Friday, October 16, 2009

Board 24

Board 24
Neither vulnerable
♠ Q J 9 4 3 Q 8 7 6 Q 5 ♣ 10 6

RHO opens one notrump in third seat. John used to say that opening a strong notrump in front of me was like waving a red flag in front of a bull. But, red flag or not, I'm not charging without a singleton. I pass. LHO bids two clubs, RHO bids two hearts, and LHO bids three notrump.

The opponents have shown both my suits, so it's tempting to lead a minor. But partner could have doubled two clubs, and he could have opened with a weak two-diamond bid. So I doubt that either of his minors is good enough for a lead there to be productive.

Of my own suits, spades requires the least help from partner, so I decide to lead one. In general, you should lead your lowest card when leading one of your opponents' suits in notrump. There's no point in leading the top of a sequence. If partner has an honor, he's going to need to unblock. If he doesn't have an honor, you've probably led the wrong suit anyway, so what's the difference? Often even your fourth best is a card you can't afford to squander. Obviously, you can afford fourth best when your fourth best and lowest are equals as they are here. But, since partner can't expect you to lead fourth best, you might as well lead lowest even then for consistency.  Accordingly, I lead the three of spades.


NORTH
♠ A 8 5 2
J 4
A 10 6
♣ J 9 7 5


WEST
♠ Q J 9 4 3
Q 8 7 6
Q 5
♣ 10 6




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

Declarer plays the deuce from dummy, partner plays the ten, and declarer wins with the king. Partner has from six to eight high-card points. I need to hope he gains the lead before I do so he can continue spades (if he has one) while I still have the queen of hearts as a potential entry.

I get my wish. Declarer plays the deuce of clubs--six--jack--king.

This doesn't look promising. Declarer is perfectly happy to lose a club trick when he could have tried to play the suit for no losers. If he were in trouble, he probably wouldn't be playing this way. How many clubs did declarer start with? Might he have opened one notrump with a 2-4-2-5 pattern?

----

Surely not.  I don't know about his bidding style, but this is hardly the right way to play with ace-queen-fifth of clubs. He would be losing two tricks unnecessarily if the suit split 4-0. So declarer has three clubs tricks, two spade tricks, and at most three tricks in the red suits. (Partner must have a red king or the heart ace to come to six high-card points.) He's still a trick short.

Partner returns the six of spades--seven--nine (the card I'm known to hold, since partner played the ten at trick one)--five. If declarer was going to duck a spade, he might have done better to duck the first one. I continue with the queen of spades--ace--diamond deuce--heart deuce. Declarer plays a club to his ace and a club back to dummy's nine. Partner plays three-eight. I follow once, then pitch the six of hearts. Declarer leads the jack of hearts from dummy, partner covers with the king, declarer ducks (playing the ten), and I follow with the seven. Partner continues with the nine of hearts (Yes, the nine. I, too, thought declarer had that card.), declarer wins with the ace.

Since the queen and eight are equals and declarer "knows" I have the queen from partner's play of the king, I would normally play the queen, the card I'm known to hold. In this case, though, I want declarer to know I began with four hearts. I don't want to give him any reason not to play partner for the queen of diamonds. So I play the eight. Declarer plays a club to dummy. I pitch a spade, and partner pitches the three of diamonds. As expected, declarer cashes the diamond ace and plays a diamond to his jack. I claim for down two.


NORTH
♠ A 8 5 2
J 4
A 10 6
♣ J 9 7 5


WEST
♠ Q J 9 4 3
Q 8 7 6
Q 5
♣ 10 6


EAST
♠ 10 6
K 9 3
9 8 4 3 2
♣ K 8 3


SOUTH
♠ K 7
A 10 5 2
K J 7
♣ A Q 4 2



I know what you're going to say. I was supposed to falsecard with the queen of hearts anyway, since a suspicious declarer might ask himself why I didn't and decide to play me for the diamond queen. Actually, if any declarer demonstrated that much confidence that I'm incapable of making a careless play, I would be so flattered that I wouldn't mind letting him make this contract.

At the other table, the auction was the same. My hand led the ten of clubs, picking up four club tricks for declarer. On the fourth round of clubs, both defenders pitched a diamond. Declarer led a diamond to the king, dropping the queen, and a diamond back to dummy, on which West pitched a heart. When East failed to cover the jack of hearts, declarer had three heart tricks. He wound up making six. A five-trick difference on the choice of opening leads! Well, maybe not entirely on the choice of opening leads. Anyway, all the overtricks are irrelevant. Minus 400 would have been the same 11 imps.

Me: +100
Jack -490

Score on Board 24: +11 IMPs
Total: + 74 IMPs

1 comment:

  1. The first thing that would occur to me is : Declarer has AK of Clubs. Certainly declarer should duck the first Spade in all cases. There is no shift he is afraid of

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