Sunday, December 16, 2012

Event 3 - Match 9 - Board 8

Board 8
Neither vulnerable

♠ A Q 10 7 6 A J 7 5 4 10 3 ♣ 6

LHO opens one diamond. Partner, of course, bids three clubs, passed to me.

There is something to be said for bidding three spades and driving to game in one major or the other. Since I expect to go down in three clubs, I might as well get to a contract that scores better if it happens to make. I would do that if the opponents promised they wouldn't double. In the absence of such an assurance, however, it seems wiser to accept a small loss in three clubs. I pass, as does LHO. RHO leads the queen of diamonds.


NORTH
Phillip
♠ A Q 10 7 6
A J 7 5 4
10 3
♣ 6






SOUTH
Jack
♠ 8 4
10 9 3
8 6
♣ A K Q 7 4 3



West North East South
Marcin Phillip Daniel Jack
1 3 ♣
(All pass)

That's quite a hand for a pre-empt opposite an unpassed partner! I would be afraid of missing three notrump. At least our prospects of making three clubs are better than I expected.

East and I both encourage on the diamond queen (East with the nine). West continues with the five of diamonds to East's king. East continues with the diamond deuce.

I don't believe East sold out with seven diamonds. He must think West has a doubleton diamond instead of me. Could West have found some clever reason to lead a low diamond at trick two from queen-jack third? I pitch the spade four and ruff in dummy. West follows with the diamond seven. I guess West had queen jack fourth. (East would surely not expect him to have a doubleton if he had queen-jack fifth.) West should have played the jack, of course. His partner knows what he has at this point, so there is no reason to bring me into the loop.

I play the spade ace--five--eight--deuce, then ruff a spade to my hand. East plays the nine; West, the three. If the carding is honest, spades are three-three. Everyone follows to three rounds of trumps (East playing five, nine, jack), and I am down to this position:


NORTH
Phillip
♠ Q 10
A J 7
♦ --
♣  --






SOUTH
Jack
♠ --
10 9 3
♦ --
♣ 7 3


I've taken six tricks. The heart ace and two more trumps tricks will bring me up to nine. If I can take a second heart trick, I'll make an overtrick. I'll start by taking a heart finesse. Then I can decide whether to repeat the finesse or play East for king-queen doubleton.

Which heart should I lead? There is a slim chance West has both heart honors, If I head low, he might duck, hoping I have nine-eight third and intend to finesse the seven. If that happens, dummy's jack will hold. I can then ruff out a spade and take all the remaining tricks. Leading the nine might create a more effective illusion. But it wouldn't help, since I can't afford to overtake the nine with the jack.

I play the heart three--deuce--jack. East wins with the king and taps me with the diamond ace. I pitch a spade from dummy.

It appears East is 3-2-5-3. He has eight high-card points in the minors. Assuming he has 12 to 14 high-card points in total, that leaves him with four to six in the majors, so he can have the following combinations of high cards:

♠ J, K
♠ J, K Q
♠ K, K

By restricted choice, the heart finesse is a four-to-one favorite--and that's before considering that East could have a singleton heart if I made a wrong assumption somewhere. I repeat the heart finesse. It works. Making four.


NORTH
Phillip
♠ A Q 10 7 6
A J 7 5 4
10 3
♣ 6


WEST
Marcin
♠ J 3 2
Q 6 2
Q J 7 5
♣ 10 8 2


EAST
Daniel
♠ K 9 5
K 8
A K 9 4 2
♣ J 9 5


SOUTH
Jack
♠ 8 4
10 9 3
8 6
♣ A K Q 7 4 3


The ruff-sluff didn't matter. As the cards lie, there is no way the opponents can take more than one major-suit trick. Here I was thinking three clubs would have no play, and the opponents can't stop four.

How should East card at trick one? A discouraging diamond would suggest a heart shift, since that is dummy's weaker suit. East can stand a heart shift, but if West's hearts are good enough for a shift to accomplish anything, he might find it on his own. I think to discourage in diamonds East needs either better hearts or worse spades, although I'd hate to have to pinpoint exactly where the dividing line is.

Does four hearts have a chance? If our opponents bid and make it at the other table, they will tie the match. But it should be easy to beat. West will signal with the diamond queen at trick one, and East will underlead for a spade switch. Actually, I don't think that's even necessary. Say West starts by cashing two diamonds then switches to a club. Declarer leads a low heart to the jack (keeping the ten-nine in dummy so he can remain in dummy after repeating the heart finesse). East can now defeat the contract by giving declarer a ruff-sluff. Underleading the diamond at trick two is certainly easier.

