Friday, September 25, 2009

Board 9

Board 9
Opponents vulnerable

♠ J 10 9 4 K J 8 5 Q 6 5 4 ♣ 5

Partner opens one trump, and RHO passes. This is too good a hand to bid Stayman, intending to pass two diamonds. Two diamonds could be a silly contract, and there is no reason to think you can't make one notrump. I pass. LHO demonstrates one of the ways passing can win by balancing with two spades, showing spades and a minor. After two passes, I double, which ends the auction. In my preferred methods (see my Bridge World article Countering Notrump Interference), partner would be doubling and I would be passing, but I can't talk this partner into playing that way.

Partner leads the king of spades:



NORTH
♠ 8 2
Q 6 4 3
8
♣ K 9 7 6 4 2




EAST
♠ J 10 9 4
K J 8 5
Q 6 5 4
♣ 5





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

1Spades and a minor


This certainly looks like the best lead. Declarer seems to have five spades and four or five diamonds. Unless partner is offshape, declarer will have at most two hearts. The king of spades holds. I play the four, and declarer plays the three. Partner continues with the queen of spades. I play the jack to clarify the spade position. Declarer wins the ace. I now know that partner has the ace of diamonds. Otherwise declarer would have won the first trick and ruffed a diamond in dummy. Declarer leads the five of spades, partner discards the ten of clubs, presumably to reassure me he has the ace, and declarer plays the deuce of clubs from dummy. If partner had ace third of clubs, he would be hesitant to pitch one, since he might need to duck two rounds. So I assume he began with four or five clubs, giving declarer a singleton or doubleton.

We're going to have to break diamonds sooner or later. I might as well play one now to get a better picture of the hand. I shift to the six of diamonds, intending the high diamond as a message for partner not to return the suit. Declarer plays the seven--ten--eight. The seven is too important a card to squander. It's probably declarer's lowest, which means he started with king-jack-nine-seven. Partner shifts to the deuce of hearts--three--jack--seven. At this point I'm defending double-dummy. Since the heart ace brings partner up to 17 high-card points, he can't have the queen or jack of clubs. So declarer began with


♠ A 7 6 5 3 x 7 K J 9 7 ♣ Q J

The only thing I'm not sure about is whether his other heart is the ten or the nine, and I doubt that matters. Unfortunately, partner isn't defending double-dummy. He can't even be sure of declarer's shape, so I'll have to help him out as best I can. Our tactical goals at this point are (1) to neutralize dummy's clubs and (2) to avoid letting declarer score any more diamond tricks than necessary.

One way to neutralize dummy's clubs is for me to lead a club to partner and get a ruff. Let's see how the defense would go after that. After the ruff, we play two rounds of hearts, tapping declarer. He can then drive the ace and queen of diamonds to set up his nine, scoring three spades and one diamond for down four. Can we do better? Is there a way to keep him for scoring any diamond tricks at all?

Suppose I draw his penultimate trump before shifting to a club. And suppose partner somehow works out to duck this. Declarer wins and plays another club. Partner wins this and plays ace and a heart. Since the hearts are blocked, declarer can pitch a diamond, forcing partner to lead away from his ace of diamonds. Declarer scores two trumps, one club, and one diamond. Again, down four. Both lines lead to the same result, but the first line seems to place less of a burden on partner. He knows I have the ten of spades. If I shift to a club without cashing it, he should know that it's a singleton and I want a ruff.

I shift to the five of clubs--queen--ace--four. Partner doesn't work it out. He plays the nine of hearts--four--king--ten. We could have a problem now. If I play another heart, declarer can ruff and lead his last spade. The defense is now out of tricks except for the ace of diamonds. Down only three. I need to play a diamond to partner's ace to give him one last chance to give me a club ruff. Then I can exit with a heart and wait for my queen of diamonds. I play the four of diamonds. Partner wins with the ace and still doesn't work it out. He returns the three of diamonds. Down three for +800. Oh, well.




