Wednesday, April 28, 2010

PP 1st Final Board 18

Board 18
Dlr E
Vul N-S
♠ 4
♣ K107432
♠ A763♠ KQ2
♣ Q9865
♠ J10985
♣ AJ

4All Pass

[Andy] I led my spade. Declarer (a world class player) saw that his best chance would be to elope with his trumps, so he won in dummy and ruffed a club. He knew that spades were either 5-1 or 3-3, and he decided that his best chance was the latter, so he played the ♠A. I ruffed and from there he could not do better than down 1.

It was the right basic idea, but to succeed at double dummy declarer must play a heart to the A after the first club ruff, ruff another club, and play the K. Having thus removed all my trumps, he could go back to cashing his spades and eloping with all his trumps.

No one in the field bid and made game, but there were 140s and 170s and +50 was worth 14.5/17 for us.

Read more!

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

PP 1st Final Board 17

Board 17
Dlr N
Vul None
♠ J 8 4
K 10 4 3
Q 6 3
♣ K 7 6
♠ 10 3♠ A 9 7 2
Q J 8A 7 5
K 4 2J 10 9 7
♣ Q 10 9 8 2♣ J 4
♠ K Q 6 5
9 6 2
A 8 5
♣ A 5 3


1♠**Pass1NTAll Pass
* could be short
** transfer to 1NT


Ugh.  This was a very unpleasant board for us.  Franco led a low spade.  After a while declarer played low, and I stuck in the 8.  This seemed like the technical play.  However, it also seemed that declarer would play the 10 in almost all the situations where my sticking in the 8 is necessary.  So in a game where all the players are competent and no one is playing poker, it might be best to just play the J at trick one.

The trick one play didn't really matter in the suit, but it had a high second order cost.  When declarer led the ♣J out of his hand, I was afraid to lose my opportunity to play spades through.  I didn't want my partner to potentially get in in clubs first, so I didn't duck the ♣K.  This was very costly, as it became easy for declarer to establish clubs, and then when he guessed the red suits he ended up with 120.

[Franco]  This was only 2/17, though we had to go plus to get above average.
Read more!

Monday, April 26, 2010

PP 1st Final Board 16

Board 16
Dlr W
Vul E-W
♠ 10 8 7 6 5
9 4
A K 10 2
♣ 7 4
♠ 4 2♠ A J 9
10 6A 7 5 3
8 7 59 6 3
♣ A K J 10 8 3♣ Q 9 2
♠ K Q 3
K Q J 8 2
Q J 4
♣ 6 5

3♣Pass3NTAll Pass

Not much to this -- they had 8 tricks and took them. Seems like probably a common result, but a good save against our 140 in 3S.

3N E-1, +100, 7.5/17

Read more!

Friday, April 23, 2010

PP 1st Final Board 15

Board 15
Dlr S
Vul N-S
♠ Q 9 8 7
7 5
♣ K 9 6 5 2
♠ K 5 4♠ J 10 3 2
K 10 8 6 3Q 9
10 9 3A K 5 4
♣ 4 3♣ A 8 7
♠ A 6
A J 4 2
8 7 6 2
♣ Q J 10

All Pass

[Fuzzy on many of the play details]

I considered opening a club which might have worked out well.  I won the opening heart lead and played 3 rounds of clubs.  What is West supposed to pitch?  Understandably he shook a diamond, but this was costly. 

East won this trick with the Ace and continued hearts.  West chose to clear hearts (allowing me to score the jack), and now the defense only had 7 winners so had to let me score a diamond or the ♠Q

1NT South -1, -100, 7.5/17

Read more!

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Platinum Pairs 1st Final Board 14

Board 14
Dlr E
Vul None
♠ K 4 2
K J 8 6
Q 7
♣ Q J 10 5
♠ 10 9 7♠ A 6 5 3
9 3A 10 5 2
A K 9 8J 10 4 2
♣ A 9 8 2♣ 4
♠ Q J 8
Q 7 4
6 5 3
♣ K 7 6 3

3All Pass

Apparently we were given a nice option to double 2.  I wasn't sure how penalty this double was, and couldn't really believe the opponents would bid this way with only 7 trumps, so I chickened out and pulled.  Turns out +500 was only worth an additional 2.5 matchpoints.  [Andy -- this is incorrect, +500 would have been a top.]