Our opponents don't put our teammates to the test, however. They reach the improbable contract of three spades and go down two, so we pick up six imps to win the match by 13. We win the event with 165 victory points, 17 points ahead of second place.

Time for a break while I ponder whether there will be a Match 4 and, if so, what format it will take.

Table 1:  +130
Table 2: +100

Score on Board 8: +6 imps
Result on Match 9: +13 imps (19 VP)

Final Total: 165 VP (out of 270)

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Event 3 - Match 9 - Board 7

Board 7
Both sides vulnerable

♠ Q 6 A K Q 7 3 8 7 4 ♣ Q 5 3

I open 1NT (12-14), and everyone passes. LHO leads the ace of diamonds.


NORTH
Jack
♠ J 10 9 5
10
J 6 3
♣ A J 10 9 6






SOUTH
Phillip
♠ Q 6
A K Q 7 3
8 7 4
♣ Q 5 3



West North East South
Daniel Jack Marcin Phillip
1 NT
(All pass)

There is no way for me to ask about this opening lead, but I guess it's not going to affect my play at trick one. I'll find out soon enough what the lead is from. I just hope diamonds are four-three. Otherwise they can beat me off the top.

I play low from dummy, East plays the five, and I discourage with the four. West continues with the king of diamonds--six--nine--eight, then the queen of diamonds, on which East plays the ten. Good. He followed. The opponents can take four diamonds and two spades. I can't afford any other losers.

West cashes the diamond deuce. If the club finesse wins, I'm making this. Do I have any chance if the club finesse loses? For starters, I need for the opponents to avoid cashing their spades. Let's say West cooperates and switches to a heart at trick five. Now what? I float the club queen. Might East take his king and dutifully continues hearts? That's certainly possible. East might conclude I wouldn't leave two heart winners stranded in an entryless hand. What happens if the club finesse wins? I have no entry back to my hand to cash hearts, but that's OK. I've taken five clubs and one heart. I need only one more trick, so I can drive the ace and king of spades and score a spade for my seventh trick.

The problem with this plan is that I have to find a pitch from dummy on this trick. I can't afford a club if the club king is offside. So I must pitch a spade. Now, if they do find a spade switch, they may score a long spade for down two--or even down three if East has five spades.

If I think I am unlikely to make this contract anyway if the club king is offiside, perhaps I should pitch a club on this trick. Four club tricks are sufficient if the finesse works, and pitching a club ensures I can't go down more than one. No, I can't bring myself to do that. I hate to rely solely on a finesse when I have some chance to make this contract if the finesse is off. I pitch the five of spades from dummy; East pitches the heart deuce.

East's heart pitch probably ensured a spade switch. But it also gives me an extra chance. East might not have appreciated the value of a holding like eight fourth of hearts. So I may now be able to score five hearts, a spade, and a club. To keep that possibility open, I must hold all my hearts. I probably don't need all of my clubs. If West has king fourth of clubs, I don't have the entries to take a third-round finesse against him anyway. Could I need both my spades? Possibly. Say, for example, West shifts to a spade, and East wins and plays a heart. If I have saved both my spades, I have the option of trying to run hearts, pitching down to a stiff club ace in dummy, then leading my last spade. I might be hard pressed to decide to play that way, but I see no reason not to leave the option open. So I pitch the five of clubs.

West shifts to the deuce of clubs. That's unexpected. He surely has the club king. He wouldn't shift from a worthless club holding and risk picking up the queen in his partner's hand. So East must have both spade honors, else West would have doubled one notrump.

Why is West playing clubs? Maybe he is playing passively, letting me break the majors myself. Or perhaps he has king fourth of clubs and wants to get clubs led twice to eliminate any chance of his being squeezed. My gut feel is that the latter is more likely. Defenders don't usually lead dummy's source of tricks except as a communication-killing maneuver. It is a bit strange that East, with a singleton club, nine cards in the major, and ace-king of spades, would have sold to one notrump. But, in general, I have more faith in inferences from the card play than I do in inferences from the bidding.

