Thursday, March 18, 2010

Board 120

Board 120
Neither vulnerable

♠ A 3 A 7 3 7 ♣ A K J 9 7 5 2

RHO opens two spades in third seat. I can make three notrump opposite the club queen and a diamond stopper. If I'm lucky, I might make it opposite neither one. So I bid three notrump, which ends the auction. LHO leads the four of spades.


NORTH
♠ 7 5
K 10 8 5
Q 9 3 2
♣ Q 10 3






SOUTH
♠ A 3
A 7 3
7
♣ A K J 9 7 5 2



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


I play low from dummy, and East plays the king. It's perfectly safe to duck, since they can't take four diamond tricks with East on play. I'll still have two losers after a duck, so it doesn't correct the count for a simple squeeze. But if they don't find a diamond shift, I may be able to make five on some kind of delayed-duck squeeze. I play low, and East continues with the deuce of spades. West unblocks the queen under my ace.

Do I have any legitimate chances for an eleventh trick? What if West has all the red-suit honors? When I cash seven clubs, he will have to come down to four cards: queen-jack third of hearts and a singleton diamond honor. I can then lead a heart. He splits. I take the king and toss him in with a diamond to lead into my heart tenace. He probably doesn't have all the red-suit honors, though. The diamond honors rate to be split, since he didn't lead the king of diamonds. If so, he can hold queen-jack third of hearts and any pointed card other than the ace of diamonds.

What four cards will East come down to? If he works out I have the heart ace, he should hold two hearts even if he has no honors. He has to follow to the ace and king anyway, and holding two of them makes it dangerous for me to finesse against West if I have ace-jack third. If the thinks his partner has the heart ace, he might pitch down to a singleton. What about diamonds? If he has the king and thinks I have the ace, he may hold on to king doubleton.

I start cashing clubs. I lead a club to the queen, then lead the ten. If East shows out, I intend to duck so that East must make his second discard before he sees a signal from his partner. If East follows, I intend to overtake to give West the same problem.  Little details like this are worth paying attention to.  They can sometimes make a big difference. On the club ten, East discards the four of diamonds, so I let the ten hold. On the next club, he discards the five of diamonds; West, the deuce of hearts.

I doubt West would pitch a heart from three, so East is either 6-1-5-1 or 6-2-4-1. The latter is more likely, but if he pitches a third diamond, I might think about placing him with 6-5. On the next club, West pitches the six of diamonds; dummy, the deuce of diamonds; East, the six of spades. Everyone is pitching diamonds from the bottom up. Neither opponent seems interested in helping his partner out, so neither player knows his partner has the other high diamond.

On the fifth club, West pitches the diamond eight; dummy, the diamond three; East, the spade eight. It appears each opponent has pitched down to a doubleton diamond honor. On the sixth club, West pitches the jack of diamonds, presumably holding on to a stiff ace; dummy, the diamond nine; East, the heart four. East must have started with two small hearts. Surely he wouldn't stiff an honor. We are down to this position:


NORTH
♠ --
K 10 8 5
Q
♣ --


WEST
♠ 10
? ? x
A
♣ --


EAST
♠ J 9
?
K 10
♣ --


SOUTH
♠ --
A 7 3
7
♣ 7



I suspect West has queen-jack third of hearts. If so, he must throw the diamond ace on the last club.  But he doesn't.  When I cash the last club, he pitches the ten of spades. Now I can pitch a heart from dummy and execute the endplay I imagined earlier. But what if I'm wrong? If I lead a heart and West doesn't split, I can't afford to insert the ten. If it loses to a singleton honor, I'm down. (If East has held two diamonds,West can unblock the diamond ace when East cashes his spade.) Since I can't afford to play for that position, I'll play for the other, less likely, scenario: East's having pitched down to a singleton heart honor. In that case, I don't need dummy's diamond.  I pitch it, and East pitches the spade nine. I now cash the heart ace--six--five--jack. Aha!

I've cashed nine tricks already, so it's safe for me to finesse the heart even if I've completely misread the position. I lead a heart to the ten. East pitches the ten of diamonds, and I claim. Making six.


NORTH
♠ 7 5
K 10 8 5
Q 9 3 2
♣ Q 10 3


WEST
♠ Q 10 4
Q 9 6 2
A J 8 6
♣ 6 4


EAST
♠ K J 9 8 6 2
J 4
K 10 5 4
♣ 8


SOUTH
♠ A 3
A 7 3
7
♣ A K J 9 7 5 2



What would I have done playing matchpoints?  Would I have backed my judgment, played the other way, and gone down?  I don't even want to think about that.

At the other table, East passes in third seat. Our team does not play weak two-bids, but that doesn't mean East is supposed to pass. He should open one spade. South opens one club in fourth seat. North responds one diamond. Now East bids two spades, and South bids three notrump. I think a one spade opening bid would have given them a tougher time. The auction might continue double--two spades--three hearts or pass--three spades. It's not so obvious that South would trot out three notrump any more, whatever North chose to do over two spades.

Against three notrump, West leads the four of spades to the king. South takes his ace, relieving the pressure on his opponents. They have no trouble holding him to ten tricks.  We pick up two imps.  If we can do this on every board, we'll lose by only an imp.

Me: +490
Jack: +430

Score on Board 120: +2 IMPs
Total: -17 IMPs

3 comments:

  1. Can't you play for West's QJx without the risk of going down? Exit the diamond right away, after the last club, and West has to lead a heart now; that's as bad as having to lead a heart after splitting. And that way you still get to take your ninth trick before having to finesse.

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