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What’s the most profitable opening bid?

Board Pairs
West Deals
None Vul
Q 7 2
K 7 5
J 7 6 5
8 5 4
J 9 4
10 3 2
A Q J 10 7 3
W   E
A 10 8 5 3
8 4
K 9 8
K 9 6
K 6
A Q J 10 9 6 3
A Q 4
West North East South
3 1 Pass 5 2 5 3
Pass Pass Pass  
  1. Computer simulations demonstrate what a big long-term winner the 3  opener is (by putting the opponents in nasty guesses as to whether/what to bid). This being the case, you shouldn’t wait for the pure hand with seven good cards.
  2. Although sacrifice bidding isn’t generally good tactics at Duplicate Pairs, the advance sacrifice such as East’s has two important things going for it. (i) The opponents may not realise you are sacrificing and let you play there undoubled; (ii) they may bid on (in which case your sacrifice can’t cost and will gain handsomely if their Five-level bid goes down).
  3. You can hardly blame South with his very powerful playing hand, although the general motto is “Don’t bid Five over Five”.

On this deal from a Duplicate at the ARBC, East-West’s preemptive bidding catapulted South to the dizzy heights of 5 . This would have been a bridge too far had West led a spade or diamond (able to lead a second round of that suit when in with the club), but in practice he reasonably led the ace of clubs.

At trick two West led the queen of clubs ruffed by declarer, who seemingly had three losers: the ace of spades and, unless East held a miracle  Kx, the king of diamonds. Declarer cashed the ace of hearts, then led the nine to the king, preserving the six, so that he could shortly cross to dummy’s seven.

Declarer was pretty confident that East held both the ace of spades and the king of diamonds, because West had preempted and had revealed seven high-card points in clubs. At trick five he led a low spade towards his king, East correctly ducking (or declarer would have two spade tricks).

Declarer led the preserved six of hearts to dummy’s seven, then led a low diamond to the queen, the finesse as expected winning. Rather than cash the ace of diamonds in the (vain) hope that East’s king would drop doubleton, he started rattling off his trumps.

When declarer led his last trump and threw a spade from dummy to leave  Q and  J7 [in hand:  6 and  A4], East was in some difficulty. What could he discard from  A10 and  K9?

If East threw the nine of diamonds, declarer could cash the ace felling East’s king and score his 11th trick with dummy’s promoted jack. In practice East threw away the ten of spades, but now declarer exited with a spade to dummy’s queen and East’s ace, awaiting the lead from  K9, which he could run to dummy’s jack, scoring the last trick with his ace. 11 tricks and game made.

5  would have been just down two (-300 if doubled, cheap against 4  making), so South had to bid (and make) 5  to score well.

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