The Real Deal

This deal comes courtesy of the International Bridge Press Association. You hold:
♠ A    A K Q 9 8 7 2   A 7    ♣ A Q J
With this beautiful hand, you start with 2♣. Partner bids 2. In the top‑10 questions asked of bridge teachers, one is: “What should we play after a 2♣ opener?” There is
no universal answer. I can live with showing number of controls, 2double‑negative, or 2 waiting. I slightly prefer the latter, but it is no big deal. Just make sure you are playing it the same way as partner!
Assume responder bids 2, waiting. You should bid 2. This is forcing for one round — there is no hurry for you to do anything else. If
partner passes, it’s time to get a new partner.
After 2, partner bids 4. What should this show? It promises at least three trumps and not a total Yarborough (with a 0 or 1 count, partner could use a convention called “cheaper minor double negative.”) On the other hand, 4doesn’t show too much. With a better hand, North should go slowly with 3 (forcing). This is called the principle of fast arrival.
South doesn’t expect a king opposite, but still might take a chance on 6. It rates to be at worst on the club finesse, and maybe the defense will provide a helpful opening lead.
Let’s say you try 6, and are faced with a spade lead on this layout:
♠ 9 7 5 4
J 10 4
Q 10 6 5
♣ 9 2
♠ A
A K Q 9 8 7 2
A 7
♣ A Q J
What is your plan? Fortunately you have dummy entries to take two club finesses, but should you rely on that 50–50 event?
There is another chance. Before tackling the clubs, play the A and a diamond. If West has the king andducks, you can put up the queen and lose no diamond tricks. If West takes
the king, maybe the jack will later fall under the queen. If so, you will have two discards for your clubs.
What if East has the K? Then, you can always fall back on the ♣K being onside. This was the full deal:

♠ 97 5 4
J 10 4
Q 10 6 5
♣ 9 2
♠ Q J 10 2 ♠ K 8 6 3
5 6 3
K 9 4 3 J 8 2
♣ K 6 5 3 ♣ 10 8 7 4
♠ A
A K Q 9 8 7 2
A 7
♣A Q J

After winning trick one, South plays the A and another diamond. (You didn’t draw trumps first and use up all your entries/chances, right?) What can West do on the second round of diamonds?
If he ducks the K, dummy’s Q wins (inserting the 10 can’t help declarer — it would set up only one club
discard even if it drove out the K) and declarer loses only a club trick.
If West takes his K, declarer can draw two rounds of trumps ending in dummy. When he tests diamonds, the jack falls and the ♣Q J are discarded. If the J didn’t fall, declarer would finesse clubs and still have another trump entry to repeat the finesse.
Why take one chance when two are better?

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