Nickell vs. Lall - Last Board

Over the last three 15-board segments of the match each team had held a lead of around 50 imps, but with one board to go the match was tied.  At one table Justin Lall opened the East hand 1, Kevin Bathurst showed a forcing notrump response with 1, and Bobby Levin closed the auction with a jump to 4.  Lall led two high hearts, so after drawing trumps Levin crossed to dummy, ruffed a heart dropping the queen, and claimed twelve tricks.

In the other room the twelfth trick was more significant.  Rodwell, perhaps playing for a swing (his team was well behind at the start of the set), never bid with the East hand, and Pepsi-Zia powered into the decent 6.  Slam is better than the club guess, as declarer can exert pressure on the defenders.

Here is the full deal:

Meckstroth
96
Q32
Q10654
942
Pepsi
AKQJ1084
9
3
AJ105
Rodwell
752
AK1074
J97
Q7
Zia
3
J865
AK82
K863
W
N
E
S

P
P
P
1
P
1N
P
3
P
3
P
4
P
5
P
5
P
6
P
P
P
D
30
6 North
NS: 0 EW: 0
K
5
2
9
2
0
1
7
A
4
3
3
1
1
3
6
Q
2
1
2
1
A
5
6
9
1
3
1
J
7
2
5
1
4
1
K
4
3
6
1
5
1
10
7
8
3
1
6
1
5
7
K
2
3
7
1
K
10
10
11 tricks claimed
N/S -50
9

Rodwell led the K (Meckstroth played the 2, standard count on a king lead at trick one) and shifted to the 7.  Pepsi won and ran five trumps to produce this ending (click NEXT in the full diagram to see each trick):

At the table, Pepsi led a club to the king and finessed in clubs, losing to the queen.  The 11-imp swing to NICKELL was the final margin.

Should Pepsi have made it?  (The following analysis is based on a private discussion initiated by Mark Feldman.)

Pepsi should have cashed at least one more trump, probably both.  In the ending pictured below he had a good idea of the count.

Meckstroth
Q
Q10
942
Pepsi
84
AJ105
Rodwell
A10
J9
Q7
Zia
J
K8
K86
D

Both defenders had carded honestly at the first two tricks and then made their easier discards first - Rodwell threw his two spare hearts, while Meckstroth threw his two spare diamonds (after dummy had thrown one) and then a heart.  Perhaps Pepsi should have ruffed a diamond immediately, as Kit Woolsey suggested in real time, but declarer's actual sequence left a diamond threat in dummy that BOTH defenders had to worry about.

Therefore, the actual distribution was the most likely one, and Pepsi clearly played for it.  However, finishing the trumps would have reinforced that knowledge, and it would have produced the count squeeze no matter how the defenders discarded.  On the penultimate trump dummy can spare a club.  If Rodwell ever throws a diamond then dummy throws its last heart and Meck will have to guard diamonds and be squeezed out of a club on the last trump.

If Rodwell instead throws both of his hearts, then dummy throws its low diamond. When Pepsi crosses to the K and cashes the K, Meck is count-squeezed to release a club as he needs to keep the Q.

It would not have cost anything for Pepsi to play for this, except possibly an extra 50-point undertrick, which may have been on his mind.

I don't recall ever seeing a compound count squeeze before.