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Just When I Thought I Was Out, They Pull Me Back In - Part II
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We survived the first Sloppy Swiss, and I wake up, ready for my next endeavor.  I turn to BridgeWinners, and find this article:

http://bridgewinners.com/article/view/poor-bidding-helps-you-improve-your-card-play/

Great title - Poor Bidding Helps You Improve Your Card Play.  Is that ever true.  When I started out, I couldn't bid my way out of a paper bag.  Contracts ranged from hopeless to utterly ridiculous, and I had to find some very creative ways to generate tricks. 

When Betty and I started playing together, mostly matchpoints, she observed that I was truly the worst opening leader in the history of the game, and that I obviously learned how to defend because I had to catch up to the field after my trick one disasters.

 

Anyway, the post really resonated, and, mostly for nostalgia, we resolved to spend the day bidding to really awful contracts, and trying to land them.

 

So, you pick up, both vulnerable,

North
J32
J32
AK8764
6
W
N
E
S
1
1
P
?

Your call?

 

It is an awkward hand to describe.  You can show a normal raise, a limit raise, or bid a forcing two diamonds.  I suspect that the right choice is a fit-showing three diamond call, but we don't have that option available.  Four diamonds would be fit-showing, so, I suppose, that is another option.  Nothing seems just right.  Anyway, you choose?

At the table, you choose none of the above.  You opt to show a mixed raise (!??).  Oh well, maybe you had a diamond mixed up with your hearts.  Wouldn't be the first time this tournament we mis-sorted our cards.  Partner bids a game. 

In real life, when you put partner into a hopeless mess of a contract, you get to relax, shmooze with the opponents, ogle the caddies.  Here, at BW, you have to switch seats, and declare the monster you made.

West
North
J32
J32
AK8764
6
East
South
K86
Q9854
AK753
W
N
E
S
1
1
P
3
P
4
P
P
P
D
4 South
NS: 0 EW: 0
4
6
J
A
3
1
0
1

You get the lead of the club four, third from even, low odd.  When East plays the jack, it looks like West has led from the ten, so clubs will be 3-4 or 4-3.  That may help.  Still, there is a lot of work to do.

So, plan that play.

First idea:  Ruff a club, throw two spades away, trump a diamond to hand, trump another club, setting up your suit, and play a trump.  Would that work?

No, they just tap you again.  You will lose control, with no hope of ever scoring the last club.

 

Cross-ruff?  Club ace and king, club ruff, diamonds, diamond ruff, club ruff, diamond ruff. trump the fifth club with the jack?  Yes, that might work.  If East is, say, 4-2-3-4, quite possible on the auction and lead, and started with honor-ten in hearts, they can't set you.  You will hope the hand looks like this:  

West
Q107
K76
J532
1084
North
J32
J32
AK8764
6
East
A954
A10
Q109
QJ92
South
K86
Q9854
AK753
W
N
E
S
1
1
P
3
P
4
P
P
P
D
4 South
NS: 0 EW: 0
4
6
J
A
3
1
0
K
8
4
2
3
2
0
3
10
2
9
1
3
0
A
9
6
2
1
4
0
K
10
8
3
1
5
0
6
Q
4
5
3
6
0
5
7
3
Q
1
7
0
7
4
5
J
3
8
0
7
10
J
9

This is getting closer.

Maybe we shouldn't pitch two spades.  What if we play along similar lines, and discard one spade and one club?  Clubs, diamonds, discarding a club and spade, diamond ruff, club ruff, spade up.  Now, if the spade ace is onside, and the ten of hearts is dropping, we have ten winners.  That seems even better, but still has problems.  For instance, if the full hand looks like this:

West
Q1074
K10
J532
1084
North
J32
J32
AK8764
6
East
A95
A76
Q109
QJ92
South
K86
Q9854
AK753
W
N
E
S
1
1
P
3
P
4
P
P
P
D
4 South
NS: 0 EW: 0
4
6
J
A
3
1
0
K
8
2
2
3
2
0
3
10
2
9
1
3
0
A
9
6
2
1
4
0
K
10
5
3
1
5
0
4
Q
4
5
3
6
0
7
7

Things get interesting if West trumps that last club with the trump king, and exits a trump, but declarer can still survive.  I'll leave that analysis to you.