Do I have any chance if West does have king fourth of clubs? Suppose I win the club queen in my hand and play a spade. East wins. To give me a problem, he must switch to a heart. I take the ace and cash the king, pitching a club from dummy. I am now down to this position, needing four more tricks:


NORTH
Jack
♠ J 10
--
--
♣ A J 10






SOUTH
Phillip
♠ 6
Q 7 3
--
♣ 3


A club to the ten will succeed when West began with king third of clubs. If I judge that he began with king fourth, I can cash the heart queen, pitching a club from dummy. If my hearts are good, I'm home. If not, I take a club finesse, and drive the spade ace, hoping East doesn't have another heart. That requires West to have begun with

♠ x J x x x A K Q x ♣ K x x x,

which I suppose is possible, since the opponents are inexplicably not playing Astro (where you can show this pattern by bidding two clubs, followed by two notrump if partner bids two diamonds).

I'm not sure yet which line I will take. But it costs me nothing to aim for this position and decide later. I play a low club from dummy, East plays the eight, and I win with the queen. I play the six of spades from my hand--seven--nine--king. East doesn't find the heart switch. He makes it easy for me by cashing the spade ace--queen--deuce--ten.

If I had any doubts that West has the club king, they are gone now. East, looking at the ace and king of spades, would not have ducked the setting trick. So I am now cold. East switches to a heart. I cash the ace, king, and queen of hearts, pitching clubs from dummy, play a club to the jack, and claim.


NORTH
Jack
♠ J 10 9 5
10
J 6 3
♣ A J 10 9 6


WEST
Daniel
♠ 7 4 3 2
9 8
A K Q 2
♣ K 7 2


EAST
Marcin
♠ A K 8
J 6 5 4 2
10 9 5
♣ 8 4


SOUTH
Phillip
♠ Q 6
A K Q 7 3
8 7 4
♣ Q 5 3


Our opponents at the other table made an overtrick in one notrump, so we lose an imp. I could have tied that result. When I won the club queen, I could have cashed out for eight tricks, giving up on king fourth of clubs. But it could hardly be right to risk the contract for a one-imp gain..

I do, however, think I made a mistake in pitching a spade from dummy at trick four, since the misdefense I was hoping for, while possible, was unlikely. It would have been the right play if I weren't vulnerable, since the cost of extra undertricks is small. But when I'm not in game and when extra undertricks are 100 points each, I should be more concerned about them. If I had finished minus 300 in this contract, I would have cost myself more than I stood to gain by making it.

Table 1: +90
Table 2: -120

Result on Board 7: -1 imp
Total: +7 imps

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Event 3 - Match 9 - Board 6

Board 6
Opponents vulnerable

♠ 7 Q 10 7 2 A 10 9 8 5 3 ♣ A 4

I open one diamond in second seat. Partner bids one spade; I rebid two diamonds. Partner raises to three diamonds and buys it. The opponents must have about half the deck. Strange that they didn't put up much of a fight. LHO leads the queen of clubs.


NORTH
Jack
♠ Q 8 5 2
A J
Q 7 6
♣ 10 9 3 2






SOUTH
Phillip
♠ 7
Q 10 7 2
A 10 9 8 5 3
♣ A 4



West North East South
Daniel Jack Marcin Phillip
Pass 1
Pass 1 ♠ Pass 2
Pass 3 (All pass)

To make this, I need either to avoid two trump losers or to avoid a heart loser. In general, when missing the king and jack (and with the ace and queen in opposite hands), the best play for one loser is ace and another with a nine-card fit and a double finesse (lead the queen, then finesse the ten if it loses) with an eight-card fit. If we ignore the bidding, this rule gives the correct answer here: Ace and another loses to king-jack third on my right; the double finesse loses to king-jack third on my left. Those holdings cancel out. Either play loses to a void on my right. The two holdings that make a difference are a void on my left (where the double finesse is the winner) and king-jack doubleton on my left (where ace and another is the winner). Since king-jack doubleton is more likely than a void, ace and another is the better play in isolation.

If we take the bidding into account, the king-jack thirds in opposite hands do not cancel out. West's pass over one diamond makes king jack third on my left more likely than king-jack third on my right. Fortunately, this makes ace and another even more attractive. If it made ace and another less attractive (for example, if the ace and queen were switched), then it would be harder to decide what to do, since the considerations from the auction would be difficult to quantify.

East plays the club six. Assuming he is encouraging, he should have either king-six doubleton or king-six-five. With four or more clubs, he would have a higher spot to play.

I see no reason to win the first trick. If I duck, maybe West will switch to a diamond to stop heart ruffs and solve my problem in that suit. So I let West's queen hold the trick. West shifts to the spade ace; East plays the four. Why is West shifting to spades? There doesn't appear to be any hurry to cash spade tricks. He might have ace doubleton and be aiming for an overruff. But if East has king fifth, why is he discouraging?

