Friday, September 18, 2009

Board 4

Board 4
Both sides vulnerable

♠ 10 8 6 2 A K J 8 10 9 6 ♣ A 6

There are three passes to you. What is your call?

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With good hearts and a weak four-card side suit, a four-three heart fit might easily offer the best chance for game. So one heart would not be an unreasonable choice even in first or second seat. In third or fourth seat, when you can pass a one trump response, I think one heart is clear. I open one heart--pass--two diamonds--pass. I pass, and LHO reopens with a double. This is an extremely dangerous auction to balance on. We rate to have more than half the high cards, and there is no guarantee we have a fit. I'm not sure that I would balance with any hand that couldn't open. In any event, LHO should have a lot of shape, surely a singleton or void in diamonds. He should have some heart length as well, since with a shapely two-suiter he would have bid over one heart.

Partner bids two hearts, presumably with queen doubleton, since he would have used Drury with three hearts. RHO bids three clubs. Your call?

----

In general, I'm a believer in the Law of Total Tricks. I don't like to compete at the three level, particularly when the opponents are already at the three level, unless less I have nine trumps. The double fit argues for being more aggressive, so I might bid three diamonds with only three-card support if I had, say, a fifth heart and a singleton club. This hand, however, hardly qualifies for breaking the Law. I pass. Partner competes with three diamonds, which ends the auction. RHO leads the jack of clubs. Jack's convention card says, cryptically, "Internal sequence." I'm not sure what that means and I can't ask, but I'm going to assume it means he would lead the ten from king-jack-ten.


NORTH
♠ 10 8 6 2
A K J 8
10 9 6
♣ A 6






SOUTH
♠ J 9 4
Q 9
A K 7 5 4
♣ 9 7 2



West North East South
Pass Pass
Pass 1 Pass 2
Pass Pass Double 2
3 ♣ Pass Pass 3
(All pass)


Partner's three diamond bid is weird. I don't think my pass of two diamonds promised more than a doubleton. Even if it did, once partner clued me in to the double fit with two hearts, he should have respected my decision. This appears to be one of the weaknesses of computer programs: an inability to draw negative inferences. I'll take Jack's word for it that a set of randomly generated deals consistent with the early auction suggest that it's right to compete. But I don't think Jack's randomly generated deals took my pass over three clubs into account. How do you play?

----

If diamonds split, it's easy. Win the club, cash ace-king of diamonds, and run hearts. If no one ruffs, that's nine tricks. If some one does ruff, I can ruff a club in dummy for my ninth trick. Unfortunately, there is almost no chance trumps are splitting. East would have sold to two diamonds with a balanced hand. That means if I draw two rounds of trumps, West can ruff in and draw the third round, preventing my club ruff. What if I draw just one round? Unless I drop an honor, that won’t work either. West ruffs the last heart and plays the diamond queen. I win and play club. West wins and cashes the diamond jack.

It seems the only way I can handle a bad trump break is to draw no trumps at all. There is some danger if it turns out if I misread the hand and trumps were three-two all along, but I’m not too worried about that. I decide to play hearts right away, hoping West follows to three rounds. The opponents will score one spade, one club, and two trumps, but will be unable to stop the club ruff in dummy.

I win the ace of clubs and East plays the five. Assuming I’m right about their lead conventions, what is East’s shape?

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East would surely unblock with king-queen third. He must have four clubs (king-queen-five-four or king-queen-five-three, since he would have encouraged with the eight if he had it). So he is either 4-4-1-4, 3-5-1-4, or 4-5-0-4. The last shape is unlikely, since we aren’t doubled.

I start cashing hearts. East plays deuce, three, four; West plays the six and ten, and, unfortunately, ruffs the third round with the deuce of trumps. So it appears I'm going down one trick, possibly two if East was 4-5-0-4. West leads the three of clubs to East's queen. East plays the seven of hearts, allowing me to pitch a second spade. Instead of ruffing, West pitches the eight of clubs (just to express his disapproval of East's heart play, I suppose). Things are looking up. Now it's going to take a five-zero trump split to beat me.

Note, by the way, that the club eight is consistent with our current picture. At trick one, we placed East with KQ5x of clubs and West with J108x. West's 'x', which he played on the previous trick, turned out to be the three. If his discard on this trick had been the four instead of the eight, an alarm should go off. We would know that our picture is incorrect and we would have to go back and re-examine our assumptions.

