South's 1NT is standard 15-17 HCP balanced hand. North's 4H is Texas transfer showing 6+ spades and 10+ HCP. We expect every east player to make a 'Lead Directing Double' of 4H. North's final pass limits their hand to 10-14 HCP range.
In response to partner's 1NT, most players use Texas transfer (4-level) followed by 4NT as Blackwood and Jacoby transfer (2-level) followed by 4NT as a non-forcing Quantitative raise, inviting partner to bid a slam. Holding a minimum hand, opener may pass with 2-card support or sign-off in 5 of the major with 3+ card support. Holding a maximum hand, opener may accept slam invitation by bidding 6NT with 2-card support or 6 of the major with 3+ card support.
Partner leads the Jack of hearts.
Plan your defense before proceeding to the next section. Top Next
It is said that many contracts and defenses are blown due to hasty play(s) at trick one. It would be careless to encourage partner to continue hearts because they may not have another. We should overtake the Jack with one of our honors and continue the suit. The normal play would be to win with the Queen and then play the King followed by the Ace. In this case, we have the luxury of choosing the order of play. Seasoned partnerships would vary this order to convey different messages. For example. winning with the Ace and then playing the King might imply interest in the higher ranking suit.
You may use the Handviewer program on the left to follow the play for the first three tricks.
Plan your defense before continuing to the next section.
At this point, we can account for 23 HCP. Dummy has 11, we have 11 and partner has shown up with 1 so far. Assuming declarer's 15-17 HCP range, we can determine that partner has 0,1 or 2 HCP left - (40-23-15=2 HCP or 40-23-17=0 HCP). Most partner could have is a minor suit Queen. Is that enough to beat this contract? Looking at Kx in both minors in the dummy we can determine that we cannot have a third round winner in either minor.
If we give up at this point and make a passive lead, declare will draw trumps and claim ten tricks via six spades, two diamonds and two clubs.
What if partner has only one point?
What if that one point is the Jack of spades?
You may use the Handviewer program to follow subsequent plays.
A 'Ruff and Sluff' occurs when both declarer and dummy are void in one suit and they each have at least one trump left. If a defender now leads that suit, declarer is able win the trick with a trump (ruff) in one hand and discard a loser (sluff) from the other hand. Good technique and favorable distribution may allow a declarer to force an opponent into this situation. This is usually referred to as a form of End-play. This is one way to avoid a sure loser. Defenders are normally supposed to avoid this play. However; on this hand, this play offers us the best chance of defeating the contract. All we need is for partner to hold the Jack of spades. We play another heart, declarer discards from hand and partner obliges us by trumping this trick with the Jack. Declarer is forced to trump with an higher honor and our Ten of spades gets promoted to a winner for the setting trick.
'Ruff and a Sluff' may be used to weaken declarer's trump holding especially when we know that declarer may not have a useful discard (sluff). One such scenario is where declarer does not have any losers left in any side-suit. In this case, we were lucky to find partner with the very important Jack of spades. Please note that if partner did not have that card, we could not defeat this contract but the 'Ruff and Sluff' would not have cost us anything because we had already cashed all our winners.
After being forced to over-trump with the Queen of spades, declarer has a slim chance of making this contract. Declarer has to guess if west started with a spade holding headed by Jack and Ten. Another possibility is to find west with exactly Jack and 8 of spades. It appears that east started with 10xx of spades. Declarer caters to this possibility by leading the 9 from the dummy, intending to play low if East does not cover. Alas, an alert east covers with the Ten, declarer plays the Ace and west does not contribute the 8. East's 8 of spades has now been promoted to the second highest trump after the King. Declarer's attempted counter is called a 'Smother play'. It is an attempt to smother the 8 of spades under the 9 thereby neutralizing the 10 and promoting the 7 to the second highest trump. Unfortunately for declarer, defenders have made all the right moves at the right time. It should be noted that in order to set the contract, west had to trump with the Jack of spades and not 3.
About the auction:South starts with a routine 1NT opener. North drives to a practical spade game via Texas transfer.
Some might argue that north is a tad too strong for this bid. This hand could easily make a slam opposite Axx Ax Axxx Axxx or even Axx Kx Axxx Axxx if heart Ace is onside. This is an overly optimistic view. It is a very good idea to always visualize other hands based on the available information. However, It is not very practical to hope for specific cards or 'magic'. It is entirely possible for partner to hold the hand mentioned here. Besides every one of those specific controls, partner will need a hand with exactly two hearts. Most of us do not have the tools to elicit all that information.
East has a routine lead directing double. We do not expect opponents to play 4H. We want to make sure that partner leads a heart to get the defense off to the best start.
We disagree with South's 4S bid. We use transfers to protect assumed 'tenaces' in NT opener's hand. In this case east's double could have been based on AQJxx or AKJxx of hearts and north could have the missing heart honor (King or Queen). Accepting the transfer gives up on the possibility of protecting that honor. Passing retains the possibility of declaring from either hand. Partner could now bid 4S to declare the hand or redouble requesting the opener to complete the transfer. Clear signals and partnership trust should guide East-West to the correct defense but exposing the north hand made it a lot easier for them.
Would the defense be so obvious at trick four if east was looking at the south hand as dummy?
What if this was the distribution? 4S cannot be defeated with north as declarer.
Here is another possibility. This hand will produce extra trick(s) if played from the north hand.