Friday, February 5, 2010

Board 94

Board 94
Neither vulnerable

♠ 10 7 A J 2 K Q 10 9 4 ♣ A 4 2

I open one notrump (12-14) in second seat. LHO doubles, and partner and RHO pass. As a matter of principle, I don't play one notrump doubled at IMPs, since the risk/reward ratio is poor. There's little bonus for making it, and a large penalty for going down. If you aren't going to run, you should redouble to give yourself some upside potential. Lowenthal used to express this idea in his typically droll fashion: "One notrump doubled is a poor contract for declarer. One notrump redoubled is a sporting proposition for everybody."

I would redouble if it were natural, but Jack plays opener's redouble as S.O.S. (denying a five-card suit).  So I run to two diamonds, which ends the auction. West leads the five of clubs.


NORTH
♠ Q 8 6 3
10 6 5 4
5
♣ K Q 7 3






SOUTH
♠ 10 7
A J 2
K Q 10 9 4
♣ A 4 2



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


Partner is right to pass two diamonds, even though it's a six-card fit, since no one has doubled. If they do double, he can redouble, showing both majors, to ensure we reach a seven-card fit.

It appears from the lead that East has either the ace or king of spades, which doesn't leave room for much else. It does leave room for the jack of diamonds, which I hope he has. If I can bring home diamonds for four tricks, I can make this. I win in dummy with king of clubs as East plays the eight. I play a diamond--deuce--nine--ace. West continues with the ten of clubs. I win in my hand as East plays the jack.

I cash the king and queen of diamonds, pitching two hearts from dummy. Everyone follows low. If the carding is honest, clubs are three-three. I can lead a club to dummy and lead the last club now or I can concede a trump trick first. Conceding the trump gives me more flexibility in case I'm wrong about three-three clubs. Of course, I know I'm not wrong. I've never seen Jack falsecard on opening lead. But why should I assume anything I don't have to?

I play another diamond. West pitches the six of clubs, confirming that dummy's small club is good. I play a spade from dummy. East wins with the diamond jack and shifts to the seven of hearts.

What does West know about my high cards? He knows I began with king-queen of diamonds and the ace of clubs. That's nine high-card points. So he knows I have either the heart ace or the spade honor his partner has, but not both. He might conceivably think his partner has underled the heart ace and continue hearts if I duck this. I play low, and West wins with the queen. He cashes the spade ace. East plays the nine, and I discourage with the seven. West now shifts to the king of hearts and I claim, pitching my spade ten on dummy's long club. Making three.


NORTH
♠ Q 8 6 3
10 6 5 4
5
♣ K Q 7 3


WEST
♠ A J 5 2
K Q 8
A 8 7
♣ 10 6 5


EAST
♠ K 9 4
9 7 3
J 6 3 2
♣ J 9 8


SOUTH
♠ 10 7
A J 2
K Q 10 9 4
♣ A 4 2



What was the heart king all about? East did shift to his middle heart, which is a strange card. He should play either an attitude nine or a count three, depending on partnership agreement. (My own preference is to lead attitude in the middle of the hand.) Perhaps West thought his partner had led third best from ace fourth. That would give me a doubleton heart and king third of spades. If I had king-seven-four, then East's spade nine would have been low from ten-nine doubleton. In that case, if West didn't cash the heart, I would be able to pitch my heart loser on dummy's eight of spades. It's a good thing I played the seven, not the ten, else West could not have gone wrong.

To verify this statement, I back up the play and drop the spade ten under the ace. Yes. West does, in fact, continue spades if I do that. This shows the danger of falsecarding at random. When I said above that I "discouraged" with the seven, that was only partly in jest. Declarer should, in fact, signal attitude the same way the opponents do. If they play normal attitude, declarer's lowest card often makes it plausible that the signaler's card is high, and his highest spot card often makes it plausible that the signaler's card is low. If they play upside-down attitude, declarer should "signal" upside-down for the same reason.

At the other table, South opens one diamond. West doubles, North responds one heart, and South raises to two.

East leads the eight of clubs. Declarer wins in his hand and leads a diamond to the queen and ace. West cashes the spade ace, then continues clubs. Declarer wins in dummy and plays a spade to the queen and king. East persists in clubs. Declarer wins in his hand, ruffs a spade, cashes the diamond, ruffs a diamond, and ruffs another spade with the jack of hearts. That's seven tricks, and the ace of hearts makes eight.

Can my teammates beat this? It looks as if they can take two hearts, three spades, and the ace of diamonds if they're careful. They have to go after the spade tricks early before declarer has a chance to play a diamond to the nine, and they have to combine attacking spades with drawing trumps, so declarer can't take two spade ruffs in the dummy. East must start with a trump. West wins and shifts to the jack of spades. If declarer ducks, West continues with a low spade. Whenever East gets in with the spade king (whether at trick two or trick three), he leads another heart. I don't see that declarer has any counter to this defense. Two hearts from the South hand, however, appears to be unbeatable.

In fact, two of anything by South appears to be unbeatable.  I don't recall ever seeing a deal where, on best play by both sides, declarer can take the same of number of tricks in any one of the five strains.


Me: +110
Jack: +110

Score on board 94: 0 IMPs
Total: -90 IMPs

Post Script:

Some readers (both in the comments below and verbally) have objected to my two diamond bid, pointing out that I would have gained five imps had I passed. That's true only because of the overtrick, which I consider an anomaly. Surely overtricks are rare when partner can't redouble. Most of the time, if I pass and I'm right, I gain a mere two imps.  If I pass and I'm wrong, I lose five.  At those odds, what sense does is it make to pass?  I would certainly redouble if I could, since I would now stand either to gain ten or to lose seven. That makes redouble the percentage action even if I think I'm a slight underdog.  But, since redouble isn't an option (a point I neglected to state in the original post), I stand by my decision to pull.

5 comments:

  1. We played one such board couple of months ago, see http://www.crobridge.com/scores/board.asp?turnir=2463&board=25 for EW.
    On your board South can make 8 tricks playing any contract, but even East and West can make exactly 5 tricks in any, really nice.

    ReplyDelete
  2. You would think you could play 1NT dbled when you open a weak NT while holding a strong NT . In the alternative you could at least redbl with this . Who knows what Jack would take it as ? I wouldn't mind hearing the details

    ReplyDelete
  3. I have a different philosophy about 1NT-(X) - I think it is responder's duty to run when scared. So I would have been pleased to sit for this holding (as Barry rightly calls it) a strong NT.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Guess I would have redoubled 1NT without much thought. After all, I had to re-read the opening paragraph, and remember the agreements, to confirm that 1NT was weak. Surely this hand would be opened by many with 1NT, even if it theoretically showed 15-17........add on the fact that you are trying to bring back IMP's as well.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Redouble wasn't an option, since Jack plays opener's redouble as SOS. I didn't mention that in the original post because I thought that was a fairly standard agreement. I apologize, and I've edited the post to state that explicitly.

    Given that my only choices are pass or two diamonds, I still think two diamonds is the percentage action. See the post script I added above.

    ReplyDelete