After West opens 1H and both North and East pass, how do you bid this hand?
Some partnerships have a system for competing in the pass-out position where the opener's bid is followed by two passes. For the purpose of this challenge let's assume you have no such agreement with your partner.
At the table South bid a simple 1S, not wanting to double and find partner bidding clubs. West then came in with 2C, North with 2S, and East now with 3C. What would you do as South now?
W N E S
1H P P 1S
2C 2S 3C ?
I used to believe that imagination was an important skill in bridge, until I realised that my imagination was taking me often too high. However visualizing the hand based on the bidding you hear is an important skill. So South might muse that the West's HCP strength is likely to be mainly and safely in the club suit, that East's belated entry to the bidding suggests lots of clubs in a weak hand, and that North's 2S bid suggests either the useful missing spade honours or something useful in diamonds or perhaps a bit of both.
At the table South bid 4S on this five loser hand and that ended the bidding.
West led the Club ace, dummy went down, and South had some planning to do. How many tricks can South make? And how is this achieved?
Clubs seem likely to be 4-5 (West has an alternate opening bid with two five card suits), and hearts 5-2.
If spades are 2-2, and diamonds 2-4, then twelve tricks can be made by ruffing the club lead, clearing trumps in two rounds, and ruffing two hearts and two more clubs, giving the opponents the last trick on which South plays a losing diamond from hand and a losing club from dummy.
If alternately spades are 1-3 and diamonds 3-3, then the thirteenth diamond is a winner, and is replaced by a loser to an opponent ruffing with their third trump.
Indeed there are 13 tricks if spades are 2-2 and the SJ is with West (as they prove to be). After ruffing the first club, cross to dummy's DA and DQ, ruffing clubs back, then play the HA and HK and ruff a third heart with the S8, and ruff dummy's last club. Then play your only remaining trump, the SA, and ruff your final heart with the SQ. If playing the SK clears the remaining two opponent trumps you can then play back to your DK for the final and thirteenth trick.
Here is the full hand, Board 8 as played in the third week of the GNOT at Manly Leagues Bridge Club on 26 July 2018.