Join Bridge Winners
Maybe Not So Fine
(Page of 7)

When the two favorites meet for a Swiss match, you expect some fireworks, and, when three World Champions are involved, you also expect some very fine play.  We got the fireworks, but the play?  Maybe not so fine.

This was the most interesting hand from our match.  Take South's seat at our table:  Vulnerable against not, you pick up,

South
AJ852
Q7
KJ7
K65

Playing Precision, with a weak notrump, you have an automatic 1 opening.  West overcalls 2, and partner doubles, showing five or more hearts.  East passes, and you face a decision:

South
AJ852
Q7
KJ7
K65
W
N
E
S
1
2
X
P
?

With poorly placed diamonds and no great fit, it seems pretty reasonable to simply accept the transfer, and bid 2.  Still, you have 14 points, and a vulnerable game may be on the line.  That suggests moving forward and bidding 2NT.  Your choice?

Low looks right to me.  Partner can also see the vulnerability, and can take another move.  In the meantime, if we belong in hearts, it must be right to declare that suit from our side.  If you try 2NT and hear 4 from partner, you may well regret your choice. 

You choose 2, and the bidding proceeds:

South
AJ852
Q7
KJ7
K65
W
N
E
S
1
2
X
P
2
3
4
P
?

Clearly you have nothing further to say, so four hearts ends the auction.  West leads the club ace, and a quick glance at their card shows Rusinow leads and upside down count and attitude signals.  So the lead typically denies the club king, something you might have surmised had you looked at your hand.  Partner tables:

West
North
AJ109654
42
J1098
East
South
AJ852
Q7
KJ7
K65
W
N
E
S
1
2
X
P
2
3
4
P
P
P
D
4 South
NS: 0 EW: 0
A
8
2
5
0
0
1
7
J
4
2

East plays the 2, and West continues with the 7, to the jack and 4.  Plan the play.

Simple may be best here.  If the trump finesse is onside, you can afford to lose two clubs and a diamond.  Getting to hand seems tricky, but you can do that easily by winning this trick in hand, discarding a diamond, and finessing hearts.  With clubs 2-4, you likely have two club losers anyway, so why not?

Is it clear that clubs are 2-4?  The three is missing.  Could West have led from A73 in clubs?  Well, West wasn't about to lead a spade, and probably wouldn't lead a diamond from the ace-queen.  That doesn't leave many choices.  If West had to choose between leading a singleton trump, or leading from A-third in the unbid suit, West might well opt for a club lead.

Suppose you let the club hold?  Trump ace next, then a club.  That works out great if clubs were 3-3, or if West started with only one trump, and will often break even if West started with Kx in trumps.  It seems like overtaking the club, though showy, really only gains when West started with Kxx in trumps.  So you shelve the fancy, and let the jack hold.

The ace of hearts brings good news and bad.  West shows out, discarding the 3.  So, overtaking the club would have been very wrong!  The next few tricks are easy - club to the king (West discarding the 6), spade ace, spade ruff, club ruff.

West
North
AJ109654
42
J1098
East
South
AJ852
Q7
KJ7
K65
W
N
E
S
1
2
X
P
2
3
4
P
P
P
D
4 South
NS: 0 EW: 0
A
8
2
5
0
0
1
7
J
4
6
1
1
1
A
2
7
3
1
2
1
9
3
K
6
3
3
1
A
3
2
6
3
4
1
2
4
4
9
1
5
1
10
Q
Q
10
3
6
1
7

These are the cards remaining:

 

North
J10965
4
South
J85
KJ7

East still has the K82 remaining.  You are home now, unless the defense can promote that trump eight.  So, what now?

West was, apparently, either (1) 4-0-7-2, or (2) 5-0-6-2, and East started with a 4-4-1-4 or 3-4-2-4 shape.

In the first case, you make the hand by leading a spade and discarding the diamond.  If (2) is the hand, you succeed if you play a diamond now.  Which?

 

Playing a spade looks more practical, since, even if you are wrong, West might not rise, or East may have already failed to unblock from king-third.  However, one big clue argues for (2).  East, looking at the king of trumps and a singleton diamond, would never encourage at trick one.  Diamonds really can't be 7-1, and so, you should lead a diamond.

You mistakenly lead a spade, but West plays low, and you are home.  Except, you completely blank out and trump that spade.  Now, no lie of the cards will see you home.  Ouch!  Time to go off somewhere and bang your head against a wall.

The full hand:

West
Q10743
AQ10963
A7
North
AJ109654
42
J1098
East
K96
K832
85
Q432
South
AJ852
Q7
KJ7
K65
W
N
E
S
1
2
X
P
2
3
4
P
P
P
D
4 South
NS: 0 EW: 0
A
8
2
5
0
0
1
7
J
4
6
1
1
1
A
2
7
3
1
2
1
9
3
K
6
3
3
1
A
3
2
6
3
4
1
2
4
4
9
1
5
1
10
Q
Q
10
3
6
1
5
7
5
K
1
7
1
8

East was also asleep at the switch, and forgot to unblock the spade king.  Perhaps you will have some company at the head-banging wall.

Let's shift to the other table:

There, South opened a strong (14-16) notrump.

 

West
Q10743
AQ10963
A7
North
AJ109654
42
J1098
East
K96
K832
85
Q432
South
AJ852
Q7
KJ7
K65
W
N
E
S
1NT
2
4
P
4
P
P
P
D
4 South
NS: 0 EW: 0
3
2
K
A
3
1
0
7
10
J
2
1
2
0
4
3

West led a third-or-low 3, to the king and declarer's ace.  South tried a trump to the jack, which held, and continued with a low trump from the table.  How should East defend?

East knows, from the auction and lead, that South started with five spades.  The play has marked South with the spade AJ, heart queen, KJ of diamonds, and something in clubs.  South would likely open 1 with some five-four hand, so the shape is pretty well marked, and South will hold something like:

South
AJ852
Q7
KJ7
A65
or
South
AJ852
Q7
KJ7
K65

Could it be right to go passive?  Say East wins the trump and exits in trumps.  North will draw the last trump, and pass a club to partner, who must exit in clubs.  Now a diamond to the jack, and poor partner is endplayed.  No good.

So East must win the trump and lead a diamond through.  Partner will still be endplayed, but, if partner started with the club ace, then partner can exit safely in clubs, and the hand will be set.  

East, like a true World Champion, did just that, but West won the diamond and reverted to spades.  -620 and a short break for West to visit the crowded wall and bang his head.  

 

Let's back up one trick.  After the heart jack held, declarer obviously needed the club queen onside.  There would be no problems if clubs were three-three.  If clubs were 4-2, with Qx onside, then it was right to draw trumps, but if, as here, West was 5-0-6-2, it would be simple to trump the fourth club.  Declarer could shift to clubs and arrive at the same ending as at our table, but with absolutely no ambiguity.  Was West 5-0-4-4 or 5-0-6-2?  Not clear, but several factors pointed to that second shape, and, I suspect South messed up by playing that second trump.  

Interesting hand, but, like I said, not either team's finest moment.  

15 Comments
Getting Comments... loading...
.

Bottom Home Top