Whatever West was up to, he changes his mind. He shifts back to clubs, playing the five to East's king and my ace.

I'm not too worried that anyone has a singleton heart. So I might as well take a heart finesse now. If the jack holds, I can cash the heart ace, play a diamond to my ace, and take a ruffing finesse in hearts, conceivably making the contract even if I have two trump losers. I play the seven of hearts--eight--jack--king.

East shifts to the ten of spades. The ten? West shifted to the spade ace holding ace-king? Well, that explains the shift. He probably has ace-king fourth and was hoping to give his partner a ruff. It's interesting that Jack is unable to alter his lead agreements according to context. He leads ace from ace-king on opening lead, so he does the same thing at trick two, unable to reason that the agreement makes no sense when dummy has the queen.

The attempt to give his partner a ruff is futile, of course, since I would never rebid two diamonds with three-card support for partner's major. And "never" is not an overbid.

Lowenthal and I once had this auction:

John Me
1 1 ♠
2 3 NT
4 ♠

"I thought we never rebid two diamonds with three spades," I said as John began to table the dummy.

"Absolutely!" agreed John. "How would I know what to do over three notrump if I had three spades?" Then he laid down

♠ J x x x  x   A Q J 10 x x x ♣ x.

But I digress. I ruff East's spade with the five of diamonds; West follows with the spade three. I cash the diamond ace--deuce---six--jack. My only loser now is the diamond king. Making three.


NORTH
Jack
♠ Q 8 5 2
A J
Q 7 6
♣ 10 9 3 2


WEST
Daniel
♠ A K J 3
8 3
4 2
♣ Q J 8 7 5


EAST
Marcin
♠ 10 9 6 4
K 9 6 5 4
K J
♣ K 6


SOUTH
Phillip
♠ 7
Q 10 7 2
A 10 9 8 5 3
♣ A 4


West's hand looks like a pretty normal one spade overcall to me. The spades are good enough for a four-card-suit overcall, and the side five-card club suit offers some total-trick protection. (Often a fifth card in a side suit is as good as an extra trump.) If West overcalls, partner will bid one notrump, and East will cue-bid two diamonds. I will bid three diamonds (which is strictly competitive after partner's one notrump response). East, thinking his partner has five spades, will go on to three spades. This turns out to be an excellent decision, since both three diamonds and three spades are making.

Our teammates, unfortunately, also sold to three diamonds. The board is another push, the fourth of this match.

Table 1: +110
Table 2: -110

Result on Board 6: 0 imps
Total: +8 imps

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Event 3 - Match 9 - Board 5

Board 5
Our side vulnerable

♠ J 7 2 Q 9 2 K J 10 7 ♣ Q 9 7

Two passes to me. I pass, and LHO opens one heart. RHO bids two clubs--natural, not Drury. LHO bids two diamonds, and RHO corrects to two hearts, ending the auction. Partner leads the three of spades.


NORTH
Marcin
♠ 9 5 4
A 4
A 3
♣ J 10 6 5 3 2




EAST
Phillip
♠ J 7 2
Q 9 2
K J 10 7
♣ Q 9 7


West North East South
Jack Marcin Phillip Daniel
Pass Pass Pass 1
Pass 2 ♣ Pass 2
Pass 2 (All pass)

We lead lowest from an odd number, so partner has five spades, giving declarer ace-king or ace-queen doubleton. There is no reason for me to play the jack. If I play low, it will clarify the spade position for partner. I play the deuce, and declarer wins the trick with the six. Oops. What happened? I'm getting a feeling of deja vu. I expect to hear Lowenthal explain to me after the deal why it was necessary for him to lead low from king-queen-ten fifth.

Declarer plays the deuce of diamonds to the ace. Partner plays the four, and I play the seven. Declarer leads a diamond off dummy. We are going to have a hard time beating this contract if we take only one diamond trick, as we will if I hop and establish declarer's queen. If I duck, perhaps declarer will duck also, hoping to ruff out king third in partner's hand. I play the diamond ten. Declarer plays the queen; partner, the six. Can we start this board over?

Declarer plays the five of diamonds, partner plays the eight, and declarer ruffs with the four of hearts. I play the king, the card I'm known to hold. Declarer plays the five of spades--seven--ace--ten. The ten is a curious card. I'm still not sure what's going on in the spade suit.

