Monday, July 16, 2012

Signal Jamming

From Philly LM Pairs 1st Semi, Board 7 (both Vul), hands rotated:



Lead: C8

The opponents play 4th best from suits they like, udca, odd-even, and original smith.

You win trick one in dummy while RHO plays the ten. It seems clear that LHO started with AK98 of clubs (and maybe a 5th or 6th; I guess I don't know if the CT was count or attitude). What do you do?

 [My html hack for expanding posts doesn't seem to be working any more, so stop here if you want to make a plan before reading on.]

There's a technical line for making 9 tricks, which may be right at matchpoints: if LHO has SA and 4 diamonds to go with 5 clubs, he'll be squeezed out of the setting trick on the run of the hearts and you can then set up spades. This obviously also succeeds if clubs are 4-4 all along.

It might also be right to play RHO for SA and try to steal a trick. If he has enough of them, leading SQ at trick 2 might induce a duck fearing stiff K with partner.

 But, I don't think either of these lines is right at matchpoints. Our strong NT style is a hair lighter than some, and not everyone will avoid the 5-3 spade fit (though I agree with North's action -- note that it's a clear winner on a non-club lead for starters). So most of the field rates to be plus 620 and we need to try to take 10 tricks.

[Last chance to ponder once more]

The best line I could come up with is to place RHO with SA and try to create a difficult-to-read smith situation. So I led D4 to the K (RHO played the 2 and LHO the 7 -- if LHO had the 2 I may have switched plans). This was as I hoped: from RHO's point of view, there were 2 outstanding spots lower than the seven, making the card difficult to read. I then led a spade to the Q and Ace.  I also liked that I blocked 2 suits, which is a little counter-intuitive and may be harder for the defense to work out.  Sure enough, RHO took some time to think...

 ... and led a club. Down 1.

In retrospect, it's a bit hard to imagine a layout from RHO's point of view where a club was wrong.  Perhaps I should have tried one of the other lines and at least secured a plus score.


  1. I fairly recently converted to the attitude lead camp; this deal pushes me even further into it. Leading the 8 from a good holding always makes me anxious for partner(when it's 3rd and 5th as well.) Your line strikes me as a nice try.

  2. To push the attitude-lead hobbyhorse: I have come to feel that it gives the best valance of telling partner what he needs to know and not doing likewise for declarer. One piece of evidence I think strongly supports this is that experts seem to falsecard their 4th-best leads quite often, while I have never heard of a falsecard attitude lead. So in some sense, experts who supposedly play 4th-best don't *really* play it, so maybe it's not a great method?

  3. I think attitude is better, especially if the opponents are bidding suits and/or stayman before landing in NT (so you may already know the count). But, I have not persuaded my primary partner.