They led a club.  I won and ruffed a club, then led a low heart from dummy.  North won and tried a trump, but I was able to cross ruff for 10 tricks.  +130 9.5/16

Read more!

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Platinum Pairs 1st Final Board 13

Board 13
Dlr N
Vul Both
♠ 8 7 6 5 3
A J 10 9
♣ K 9 6
♠ A K 10 2♠ J 9
K Q 36 5 4 2
Q 5 410 8 6 3
♣ 10 7 3♣ J 4 2
♠ Q 4
8 7
A K J 7 2
♣ A Q 8 5

All Pass


Don't remember the details very well on this one. I think Franco led a high spade and shifted to a trump. With all the cards lying so well it didn't seem like there was much we could do to prevent declarer from taking 10 tricks. I suppose it would have been better for our side to play 3 rounds of spades and ruff high rather than playing trumps. The overtrick cost 4 matchpoints. -130 was still good for 9.5/17 matchpoints -- several north-south pairs were making 3NT. Read more!

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Platinum Pairs 1st Final Board 12

Board 12
Dlr W
Vul N-S
♠ A Q J 8 3 2
K J 10 8 7 3
♠ 10 6♠ K 5 4
Q 9 2A 6
A 9 8 7 6Q J
♣ 10 7 2♣ 9 8 6 5 4 3
♠ 9 7
5 4
10 5 4 3 2
♣ A K Q J

Pass4All Pass

The opponents played some kind of strong club method where 3 promised 11 major suit cards but could have been 5-6, so South preferred what turned out to be the inferior strain.

Andy led the Q, I won the Ace and played another.  Declarer ruffed and tried the spade jack, but Andy won the ♠K and played another.  Now declarer couldn't avoid losing 2 trumps and a spade overruff for down 2, -200.  That was worth 16/17 to us.

Most pairs will probably naturally end up in spades, and there declarer won't have much choice but to drive trumps first to go down one.  I guess our declarer got what he deserved for playing for a defensive error.

Franco could have forced down 2 by playing a spade himself at trick 2. That play might be possible to find, but it could turn out badly if declarer was 5=6=2=0 with KJ. Read more!

Monday, April 19, 2010

Platinum Pairs 1st Final Board 11

Board 11
Dlr South
Vul None

East held:

K J 10 8
10 8 7 5 4 3
9 5

West North East South

2 3NT All Pass

2♣ was 6 clubs 10-15. What would you lead?

A 6 3
Q 6
Q 10 6 4
Q J 8 6
4 2 K J 10 8
K J 9 10 8 7 5 4 3
A K J 8 7 3 9 5
K 4 5
Q 9 7 5
A 2
A 10 9 7 3 2

Andy hit on the very successful 4th-best heart lead. I won the K, continued the J. Now declarer crossed to the ♠A to lose a club hook. I cashed 2 diamonds and crossed to partner's hearts. In the ending, declarer kept too many spades in dummy, so was down a total of 6.

This was good enough for 16/17.

Read more!

Friday, April 16, 2010

Platinum Pairs 1st Final Board 10

Board 10
Dlr E
Vul Both
♠ J 9
Q J 10 7 3
A 8 2
♣ J 9 2
♠ 4 2♠ A Q 10 8 7
8 5A 9 2
Q 9 7 5 36 4
♣ A Q 5 3♣ K 10 4
♠ K 6 5 3
K 6 4
K J 10
♣ 8 7 6

All Pass
* semi-forcing
** 8-10 (reverse Bart)


1NT was semiforcing, and some would say that I should pass hold a balanced 13 count, but I don't think it's right.  Partner could have any hand, and there could be vastly superior contracts, and then even if partner has an ordinary hand it isn't particularly clear that 1N will be better.  Looking at the hand, I feel gratified with my decision, in that after a heart lead against partner's 1N the likely result would be down 2.

