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Diamond-Platnick

Diam-Plat John Diamond and Brian Platnick ’s partnership extends well beyond the recent successes that have established their team as one of the world’s best. The pair anchored the gold-medal winning USA junior team in the 1991 World Youth Team Championships held in Ann Arbor, MI [GO BLUE! - K.F.]. In 2010 alone they were able to capture both the Spingold and Rosenblum trophies, cementing their status as a truly world-class pair. This week’s hand comes from the semifinals of the 2011 Vanderbilt.



Levin
AQ109743
AK
2
KQ9
Platnick
5
987
A106
J87543
Weinstein
86
QJ65432
A1062
Diamond
KJ2
10
KQJ987543
W
N
E
S
5
5
6
6
X
P
P
P
D
23
6X West
NS: 0 EW: 0
3
2
2
K
3
1
0
10
A
7
2
0
1
1
2
6
6
9
2
1
2
8
J
Q
5
0
1
3
12 tricks claimed
E/W +1660
4


Six Diamonds
After the 5-level opening and overcall, North can be confident that the opponents are in the slam zone and might have a grand slam available. The position is a difficult one, filled with many psychological considerations concerning how to obtain the best possible result for his side. Passing is a viable option, since disclosing a massive diamond fit would further clarify the East-West shortness. If East were considering whether or not to raise 5, a 6 bid could push him into what North suspects is the winning decision. If North chooses to extend the preempt, what level is best? Bidding 6 takes away some crucial space and eliminates the opponents’ cue bid. However, if forcing passes are in effect for East-West, a 1-level boost may be only a minor obstacle to overcome. If a grand slam can be made, it’s possible that East-West would peter out in 6 but reach seven over a jump to 7. These scenarios aren’t uncommon, but what action is correct? Should North bid more diamonds to increase the pressure on East-West, or should he ‘psyche’ a deceptive pass?

Double
There are several common treatments for a double made by a high-level preempter.

  1. Lightner, showing a void.
  2. Double may show a hand with a defensive trick that wants to sacrifice.
  3. Preempter may have extraordinary defense.


Case three is typically reserved for auctions where partner is a passed hand [e.g. P-(P)-4-(4); P-(P)-X]. Which case should apply on the actual deal? Should there be a difference in interpretation if responder is in direct seat or balancing position? Diamond-Platnick employ option two against lower-level contracts but option three against slam. But is a Lightner Double the best call with South’s shape? With 1=0 in the off suits there is no guarantee that North will be able to discern which void South has and make the correct lead. Even if North leads a club, it’s highly likely that the AQ lie over South’s king, so the contract may not be defeated even after the ruff—as happened on the actual deal. If the opponents had asked for keycards and were known to be missing an ace, then a double would certainly be indicated. But that wasn’t the case here. South also must suspect that North is short in spades, which would make 7 a cheap sacrifice.

North’s Final Pass
Should a Lightner Double promise a void and another trick or is it enough to hope that a trick-one ruff will give the defense the best chance for a set? Looking at A10x, North can be certain that South holds at least eight diamonds, and quite possibly nine. That would make it unlikely for the defense to cash a diamond trick to go along with the club ruff. If declarer needs a pitch, North also knows that one will be available from the club suit. While defending 6-X could result in a great score for North-South, there is a good chance that it could turn out poorly. 7, on the other hand, will almost always lead to a reasonable score, albeit a minus. Is it always wrong to pull partner’s Lightner Double? What action should North take to maximize his expected value, considering his partner’s range of hands?

On a wild deal like this good methods, judgment, and some luck are usually all necessary to obtain par. Here, the methods in question are what South’s double should mean and whether East’s pass of 6 is forcing. North-South would have been luckier to find the Q in dummy, but where might they have improved their judgment?

We pulled the tape, now we invite you to make the call.

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