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Event 3, Match 3, Board 7

gargoyle

Board 7
Both sides vulnerable


Phillip
Q963
J86
3
AK1083

I pass in first seat. Partner opens 3 in third seat and buys it. RHO leads the 2. Their convention card says "low encouraging."

Phillip
Q963
J86
3
AK1083
Jack
J8
Q743
AKJ9865
W
N
E
S
P
P
3
P
P
P

3? On a five-loser hand? I hope partner wouldn't have done this in first seat. And I'd just as soon he didn't do it in third seat either. He might make 4 opposite a psyche.

I rise with the A. East plays the 7, and I discard a spade. I cash the K and discard another spade. East plays the 4; West, the 5. If "encouraging" means West has an honor, then I suppose the club honors are split.

If I don't have a heart trick, I need to pick up the diamonds. If I do have a heart trick, I need to hold diamonds to one loser. But it doesn't really matter what my objective is. Low to the jack is my best play in either case. Sometimes one spurns a trump finesse to avoid a ruff. But in this case, I welcome a ruff. If the diamond finesse loses and they grab a heart ruff, that establishes the fourth round of hearts for me, and I've made my contract.

I lead the 3--7--J--2. I play the K--4--3--10. That makes nine tricks. I hope the opponents weren't planning on leading a club against 3NT. I cash the A, pitching another club from dummy. West pitches the 6. The missing clubs are the queen, jack, and nine. The honors are presumably split, but I don't know who has the nine. East might well have decided it was too important a card to signal with at trick one.

If I can take a heart trick, I'll make four. West probably would have led from ace-king of a major, so East must have at least one honor in each major. In fact, he must have exactly one honor in each major. Otherwise he would have an opening bid. So I know the heart honors are split. If they are three-three or if I can duck out a singleton or doubleton honor, I will make a heart trick.

I have two ways to duck out an honor: (A) I can play low to the jack, then lead low from my hand. Or (B) I can lead the queen from my hand. If West wins this, I lead toward the dummy and duck. (A) works if West has shortness, and (B) works if East does. Does either play offer any extra chances? Yes. (B) allows me to pick up honor-ten or honor-nine doubleton on my left. My queen forces West's honor. Then, when I lead toward dummy's jack and see the ten or nine appear, I can cover, eventually establishing my seven. So (B) is a standout, especially when you consider that East is more likely than West to have short hearts anyway.

I lead the Q--2--6--A. I ruff the return and lead a heart to the jack. Making four.

Marcus
K7
K952
42
Q9652
Phillip
Q963
J86
3
AK1083
Nathanial
A10542
A10
Q107
J74
Jack
J8
Q743
AKJ9865
D
7

I wonder why West ducked the Q. Couldn't I have been three-three in the majors?

I don't care for the opening lead. I would have led the K. Leading long, weak suits against pre-empts frequently seems to accomplish nothing other than to allow declarer to take quick discards. If you lead a short suit and catch dummy with values there, at least declarer rates to have some length in that suit, so he doesn't have any quick pitches. Make dummy's A the A, for example, and the spade lead doesn't hurt. As the cards lie, a spade lead beats 3 a trick. That's not as good as a heart lead, which beats it two tricks. But it's better than letting them make it.

The other table played 3 making 3. They probably got a club lead as well but misplayed the hearts.

I commented above that East is more likely than West to have short hearts. Why is that? West is known to have four or five clubs and a doubleton diamond, and I will assume hearts are not 3-3 (else my decision is irrelevant). If West has five clubs, then he is either 4-2-2-5 or 2-4-2-5. But if has four clubs, he is almost surely 3-4-2-4. 5-2-2-4 is contraindicated both by his failure to pitch a spade on the third diamond and by his choice of opening leads. If he chose to lead a long suit, his five-card suit would be a more natural choice.


Table 1: +130
Table 2: -110

Result on Board 7: +1 IMP
Total: +2 IMPs


Phillip Martin Phillip Martin lives in Scarsdale, New York. He is the Chief Technology Officer for Gargoyle Strategic Investments in Englewood, New Jersey. He is also a composer, currently serving as Composer-in-Residence for Hartford Opera Theater. While he retired from tournament play some twenty years ago to pursue other interests, he has remained active in bridge as a writer, contributing occasional articles to The Bridge World and Bridge Today and publishing a bridge blog, The Gargoyle Chronicles .

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