NORTH's 4D splinter-bid response is not entirely satisfactory, with a singleton ace, but it is difficult to find a better response. How would you play 4H when West leads the diamond queen? If you can force the defenders to play the spades for you, there will be only one loser in that suit. You should aim to eliminate the red suits and exit with a third round of clubs. Suppose you cross to a trump, ruff a diamond and play ace and another club. When the cards lie as in the diagram, East can win the second club with the jack, play a spade to the queen, win the third club with the king and send another spade through. One down. You can prevent East from gaining the lead twice in clubs with an avoidance play. You lead the first club from dummy, intending to play the 10. If West wins and returns a club, you will win with the ace and exit in clubs, forcing the defenders to play spades or concede a ruff-and-discard. What if East plays the jack on the first round of clubs? You will win with the ace, cross to a trump and lead towards your ten of clubs. If East plays low on the second round, you duck the trick into the safe hand. Suppose instead that East rises with the king of clubs and switches to a spade, West winning with the queen. West will be end played. He can cash the club queen but must then lead into your spade tenace.

What will you rebid?

With eight solid tricks in your hand, you are rather strong for a 3C rebid. It is not attractive to rebid 4C, of course, because this would bypass 3NT. The best practical bid is 3 NT, despite the fact that the diamonds may be bare. When this rebid was made in a recent international match, the diamonds were bare. North held four hearts and four diamonds, though, and chose to lead a heart, allowing the game to make.

Awards: 3NT 10, 3C 7, 2D (false reverse) 5, 4C or 5C 4.

David Bird Knight Features