Sunday, December 4, 2011

Event 3 - Match 3 - Board 2

Board 2
Our side vulnerable

♠ 5 4 2 Q 9 A K 9 8 6 ♣ Q 8 5

RHO passes. Two and a half honor tricks with a good five card suit is an opening bid as far as I'm concerned. I open one notrump (12-14). Partner bids two hearts, a transfer to spades. I bid two spades, and partner splinters with four diamonds. I sign off in four spades, and partner bids four notrump, Roman Keycard Blackwood. I bid five diamonds, showing one keycard, and partner bids seven spades. Despite being shy one high-card point, this hand can't be a disappointment to partner. The king of diamonds is duplication, but at least it's a cashing trick. And both my queens are working. In addition, I have a third spade. Given my signoff over the splinter, this is a huge hand.

West leads the three of diamonds. Their convention card says "low encouraging" versus suits. The three looks pretty low, so I guess I should be encouraged.


NORTH
Jack
♠ A K Q 9 6 3
A K 8 7 6
--
♣ A J






SOUTH
Phillip
♠ 5 4 2
Q 9
A K 9 8 6
♣ Q 8 5


West North East South
Nathanial Jack Marcus Phillip
Pass 1 NT
Pass 2 1 Pass 2 ♠
Pass 4 2 Pass 4 ♠
Pass 4 NT3 Pass 5 4
Pass 7 ♠ (All pass)
1Jacoby-transfer
2Splinter
3Ace asking for spades
41 or 4 aces

Assuming trumps come home, I have twelve top tricks. If trumps are two-two, I can ruff a heart for the thirteenth trick. If not, I have three-three hearts or squeeze chances to fall back on. My squeeze chances will improve if I can isolate the diamond stopper. Ruffing one diamond will do that unless the suit splits four-four. In addition, letting this lead ride to my hand will isolate the stopper in the unlikely event that West has led from two honors fourth.

I pitch a heart from dummy. East plays the jack (presumably from queen-jack), and I win with the ace, the card I'm known to hold.

West's failure to lead a trump is suspicious. The diamond lead risked giving me a trick. What if I had held the diamond jack instead of East, for example? True, after Blackwood, West wasn't expecting a diamond void in dummy. But even if dummy had a singleton, the diamond lead might take a finesse for me that I wouldn't be inclined to take myself. A diamond lead makes some sense if he wants me to use my hand entries early, and a bad trump break is one reason he might want to do that.

I can handle a four-zero trump break by taking a double finesse at trick two. But I'm hesitant to place that much stock in this inference. Do I have any chance if I cash a high spade first? After cashing the spade, I can lead a heart to the queen for one finesse, but then I'm out of hand entries except for a heart ruff. And if I ruff a heart, I have no trumps left with which to take a finesse. This is exactly why the diamond lead makes sense with four trumps. If dummy did have a diamond, a diamond might well be the only lead to beat me.

It appears the only way I can pick up jack-ten fourth of trumps is to take a finesse now, but I'm not willing to do that. I just don't have that much respect for Jack's opening leads. So I proceed with the plan of trying to isolate the diamond stopper. I lead the nine of diamonds. West plays the ten. I ruff with the six of spades (retaining a spade lower than my five on principle, though I can't imagine how it will ever make a difference). East follows with the diamond deuce.

Now I'm worried. Why would West cover with the ten unless he held the queen as well? If he did lead a diamond from such a dangerous holding, the odds of a four-zero trump break have gone way up. (Although he should have led the queen rather than low. The queen might trap a stiff jack in dummy, or it might prevent a squeeze by allowing East to retain his jack.)

I cash the spade ace--seven--deuce--eight. Whew! On the spade king, East pitches the deuce of clubs. So I could have afforded a spade finesse at trick two after all, even though I was wrong about four-zero trumps. I'm sure the table would have found that amusing.

I don't have the communication for a minor-suit squeeze. So my only choice is a simple-played-as-double, with hearts as the double threat. Since dummy has two winners in the double-threat suit (what Clyde E. Love called a Type B2 squeeze), the squeeze plays itself. I cash the club ace, run trumps, play a heart to the queen, and cash the ace-king of diamonds. There is no squeeze, because hearts were three-three all along. Making seven.


NORTH
Jack
♠ A K Q 9 6 3
A K 8 7 6
--
♣ A J


WEST
Nathanial
♠ J 10 8
J 3 2
Q 10 5 3
♣ 10 6 3


EAST
Marcus
♠ 7
10 5 4
J 7 4 2
♣ K 9 7 4 2


SOUTH
Phillip
♠ 5 4 2
Q 9
A K 9 8 6
♣ Q 8 5


Partner's auction was pointless. The information gained both from the spinter and from Blackwood was of no use to him. How should he have bid his hand? One possibility is just to bid seven spades over one notrump. But I think I can do a little better than that. I suspect that I'm quite willing to play a grand (1) any time partner has the heart queen or (2) any time partner has four spades. (If he has four spades, I'll take my chances that he doesn't have three small hearts.) In all other cases, I'd just as soon avoid a grand. I might still make one if partner has enough winners to allow me to pitch all my hearts, but that will be hard to diagnose.

With that in mind, I'd start with two clubs, intending to raise two spades to seven. On the given hand, partner will bid two diamonds. I now need to set hearts as trump, so I can bid keycard Blackwood and find out about the queen of hearts. I can do that by bidding three spades (Smolen), ostensibly showing four spades and longer hearts. If partner bids four hearts, I can bid Blackwood immediately. If he bids three notrump (as he would on this hand), I can transfer to hearts via four diamonds and bid Blackwood. Now I can bid seven spades if he shows the "trump" queen and six spades if he doesn't.

How's that for a plan? Of course, if I wind up signing off in six spades, I'm counting on partner to realize that I was just kidding about having only four spades. Will he work that out? Or will he think hearts is agreed, so six spades must be forcing - some kind of last-train grand try with six notrump as the resting spot? To find out, I tried another bridgewinners.com poll. Everyone appeared to interpret six spades as an attempt to play there, although almost no one was willing to abandon the idea that partner has more hearts than spades. I'm not sure why. Once you conclude that partner took this auction to find out about the heart queen, it seems to me that any descriptive content of his auction becomes suspect. All you really know about partner's hand is that he is willing to play six spades if you don't have the heart queen and has something else in mind if you do.

In the poll, I did not use the actual South hand. For one thing, I needed to remove the heart queen, so partner would attempt to sign off in six spades. Also, to add a little more interest, I gave South jack-ten third of spades and two small hearts. I was curious to see how many would raise six spades to seven, concluding that the ability to ruff two hearts high had to be just as good as holding the heart queen. A little over 20% reached that conclusion.

Our opponents stopped in six spades at the other table, so we pick up 13 imps and surge into the lead.

Table 1: +2210
Table 2: -1460

Result on Board 2: +13 imps
Total: +2 imps

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