When Unlucky Louie plays in penny games, his money disappears so fast that a sonic boom should emanate from the table. Louie was today’s South, and when East preempted, he leaped to five clubs, reasonably enough. (His bid was strong; there are no preempts over preempts.)
West led the 10 of spades, and East overtook with the jack. Louie took the ace and, at the speed of sound, led the king of trumps. West won and led his last spade, and when East won and led a third spade, Louie was stuck: West was sure to score his 10 of trumps.
“Duck the first spade,” North advised.
“The man would usually have a seven-card suit,” Louie snorted.
Louie had to win the first spade, but he should have taken more time over his next play. To guard against the actual lie of the cards, Louie cashes the ace of hearts, leads a diamond to dummy and returns the queen of hearts, pitching his last spade. The loser-on-loser play stops the defenders’ trump promotion.
Question: You hold: ♠ 76 3 ♥Q 9 6 5 2 ♦A Q ♣ 6 5 3. Your partner opens one diamond, you respond one heart, he bids one spade. Now what?
Answer: To pass might be a winning action; a contract of one spade might provide your only plus score. Nevertheless, your partner could have as many as 18 points, and you have useful honors in his first suit. Bid 1NT. You have no stopper in clubs, but you do have balanced pattern. Give partner another chance.