Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Board 101

Board 101
Our side vulnerable

♠ A 8 7 4 A J 10 3 2 -- ♣ A J 9 7

Partner opens three notrump, showing a solid minor, and RHO passes. It doesn't seem like a good idea to let him play there, so I'm removing this to some number of diamonds.

How good a contract will six diamonds be? I have, probably, seven diamond tricks and three aces, so I will need to develop two tricks in hearts. If partner has a singleton heart, that's not likely. If he has a doubleton or tripleton heart and if dummy has a singleton in whichever black suit they lead, I have a shot. But I have no way to investigate that doesn't help the opponents with their opening lead. I can bid four diamonds to get partner to show a singleton. But if partner shows a singleton black suit as I hope, the opponents will know they have no slow tricks available in that suit. It would be nice if we were playing asking bids. I would consider asking for a heart control, intending to sign off if partner shows one and bidding a slam if he denies one. That would at least get a good laugh. But even that might be too aggressive.

I bid five diamonds, which ends the auction. West leads the king of hearts. Terrific! I certainly would have bid six if I'd know he was going to lead that.

♠ J
8 5
A K Q 8 7 5 3 2
♣ 6 2

♠ K 6 5 2
J 9 4
♣ Q 10 5 4

♠ Q 10 9 3
9 7 6 4
10 6
♣ K 8 3

♠ A 8 7 4
A J 10 3 2
♣ A J 9 7

West North East South
3 NT Pass 5
(All pass)

To top it off, partner has an eighth diamond, so I need only two heart tricks to make a slam. I win, draw trumps, and concede a trick to the queen of hearts. Making six.

I wonder if they will be in six at the other table. Anything but a heart lead should beat it in practice, although declarer can always make it double dummy.

At the other table, South bids four diamonds over three notrump. North bids four spades, showing a singleton spade. South bids Blackwood--I'm not sure why--then goes on to six diamonds over North's five spade bid. To my relief, West leads the five of clubs. Declarer can still make this by winning and returning the club jack, then later leading the nine of clubs for a ruffing finesse, pinning the eight. Not unreasonably, however, declarer chooses a different line. He draws trumps and leads a club to the nine. Down one.

I'm impressed with West's lead. I think this is a solvable problem and that a low club is arguably the best choice, but I'm still impressed Jack found it. South surely has a source of tricks, and that source of tricks is probably hearts, your shortest suit. Once dummy has shown a singleton spade, you know your only chance to develop a trick is in clubs. The club lead will be wrong if your second trick is partner's spade ace and if you lose it by leading a club. But partner did spurn two chances to double spades, so, if there is a winning lead, a club rates to be it.

As for the auction, I can't reasonably argue with Jack's evaluation. This is exactly the kind of situation where he has an edge, since he can examine many more randomly generated dummies than I can. If he thinks he can make a slam more often than not, he's probably right. I certainly didn't consider the fact that I might get a heart lead, nor that clubs might offer a source of tricks, nor that a stray queen in partner's hand might prove useful. If taking all those factors into account tips the scale, then I guess I made a mistake. But I'm keeping the 12 IMPs.

Me: +620
Jack: -100

Score on Board 101: + 12 IMPs
Total: -47 IMPs

I'm taking the rest of the week off.  See you Monday.

1 comment:

  1. I sympathize. I was once a great believer in the Gambling 3NT, but I came to realize that there was much more gambling involved than simply hoping that partner has stoppers. This hand does little to change my evaluation.

    So at this point you've picked up 111 IMPs in 37 boards, an average of 3 IMPs per board, in the second half. Good job!