An occasional gadget occasionally helps
Sir Winston Churchill said, “However beautiful the strategy, you should occasionally look at the results.”
That applies to bidding conventions -- and not only the results, but also frequency. This deal features a transfer into a minor over a oneno-trump opening. The frequency is not high, but when one does arise, it can result in an accurate auction. How do three no-trump and five clubs by South fare? North’s two-spade response was a transfer to clubs. His three-spade rebid indicated a singleton (or void) in that suit. (With four spades and long clubs, North would have responded two clubs, Stayman.) South was torn at this point. Perhaps they had nine instant winners for three no-trump, but his single spade stopper was worrying, and his controls (three aces and one king) were great for a high-level club contract if partner had a solid or semisolid suit.
Here, if South had bid three notrump, he would have gone down, assuming West led the spade queen. When South actually bid four clubs, North settled for game with his minimum.
West led the heart jack. South won with his ace and ran the club nine, losing to East’s jack. Back came a heart to dummy’s queen. Declarer crossed to his hand with a diamond, then led his second trump. When West played low, should South have called for dummy’s eight or king?
The percentage play was the eight. If East had the club queenjack, he might have won trick two with either honor. But with the acejack, he had no choice. Declarer should assume East’s play was forced.