THE NEA BRIDGE by Phillip Alder
THE THIRD OVERCALL WITH A NEW MEANING
We have been looking at the balancing overcalls that have different meanings from those in the second position. Here is the third. Look at the South hand. After one spade – pass – pass, what should South do?
Directly over one spade, if North jumps to two no-trump, it would be the Unusual No-trump, indicating at least 5-5 in the two lowest-ranking unbid suits. In the fourth position, though, it shows a (quasi-)balanced hand with some 20-21 points and at least one stopper in the opener’s suit; though you might have slightly fewer high-card points when holding a reasonable six-card minor.
In this deal, North then transfers into hearts before rebidding three no-trump to offer South a choice of games. With only two hearts, he selects three no-trump. (Note that four hearts fails, the defenders taking three diamonds and one heart.)
Against three no-trump, West leads the spade queen. How should South continue?
Declarer has eight top tricks: two spades, three hearts and three clubs. And it is easy to get greedy. Some players would win with their spade ace, cash the heart ace and queen, lead a spade to dummy’s king, and cash the heart king. However, when West discards, the contract can no longer be made.
Instead, South must be willing to trade one heart trick to guarantee four winners from the suit. After winning the first trick with his spade ace, he cashes the heart ace, overtakes the heart queen with dummy’s king, and continues with the heart 10 to drive out East’s jack. Now the contract sails home.