NORTH
♠ 8 2
Q 6 4 3
8
♣ K 9 7 6 4 2


WEST
♠ K Q
A 9 2
A 10 3 2
♣ A 10 8 3


EAST
♠ J 10 9 4
K J 8 5
Q 6 5 4
♣ 5


SOUTH
♠ A 7 6 5 3
10 7
K J 9 7
♣ Q J


+800 is still a pretty good result, but +1100 is better. And +1400 is better yet. To get that, partner needs to shift to the nine of hearts instead of the deuce to unblock the suit. Then, later on, he needs to duck the first club, or at least to signal with the eight instead of the ten. That may be a hard result to achieve, but I believe +1100 was well within our reach.

As for my opponent's bidding, I'm fairly aggressive at competing over one notrump. But I don't see the point of bidding with a balanced hand. If you don't have a singleton, why not just defend one notrump? If you can make anything, chances are you're going plus on defense.

At the other table, my counterpart bid Stayman and passed two diamonds, making four. Jack is usually pretty good at this kind of decision, since it solves it by dealing out random hands and seeing what works. So he may be right. He probably discovered that the possibility of making game in a major outweighs the risk of playing a silly two diamond contract. Jack is probably shaking its head--or its headings, whatever programs shake--over how I lucky I got with my anti-percentage pass.

Me +800
Jack +130

Score on Board 9: +12 IMPs
Total: +43 IMPs

8 comments:

  1. I think you neglected to build a fence around partner on this hand. You assumed partner isn't defending dbl dummy but it is. Partner knows you have 5 major suit points and at least 1 diamond point. Probably 2. Partner knows you have 4 Spades , 3 or 4 , Hearts, 3 or 4 Diamonds and at most a dbltn Club . Although we didn't know it at the time we defended this hand , partner " knows " that you are not 4-4-4-1 but that's irrelevant. By returning a heart you force partner into cashing the club ace before returning a 3rd heart. Now what bad can happen? If declarer pitches then partner plays a club . He knows you don't have the Diamond king so its safe. then you force declarer and get 2 Diamonds.

    If declarer ruffs the third Heart and plays a club you ruff and exit king of hearts .

    If declarer ruffs and exits a spade you are OK

    and finally if partner gives you a club ruff before playing the 3rd heart you got an exit card with the king of Hearts.

    1100 in all cases.

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  2. I tried your suggestion. It didn't work. Partner is unboxable. If I play a heart back, he plays a third heart. Declarer ruffs and plays the jack of clubs. This should make it easy for him. If I have Qx of clubs, I must have three small diamonds. So partner has nothing to lose by cashing the diamond ace and playing a club. But he stubbornly plays ace and a diamond for the same down 3. He's so convinced I can't be 4-4-4-1 that he won't consider it even when nothing else matters.

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  3. I am surprised. I would think the computer would play better in virtual dbl dummy situations regardless of what he thought you could have or not have. I guess the computer is not counting.

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  4. One other thing I am curious about in this experiment. Do you have the ability to swap seats as defender? Or to direct an auction and a contract for the computer to defend ? It would be interesting to see both results on this hand.

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  5. Yes. You can select which seat or seats you want to bid and play for. And you can switch back to having Jack bid and play for them in the middle of the hand. What result are you interested in? How the defense would go if I were East and Jack were West?

    ReplyDelete
  6. yes. And also how both computers defend given the " impossible" auction

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  7. If Jack plays both hands, he shifts to a club at trick four (at the point where I played a diamond). His partner takes the ace, then shifts to a diamond away from his ace-ten fourth. I tried a few other variations, directing the defense up to a point then letting Jack take over. I was never able to get Jack to do better than +800.

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  8. "Countering NT interference".
    What do you do when you have three in the suit they have overcalled in, I guess you pass?? Maybe it's the games I play in, but I fear there would be many penalties missed if the hand with 3 cards had to pass.
    I think I know the retort: Overcaller usually has a six-bagger..... so you don't want to be doubling with only 3 in their suit. But people overcall, especially at Pairs, on all sorts of c%$p these days, and being able to punish them for their (admittedly misguided) actions should be kept alive.

    ReplyDelete