Saturday, April 16, 2011

Match 2 - Board 50

Board 50
Our side vulnerable

♠ Q 9 4 2 K 6 3 2 ♣ A 10 6 3 2

RHO opens with a Precision club. I like to interfere over strong clubs. But at this vulnerability, there's not much I can do with this hand. I pass.

LHO bids one heart, showing five hearts and eight or more high-card points and creating a game force. Partner bids one spade, and RHO raises to three hearts.

I pass, LHO bids four hearts, and RHO continues with Blackwood. This auction makes no sense. Why bid three hearts with a hand where you intend to bid again over a signoff? Better to bid two hearts, keeping the auction low in case partner can cooperate. Three hearts should show an intermediate hand--a hand with moderate slam interest, where you wish to wish to get your invitation off your chest then leave further action up to partner. Two hearts should be either a minimum or a hand with serious slam interest. That way, you get to show three ranges instead of just two.

(In classic Precision, two hearts is a trump-asking bid, and three hearts shows a minimum. But I assume my opponents aren't playing asking bids, else RHO would have chosen that route over a clunky Blackwood auction.)

LHO bids five diamonds, showing one or four key cards. RHO bids five spades to ask about the trump queen. Thanks, RHO. Perhaps my failure to double this will steer partner to a minor-suit lead, hopefully a diamond. I pass. LHO bids five notrump, denying the trump queen, and RHO settles for six hearts.

What lead should a double by me call for? Obviously it should call for some minor-suit lead. But, since the opponents have bid no side suits naturally, it's not clear which minor it should call for. Some partnerships have a specific agreement. (For example, "Lead the lower-ranking unbid suit.") Others, like me, prefer to leave it more flexible. ("Lead the suit you think I'm most apt to be void in.") A diamond lead is surely our best shot, even though it might not work. So, if I had reason to believe that double would elicit a diamond lead, I might try it. But I don't, so I pass. Partner leads the jack of spades.

♠ A K 6 3
Q J 10 8
A Q J 10 8
♣ --

♠ Q
9 4 2
K 6 3 2
♣ A 10 6 3 2

West North East South
1 ♣1 Pass 1
1 ♠ 3 Pass 4
Pass 4 NT2 Pass 5 3
Pass 5 ♠4 Pass 5 NT5
Pass 6 (All pass)
116+ HCP
2Ace asking for hearts
31 or 4 aces
4Asking for queen of trumps
5No trump queen

If declarer has at least two diamonds, I may yet regret not doubling. Given South's Blackwood response, partner must have the ace or king of hearts. If it's the king, declarer, fearing a spade ruff, might decide to play a heart to the ace and bank on the diamond finesse. He is wrong about the diamond finesse, but he will be pleasantly surprised when the heart king drops. Either minor-suit lead would leave declarer with no reason not to take the heart finesse.

(I have known players--though I won't mention any names--who would solve this problem by "accidentally" letting declarer see the king of diamonds in their hand. Once declarer knows the diamond finesse is off, he'll take the heart finesse. Even if I were unburdened by any sense of ethics and inclined to try this maneuver, I couldn't. Jack's programmers forgot to include a flash-half-your-hand-to-declarer button.)

Declarer plays the spade king--queen--seven. Now ten of hearts--four--three--ace. Yay! Partner leads the nine of spades--ace--heart deuce--spade deuce.

What was the spade nine all about? For whatever reason, partner wanted to play a low card, and the nine was the lowest card he could afford. So declarer must have the eight (and he should have played it). It appears declarer is 3-5-2-3 or 3-5-1-4 with the king and queen of clubs. In the latter case, he will likely choose a ruffing finesse against my diamond king. In the former case, we have at least one more trick coming. Can I contrive to take another one?

Suppose I lead the ace of clubs to tap dummy. Declarer leads a heart to his king and plays a diamond to dummy's ten. (Hopefully, partner's doubleton includes the nine.) Say I duck. Now declarer can't get off dummy to repeat the finesse. He will probably play ace and ruff a diamond, trying to drop partner's king. When it doesn't drop, he has a spade loser left. But all I've done is broken even. No, wait. I haven't even done that. He can cash the king and queen of clubs, pitching dummy's spades, then ruff his spade. I've lost a trick on this line.

Although, come to think of it, giving declarer two club tricks might not be such a bad idea for another reason. What if he's 3-5-1-4? If I lead the club ace, setting up his king and queen, he is left with only one unruffable black-suit loser. So he needs only two diamond tricks to take the rest. If I don't hand him the club suit, he pretty much has to take the ruffing finesse in diamonds against me. But if I do, then he has the option of finessing partner for the diamond king.

I play the ace of clubs--seven--four--heart eight. Declarer plays the jack of hearts. But, instead of overtaking as I expect, he lets it hold, as partner plays the five of clubs. If declarer intended to finesse partner for the diamond king, surely he would have overtaken the jack of hearts. He must have a singleton diamond, and he's decided to take a ruffing finesse against me.

No. Declarer plays dummy's last heart and overtakes with his king. I play the club deuce; partner plays the spade four. Since dummy is out of entries, declarer can no longer take a ruffing finesse in diamonds. Furthermore, he can no longer ruff a loser in dummy, so one pitch on the diamonds must be sufficient. 3-5-1-4 is no longer possible. Declarer must have

♠ 8 7 2 K 7 6 5 3 9 x ♣ K Q 7

Declarer leads the nine of diamonds--seven--eight. There is no reason to take this trick. If declarer repeats the finesse, I can exit with a club, locking him in his hand. He is left with a spade loser for down three. If he doesn't repeat the finesse, no harm done. We take partner's spade trick instead of my king of diamonds. I play the three of diamonds.

Declarer cashes the king and queen of clubs, pitching dummy's spades. I see. Declarer doesn't need to repeat the diamond finesse. He can now cash his trumps, executing a show up squeeze against partner. If the diamond king is onside, he will take the rest. If not, he will lose the last trick.

Oops. Declarer doesn't see the squeeze. He plays the four of diamonds--five--ten.  I take my king and exit with a club. Declarer ruffs and eventually loses a spade trick. Down three.

♠ A K 6 3
Q J 10 8
A Q J 10 8
♣ --

♠ J 10 9 5 4
7 5
♣ J 9 8 5 4

♠ Q
9 4 2
K 6 3 2
♣ A 10 6 3 2

♠ 8 7 2
K 7 6 5 3
9 4
♣ K Q 7

Jack must have been upset with his contract to have misplayed the end position so badly. Still, it didn't matter how many we beat this. No one else ventured past the four level, so we were the only East-West pair to go plus. While I would not have chosen North's auction, I do sympathize with him. He was probably the only one in the room who knew his partner had five hearts, and the fifth heart makes a huge difference in his hand evaluation. Consider that slam isn't all that bad opposite as little as

♠ x x  A 9 x x x  x x x ♣ x x x.

Score on Board 50: +150 (12 MP)
Total: 395 MP (65.8%)

Current rank: 1st

No comments:

Post a Comment