Declarer leads his last diamond. Partner, perhaps flustered by my play so far, ruffs with the three of hearts. Declarer overruffs with the ace. Declarer leads the nine of spades--jack--queen--king. I see! Declarer is 4-5-4-0. That pattern didn't even occur to me. So it turns out my duck at trick one didn't cost. Luckily declarer had ace-queen fourth rather than ace-king fourth.

Partner plays the club ace, and declarer ruffs with the heart six. Declarer has a good spade and four hearts left. Declarer cashes the heart king and continues with the jack of hearts, partner playing five, eight. My queen of hearts is our last trick. Making five.


NORTH
Marcin
♠ 9 5 4
A 4
A 3
♣ J 10 6 5 3 2


WEST
Jack
♠ K 10 3
8 5 3
8 6 4
♣ A K 8 4


EAST
Phillip
♠ J 7 2
Q 9 2
K J 10 7
♣ Q 9 7


SOUTH
Daniel
♠ A Q 8 6
K J 10 7 6
Q 9 5 2
♣ --


Obviously I can save a trick by hopping with the diamond king. I don't regret that play, however. Hopping is simply giving up. We can do better yet if partner avoids a spade lead. A spade from king third does seem like an overly aggressive choice when the club suit isn't a threat. A trump makes more sense.

Our teammates also missed the cold game and also received peccable defense, so the board is a push. (The cold game, by the way, is four spades: Three hearts, a diamond, and six trumps on a crossruff.)

Table 1: -200
Table 2: +200

Result on Board 5: 0 imps
Total: +8 imps

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Event 3 - Match 9 - Board 4

Board 4
Both sides vulnerable

♠ Q 7 2 10 6 2 9 6 5 ♣ A 10 3 2

LHO opens one heart; RHO bids four hearts. Everyone passes, and partner leads the king of diamonds.


NORTH
Marcin
♠ A 9 6 4
K 9 5 3
A 7 4
♣ 5 4




EAST
Phillip
♠ Q 7 2
10 6 2
9 6 5
♣ A 10 3 2


West North East South
Jack Marcin Phillip Daniel
1
Pass 4 (All pass)

Four hearts? I agree this hand is too good for a limit raise, but that makes it a forcing raise, not a preempt. Perhaps Marcin is used to playing some forcing club system, where a pseudo-preempt like this makes some tactical sense.

Declarer plays low from dummy, I discourage with the five, and declarer follows with the three. Partner continues with the queen of diamonds. It's possible partner has king-queen-ten and is trying to pin a doubleton jack. It's also possible he has king-queen-jack.

In the latter case, when should partner lead the queen and when should he lead the jack? Some possible agreements are: (1) Always lead the jack if you have it. If you lead the queen, partner knows you are trying to pin the jack and will know what is going on if it doesn't work. (2) Show present count (lead the jack with an odd number and the queen with an even number). If declarer takes the ace, partner will know whether the third diamond is cashing or not. (3) Show suit preference. Agreement (3) makes no sense to me unless your diamond length is already known. I think clarifying your holding in the suit you are playing takes precedence over suit preference. I suspect, however, that Jack plays a fourth agreement that makes no sense at all: (4) Always lead the queen.

Declarer plays the ace from dummy. Having given attitude at trick one, I should give present count now. But it's not a good idea to leave partner with the sole guard in a suit. If I play the nine, declarer may be able to throw partner in with the seven of diamonds later on, or he may be able to squeeze partner in diamonds and spades. Offhand, I can't think of how either of those events would come to pass. Perhaps there is no layout where playing the nine will cost. But I can hardly take the time to try to construct one now. So, to be safe, I play the six. Partner should be alert to the fact that I might not want to part with the nine and should give me some leeway.

It seems natural for declarer to play a club from dummy next. But he leads the three of hearts. I play the six--queen--seven. (My echo shows three trumps, by the way. It is not suit preference. I think it is a serious mistake to play suit preference in the trump suit, though it would take too long to present my arguments now. Maybe at some point I'll devote an entire post to the matter.)

Declarer plays the four of hearts to dummy's king. Partner discards the eight of diamonds, and I follow with the deuce of hearts. Declarer has drawn two rounds of trumps before playing clubs, risking our being able to draw a third round when we gain the lead with the club ace. So, whatever declarer's clubs are, he doesn't need to ruff two of them.

Declarer plays the five of hearts to his ace. Partner discards the ten of diamonds. I assume partner would have discarded from a five-card black suit by now. So declarer is either 3-5-2-3 or 2-5-2-4. In the latter case, in line with my earlier observation, declarer's clubs must be specifically king-queen-jack fourth.

