Sunday, July 8, 2012

Event 3 - Match 7 - Board 1

Board 1
Neither vulnerable

♠ K 6 4 3 Q 5 7 6 ♣ Q 9 6 3 2

Like our previous-round opponents, our new opponents, Dimitri and Brodie, play Dutch Doubleton.

Partner opens one notrump (12-14). Everyone passes, and RHO leads the jack of hearts. If you have bridge-playing software that can read the PBN file linked to above, you might want to try your hand at declaring one notrump yourself before reading on.


NORTH
Phillip
♠ K 6 4 3
Q 5
7 6
♣ Q 9 6 3 2






SOUTH
Jack
♠ A 8
A K 7 6
9 8 4
♣ K 10 7 4



West North East South
Brodie Phillip Dimitri Jack
1 NT
(All pass)

I'm not sure I approve of partner's opening bid. With three and a half honor tricks, this hand looks more like a strong notrump than a weak notrump to me. But that was partner's decision to make.

If diamonds are four-four, I can afford to lose two club tricks. If they are five-three, I need to pick up the clubs or hope they don't find a diamond shift. The best play in clubs is to lead through the hand more likely to have a singleton in case that singleton happens to be the ace.

Which defender is more likely to have a singleton club? A singleton in either hand would make entering the auction more attractive. But West needs a better hand to bid in direct seat than East needs to balance. So East's silence is louder. If anyone holds a singleton, it is probably West.

If the opponents played standard leads, I might have reason to play the heart queen from dummy to disguise the fact that I have both the ace and king of hearts. But the opponents play that the lead of the jack denies a higher honor, so East already knows I have those cards. Since I want to attack clubs by leading toward the dummy, it makes sense to win this trick in my hand.

I play low from dummy, East plays the nine (upside-down attitude), and I win with the king. I play the four of clubs (I can't afford the seven. If West shows out on this trick, I will need that card.)--eight--queen--ace. I expect a diamond shift. Surprisingly, East returns the three of hearts--six--four--queen. What a strange play! East knows I have the heart ace. If clubs are running, I have seven tricks. How can he not try to cash six more tricks before letting me in? One thing I can be sure of: East does not have five diamonds. If he did, he would switch to a diamond in an attempt to cash five diamonds and the spade ace.

The deuce of hearts is still out. East's three could be high from three-deuce doubleton. Or it could be his only heart, in which case West is concealing the deuce, either for deceptive purposes or simply because he is giving present count. Jack, however, is not big on present count, nor is he big on deception. So I suspect East has the deuce and hearts are four-three.

I lead the deuce of clubs, and East plays the five. The moment of truth. My play doesn't matter if diamonds are four-four, so I must assume they are five-three. I've already concluded that it's impossible for East to have five diamonds. So I must assume West does.

Would West really lead a four-card heart suit holding five diamonds? Probably not if we were in three notrump. But in one trump, where West expects the defense to have more entries, he might well avoid leading a five-card suit that might more profitably be attacked by his partner. Besides, if he doesn't have five diamonds, I have no problem. So I might as well assume he does.

Is West more likely to be 2-4-5-2 or 3-4-5-1? A priori, 3-4-5-1 is more likely (since a five-two spade split is less likely than a three-one club split). On top of that, East's heart continuation suggests he has some hope that clubs aren't running. Ace-jack third of clubs would offer more hope than ace doubleton. And, if that's not enough, there's some chance I could survive a finesse even if it loses. With something like

♠ x x J 10 8 4 A Q 10 x x ♣ J 8

West might decide to play his partner for the spade ace and diamond jack (or four diamonds) rather than for the diamond king. But if I go up with the king and I'm wrong, the defense can hardly make a mistake.

I play the club ten; West plays the seven of spades. I did the right thing in the club suit. But I don't yet know if my play was necessary. If West is 4-4-4-1, I gained only overtricks. I cash the king of clubs and play a club to dummy. West discards nine, ten of spades. East discards the spade deuce. The opponents would not blithely set up dummy's spades, so East must be holding the three remaining spades. That means West is indeed 3-4-5-1, and I needed to guess clubs to make this. I hope our opponents open one notrump at the other table, so we will have a chance for a pickup. If they don't, they will probably land in a club partscore, which will make easily.

On the last club, East plays the diamond deuce, I discard the diamond four, and West pitches the heart eight. Why would he give me a heart trick? Maybe I'm wrong about four-three hearts and West is 3-5-4-1 instead of 3-4-5-1. Although that means he is atypically clutching the deuce of hearts. I play a spade to the ace and cash the heart ace. Both opponents follow. So West simply made a mistake with his heart pitch. Making four.


NORTH
Phillip
♠ K 6 4 3
Q 5
7 6
♣ Q 9 6 3 2


WEST
Brodie
♠ 10 9 7
J 10 8 4
A Q J 10 3
♣ 8


EAST
Dimitri
♠ Q J 5 2
9 3 2
K 5 2
♣ A J 5


SOUTH
Jack
♠ A 8
A K 7 6
9 8 4
♣ K 10 7 4


I agree with West's opening lead. I would lead the diamond queen against one notrump--three notrump but the heart jack against this auction.

So what was East playing for with his heart continuation? Maybe he was hoping his partner had six hearts and that my ace and queen would fall together. That's a reason to win trick one in my hand that I didn't think of. I'll have to remember that for the future.

As usual, the difficult part of this deal is noticing that something unusual happened. If you are focusing on your own problems as declarer, the strangeness of East's heart continuation will slip right past you. If you are looking at the deal through your opponents' eyes and making predictions about what the opponents will do, then the heart continuation will set off an alarm. Once you hear the alarm, the rest is easy.

Our teammates played three diamonds, down two, so we pick up two imps.

Table 1: +180
Table 2: -100

Score on Board 1: +2 imps
Total: +2 imps

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