Awhile back an opponent bid and made a 3NT contract against me with only the singleton king of my bid suit as a stopper in his hand. I was left thinking “If only I’d lead my ace …” Later on I read some passing reference to a singleton king as a stopper and shuddered a bit at the memory, filing it away for a rainy day. Just such a day came recently at the club.
My partner opened 1NT (15-17 HCP) and my hand was: ♠K ♥Qxx ♦QJx ♣AJxxxx. I was ready to hop to 3NT when the opponent to my right bid 2♠ which was alerted as D.O.N.T. (Disturb Opponents No Trump) and explained as being spades, but not as strong/long as if he had gone through 2♣ first. My partner and I were playing Lebensohl and so I now had to make a decision, to wit, is it or isn’t it?
The whole auction: 1NT-(2S*)-2NT*-(3S)-P-(P)-3NT.
I took the view that it was a stopper for the following reasons: if I denied a stopper my partner would not consider queen doubleton sufficient to leave us in no trump and yet we would have the suit well and truly stopped (if but only once) and if my partner had no values in spades what were the chances my moth eaten club suit would not come home? Also I would wager both on the ace being to my right and that the ace would not be led. It was, it wasn’t and we scored up an average board so I was not alone in thinking of that king as a stopper. (For the record, my partner had three small spades so they had an awful lot of spades and the thought of a singleton king as a stopper still has me shuddering.)