Thursday, January 28, 2010

Board 88

Board 88
Neither vulnerable

♠ A J 8 6 5 8 K J 6 5 ♣ J 10 9

Partner opens four hearts in second seat. Everyone passes, and West leads the ace of clubs.


NORTH
♠ A J 8 6 5
8
K J 6 5
♣ J 10 9






SOUTH
♠ K 7
A J 9 7 6 4 3 2
3 2
♣ K



West
North
East
South
Pass
4
(All pass)


I don't care for partner's four heart bid. I'm not sure what's wrong with one heart. But this seems like a reasonable enough contract. I need to bring hearts home for one loser, and I need to guess the diamonds. I don't have much to go on for the diamond guess. The opening lead doesn't tell me much. Clubs is the opponents' longest suit, so the club ace isn't an unexpected lead. I play the nine from dummy, East plays the three, and I drop the king. West shifts to the deuce of spades. This, too, is totally expected. West would probably knock out dummy's spade entry whatever he was looking at in diamonds.

My best chance to guess diamonds is to lead the suit as soon as possible, before West knows how many diamond tricks he needs to beat this. Suppose I hop with the spade ace, play a heart to my ace, and play a diamond, intending to finesse the jack if West plays low. West may well hop with the ace for fear that I have something like

♠ x x A J x x x x x x x ♣ K Q

If he hops even part of the time, it boosts the odds of this line's working to better than 50%. It's not clear that I can do any better than that by postponing my diamond play. What can I learn that will help me? West, on the other hand, can learn a great deal. Once he knows he must duck, my chance of success reverts to 50-50. Often declarers postpone a guess like this on principle without any reason to believe that they will learn anything useful. Of course, it's OK with me that declarers have this tendency, since it makes the tactic of leading the suit early more likely to work. A defender may reasonably place you with a singleton precisely because you didn't postpone the guess.

It is important, however, that I conceal as much of my hand as possible to maximize the chance that West will hop with the ace. I can't afford to ride the spade around to my king, nor can I afford to come to my hand by ruffing a club, revealing that I have a singleton instead of king-queen. (Though I would certainly prefer to do that if I could. By playing a heart to the ace, I give up the chance of picking up the suit when there is a singleton ten on my left.)

I play the spade ace from dummy; East plays the four. I play a heart, and East plays the ten. That's good. He would split with king-queen-ten, so I'm no longer giving anything up by rising with the heart ace. I play the ace; West plays the five. I lead the deuce of diamonds, and West comes to the rescue by hopping with the ace. Trumps split, so I make four.


NORTH
♠ A J 8 6 5
8
K J 6 5
♣ J 10 9


WEST
♠ 10 9 2
K 5
A 10 9 8
♣ A Q 5 2


EAST
♠ Q 4 3
Q 10
Q 7 4
♣ 8 7 6 4 3


SOUTH
♠ K 7
A J 9 7 6 4 3 2
3 2
♣ K



I would have gone down had West ducked, so I have some hope of picking up a game swing on this board.

At the other table, South also opens four hearts. My teammate chooses to lead the ten of spades. Declarer rides this around to his king and cashes the heart ace. I would hate to be West. Surely he must consider dropping the king. If declarer has

♠ K x A J x x x x x x x ♣ K x,

unblocking the king guarantees down one. Unfortunately, the customary inference that partner rates to have the heart queen because declarer didn't take a trump finesse isn't necessarily valid here. Add the heart queen to declarer's hand above, for example, and I doubt he would win trick one in dummy to take a heart finesse. He has better things to do with his one dummy entry than to take a 20% shot at picking up the heart suit.

Rightly or wrongly, West chooses not to drop the king. Declarer continues with a heart, and West wins. Again, West has a difficult problem. I see logic both in a spade continuation and in a low diamond shift. But my teammate decides to try to cash club tricks instead. I suppose he does this to discover how many diamond tricks he needs. If he can cash two clubs, he will know not to duck the diamond ace. If he can cash only one club, he will know he has to duck the diamond ace. The problem with this line, aside from the fact that it gives up on beating the contract when declarer has king doubleton of clubs, is that it marks him with the diamond ace. Surely he wouldn't play clubs from his side if he thought his partner had an entry.

West plays the club ace, East plays the three, and declarer drops the king. Apparently suspecting declarer of some super-diabolical falsecard, West plays the club queen. Declarer ruffs this and no longer needs to guess the diamonds. Making four for a push.

Me: -420
Jack: -420

Score on Board 88: 0 IMPs
Total: -101 IMPs

2 comments:

  1. How is it that Jack can make 2 different leads on the same auction ?

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  2. He generates a set of random deals and leads what works most often. If he generates a different set of random deals, he might lead something different. He might sometimes do something different in the middle of the hand as well, though, since he has more information, that happens less often.

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