Sadly for me, many players got to 1N from my side, commonly after opening a 14-16 NT with the East cards.  This typically received the fortuitous lead of a spade.

Anyway, in 2♠ they led theJ, with North tanking for a while before playing the A. North played a heart with I ducked, then switched to the ♠9 which I covered.  I won the spade return, drew trumps, and led a diamond up to take 9 tricks.  It seems like the best chance for the defense is to open lead a trump, but with the clubs 3-3 just about all routes will lead to 9 tricks.

Read more!

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Platinum Pairs 1st Final Board 9

Board 9
Dlr N
Vul E-W
♠ 9 4
Q 8 7 6 3
9 6 2
♣ 6 5 3
♠ 10 6 3 2♠ K Q J 5
A J9 5 2
10 4 3A Q 8
♣ Q 10 9 8♣ A K J
♠ A 8 7
K 10 4
K J 7 5
♣ 7 4 2

4♠All Pass


In real life, this was a pretty boring / flat board. There was not much to the play, and 620 was worth 8 out of 17 matchpoints.

It would seem that the one thing to note is the possibility of just bidding 3NT instead of Stayman. Looking at our two hands, it seems that Franco clearly did better to get us to 4♠. Actually though, of the tables that played in NT 630 was a more common result than 600.

Hard to say what happened in real life, but the double dummy analysis of the play in NT is reasonably interesting. I conjecture that most everyone would lead a club with the strong hand on their right. Declarer wins and knocks out the ♠A. South now knows that playing a heart is safe, and could be useful when partner has the Q. South might try the 10, unblocking in case partner has Q9. If North works out this holding and chooses to return a heart, he should return the 8, denying the 9, to tell partner not to unblock. Actually though, it is necessary for North to return a diamond upon winning the Q, else South will get endplayed in hearts for an extra diamond trick.

Consider what happens if South does not switch to a heart upon winning the ♠ A. (Say he exits passively with another club.)  Declarer could get to this position with one black winner yet to play:
Q 8 7 6
9 6
A J9 5 2
10 4 3A Q 8
♣ Q
K 10 4
K J 7

On the last club, declarer pitches a diamond. South cannot pitch a diamond or else declarer can play A, Q, establishing the 10 while he still has control of hearts. So South pitches a heart. Declarer now cashes the A. If South doesn't unblock, he gets thrown in to lead away from the K. So South drops the K under the A. But now declarer plays a heart, establishing the 9 in his hand! Read more!

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Platinum Pairs 1st Final Board 8

This deal also appeared in this NY Times column.

Board 8
Dlr West
Vul None

A Q 6
A Q 9 6 3
10 4
9 8 2
7 5 10 4
K 10 J 7 2
A J 8 7 6 3 2K Q 9
Q 5 A K J 4 3
K J 9 8 3 2
8 5 4
10 7 6

West North East South
Pass 1 2♣ Pass
2 Pass 3 3
3N All Pass

Over 2♣ I took a kind of weird action with the South hand. I thought I might be given a chance to play in spades (e.g. Pass-Pass-Dbl), or at least discourage a heart lead somewhat. When the opponents found a diamond fit I regretted my choice. It did work out pretty well when in fact partner hit on the ♠A lead against 3N and we took 8 fast tricks for +200 and 16/17 matchpoints.

I don't like my choice, but can't complain about the result.

[Andy] The auction did indeed sound funny, but I didn't actually figure out Franco's original reasoning. I mostly just trusted my RHO's auction instead :)

Read more!

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Platinum Pairs 1st Final Board 7

Board 7
Dlr S
Vul Both

♠ J 9
A J 2
K 10 7 5 2
♣ K Q 7
♠ 10 8 5 2♠ A K Q 6
Q 310 9 8 7
Q 8 6 43
♣ J 6 2♣ 10 9 8 4
♠ 7 4 3
K 6 5 4
A J 9
♣ A 5 3


* 4-card hearts, any strength less than GF


After they bid and raised spades and partner bid the other three suits, I knew [or maybe "knew", since 3NT is cold but 4 is not --FB] we didn't belong in NT, and holding two honors in hearts it seemed appropriate to strongly suggest that as a strain.  My screenmate started to ask what kind of Blackwood it was (he didn't know that my partner's earlier double had showed hearts), and so was a bit surprised to see the tray come back empty.  I'm glad my partner and I were on the same wavelength here; in retrospect it certainly seems possible that 4 could have been interpreted as keycard.  I could have bid 3 then 4 as a safety; 3♥ must certainly be forcing in this auction.