Declarer plays the five of spades--eight--nine--queen. If declarer has another spade loser, he is down. If he doesn't, we need a second club trick. This is the position:


NORTH
Marcin
♠ A 6 4
 9
 7
♣ 5 4




EAST
Phillip
♠ 7 2
 --
 9
♣ A 10 3 2

I can't see that it matters what I do. Either we have two tricks or we don't. There are no squeezes or endplays to prevent, nor is there any rush to cash tricks. With nothing else to guide me, my inclination is to fall back on general principles: Declarer doesn't seem to want to play clubs, so perhaps I should play them. What's bad for his side might be good for our side.

I play the club deuce--queen--six--four. Declarer leads the jack of clubs. I take my ace, and declarer takes the rest. Making four.


NORTH
Marcin
♠ A 9 6 4
K 9 5 3
A 7 4
♣ 5 4


WEST
Jack
♠ K 10 8 3
7
K Q J 10 8
♣ 9 8 6


EAST
Phillip
♠ Q 7 2
10 6 2
9 6 5
♣ A 10 3 2


SOUTH
Daniel
♠ J 5
A Q J 8 4
3 2
♣ K Q J 7


The result is the same at the other table.

It occurs to me that if declarer had the same hand without the club jack, my club switch would have cost the contract. If I switch to a spade or diamond instead, declarer will be unable to avoid two club losers. That wasn't exactly an oversight, since I had specifically rejected the possibility that declarer held king-queen-empty fourth of clubs. Declarer squandered two dummy entries. How can he have a hand where he needs to lead up to his clubs twice? In general, it's safe to do something for declarer that he easily could have done himself.

Still, I can't construct a layout where a club shift gains. If partner were to ask me what I was playing for, I would have no answer. I shouldn't make assumptions I don't have to make no matter how reasonable they are. So I have to consider the club switch an error.

Though it's not as serious an error as partner's failure to double one heart. What was he thinking? He was lucky that North had an over-strength preempt. If I passed over one heart with that hand and heard LHO raise to four hearts, I would be afraid I had missed a game.

Table 1: -620
Table 2: +620

Result on Board 4: 0 imps
Total: +8 imps

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Event 3 - Match 9 - Board 3

Board 3
Opponents vulnerable

♠ J 5 A J 9 6 4 K J 9 8 ♣ 7 5

I pass, LHO passes, and partner opens three clubs. RHO bids three hearts.

We're probably beating this, possibly several tricks. But doubling would be premature. For all I know, the opponents aren't through bidding yet. In addition, they almost surely have a fit in spades, and a double might help them locate it. I pass. Everyone else does also. I lead the seven of clubs.


NORTH
Daniel
♠ 10 9 7 6 4
7 2
A 6 2
♣ A 10 3


WEST
Phillip
♠ J 5
A J 9 6 4
K J 9 8
♣ 7 5




West North East South
Phillip Daniel Jack Marcin
Pass Pass 3 ♣ 3
(All pass)

Declarer plays the ace from dummy. Partner plays the nine; declarer, the jack. Declarer would probably duck with jack doubleton, so I suspect the jack was a singleton. I suppose declarer might have queen-jack doubleton. But we will have no trouble beating this if we have a club trick, so I might as well assume that's not the case.

Declarer plays the deuce of hearts from dummy--five--ten--jack. Declarer overcalled three hearts with five hearts and a singleton club? Why didn't he make a take-out double? One possibility is that he is 2-5-5-1, although that means partner bid three clubs with a four-card spade suit. Declarer might also be 3-5-4-1. Some would double with that pattern; others would bid three hearts. I'm not sure what school Marcin belongs to.

I have three natural trump tricks unless I get endplayed. If I tap declarer with a club, I will establish another trump trick. We need only one more trick to beat it, which we should be able to manage. I play the five of clubs--ten--queen--three of hearts.

Declarer plays the spade king. I play low, and partner follows with the three. If partner is giving accurate count, he has only three spades, making declarer 3-5-4-1. I'm not quite sure why declarer is cashing the spade king. That seems to serve no purpose other than clarifying the layout for me.

Declarer plays the queen of hearts. If I win this, I have a minor tenace (nine-six behind declarer's king-eight). If I duck, a have a major tenace (ace-nine over his king-eight). Major tenaces are often tactically superior to minor tenaces. So, since I have nothing compelling to do with this entry, I might as well duck. Partner pitches the deuce of clubs.