That line looks like the best, legitimate try.

Maybe legitimate is not the way to go.  If we can score an early spade trick, then we can throw both spades away, and give up three trump tricks.  That would require some mis-defense, but, if we sneak through a spade, gives us great chances. 

That looks like a pretty good way to go, and you choose that line.  So, you will ruff a club to the table and lead a spade to the king. 

Which club do you lead from hand?

The seven.  It shouldn't matter, but, if West started with four clubs, and shows that to East, East will know that you are 5-5, and will see through the deception.  You suspect that West started with the 1084 or 10842 in clubs.  Many players instinctively (foolishly?) would cover the seven-spot with the eight.  You want that, and so ...

 

West
North
J32
J32
AK8764
6
East
South
K86
Q9854
AK753
W
N
E
S
1
1
P
3
P
4
P
P
P
D
4 South
NS: 0 EW: 0
4
6
J
A
3
1
0
7
8
2
9
1
2
0
2

 

Sure enough, West covers the club seven with the eight, and East follows with the nine.  The two is missing, and it isn't clear who has the four clubs.  Time to lead a spade from the table:

North
J32
J3
AK8764
South
K86
Q9854
K53

Which spade?

The jack.  If you really had a K10 guess in spades, you would usually lead the jack from the table, hoping to coax some sort of cover, and resolve the guess.  Since you are pretending that holding, you had better play the suit in the usual manner.

 

Unfortunately, East is not fooled.  He rises with the ace, and shifts to the trump six.  His partner wins the ace, returns the ten to the jack, and king, and East exits with the last trump, as West discards a spade, and dummy a diamond.  You are stuck in hand, with two good winners that you will never, ever see.  Not good!  Not good at all!

West
North
J32
J32
AK8764
6
East
South
K86
Q9854
AK753
W
N
E
S
1
1
P
3
P
4
P
P
P
D
4 South
NS: 0 EW: 0
4
6
J
A
3
1
0
7
8
2
9
1
2
0
J
A
6
4
2
2
1
6
4
A
3
0
2
2
10
J
K
5
2
2
3
7
Q
7
4
3
3
3
6

 

Here are the cards left:

 

North
32
AK876
South
K8
98
K53

 

Looks like you will finish down two.  Is there any hope to salvage one trick, and escape for down one?

Well, West has pitched a spade.  If the remaining spades are split, you could cash the club and spade winner, and exit in spades.  Maybe the player holding the queen won't have the last club.

They might avoid this by unblocking the spade queen (and so you should cash the spade first), but, really, the spade queen is the setting trick, and I doubt if either player will unblock with that card.  So ...

 

Wait a minute.  Why are we giving up?  Yes, we have stranded that diamond suit, but they might not know that.  Indeed, one, or even both players, might feel pressure to keep diamonds guarded.  Simply lead out your remaining trumps and let them sweat a little.

 

Sure enough, on the fourth trump, they both discard spades.  On the last trump, West thinks for quite a bit, and then discards the club two.  Aha.  Looks like the clubs are up.  East also thinks, and finally releases the club queen.  Time to run your clubs.  Both players hang on to diamonds forever, so you finish winning both spades.

+620.  Nicely bid.

The full hand: 

West
974
A10
J1053
10842
North
J32
J32
AK8764
6
East
AQ105
K76
Q92
QJ9
South
K86
Q9854
AK753
D

 

Needless to say, the defenders had a few opportunities to get this one right.  Maybe, as the BridgeWinners post suggested, they should work on poor bidding, so their play will improve.

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