Partner's flat shape was a surprise, but his hand wasn't particularly unsatisfactory.  My opponent tried to cash three rounds of spades (starting with the K).  I ruffed, played a club to the A, a heart to the J, and the A of hearts.  My RHO was an expert player and was certainly capable of playing the Q from any holding, so that didn't tell me much.  I didn't think he would have bid 2♠ on only one queen and one potential J (note I didn't know spades were 4-4), so I wanted to play him for the Q.  I crossed to the A, played off the A, and took the diamond finesse to make 4.

It seems that LHO could defeat the contract by playing a minor suit instead of the third spade.  I just can't quite maneuver the same timing on my own.  Even if I could, it would be much harder for me to guess out the hand. (I still wouldn't know where the ♠Q was, and I might fear a diamond ruff.)  Presumably, having overcalled a 4-card suit and gotten a minimum raise from partner, LHO was hoping to have three cashing spade tricks.  I don't know what their methods are, but this would have been a good time to lead whatever card will yield a count signal at trick 1.

I heard of at least one if not two tables in the event where the defense found a club switch to beat the contract.  There might have been a more revealing auction though.

Read more!

Monday, April 12, 2010

Platinum Pairs 1st Final Board 6

Board 6
Dlr East
Vul E-W

J 9 7 3
10 7
9 8 3 2
8 4 2
K Q A 8 4
Q 6 5 4 J 8 2
K Q J 10 A 5 4
10 7 5 A K J 9
10 6 5 2
A K 9 3
7 6
Q 6 3

West North East South
1N Pass
2♣ Pass 2 Pass
3NT All Pass

I don't remember this one that well, maybe Andy can help. The auction is a guess, maybe it started 1♣ etc.

I led the A then switched to something passive. I seem to remember that when I was in with the ♣Q it was still safe to exit passively (probably a spade). Later declarer led a heart towards dummy and I took my trick rather than lose it.

-630 was good enough for 11/17, vs only 2.5 for -660. I'm surprised it was that much of a swing, now I wonder whether other defenders lost a trick, or if other declarers played on different lines.

Deep finesse says declarer is cold for 5. I guess if South takes a high heart on air, there are 2 tricks on power. If instead dummy is allowed to win the first heart trick (or the 2nd) there's a squeeze end-play. Perhaps declarer was supposed to run diamonds. When I pitch the likely 2 spades, now can unblock spades, cross in clubs, cash ♠A drawing a heart pitch and play J, overtaking with the Q and exiting a heart if I try to duck.

Read more!

Friday, April 9, 2010

Platinum Pairs 1st Final Board 5

Board 5
Dlr North
Vul N-S

K 4 3
K 10 7 6 4
Q J 2
K 7
A 9 6 5 J 10 2
J 9 3 Q 8 5
10 5 3 K 9
8 3 2A J 10 6 5
Q 8 7
A 2
A 8 7 6 4
Q 9 4

West North East South
1 Pass1N
All Pass

We've started opening a bit lighter, plus maybe this was never worth a 2/1 to begin with, so I elected to respond 1N and was a bit surprised/worried to find myself playing it there.

I won the opening spade lead with the Q and knocked out the K. A spade came back, won in dummy. I tested diamonds, then led a low club to the Q.

When I ran diamonds, East pitched 2 hearts, giving me a chance to take the rest. But, I was happy to have 9 tricks. Not sure what was right.

150 was 11/17. It appears risking 120 to gain overtricks would have laid 3-2 odds.

Read more!