Is there any way I might make this contract against five-zero trumps?

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Not without the eight of diamonds. If I had the eight of diamonds, I could try exiting with a spade. If East plays low and allows West to win the trick, I'm home. I ruff a club in dummy, ruff a spade to my hand (not necessarily in that order), and cash the diamond ace. If East shows out, I can play a low diamond to endplay West. East can stop the endplay, however, by winning the spade and leading his last heart.

Even though I don't have the eight of diamonds, I’m curious whether East is up to the crocodile coup. So I play a spade anyway. East falls from grace. He plays the seven and West wins with the queen. East would surely have hopped with the ace, so this looks like king-seven-fourth opposite ace-queen doubleton. That means trumps probably are five-zero (unless I am wrong about four-four clubs). West plays the ten of clubs and I ruff in dummy. When East follows with the four instead of the king, I suspect it’s all over. I play a diamond; East pitches a heart. Down one:


NORTH
♠ 10 8 6 2
A K J 8
10 9 6
♣ A 6


WEST
♠ A Q
10 6
Q J 8 3 2
♣ J 10 8 3


EAST
♠ K 7 5 3
7 5 4 3 2
--
♣ K Q 5 4


SOUTH
♠ J 9 4
Q 9
A K 7 5 4
♣ 9 7 2



I must say that was quite an aggressive reopening double. I would be afraid of defending two diamonds doubled (or redoubled). I don't approve of West's three clubs either. As I mentioned earlier, he knows his partner has heart length. With his diamond stack, it seems unlikely that we can make anything, and he has no assurance of making three clubs. Pass seems like the safest route to a plus score. I should think that the only reason for bidding is to goad us into competing with three diamonds in order to double. We were duly goaded, but then West forgot to double.

In the other room, the auction proceeds as follows:

West North East South
Pass Pass
Pass 1 Pass 2
Pass 2 NT Pass 3
Double (All pass)


Two diamonds was inverted, but game seems unlikely opposite a passed hand, so I'm not sure why North didn't just pass. Also, once he bid two notrump, I'm not sure why South didn't pass that. Strangely, West chose to double three diamonds on this auction. I would have thought he had a more attractive double at our table.

East leads a heart. Declarer plays three rounds of hearts, pitching a spade. West ruffs, cashes ace-queen of spades, and shifts to the jack of clubs. There isn’t much declarer can do. Down two for -500. I still prefer my one heart opening. While there were misjudgments in the later auction, the one diamond opening paved the way to this disaster. I know we didn't avoid three diamonds either, but I think it should have been easier to do so with our auction.


Me -100
Jack -500
Score on board 4: +9 IMPs
Total: +19 IMPs

1 comment:

  1. When I hear ( or in this case see) " interior sequence " I assume that it as an old fashioned standard lead where you might have a higher honor. In this case K but could be the A against NT . Also the lead of the 10 might be from K109 or Q109. This is the lingo I was raised on . Perhaps Jeff Rubens can verify it ( snicker )

    As to the opening bid. I strongly disagree with 1H . Being a devout 5 card majorite I offer the following reasons :
    I probably won't respond 1S when I hold a 3 card fit ( especially Drury strength) . I don't want to give the opponents an easy TO dbl that might push me to the 3 level.

    Game in the 4-3 fit is highly unlikely unless there is a side source of tricks . Since my side high card is in my short suit that lessens the possibilty of running a side suit.

    Game ( or best partial ) is much more likely to be in Spades since I do have a side source of tricks in Hearts and I don't want to discourage a 1S response.

    My opening bid is 1C . I play 4 card 1D openings but even if I didnt I would open this 1C for lead directional purposes.

    It is harder for the opps to make a TO dbl over 1C when I hold length in BOTH majors. They need be only long in one to make a TO dbl over 1H.
    ( for the same reason I like preempting with side 5 card majors when partner is a passed hand)

    By opening 1C I might pick off their suit

    I dont mind a 1D overcall since it will help define my partner's major suit holdings as they are not likely to freely bid without a somewhat decent suit

    Furthermore Diamond competiton will make my holding in that suit way more attractive.

    So by opening 1C my downside is : Partner competes in Clubs or the opps bid NT when I needed a Heart lead . How often am I going to want a Heart lead after opening 1H and LHO is declaring NT ?

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