Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Board 114

Board 114
Our side vulnerable

♠ K 8 3 K 10 6 2 9 2 ♣ A K J 7

RHO passes. I open one heart. Partner responds one notrump, and I pass. Since we open weak notrumps with five-card majors, my pass shows a minimum strong notrump. LHO balances with two spades, which is passed around to me.

Partner should act in front of me with a doubleton spade. With a 2-2-5-4 or 2-2-4-5, for example, he should bid two notrump. If I could trust partner to do that, it would be clear for me to pass. Why bid to the three-level when they're in a seven-card fit? Somehow, I don't think Jack can be trusted to be so Law-abiding. But I can't bid his hand for him. A bid by me could easily turn a plus into a minus, so I pass.

Partner leads the three of hearts, presumably a singleton. Good. That means he does have three spades, since he surely would have bid with a six-card suit or with five-five in the minors


NORTH
♠ A 9 7
9 8 7 5
8 4
♣ 9 5 4 3




EAST
♠ K 8 3
K 10 6 2
9 2
♣ A K J 7


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


It seems declarer balanced with a four-card spade suit. He wouldn't do that with five diamonds. So he must be 4-4-4-1, leaving partner with 3-1-5-4.

Dummy plays the five of hearts, I cover with the six, and declarer wins with the queen. Declarer leads the six of diamonds, partner plays the three, and dummy plays the four. I guess partner wants me to win this trick, probably to make sure he gets his heart ruff. I win with my nine. If I give partner a heart ruff and he plays a club to me for another ruff, we will have taken four tricks. The king of spades makes five. We will need one diamond trick to beat this. If partner doesn't have the diamond ace, we will have to prevent declarer from ruffing both of his remaining diamonds in the dummy. Partner can prevent that by playing his last trump after taking his second heart ruff.

To force him to do that, my plan is to lead the deuce of hearts (suit preference) for him to ruff. When he returns a club, I will win with the ace and give him a second ruff. Winning with the ace will inform him that I don't have a second club entry. That way he won't be tempted to try to put me in for a third ruff and will shift to a trump. Frankly, I'm not sure that's even necessary. Declarer may have a hard time making this even if partner does play a second club. But why take the time to figure that out? I know this line is going to work.

I play the deuce of hearts--four--spade deuce--seven. Ignoring my signal, partner shifts to the king of diamonds. Declarer wins with the ace and leads the seven of diamonds. Partner plays the queen, and declarer ruffs with dummy's nine. The play of the queen by second hand should deny the jack, but I know partner has it anyway. If declarer's last diamond were the jack, partner would be playing the ten on this trick.

If we assume partner has nothing useful in spades, we are down to this position, with me still to play (hence my ninth card):


NORTH
♠ A 7
9 8
--
♣ 9 5 4 3


WEST
♠ x x
--
J 5
♣ x x x x


EAST
♠ K 8 3
K 10
--
♣ A K J 7


SOUTH
♠ Q J 10 x
A J
10
♣ x



We need four tricks. I could overruff the nine with the king and give partner another heart ruff. If he then plays a club to my king, I could then give him a third heart ruff for down one. But if he plays a diamond, trying for an uppercut, declarer can ruff with the ace and play a spade, making his contract. And if he plays his last spade, declarer can win in his hand and ruff his last diamond with the spade ace. Perhaps partner shouldn't make either of those errors. But, if possible, I would prefer to find a defense that doesn't give him a chance to make a mistake.

Usually it's wrong to overruff with a natural trump trick, since it helps declarer keep control. What happens if I follow general principles and pitch a club? If declarer plays a heart himself, I can't be any worse off than if I had overruffed and played a heart.  So I won't even bother analyzing that variation. What if declarer plays a club?  I can hop with the king and give partner a ruff. Partner then has three suits he can play. Let's take each one in turn.

(1) If partner plays another club (as my king suggests I want him to do), then declarer can't make it. If declarer ruffs the club and ruffs his last diamond with the seven, I score my spade eight. If he ruffs the club and ruffs his last diamond with the ace, I can pitch my king of hearts. Declarer is tapped out and never scores his heart ace.

(2) If partner plays a spade, declarer is also down. If declarer ducks, I win with the king and return a spade. If he hops with ace, he can't dispose of his last diamond.

(3) Finally, if partner plays a diamond, declarer can ruff with the ace and make it. But that shouldn't be too hard for partner to figure out.

Refusing to overruff looks like the better plan, since it makes things easier for partner. Even if he chooses a suit to return at random after getting his ruff, he has two chances out of three to get it right. I pitch the seven of clubs. Declarer plays the three of clubs. I hop with the king--ten--eight. I play the ten of hearts. Partner ruffs declarer's jack with the five and returns the spade six. Declarer plays low. I win with the king and play another trump. Down one.


NORTH
♠ A 9 7
9 8 7 5
8 4
♣ 9 5 4 3


WEST
♠ 6 5 2
3
K Q J 5 3
♣ Q 8 6 2


EAST
♠ K 8 3
K 10 6 2
9 2
♣ A K J 7


SOUTH
♠ Q J 10 4
A Q J 4
A 10 7 6
♣ 10



At the other table, my hand opens one club. Why not one notrump?  Oh, I see.  I have only fourteen high-card points.  Somehow I got fifteen when I added them up the first time.  The hand looks more like a strong notrump than a weak notrump anyway.  After one club, the auction proceeds as follows.

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


South leads the queen of spades to declarer's king. Declarer cashes the jack of clubs, then plays a diamond. This is a good idea, since he goes down if plays a second trump. South hops and plays another diamond. Declarer wins, draws trumps, and runs the diamonds, taking four clubs, four diamonds, and the spade king.

South should have ducked the diamond. That makes declarer's life a little more difficult, but he should still make it.

This was a small loss for my decision (if you can call it that) to open one heart, since I pre-empted us out of our club fit.  After  a weak notrump opening, there are are various ways the auction could proceed, but they all seem to wind up with our bidding and making something. I tend not to worry about 2-imp losses on partscore hands, however. It's going minus at both tables that you try to avoid.

For the record, had I opened one notrump, the way to handle the South hand playing Astro is to bid two clubs, showing hearts and a minor.  If partner bids two hearts, you pass.  If he bids two diamonds (denying heart support), you bid two spades, ostensibly 4-4-4-1 or 4-4-1-4, though 3-4-1-5 is also possible.  If partner wishes to play your minor, he bids two notrump over two spades. Just one of the ancillary benefits of Astro.  Most two-suited methods of interfering over one notrump have no provision for handling three-suiters.

Me: + 50
Jack: +110

Score on Board 114: -2 IMPs
Total: -23 IMPs

2 comments:

  1. I disagree with your presumption that Jack can't have 3 Hearts. Playing 4 card majors it is often right to forgo raising with 3 and bidding 1NT. It makes sense to me that one should play constructive 3 card raises so that partner can freely bid 2NT with strong NT type hands and responder can now accept light with the " right" 4 card holdings

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  2. I agree that partner might bid one notrump with three hearts, but by the time dummy hits that seem unlikely. He should still act over two spades with a doubleton spade. Even with 2-3-5-3, he can bid two notrump and correct clubs to diamonds to get his heart support into the picture. So West should have four spades, which makes his pass-and-balance strange without heart length. Yes, it's a lot of inferences to string together. If any one inference is wrong, the whole construction falls apart. And if declarer has ace-jack doubleton of hearts, my play at trick one could look pretty foolish. I suppose I should at least take the time to construct a hand where my duck at trick one is necessary. I admit I didn't do that, so I have to charge myself with an error. Even if I can construct one now, it was still a mistake not to do so at the time.

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