Saturday, May 28, 2011

Match 2 - Board 56

Board 56
Neither vulnerable

♠ A K 10 4 10 9 A K 10 8 6 ♣ J 6

LHO deals and passes, partner passes, and RHO opens with one heart. If you take away the diamond king, I might bid one spade. But I avoid overcalling in a four-card suit unless I'm happy to pass if partner raises. With this hand, if partner were to raise to two spades, I wouldn't know what to do. As a general rule, if you step out on a limb, get lucky (e.g., find the fit you were hoping for), and now find yourself faced with a a difficult problem, it's fair to say it was a mistake to step out on that limb in the first place.

So my choices are two diamonds or double. Two diamonds risks burying the spade suit; doubling and correcting clubs to diamonds suggests a better hand (without an agreement to the contrary). I decide to stretch a little and double. I do have four honor tricks after all, so it's not that much of a stretch.

LHO passes, partner bids one notrump, and RHO bids two hearts. I was intending to raise to two notrump if RHO had passed, and I see no reason to change my mind. I bid two notrump. LHO bids three hearts, partner bids four diamonds, and RHO passes.

One notrump, then four diamonds? I have a suspicion I'm going to disagree with at least one of partner's bids. It goes against the grain to pass with undisclosed five-card support for partner's suit. But it's hard to see how I can take 11 tricks opposite a hand that bid only one notrump the first time around. I pass, and LHO passes. RHO leads the five of spades, fourth best.

♠ A K 10 4
10 9
A K 10 8 6
♣ J 6

♠ 7 6
K 6
J 9 4 3 2
♣ K 5 4 2

West North East South
Pass Pass
1 Double Pass 1 NT
2 2 NT 3 4
(All pass)

Four diamonds was downright weird. But one notrump was a mistake as well. With only two hearts opposite my known shortness, partner should anticipate there will be more bidding by the opponents, so he should get his five-card suit into the auction, allowing me to compete if I have good support. If he had just bid his long suit when he had the chance (look who's talking), he wouldn't need these heroics at the four-level.

I play the spade ace--nine--six. East must have the spade queen for his signal, giving West jack-eight-five. Wait. Does that make sense? Would East squander the nine with queen-nine-three-deuce? He could conceivably permit me to establish dummy's four by doing that. East must have five spades--queen-jack-nine-eight fifth--and West must have five-three or five-deuce doubleton.

I suspect West has both aces. With queen-jack fifth of spades and an ace, East would have bid over the double. If West has the club queen as well, I can establish a club trick to make this: Draw trumps, ruff a spade to my hand, and play a club toward the jack. West can't get his partner in to put a heart through.

Is there any way I can make it without assuming West has the club queen? Yes, there is, as long as West has at most one of the minor heart honors. I can draw trumps, cash the spade ace, then lead the ten of hearts. If East plays low, so do I. If he covers, I play the king. West is then endplayed. This line fails only if East has both the queen and jack of hearts.

I cash the diamond ace--five--three--seven, then the diamond king--club three--four--queen. The club three sets off all kinds of alarms. If East is 5-3-1-4, why is he pitching a club rather than a spade? I cash the spade king to get a look at the spots. East plays the deuce; West, the three. That certainly looks as if West led a doubleton spade. But I don't just believe East would clutch his fifth spade like that. Perhaps West led a middle spade from three small. I change my mind about floating the ten of hearts. I play the spade four--jack--jack of diamonds--spade eight. Whew! That was close. I have seen Jack lead middle from three small in the middle of the hand. But his convention card specifically says low from three small on opening lead. Good thing I got the wake-up call from East.

So West is 3-6-2-2. Can I lead a trump back to dummy and float the ten of hearts? No. That leaves me with only one trump in my hand. West will play three rounds of hearts. I can ruff, pitching a club loser from dummy. But now I have no trumps left to ruff dummy's last spade. The only way to endplay West is to lead a heart from my hand. That requires West to have both minor honors instead of just one.

It may appear that it's better to play on clubs. After all, that play requires West to have only one card, the club queen, while exiting with a heart requires him to have two, the queen and jack of hearts. But that reasoning ignores the fact that he is more likely to hold a particular heart than he is to hold a particular club. Let's examine the relevant hands:

(A)♠ 8 5 3 A Q x x x x Q 7 ♣ A Q
(B)♠ 8 5 3 A J x x x x Q 7 ♣ A Q
(C)♠ 8 5 3 A x x x x x Q 7 ♣ A Q
(D)♠ 8 5 3 A Q J x x x Q 7 ♣ A x

If West has (A) , (B), or (C), I must play a club. If he has (D), I must play a heart. Each of these hands leaves East with a normal two-heart bid over the double. If I were playing against anyone but Jack, I would rate (A) unlikely and would rate the other hands impossible. Therefore, I would play a club. But, after the last board, I'm not attaching much significance to East's failure to raise. So I will assume they are all possible.

A priori, (D) is roughly five times as likely as either (A) , (B), or (C), since there are five ways to hold ace-small of clubs and only one way to hold ace-queen. That's enough of a difference that, at the table, I wouldn't bother incorporating the heart suit into my calculation. But, since we have time, let's do it anyway just for the sake of completeness. There are 20 ways to hold three small hearts out of six, 15 ways to hold four small hearts out of six, and six ways to hold five small hearts. So there are 15 ways to hold (A), 15 ways to hold (B), six ways to hold (C),  and 100 ways (20 times five) to hold (D). As long as I'm right to pay no attention to East's failure to raise, exiting with a heart is by far the better play.

I play the heart king. West takes the ace, cashes the queen, then cashes the club ace. Making four.

♠ A K 10 4
10 9
A K 10 8 6
♣ J 6

♠ 8 5 3
A Q J 8 4 2
Q 7
♣ A Q

♠ Q J 9 2
7 5 3
♣ 10 9 8 7 3

♠ 7 6
K 6
J 9 4 3 2
♣ K 5 4 2

It didn't matter what I did. Either play would have worked.

Almost everyone played four diamonds, but only one other pair made it, probably because they didn't have the foresight to play it from the South side. A heart lead from East beats it easily. So there! For those of you who didn't like my take-out double.

One pair defended four hearts and allowed it to score. I guess it's not that hard to slip up. You lead the diamond king and it holds. Unless you play three rounds of spades now, declarer will make it. That looks easy looking at all four hands. But what if you simply make one of declarer's spades a small club? Now the winning defense is to tap dummy with a second diamond, killing the entry to the spades and leaving declarer with a club loser. How can you decide? You could cash the spade king at trick two to get a count card from partner. But if you can't read his card, then you still won't know what to do. Perhaps the pair who allowed four hearts to score was playing upside-down signals. If declarer correctly drops the eight, South's six will be unreadable.

We get nine matchpoints for plus 130.

Score on Board 56: +130 (9 MP)
Total: 436 (64.9%)

Current rank: 1st

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