You pick up a balanced 18 pointer in 1st seat, and seeing no reason to either upgrade or downgrade, you open a
standard 1♣ planning to either rebid 2NT or raise partner’s major appropriately. A popular treatment is to bid 3M-1 over 1m -1M to show a balanced strong raise. This works in all situations except 1♦ -1♥ . 3M -1 is now 3♦ and that needs to retain its natural meaning of a strong hand with good diamonds.
Back to the hand, you open 1♣ , LHO overcalls 1♠ passed around to you, and you bid 1N showing 18-19 in your methods. Partner raises to 3N and LHO leads ♥ 4.
Here’s the auction, and dummy.
You briefly consider playing playing ♥ T from dummy before discarding the idea. While it’s true that you may be reduced to two ♥ tricks if RHO plays a small card, the position may not be clear to him, and its right for him to play an honor and not finesse against the ten in a number of situations. For example when we hold AK9 and RHO has Jxxx or Jxx. Not playing the jack costs a trick.
As expected RHO plays the jack, and you win the queen. You can now setup three heart tricks, and marked finesse against ♠ Q will give you three spade tricks. If club finesses works you are home, if not there might be other chances.
You play back a heart towards ten, LHO winning the king.
He now shifts to ♦ 2. This shift is uncomfortable. If you play small RHO might insert a spot card, and they will have established three diamond tricks, with communication intact.
So you put up ♦ T hoping for some sort of blockage. RHO wins the Ace and returns a diamond. When you play king, LHO throws away the jack. Looks like he is aware of blockage issues.
if RHO now has ♦ Q8, you can’t afford a club finesse, they will get 1♥ , 1♣ and 3♦ tricks. ♣ K is certain to be offside. RHO has already produced ♦ AQ. If he also holds ♣ K, his passing 1♠ with void is unfathomable.
So it looks like there’s nothing you can do about it. But.. Perhaps RHO can. Time to enlist his help.
So you cash your heart winners, LHO follows to 3rd, and discards a painless spade on 4th while you pitch queen and another club from dummy.
Now you play ♠ J to Q and Ace, and play a small ♦ off the table. Worst case scenario the position would be
You’ll discard the ♣ T on the ♦ 4 as RHO wins the 8. What can he do now. If he decides to cash his ♦ Q, you’ll pitch a spade, and LHO will be squeezed in black suits. If he decides to play a club without cashing the queen, you’ll win the ace and play the jack, forcing him to open up spades and giving you an additional, crucial trick.
On the actual hand, LHO had the ♦ 8 so he was endplayed immediately.
The full Hand
As an aside, what do you think of West’s overcall. On this hand it certainly didn’t work out. Without the overcall, we’ll be in our 4-4 fit, getting to 4♠ as happened on the other table. This contract has no chance whatsoever. So not only it helped us get to a better contract, it helped place the honor cards and find the winning play.
The overcalls work out when partner has a 4+ fit and is able to raise the level high enough to make opponents guess. If they have to guess, they’ll atleast some of the time guess wrong and perhaps take an unadvised push, or miss a slam or land in wrong contract. But when that doesn’t happen, it perhaps does more harm than good.
I’m not a proponent of such overcalls, but what do I know. A large percentage of players do it, and they can’t all be wrong. So perhaps there is some merit in it. Make the choice at your own risk, but make sure your partner is in on the story and knows what to expect.