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Platinum Pairs 1st Final Board 4

Board 4
Dlr W
Vul Both
♠ J
A Q 9 7 4
Q 9 4 2
♣ A J 8
♠ Q 4♠ A 9 7 3
10 6J 8 2
J 10 7 5 3A 8 6
♣ K 10 7 3♣ Q 4 2
♠ K 10 8 6 5 2
K 5 3
♣ 9 6 5

Pass4All Pass


They led a low club to the K and A.  I played my spade, and East flew the A.  East now cashed the ♣Q and played another club.  I won and led a diamond; east won the A and played back a spade.  I won the K (pitching a diamond), played two rounds of trumps, ruffed a diamond, and ruffed a spade safely back to my hand to make 4.

I originally thought this was a flat board, but it was pointed out to me that the contract should be defeated.  East can play a spade back immediately upon winning the A.  I can't draw two rounds of trumps else East can play a third round when in with the A.  But when I play a diamond immediately, East can enact a trump promotion by playing a third spade.

East suggested that on the ♣Q his partner should play the 10, denying the J, which would force the defense to go for the promotion.  West thought his second club was a count card.  Might West have played the ♣J at trick one holding both the K and J?  A not entirely clear situation even for an advanced partnership.


620 was worth 13/17.  There were a lot of 170s and 620s, so it does not appear too many people found this defense. Read more!

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Platinum Pairs 1st Final Board 3

This is a declarer play problem for West.

Board 3
Dlr South
Vul E-W

A J 2 Q 10 8 6 4
A K 3 J 5
K Q 9 6 410 5 2
K J9 8 2

West North East South
Dbl2 2♠Pass
3NAll Pass

2 was a bad raise.

[Not 100% sure of the auction after 2]

2 led, with the jack winning trick 1. Then the ♠10 held. Now what?

Full deal and outcome below.

9 7 5
Q 6 2
J 8
Q 7 5 4 3
A J 2 Q 10 8 6 4
A K 3 J 5
K Q 9 6 410 5 2
K J9 8 2
K 3
10 9 8 7 4
A 7 3
A 10 6

Declarer reasoned that he needed me to have a doubleton spade or doubleton diamond honor, so he next led a diamond to his king and cashed ♠A. If the king hadn't fallen, he planned to duck a diamond next.

Once the ♠K did fall, though, he passed up a free shot to guess diamonds, probably by playing an honor out of his hand. If he does that, he'll make 5 (or 6 if I try underleading a club). Instead, he ran spades squeezing his hand and made only 4.

We got 5/17, had he played a trick better we'd have lost 2.5 more. Doesn't seem like much.

[Andy] I agree with the analysis, although it's hard to say "doesn't seem like much" when we won the event by 0.48 matchpoints :) This is one of the more amusing parts of the event postmortem -- after talking to virtually anyone about anything they did on any hand, there's a good chance we could say "thanks, if you hadn't done that we wouldn't have won." Read more!

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Platinum Pairs 1st Final Board 2

Was feeling pretty good after scoring up 4 on the first board. Had another great chance on the 2nd board. Watch from the West seat for bidding/defense, or tackle South's declarer play problem.

9 7 3
10 8 4 3 2
A 8 6 4
J 10 5 4 2 6
A K 7 5J 6
9 K Q J 10 7 3
J 9 48 5 3 2
A K Q 8
Q 9
5 2
A K 10 7 6



West North East South
DblAll Pass

Would you double? I don't think I would at IMPs (though 500 would be sweet), but seemed like a fairly normal auction with pretty bad news, so I thought I had to here. All's well that ends well, of course.

I cashed 2 hearts, all following. Now what?

Intuitively I wanted to avoid shortening declarer and use up his dummy entries, so I led my diamond.

Now consider declarer's problem -- how should you play? Answer under the fold.

Given the auction, the hand plays itself:

Win A. Play one top trump, then ♣Q, cash 2 hearts pitching a club and a diamond. Cross with another top trump, cash 2 more clubs. You're up to 8 tricks and on the next club West has no answer.

John Hurd did exactly this for a cold top. Had I continued a 3rd heart he'd be down 1, and +200 was 15/17, nearly a full board swing.  I might have been able to sniff this out given the pace of the auction, particularly the 3♠ bid.

