in our system just showed 11-15 HCP with no 5-card major), South overcalled 1♠, Zach made a negative double showing 4+ hearts and North bid 2♣. I made the obvious jump to 3♦ (showing 6+ diamonds and 14-15 HCP). South passed as did my partner. North, my right-hand-opponent bid 3♠.
What should I do know?
Obviously I’m going to bid again but what? 4♦ was the safe choice but did I have some other options? In our style, I did. A double here would show a sound opening and leave the decision to Zach as to what to do to. I liked this option — having already showed 6+ diamonds by my 3♦ bid, my double would give Zach the option of rebidding his hearts with 5, taking me to 4 diamonds without 5 hearts, or, if he thought we could set the contract, passing. Defending the contract doubled with opponents vulnerable was particularly attractive so long as we could manage the set, since unless we could make 5♦, setting the contract at 200 a trick would be a top board.
So I doubled. South passed. Zach thought for an uncharacteristically long eight seconds and then passed. So the final contract was 3♠ doubled.
Zach led the ♦3 and the following distressingly strong dummy came down:
I took the ♦A and considered my options. I counted 3 tricks only — my two Aces and a heart (presuming my partner at least had the ♥Q). To set the contract, I had to start by placing Zach with at least the ♣A or ♥A. I was pretty sure he had one or the other, otherwise he would not have enough values for his negative double.
But that would not be enough. That’s only 4 tricks. I would also have to get a club ruff for our 5th trick. How would I manage that?
Obviously, I had to get to Zach’s hand while I still had a trump. So I shifted to the ♥K, declarer taking the ♥A, Zach playing the encouraging ♥4. Good — Zach has the ♥Q. He must also have the ♣A for his negative double and so we are still in the running here.
Declarer played a low spade to the ♠K. I took my ♠A immediately. Here are the exposed hands after I’m in with the ♠A.
Now I was at a cross-roads. I needed to continue in a manner that Zach would know to shift to a club when he got in. If he shifts to a club, it is down 1 for a top. But if he does not shift to a club, it’s a bottom board for sure. But how could I communicate that message to him? The hand absolutely depends on me getting this right. Click on the link below for the answer.