Kibitzing in Lake Geneva
(Page of 3)

I'm not much of a morning person, but at the Lake Geneva Regional earlier this month, I managed to drag myself out of bed to kibitz Shan Huang in the morning Swiss. I'm glad I did, because I got to witness a rather spectacular hand. But first try this problem to make sure you're awake (click NEXT to advance the play):

West
North
KJ62
K53
AJ102
64
East
South
AQ85
Q8
K94
KJ83
W
N
E
S
1NT
P
2
P
2
P
4
P
P
P
D
4 South
NS: 0 EW: 0
2
3
10
Q
3
1
0
5
3
J
4
1
2
0
4
2
J
Q
0
2
1
9
5
J
8
2
2
2
A
8
7
K
3
3
2
A
7
2
10
3
4
2
Q
9
K
4
1
5
2
7

The third-and-low 2 lead went to East's 10 and Shan's Q. He led a spade to dummy and a club to the jack lost to the queen. East overtook the 9 return with the J and played the A, ruffed by Shan. He cashed the A, all following, and overtook the Q, as East discarded a low heart.

With one heart and two club losers, the diamond suit must be played for no losers. How do you continue?

North
6
AJ102
6
South
K94
K83
W
N
E
S
1NT
P
2
P
2
P
4
P
P
P

It appears that West is 3-3 in the majors and East is 2-5, so West has 7 vacant places compared to East's 6, which is a (slight) indication to play West for diamond length. However, you cannot pick up Qxxx with West—if you play the 2 to the king, you will be unable to repeat the diamond finesse, and you cannot afford to lead an honor to the king—but you can pick up Qxxx with East: run the J, then lead the 2 to the 9. That seems to make playing East for the Q percentage.

Shan thought so too. He called for the J and soon scored up +420 when the full deal was:

West
973
972
653
AQ97
North
KJ62
K53
AJ102
64
East
104
AJ864
Q87
1052
South
AQ85
Q8
K94
KJ83
D

Precarious slams make some of the best kibitzing, so I was probably happier than Shan when this deal came around:

North
A5
AK72
K10
KQ1098
South
KJ964
109
A87543
W
N
E
S
1
X
P
4
P
4NT
P
5NT
P
6
P
P
P

Without bothering to ask about the5NT bid, West laid down the A, ruffed by Shan.

Plan the play.

North
A5
AK72
K10
KQ1098
South
KJ964
109
A87543
W
N
E
S
1
X
P
4
P
4NT
P
5NT
P
6
P
P
P

Setting up the diamonds looks futile (it will be very difficult to set up the suit without promoting a second trump trick for the opponents or getting tapped out), so the best hope appears to be playing trumps for no loser and conceding a club trick, providing discards for all your losing diamonds.

How should you play trumps? There are only 13 HCP outstanding, and West opened the bidding, so he very likely owns the Q. Given that, unless West has Q10-doubleton, the only way to avoid a trump loser is to run the J, later leading a spade to the 9 if West covers.

Sure enough, after long thought, Shan placed the J on the table—and it held. A spade to the ace collected low cards, which meant spades were definitely 3-3 (West would have covered from Q10xx). Now Shan had a claim unless diamonds were 5-0: he crossed to the A to draw the remaining trumps, entered dummy with a high heart, and played K-Q-10, throwing diamonds. The established 9 took care of his last losing diamond. A well-deserved 13-IMP swing when the other table predictably stopped ingame. The full deal and play:

West
Q73
Q8
Q2
AJ7632
North
A5
AK72
K10
KQ1098
East
1082
J6543
J96
54
South
KJ964
109
A87543
W
N
E
S
1
X
P
4
P
4NT
P
5NT
P
6
P
P
P
D
6 South
NS: 0 EW: 0
A
8
4
4
3
1
0
J
3
5
2
3
2
0
6
7
A
8
1
3
0
10
6
A
2
3
4
0
K
Q
2
10
3
5
0
9
8
A
3
1
6
0
K
5
3
2
1
7
0
Q
4
4
3
1
8
0
10
5
5
J
0
8
1
9