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 Monte Carlo Miracle by Ben Norton

Monte Carlo Miracle

The Monaco Cavendish is held every two years and attracts the world’s best players. Not only is it a prestigious competition, it also awards hundreds of thousands of euros in prize money.

Take the place of these great champions in the South position.

Question 1

  Your Hand
 10 4 2
 J 10 8 7 2
 8 6 5 4
Q: 1 - What do you make of partner’s Double?


 Your choice:
A: 10. It’s very rare for partner to have enough to Double on pure power after this sequence. The Double is best utilised as a Lightner Double, asking for an unusual lead. Partner either has a solid suit and is waiting to run five or more tricks, or he has K Q J 10 x in one suit and the Ace of another. Either way, lots of points are resting on your decision.

Normally, you’d lead dummy’s first-bid suit when partner makes such an ‘out of the blue’ Double, but after the auction 1NT-3NT, partner is asking you to lead your shortest major. A Spade is your best shot and you should lead the 10 specifically, in case you need to catch an honor in dummy.

Your result so far:
Open Question

Question 2

  Your Hand
 A Q 3 2
 6 5 4
 J 2
 10 8 6 3
Q: 2 - Choose your poison.


 Your choice:
A: 2. West didn’t bid Stayman, so you should strive to lead a major suit. The choice is thus between an active Spade and a passive Heart. Had West just invited game, suggesting his side had the bare minimum of points they need, your aim would be to give nothing away and you’d lead a Heart.

However, West could have extra values on this sequence, up to anything that’s not worth a slam try. If this is the case, you can’t afford to sit back and let declarer get on with it. You must pursue an aggressive defense, aiming to cash or set up your tricks quickly. Try a Spade.

Your result so far:
Open Question

Question 3

  Your Hand
 A J 7 6 5
 A 9
 A 10 9 8 6 5
Q: 3 - Perhaps you would have taken a bid with this hand (presumably 4, showing a two-suiter), needing little more than a good black-suit fit to make a game, but the odds are against you and bidding could be spectacularly wrong.

You take the low road and must now give yourself the best chance of defeating 3NT.


 Your choice:
A: A. You don’t know which black suit you should be attacking. Therefore, it would be very dangerous to try a low Spade, or the 10. If you pick the wrong one, there’s a good chance that you’ll be a step behind for the rest of the play. Declarer will have some Diamond tricks to run and may only need to knock out the A to come to nine tricks.

You should lead a long-suit Ace to retain the lead and get a look at dummy, not to mention a signal from partner. You may then still have enough time to change tack if necessary. Which Ace?

The A is best. Not only is Clubs the suit you’re most likely to establish, given your length there, but laying down the Ace may also serve to pick up a singleton honor in dummy.

The same can’t really be said about the A, for you might not even benefit from such a layout. Also, it could well be necessary to tackle the Spades by leading a low one, so as to not crash partner’s honor. Doing so in the Club suit might not be fatal, given the strength of your spots.

Your result so far:
Open Question

Question 4

  Your Hand
 K J 10 9 8
 A K 2
 8 6 3
 7 4
Q: 4 - Another 3NT.


 Your choice:
A: K. You know which suit you want to work on this time. You plan to establish three Spade tricks to go with the A K. Since you hold the majority of the defensive strength, you shouldn’t count on partner to gain the lead.

This being so, you can afford to lead the K, catering for a singleton Queen in dummy. It might not help to lead the Jack and catch a singleton Ace, for you’d still have to knock out declarer’s Queen.

Your result so far:
Open Question

Question 5

  Your Hand
 K 10 4
 J 10 6 3
 9 6
 A Q 8 7
Q: 5 - What’s the plan?

*3 was natural and pre-emptive


 Your choice:
A: 9. You have lots of high cards and can therefore construct a basic plan for the defense. Even so, you can assume partner has something, and you hope for that something to be in Diamonds.

The A is likely to be on your right, in which case you have control of the second round of trumps. You should therefore lead your doubleton Diamond, hoping to find partner with the A (or a tenace holding).

Partner can duck trick one, maintaining communications, and upon gaining the lead with the K, you'll cash the A (in case it goes away) and play a Diamond to the North hand for a further Diamond lead, which will either allow you to score a low ruff, or promote your handy 10 to the setting trick.

Your result so far:
Open Question

Overall Results

Your results:   out of    Average: 

What next? You may enjoy playing our prepared hands series.
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