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Board 24
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This board generated swings in virtually every match in the Round of 16.  The hand is fascinating to bid, to play, and to defend.

 

West
3
AJ104
3
AQ98732
North
KJ872
K9
754
KJ4
East
AQ964
8753
AQ6
6
South
105
Q62
KJ10982
105
D

The most common auction started out 

West
3
AJ104
3
AQ98732
North
KJ872
K9
754
KJ4
East
AQ964
8753
AQ6
6
South
105
Q62
KJ10982
105
W
N
E
S
1
1
P
P
2
P
?
D

What should East bid now?  Two players tried 3NT.  Three others settled for 2NT, giving West a problem.  Berkowitz retreated cautiously to three clubs (which looks right to me).  Wooldridge and Zack Grossack tried 3, getting to the heart game.

One South tried two diamonds, and that prompted West to leap to four clubs (!).  That led to five clubs, doubled, down 300.

 

Everyone in three notrump got a middle diamond honor lead, and won the queen, as North suggested an odd number of diamonds.  Every declarer tried a club to the queen and king, and a diamond came back.  Let's look at this from South's perspective (rotated, to put declarer in the usual South position):

West
105
Q62
KJ10982
105
North
3
AJ104
3
AQ98732
East
South
W
N
E
S
1
1
P
P
2
P
3NT
P
P
P
D
3NT South
NS: 0 EW: 0
J
3
7
Q
3
1
0
6
5
Q
K
2
1
1
5
6
3

What diamond do you play?  What is the best defense?

You must win with the diamond king.  If you win with a lower spot, partner might play you for the diamond ace, and think the diamonds are ready to run.  The diamond king clarifies your lead. 

Clearly, if declarer holds another club, the clubs are running, and the contract is cold.  So you can place partner with KJx in clubs.  Given the trap pass, declarer will hold five spades (or, maybe six, if your partner is prone to four-card suit overcalls).  The diamonds are known, so declarer rates have some 5-4-3-1 hand.  The clubs will be set up shortly, giving declarer plenty of tricks.  In the mean time, your side will win two clubs, one diamond, and possibly partner's heart king.  That's four.  You need a spade trick to set the hand.  Picturing a hand like the actual one, Juster shifted to the spade ten, and the defense developed five winners before declarer got nine.  One defender continued diamonds, leading to nine tricks.  At the third table, Ginossar, using standard count, returned the diamond seven, and Willenken let him win that trick.  Ginossar found the key spade shift, setting up two spade winners, not one, to set the hand two tricks.  Nice defense!  

 

Is that trick two club finesse best?  I don't think so, particularly at the tables where North had overcalled one spade.  South appears to hold strong diamonds, yet passed over one spade.  Wouldn't South bid something with a little more?  Maybe one notrump with a club stopper and that other stuff?  The club king is almost certainly offside.  I see two better options:  Club to the ace, club, or go after hearts.

 

What would happen if declarer plays on hearts?  North will likely win and play a diamond, ducked to South.  Let's follow the play if South continues diamonds:

 

West
3
AJ104
3
AQ98732
North
KJ872
K9
754
KJ4
East
AQ964
8753
AQ6
6
South
105
Q62
KJ10982
105
W
N
E
S
1
1
P
P
2
P
3NT
P
P
P
D
3NT East
NS: 0 EW: 0
J
3
4
Q
2
0
1
3
2
J
K
1
1
1
7
6
K
2
3
2
1
10
3
5
A
2
2
2
5
6
10
9
0
2
3
A
2
7
Q
0
2
4
6

After two more hearts, we'll have reached a position like this:

West
3
4
3
AQ987
North
KJ87
KJ4
East
AQ964
8
6
South
105
982
105
D

Spade finesse, spade, heart, exit in spades, to win two clubs at the end.  Nine tricks.  Note, declarer will have a full count on the hand, so it won't help North to discard two clubs early on.

 

Okay, North gets endplayed, but South can break up that endplay by winning the diamond and leading a club through.  Does that help?

 

No!  Simply set up clubs.  This gets back to the position where declarer played on clubs at trick two, but a tempo ahead.  The defense can't set up a spade winner in time.

 

So, 3NT was cold?  Nope.  A second diamond removes North's exit card.  The hand can still be set by winning the heart and tackling spades.  East wins the queen and ducks a diamond, but South can win and lead a club through.  That breaks up the endplay, and keeps the defenders one step ahead in trick establishment.

Let's turn to the tables in four hearts:

 

West
3
AJ104
3
AQ98732
North
KJ872
K9
754
KJ4
East
AQ964
8753
AQ6
6
South
105
Q62
KJ10982
105
W
N
E
S
1
1
P
P
2
P
2NT
P
3
P
4
P
P
D

 

North led the diamond four (low from odd) at all three tables.  Two declarers won the diamond ace, as South encouraged, and led a club to the queen.

When this lost, they were in trouble, and needed some luck in trumps and clubs, but the cards were friendly, and I don't see any way to fail.   

 

Wooldridge trumped the diamond, played club ace, discarding dummy's other diamond, trumped a club, to set up the suit.  South discarded, but he had control.  He took a trump finesse, ruffed the next diamond on the table, trump to the ace, claim.  Yet, bizarrely, the hand was scored as down one.  I don't get it.

 

Declarer at the other table, did not discard the diamond, and lost control. 

 

Zach Grossack, at the third table, took a very simple line:  Club ace, club ruff, heart to the ace, club.  If someone trumped in, he would take the diamond tap, and play clubs, losing three trump tricks.  When no one ruffed, he played a second trump, and claimed five when trumps split out.

 

I like this line, but mostly because the club king rates to be offside.  This guarantees ten tricks when both suits split, and makes against poor splits when the club king is short.

 

Anyway, this was an interesting hand to watch at every table.  If anyone knows why the hand was scored as down one at the  Wooldridge table, let me know.

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