Join Bridge Winners
Just When I Thought I Was Out, They Pull Me Back In - Part III
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Saturday arrives, and we start in the big knock out.  Finally, all four of us have rounded into form, and everything goes well.  The only close call was in the quarter-finals.  We were down 18 IMPs with three boards to go, when Betty picked up

West
95
A643
A10875
K2
W
N
E
S
1
P
3
X
P
4
X
4
P
P
P

My double of four diamonds said that I did not want a diamond lead.  So she tried the heart ace, gave me a ruff, back to the diamond ace, for a second ruff.  12 IMPs back.  On the next hand, we played 3NT rather than four hearts, with our 5-3 heart fit.  Notrump was much better, and came home.  10 more IMPs for a small win.  

On to the Semi's.  First board out, I held, at favorable:

 

South
54
7654
6
A97543
W
N
E
S
2
X
?

 

I bid a simple four hearts.  It went six diamonds, all out.  Horrible slam, off the ace and king of clubs, with no place to put one, even without a club lead.  However, Betty had the singleton king of clubs, and we couldn't untangle our tricks without a club lead.  Guess I should have bid some number of clubs.  -1370.  What a way to start.

However, we nailed them for a number a few boards later, and their next ridiculous slam adventure couldn't make, no matter how badly we defended.  We had taken over the lead.  Then came this hand, where we got rather lucky:  Take my seat:

South
KQ
AK1054
K973
A4
W
N
E
S
1
1
P
P
2
P
3
P
?

 

I started with a strong club, and heard a one spade overcall, passed around to me.  Two hearts seemed pretty obvious.  Partner raised, and ?

OK, this is not the world's greatest 19 count, but still, 19 it is.  We are not about to rest in three hearts, vulnerable at IMPs.  So I bid game.

West leads the spade two (low from odd), and partner tables:

West
North
9754
Q73
65
K1095
East
South
KQ
AK1054
K973
A4
W
N
E
S
1
1
P
P
2
P
3
P
4
P
P
P
D
4 South
NS: 0 EW: 0
2
4
A
1

Which spade do you play?

The queen.  East knows that you have two spades, from the lead and the auction, so dropping the king makes the position obvious. East continues with the spade ten, and you win.  There seem to be two approaches to this hand:

(1)  Lead diamonds from hand.  This works when West started with the diamond ace, short, and trumps behave.  

(2) Cross to the club king and lead a diamond to the king.  You are in great shape if that finesse works, but in real trouble if it loses.

 

(2) is certainly the percentage action with no bidding, but here, West stuck in a one spade bid on a lousy suit.  Would West do that without any aces or kings?  Well, they have bid every time we opened one club, so, maybe.  Your choice?

OK, maybe he would overcall with no side card, but he would always bid with the diamond ace, so line (1) seems right.  Even if you guess it wrong, you may still survive.  Say they win the diamonds and play trumps.  If East started with four or five diamonds to the ace, you will still survive on a double squeeze.  Yeah, line (1) has to be better, though, against this pair, it is close. 

 

I chose (2), and lead the club four to the king (fetching the two and the three - they give standard count, so someone is fooling).  I tried a diamond to the king, which lost to the ace.  West considers this for a moment, then continues with the diamond queen and diamond eight:

West
North
9754
Q73
65
K1095
East
South
KQ
AK1054
K973
A4
W
N
E
S
1
1
P
P
2
P
3
P
4
P
P
P
D
4 South
NS: 0 EW: 0
2
4
A
Q
2
0
1
10
K
3
5
3
1
1
4
2
K
3
1
2
1
5
4
K
A
0
2
2
Q
6
2
7
0
2
3
8
6

This is the position now:

North
97
Q73
1095
South
AK1054
93
A

East has followed in diamonds with the four and two, so East will have the last diamond.  It seems obvious to trump this, and drop the nine (why not?).  Then we have to trump the last diamond, without losing a trump trick.  How do you proceed?

Looks like we come to hand, and trump the last diamond.  If we can score the trump seven, things should be easy, but West is likely to upper-cut dummy with the eight or nine of trumps.  That will force us to take a position in trumps. 

If West was 5-2-3-3, we should finesse coming back - we may lose to J9 or J8 doubleton, but that is certainly the percentage action.  If, however, West was 5-3-3-2, trumps are splitting, and we should not finesse.  Looks like we need to gather more data.

Trump a spade back now.  Who knows?  Maybe East will believe your diamond nine, and discard the high diamond.  More likely, East will discard a club.  Now you cash the club ace, before trumping the diamond.  The fall of clubs may help place the shape.  In particular, if West drops a club honor under the ace, then 5-3-3-2 looks like the best bet.

So?  What actually happened?

Here was the full hand:

West
J8632
8
AQ8
Q862
North
9754
Q73
65
K1095
East
A10
J962
J1042
J73
South
KQ
AK1054
K973
A4
W
N
E
S
1
1
P
P
2
P
3
P
4
P
P
P
D
4 South
NS: 0 EW: 0
2
4
A
Q
2
0
1
10
K
3
5
3
1
1
4
2
K
3
1
2
1
5
4
K
A
0
2
2
Q
6
2
7
0
2
3
8
3
10
9
1
3
3
7
7
4
6
3
4
3
5
8
Q
2
1
5
3
5
J
A
6
3
6
3
3
8
7
J
1
7
3
9
11

Oh, trumps weren't splitting, and this line had no chance. 

Of course trumps weren't splitting.  West had an easy time leading trumps otherwise.  The trump suit was marked.  

I trumped the diamond, trumped a spade back, led a trump to the queen, back to the club ace, diamond ruff, and scored the trump ten by leading a spade from the table.  Ten tricks in.  

Like I said, we got pretty lucky here.  If I had to do this one over, I would lead a low diamond from hand at trick three.  But I recovered well.

The play was similar at the other table, but there, declarer did not stop to wonder why West didn't shift to trumps. 

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