It appears the double cost 3 matchpoints, while it stood to gain 4 had we set it. 

Despite the score, Hurd's pretty play still made this one of my favorite hands in the event.

[Andy] I assume you mean the cost of this double is 3 matchpoints if he was always going to make it [Yes -- FB], but a lot more in practice because he presumably would have gone down without the double. Whether to double is an interesting question. In old-fashioned theory, the answer would be no, because you might have only two tricks in your hand, and the double might allow declarer to make (as it did). In modern bridge though, because game is frequently bid on such thin values, it is more common to double a bit on spec and live with the occasional backfire. Interestingly, that is more of an IMPs theory -- the gain is typically higher while the backfire cost is typically lower (5 IMPs instead of half a board), but the math changes when declarer can make a contract that he otherwise wouldn't have.

UPDATE:  This deal was reported in Fred Stewart's syndicated column, e.g. here.  It starts:  "I seldom report a deal in which the winners of a major title had a disaster. "

Read more!

Monday, April 5, 2010

Platinum Pairs 1st Final Board 1

If you want a problem, consider how you'd play 4 by West on a low spade lead. Or, cover up South/West and defend as North (read to "What should North do here? then decide).

Board 1
Dlr North
Vul None

Q 9 8 6 3
9 3
A 9 6
K 9 2
7 A K 5
A Q J 10 8 7 6 5
J 8 4 2 10 5
A 3Q J 10 8 7 5
J 10 4 2
K 4 2
K Q 7 3
6 4



West North East South
Pass 1♣Pass
4All Pass

Lead: ♠3

[Reasoning withheld for under the fold for those reading as a defense problem] I won, pitched a club on a 2nd spade and led a low diamond from dummy.

South won Q and led a heart. I won the Queen and led another diamond to North's Ace.

What should North do here?

In practice, he led a heart. I was able to win, draw trumps, and lead the J to pin the nine.

420 was good enough for 14/17 matchpoints.

My reasoning: I figured South likely holds at least one top diamond honor and obviously a spade honor, plus I basically need him to hold a heart honor.  Given the preemptive raise, they also know to strand club winners in dummy if I set those up. At IMPs it might be harder not to take a club hook which seems like it has more legitimate ways to make. At matchpoints, I think my line offers some misdefense chances and otherwise has a decent chance of maximizing tricks in a poor contract.  I suppose technically I make if there's Kx onside in trumps plus a natural diamond trick (e.g. HH9 tight with South). 

As for what North should do: I have no entry for a heart finesse. Anything but a heart would have been successful.

Read more!

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Failure to Moyse


I'm selectively picking hands from the first two days of the platinums, and it would seem only fair to include some of our bad results as well as our successes.  Here is a hand we completely screwed up:

♠ Q 10 4 3
A 4 2
Q 8 4
♣ K Q 5
♠ A K 5
A 10 9 6 5 3
♣ 9 8 7

Franco Andy
West North East South
Pass Pass 1 Pass
1♠ Pass 2♠ Pass
3NT Pass Pass Pass

Partner didn't like the drekky 13 count and passed in first seat. (I think that would be reasonably playing a standard style, but given that our openings are aggressive this seems a bit much to me.) Interestingly, the initial pass gave us a good chance to get the hand right. Over 2♠, partner could have bid 2N as an inquiry, to which I would bid 3 showing a singleton and 3-card spades, and then partner could pick the right game. The downside of 2N is that it pushes us into 4♠ any time I have 4-card support, and with 4=3=3=3 partner wanted to give a choice.

Perhaps I could have pulled -- partner is pretty much known to have no more than 3 hearts. Still, doesn't seem clear, and diamonds could be a source of tricks in NT. It seems to me that partner's 3N should imply soft positional stoppers in both the two unbid suits, and Axx doesn't qualify.

I also could have passed 1♠, although that seems to unwisely invite them back into the auction.

The hand gets interesting if partner makes the "normal" 1♣ opening. After 1 - 1NT, what's supposed to happen? Is 3 a splinter here rather than a good 6-5? Even if it is, wouldn't it suggest a better diamond suit? We play two way checkback in this auction, so maybe 2♣ - 2 - 3 should show this hand? It's yet another example of a basic seeming situation that I haven't encountered before.

