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Play problems from Chicago
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I only played four sessions in Chicago - and declared few hands during that time.  However, I had an extraordinary number of interesting play problems.  You are priveledged to sitting across from Sam Dinkin, playing "The Infernal Machine"

 

North
A642
KQ9
A10x
Qxx
South
Q
Axxx
KQxx
Kxxx
W
N
E
S
1
P
1
P
2
P
2
P
2NT
P
3
P
3
P
3
P
4
P
4
P
P
P

 

The opening lead is a small trump (relay squeeled the lead.)  There are a few possible lines to take here... you can bank on everything breaking and taking 4 hearts, 4 diamonds, 1 spade and a club... but if everything is breaking, you can do almost anything sensible and come to 10 tricks.  It looks very attractive to try to ruff spades in hand though - but the timing is tricky.

 

1) You can win the A, cross to the A and ruff a spade, cross in diamonds, ruff a spade and lead a club (you can't draw trump until you've established a club and you need to still have a trump in hand to prevent them from running spades.)  If the club loses to RHO could try returning a spade (for an uppercut or to endplay you in hand) or a trump to stop the last ruff.

2) Win the A, A, spade ruff.  Then finesse the 10, ruff another spade, K and play dummy's last spade.

3)  A, A, spade ruff, then a club up.  If LHO holds the A and goes up with it, that could blow a defensive trick.  If RHO wins the A and plays a trump, you win in dummy, ruff a spade

 

Lines 1 and 3 are similar with different timing.  Line 2 risks spectacular failure when the diamond finesse loses.  At the table, I chose line 3... 

A, A, ruffed and a cub.  LHO ducked the A, I ruffed another spade, crossed to the A in dummy and trumped the last spade, overruffed by LHO.  I now lacked a dummy entry to draw the trump, but LHO, not wanting to lead either minor, put me in dummy with a trump.  I drew trump and the diamonds ran for 11 tricks.  RHO had the J, so line 2 would fail.

 

 

Well, reversing the dummy in a 4-3 fit is cool... but not as much fun as in a 5-2 fit.

North
Kx
Q98x
x
AKQJxx
South
Q987x
Kx
AKQxx
x
W
N
E
S
2
P
2NT
P
3
P
4
P
4
P
4
P
P
P

 

Thankfully, the opponents did not ask about our alerts.  

I realized after showing spades and diamonds, that my shape was impossible - all big spade diamond 2-suiters have at least six spades in our methods.  

So when partner bid 4 as an optional spade key card, I said "NO' despite the HCP maximum.  Since they never asked about our alerts I had no UI and was able to wake up on my own without ethical problems.  

Before the lead, I clarified to the opponents that my hand would not match the explanation, that while I did realize I showed spades and diamonds, I did not hold a sixth spade.  I knew that legally I would have been OK allowing partner to properly explain our agreement (we had notes to back it up) - doing so would have felt dirty.  I just told them what I intended to show and told them I realized I screwed up halfway through the auction and backpedaled the blackwood response.

 

After a low heart lead with RHO playing the 10 to my King, the play is quite interesting.

 

1)  We can try to draw trump and run winners.  

2)  We can try to cash side winners and crossruff.

 

I chose 2, but then had to time the play.  The start was easy enough..

K, A, K (pitching a heart).   Now, ruffed (RHO plays the J) and the A and K...  so here we are at the crossroads.

I really need a third round of diamonds to hold up... but I want to be in dummy to single in another small spade, so I ruff a diamond in dummy.  

This holds, and I ruff another heart (bringing down the A from RHO) and ruff another diamond with the K.  

RHO overruffs with the A and returns a trump.  I play the 9, LHO wins and returns a trump.  I win - claiming 11 tricks.  Yes, 3NT would have been easier.

Finally, a slam hand with a standard auction by our side.  For this round I was playing with Adam Grossack - we had no agreement about the kind of had he'd hold for 4, but we worked it out, I suppose.  I can't speak for our opponents...

North
AKJxx
xx
A108xx
x
South
xxx
AQ10xxxx
KJ9
W
N
E
S
1
P
2
3
3
P
3
P
4
P
4
P
4
P
6
P
P
P

 

LHO leads the K, which you ruff.  So trick one was easy.  The rest of the hand, not so much.  

The opponents despite being unfavorable, have a LOT of clubs to have bid only once.  

 

1st you need to handle the trump suit.

 

1)  Cross to the K and lead a heart to the 10.  This safeties against 4-0 trumps and flat out makes against KJx onside. 

2)  Cross to the k and lead a heart to the Q.  This picks up Kx onside as well as stiff Jack offside.  

3)  Cash the A.  If nothing interesting happens, cross to the A and lead a trump up.  

 

In order to keep more communications with dummy, I chose line 3.  I'm not convinced that is right, but if you chose line 1, you'd lose to the heart jack and another spade would come back, after which your options become very limited.

 

So I cash the A and catch the singleton Jack on my Left.  I drive out the K and RHO plays another club.  I ruff and draw the last trump, pitching a diamond and a spade from dummy.  

 

Now I have to guess how the hands are distributed.  DId LHO bid just 3 with eight of them (leaving RHO to not raise with 3334 shape) or did LHO hold seven clubs and RHO not raise with 3325/2335 shape?  

 

If LHO has EIGHT clubs, you do best to cash the AK and, if the spades aren't good, lead a diamond to the jack in hand.  

If LHO has seven clubs, he'll have 3+ cards in a pointed suit.  Since you can pick up 4-1 diamonds onside, you should, in that case, cash the AK and play diamonds through LHO.

If you think you can make on a squeeze, think again - you are TWO tricks short, so RHO can't be brought under pressure (that squeeze line was selected by two different experts at dinner - so I feel better about my line)

I did none of those things.  I cashed one spade and the AK then played on spades.  LHO was 2128 so finessing diamonds through RHO would have worked.  Down one.

 

Such is life.  

 

I had another hand where I needed to reverse the dummy on a 5-2 fit, but am having trouble remembering the hand - probably because I went down.  

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