Join Bridge Winners
Nickell vs. Lall - Board 111 - 7
(Page of 2)

The last set of the Team Trial final between NICKELL and LALL was filled with complex play hands.  This grand slam played by Meckstroth part of the way through the set seemed to seal his team's fate:

West
K92
J854
AK10875
East
AQ7654
AK
K10843

The unopposed artificial auction started with a strong 1 by Rodwell, East, and ended with 7 by Meckstroth, West.  The opening lead by North (Pepsi) was the 10, South (Zia) following with the 3.  What is the best play?

Here is the full deal:

West
K92
J854
AK10875
North
108
Q106
J6432
965
East
AQ7654
AK
K10843
South
J3
9732
Q9
AQJ72
W
N
E
S
P
P
P
7
P
P
P
D
7 West
NS: 0 EW: 0

The lead was 10.  Meckstroth won in hand with the king and cashed the two top diamonds.  Since trumps were still at large he led the 10 and ruffed it.  South (Zia) overruffed for down one.  At the other table Bathurst-Lall stopped in game, so the swing was 11 imps to LALL for a seemingly insurmountable 45-imp lead with 9 boards to play.  (Look elsewhere for what happened later.)

Commentators observed that if declarer had drawn two rounds of trumps ending in hand, he could have made by taking a diamond ruffing finesse, the percentage play at that point according to restricted choice.  Why didn't Meckstroth do that?

Finding a favorable diamond position is one of THREE favorable positions that declarer can hope for.  Each is unlikely and some are mutually exclusive:

(1) Set up diamonds with one ruff.  Requires 2-2 trumps along with QJx (or QJ tight) in either hand or Q9/J9 in South.  Catering to the quack-nine doubletons necessitates drawing trumps first (and fails against QJ9 with South - restricted choice); catering to QJx (or QJ tight) does not require drawing trumps.

(2) Qx in a hand with a stiff trump.  Declarer can ruff two clubs and pitch three.

(3) Ax in either hand.  No special trump break needed.

Meck apparently tried a combo line.  If a diamond quack drops from NORTH he can afford a third diamond, as that does not preclude trying for both (2) and (3).  When the diamond quack dropped from SOUTH he had to pick a line right now.  He also had to gauge the probability of a false-card from Qxx, Jxx or QJxx.  (On the actual deal, with the nine having dropped, QJ9x was the only plausible holding for a falsecard.)  Regardless, if he chooses to ruff a diamond, unless that gets overruffed he can still try (2) and (3).

If no diamond quack appears he can try BOTH (2) and (3):  A, club ruff, K (hoping for Qx), club ruff (hoping for Ax).  If the Q has dropped from a hand with a stiff trump, then the heart jack will live and declarer can safely ruff the fourth heart to draw trumps and claim.  If the A drops he must find a safe red-suit ruff back to dummy.  Stricter return-to-dummy considerations apply if he has already tested diamonds with a ruff, but the basic plan is the same.

I think this is better than playing two trumps immediately, which would put all of declarer's eggs in the (1) basket.

Meckstroth took the best line.

69 Comments
Getting Comments... loading...
.

Bottom Home Top