My hand might also just evaluate to an invite, in which case we'd probably end up in 3.

Incidentally, if the auction started 1♣ - 1 - 1♠, I think my hand should bid 2♠. This would show invitational values, since we would have bid 1♠ initially with a one bid hand. I think the bid should definitely be allowed on only 3-card spades, to cater to hands like this.

Read more!

Friday, April 2, 2010

A textbook hand

[Andy]  Here's a cute hand with a nice result from the second day.

Q J 10 9 7 2
A 4
J 8 2
8 7
5 3 A K 6
K J 9 3  7 6 5 2
K 7 6 Q 5 3
A 6 4 2Q 9 3
8 4
Q 10 8
A 10 9 4
K J 10 5

West North East South

Pass 2♠ Pass Pass
Dbl Pass 3 All Pass

I could have bid 2NT as a scramble instead of 3 but it didn't seem right at matchpoints.  I won the spade lead and played heart to the J and A.  (There is an argument I might have played to the 9, but I didn't find that.)  North played back another spade.  I won and ruffed a spade as South shed a diamond.  I then played K, heart, putting South on lead.

South was endplayed.  He tried a low diamond, which I floated around to my queen. I played a diamond back and South flew A and exited a diamond.  I came off dummy with a low club in a textbook position -- as long as North had no more than one of the ♣10 or ♣J, I could cover his card to endplay South again.  Making 3.

Did you see those club spots?  At the point South won the heart, there was no way to avoid the double endplay.  South needed to make the unintuitive play of pitching a club on the spade ruff, preserving the long diamond as an exit card.  Or of course, North could have pushed a club through upon winning the A.

[Update]  As Richard alertly pointed out in his comment, the analysis above is noticeably incomplete.  South does need to hang onto the 4th diamond, and can certainly use it as an exit card if declarer immediately puts him back in in clubs.  But declarer can play the last trump, which puts the exit card under pressure again.  For example, if upon winning the Q South plays A and another diamond, then declarer wins and plays the last trump, squeezing South back out of the long diamond.  In fact, the only winning defense is what Richard suggested:  South must exit with the low diamond as he did at the table, and then pitch the A on the long trump, creating an entry to partner's hand with the J.
Read more!

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Partner's uncomfortably high preempt

You pick up this nice collection:

♠ A Q 3
A 6 4 3
K J 8
♣ A J 7

You're not very excited to hear pass on your left, 4♣ by partner, pass.  What now?

My first instinct was to bid 6N, protecting my positional holdings.  But upon further examination, the hand doesn't seem good enough for that.  You presumably have 8 club tricks and two aces, but you need another fitting card to produce two more tricks, and if it's slow (e.g. Q), you might not have a good enough heart stopper.  If partner has a heart singleton it might be right to play 6C instead.  Partner knows he's bypassing 3N, so I wouldn't expect him to have good clubs as well as a prime card outside.

So anyway, I decided to bid 4N.  I really don't think this should be Blackwood.  With clubs as trumps, there's only one response that doesn't commit to slam.  Plus being able to play in NT is quite important at matchpoints.  But anyway, I figured if partner did take it as blackwood I'd just bid a slam and hope it worked out.  (Maybe 4♣ - 4 should be blackwood, but we hadn't discussed it.)

My partner was on the same wavelength and passed 4N, even though he had a hand that might have wanted to pull a natural 4N:

♠ -
10 7 5 4 3
♣ Q 10 9 8 4 3 2

They led a spade into my tenace.  I could cross to dummy to take a club finesse, which gains against Kx onside, but that would be a complete disaster against either 3-0 club layout and also loses to singleton K.  So I banged down the ♣ A and was gratified to see the K drop on my left.  I ran all my tricks but the defenders discarded well and I misguessed diamonds in the end to make only 5.  This was only worth 27 out of 39 matchpoints, which was a bit disappointing -- I would assume anyone in slam would take the club finesse.
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