Declarer plays the three of diamonds--nine--ace--five, then the spade six--queen--ace--jack. Declarer is 4-5-3-1 and chose to overcall rather than make a takeout double? That comes as a surprise. Though, in retrospect, perhaps it shouldn't. I thought at the time that cashing the spade king with ace-king third was strange. Somehow, I failed to reach the obvious conclusion that declarer didn't have ace-king third. Cashing the spade king with ace-king fourth (so that he has the option of finessing on the next round if I drop an honor) makes more sense.

Declarer plays the deuce of spades. I ruff with the six, and partner pitches the club four. If declarer has the diamond queen, he's down one. I can cash the diamond king, exit, and wait for my two heart tricks. If partner has the diamond queen, we have the rest. Partner can play clubs through declarer, picking up his trumps.

I cash the diamond king--deuce--seven--four, then exit a diamond. Declarer wins it, so he is down only one.


NORTH
Daniel
♠ 10 9 7 6 4
7 2
A 6 2
♣ A 10 3


WEST
Phillip
♠ J 5
A J 9 6 4
K J 9 8
♣ 7 5


EAST
Jack
♠ Q 3
5
10 7 5
♣ K Q 9 8 6 4 2


SOUTH
Marcin
♠ A K 8 2
K Q 10 8 3
Q 4 3
♣ J


Was my decision to duck the heart ace correct? In this particular layout, it makes no difference. But it might in a different layout. Suppose, for example, that declarer is 3-5-4-1, as I thought at the time:


NORTH
Daniel
♠ 10 9 7 6
7
A 6 2
♣ 3


WEST
Phillip
♠ J
A 9 6 4
K J 9 8
♣ --


EAST
Jack
♠ Q 8
--
7 5
♣ K 8 6 4 2


SOUTH
Marcin
♠ A 2
K Q 8
Q 10 4 3
♣ --


If I win and play the spade jack, declarer ducks it. Now what? I've taken three tricks so far. Since I must give away a trick in a red suit, I might as well play the diamond king to kill dummy's entry. Declarer wins with the diamond ace and plays a spade to his ace. I ruff (trick number four). Now I get endplayed twice. I must lead into the queen-ten of diamonds or into the queen-eight of hearts. Either way, I get tossed back in with a  diamond and endplayed again. We wind up taking five tricks for down one.

What happens if I duck the queen of hearts? Declarer must either play a red suit himself or must play spades, giving partner an entry. Say he plays ace and a spade. Partner wins with the queen. That's two tricks for us. Partners plays a club. Declarer ruffs. I overruff and cash the trump ace drawing declarer's last trump. That's four tricks. I now exit with a low diamond to declarer's ten. Declarer plays a diamond to dummy's ace, and my hand is high. Down two. I get endplayed once instead of twice.

The reason ducking is superior is that I avoid having to break spades, thus depriving declarer of his avoidance play. I didn't see this at the time, but I didn't need to. As a general rule, when you have nothing useful to do, you are better off winning tricks late rather than early.

This looks like a pretty good result, since North-South are cold for a spade game and will presumably get there if South chooses to make a take-out double. We do pick up imps, but not as many as I had hoped. Somehow our opponents manage to reach three diamonds, down three. I can't even imagine how their auction went.


Table 1: +100
Table 2: +150

Result on Board 3: 6 imps
Total: +8 imps

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Event 3 - Match 9 - Board 2

Board 2
Our side vulnerable

♠ 10 5 3 2 J 8 4 K 8 7 ♣ A 4 2

Pass on my right, pass by me, pass on my left. Partner opens one diamond. I bid one spade. Partner raises to two spades, and everyone passes. LHO leads the queen of clubs.


NORTH
Jack
♠ K 8 6 4
A 10 6
A 10 9 4 3
♣ 5






SOUTH
Phillip
♠ 10 5 3 2
J 8 4
K 8 7
♣ A 4 2



West North East South
Daniel Jack Marcin Phillip
Pass Pass
Pass 1 Pass 1 ♠
Pass 2 ♠ (All pass)

RHO plays the eight of clubs, and I take my ace.

If everything breaks normally, I can take one spade, one heart, four diamonds, the club ace, and a club ruff for eight tricks. It takes a four-one break in spades or diamonds to give me a problem.

Given the opponents have 21 high-card points between them and failed to open the bidding, it's going to be hard to construct layouts where either suit splits four-one. For starters, it is unlikely anyone has a small singleton. If anyone does have a singleton, it is apt to be the queen or jack to justify their silence. In addition, any diamond singleton is apt to be on my left (given RHO's pass over one diamond) and any spade singleton is apt to be on my right (given LHO's pass over one spade and failure to balance).

