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Uneasy Lies The Head …

When partner opens 1NT and you have 11 HCP, you would normally invite game. When I held the South hand and partner opened 1NT, I really did not know what to do. After a lot of uneasy consideration, I passed!

Board 13 from Thursday 14/1/19
Dealer N All Vul

Board#13 14/02/2019

Two aces and a King but then a lot of little cards and only two cards in each major made my decision easier. East led the seven of hearts and this ran to declarer’s jack. He then played on diamonds and I was regretting my conservative decision. After three rounds of diamonds, declarer conceded a diamond trick to West, who was not happy to be on lead and switched to the six of spades. Declarer’s ten forced the king from East and declarer won the ace, cashed the fifth diamond, and confidently led a spade towards his jack, which held. A club to the king set up another club trick and declarer romped home with nine tricks and a near top score. Yet, he would not have bid 3NT if invited anyway, and even 2NT can struggle, in fact will not be made if East starts with a low spade lead. Try it yourself by clicking here.

A heart lead is understandable but likely to work out badly if East chooses the wrong card to lead (as it happens this time there was no right card). The best result for NS was 2H doubled by East, down one. That is why it is important that you have a way of bidding TWO suits when overcalling 1NT. 2S will make with careful play but 2H won’t unless the defence is friendly.

Footnote: the South hand is not conducive to NT play shape-wise but with both minors there is no real option. Were South’s suits the majors, the bidding would certainly be different and I would never pass 1NT. But with the minors and such empty low cards, being conservative is usually best.