Deal No. 3

I've been reading your book on the 'new' Law. This hand came up this morning:

 3 A Q 9 3 10 5 3 A Q 8 6 3 A 5 4 2 K Q 8 K 10 6 2 J 8 5 K 8 6 4 Q J 9 2 9 K J 5 J 10 9 7 6 7 4 A 7 10 7 4 2

 South West North East 1 pass 1 pass 2 pass pass DBL pass 2 3 pass pass pass

Do you agree with the 3 bid? And should West have bid 3 over 3?
I think it's a neat hand from the point of view of competitive bidding.

Regards
Neil Hayward

We agree with 3. South doesn't have much, but he has trump support in combination with distribution. Therefore, this hand will usually take as many tricks in a club contract as a 4-3-3-3 nine count.
Let's do the math. North may have more or less than 12 WP, but 12 is a good approximation, so assume he has that much. South has 4 WP (not counting the jack of spades), and his two doubletons means his side has an SST of at most 4. Since North didn't raise spades, which he might have preferred with three spades, South can expect North to have at most a doubleton spade and adjust his side's SST to 3. If North really has 12 WP, their 16 WP and an SST of 3 should give them good play for nine tricks.
Here, North has a singleton spade, so North-South's SST is as low as 2, but since they run into a bad trump split (two unexpected losers) they will only take nine tricks. As long as North plays carefully, he will either be able to ruff three losers in dummy, or (if the defenders give up one of their trump tricks) take two ruffs in dummy but only lose one trump trick.
We also agree with West's pass over 3. The main reason is that he has no idea what his partner has. It is possible that East's distribution is 4-3-3-3 or 3-3-3-4, when going on to 3 on a 4-3 fit isn't likely to produce a good result.
East was also correct to pass out 3. He has decent values, but a mostly defensive hand, and hopes of defeating 3. With the same values, no club honors, and better distribution, say a major suit doubleton, East might have considered taking the push. Not now.

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