I will need to lead a spade toward dummy's king sooner or later, and I have limited hand entries. So I might as well do it now. While a spade to the king is not how I would handle this suit in isolation, I don't have a lot of flexibility. I play the deuce of spades--seven--king--jack. RHO apparently has queen-jack doubleton or a stiff jack. Since I can afford to lose three trump tricks, I can now abandon trumps and set up diamonds. If I can establish diamonds with one loser, I'll make my contract.

Since I expect any diamond singleton to be on my left, the way to play diamonds in isolation is to cash the ace (guarding against a singleton honor) then lead the ten and let it ride (guarding against a small singleton). But the lack of dummy entries may make that approach problematic. Say I cash the ace and no honor appears. I pass the ten, and West, with ace-queen-nine of spades remaining, ruffs. He can now cash the ace and queen of spades and tap dummy with a club. Diamonds are blocked, so I can't develop another diamond trick. I finish down one.

The only way to make it if West has a small singleton diamond (and four trumps) is to float the diamond ten without cashing the ace. If that holds, I play a diamond to the king. If West ruffs, draws trumps, and taps dummy, I have no further problems. I can ruff out a diamond to establish my eighth trick and return to dummy with the heart ace to cash it.

But if West has a singleton honor, a first round finesse will not work out well. In that case, I must play a diamond to my king. I can then concede a diamond to East. In short, I can guard against a small singleton or a singleton honor but not both. A priori, a small singleton is more likely. But the opponents' silence may have changed that. Consider this layout:


NORTH
Jack
♠ K 8 6 4
A 10 6
A 10 9 4 3
♣ 5


WEST
Daniel
♠ A Q 9 x
x x x x
 x
♣ Q J x x


EAST
Marcin
♠ J
 K Q x
Q J x x
♣ K x x x x


SOUTH
Phillip
♠ 10 5 3 2
J 8 4
K 8 7
♣ A 4 2


Some Easts would pass that hand in first seat, but many would open, and I suspect Jack is among them. So I must move some honor to the West hand to make this a viable construction. I can't move a heart honor, else West would open in third seat. But perhaps he wouldn't open with a singleton diamond honor (at least not with the jack).

Frankly, I doubt diamonds are four-one at all. But if they are, a singleton honor seems more likely than a small singleton. Accordingly, I play a diamond to the king. East contributes the five; West, the six. I play the seven of diamonds, West plays the deuce, and I duck in dummy. East wins with the jack. He returns the queen of diamonds. West ruffs with the nine of spades and shifts to the deuce of hearts. This is the position:


NORTH
Jack
♠ 8 6 4
A 10 6
A 10
♣ --






SOUTH
Phillip
♠ 10 5 3
J 8 4
--
♣ 4 2


I can afford to lose three more tricks. If I duck this, my contract is safe, the opponents can't take more than a heart and two spades.

Do I have a safe play for an overtrick? If I duck, East will win and tap dummy with club. If the remaining spades are one-one, I can play a spade and make an overtrick. But I can't afford to try that. I risk going down if West has ace-queen of spades.

What if I hop with the heart ace and play a diamond, pitching a heart? That's perfectly safe. The opponents still can't take more than two trumps and a heart. But now they have a chance to make a mistake. If they don't cash the heart, they aren't going to get it. I can't imagine whey they wouldn't play a heart. But it doesn't hurt to try. They can't make a mistake if I don't give them the chance.

I play the ace of hearts--seven--eight. Now I play the diamond ace. East ruffs with the spade queen, and I pitch the jack of hearts. West pitches the five of hearts. There is no reason I can think of for East not to play a heart. But he doesn't. He plays the king of clubs. I ruff in dummy and cash the ten of diamonds, pitching my last heart. Making three.


NORTH
Jack
♠ K 8 6 4
A 10 6
A 10 9 4 3
♣ 5


WEST
Daniel
♠ A 9 7
K 9 5 2
6 2
♣ Q J 9 7


EAST
Marcin
♠ Q J
Q 7 3
Q J 5
♣ K 10 8 6 3


SOUTH
Phillip
♠ 10 5 3 2
J 8 4
K 8 7
♣ A 4 2


The result is the same at the other table.

Table 1: +140
Table 2: -140

Result on Board 2: 0 imps
Total: +2 imps