All comments by Srdjan Katusic
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Agreed, in this case this does not same sense, 5 h should be general invitational with good suit. But I doubt its fair to just push slam decision to partner, perhaps we should take responsibility:)
May 7, 2019
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if anybody is interested what actually happened on the table:
- diamond lead turned out to be safe, although partner has a queen, but also ten, and AJ is dummy.
-club lead is also safe because partner has 10
-spade lead is also safe because declarer has 5-4 fit and with careful play he will always pick up your jack
-only unsafe lead which is statistically safest and the one you voted as safest is unsafe this time, as partner has Qx in hearts, and, even worse, if we avoid heart lead, declarer can get inferential count based on which he is likely to misguess the queen
- aarghhh…
Feb. 7, 2019
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yes, interesting idea , could nudge declarer into going wrong way in trump suit if he is in 4-4 fit.
Feb. 5, 2019
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Thx all for voting! This is real problem from important team match. By voting results, it seems close between heart and club lead. Diamond must be more dangerous than heart, and spade is suicidal, so hearts or clubs is the choice. Here is my analysis, if you are interested:

On the bidding, dummy should be 18-19 4243, or, bit less likely (based on my lengths) 4342, most likely with 4 keycards. Its clear that goal is to find lead that is least likely to help declarer to make 13 tricks, in case that he had some guessing to do. So, let's asses risk of assisting declarer:

Heart lead: knowing that dummy has 2 or 3 hearts, its possible to figure out that heart lead can't help declarer if it happens that partner has Jx(xx). Critical variant is if partner has a queen. If dummy has two hearts, and declarer 3+ hearts, again its not likely that ‘free’ finesse will help declarer much (it does not help declarer to discard diamond from table on additional heart trick, and if he has third round club loser, he can always take heart finesse by himself as only hope..). So, only critical variant is if dummy has exactly Hxx in hearts, partner Qx(x) without jack and ten, and declarer Hxx(x) in hand.

Club lead is dangerous is dummy is 4243 , and declarer has 3+ clubs with at least one top honor and ten of clubs somewhere (and 9, if ten is in dummy). In that case declarer is certainly going down if he has 3rd round club looser he can't dispose off, because he will never play us for QJ tight, based on restricted choice principle. Question is, will he ever play us for QJ tight in clubs if we lead club (either Q or J). That I don't know how to answer. Although leading singleton honor is relatively safe against grand slam, I haven't seen that lead ever, it just does not seem right to lead singleton Q or J. So declarer might get suspicious, regardless if we lead Q or J (J from QJ tight is known gem..). I don't know, but it feels that club honor lead might assist declarer to guess club position , if necessary..

So to compare safety of heart and club lead , we must compare likelihood of critical heart and club layouts. Club layout must be more probable, but of course that declarer can still guess wrong, even with club lead. But with the heart lead, declarer can also guess right even if we don't lead heart. That's why this game is so inspiring, and sometimes frustrating :)
Feb. 5, 2019
Srdjan Katusic edited this comment Feb. 5, 2019
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Alternative line after heart lead is to take club finesse immediately. From choice of opening lead and play on first trick, it appears to be big favorite to succeed. If indeed jack of club holds, we cash a king as well and then play spade queen, and if this also holds we are nearly home, no matter of how side suits are breaking. If LHO wins, he should return heart. We then play ace of clubs. If it's ruffed by LHO, we overuff and play ace of diamond - diamond, and we are in good shape, we are down just if guy with 4 trumps, has KQJx in diamonds, so he can play trumps back all the time. If its ruffed by RHO, we make if ruff is from original 3 card holding, and we are down otherwise. If clubs are 3-3, we are OK regardless of anything.
If club finesse unexpectedly fails, its quite hard for LHO to switch to diamonds looking at this table (unless he holds all the diamond honours). On likely heart return, we are home with 3-2 trumps, and also with 4-1 trumps if clubs are 3-3.

But probably you are right, playing diamonds is probably better then club finesse. For sure it was at the table, as diamonds were 3-3 all the time, club queen was on-side as expected, but fourth, and trumps were indeed 4-1, but unfortunately singleton was king with LHO :)
April 19, 2018
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Marc, David, thx for analysis! I agree, this is sound line, works nearly all the time if diamonds are no worse then 4-2, and trumps are 3-2, except just few cases when defense can arrange to play three round of trumps. However it will usually fail if RHO has 4 diamonds and someone has four trumps. Probably we can't get better chance in theory. But I wander about what can we deduce from choice of LHO opening lead. Apparently he lead heart from Jxx or Jxxxx. Just wander if this choice of opening lead marks him with queen of clubs (wouldn't he lead a club otherwise?). Is there perhaps better line if we choose to rely on this clue?
April 18, 2018
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Ken, I agree there are similarities between these two situations, but there is also significant difference: if we bid 1 NT and correct to 2 spades we have shown some values. If we pass 2h and than bid 2s, we can be broke. That is problem for partner if he happens to have some intermediate hand, say in 15-17 range.
Oct. 23, 2017
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I prefer to double on first turn. There is slight chance to finish in 4-3 diamond fit when partner is minimal, but if he turns out to have extras, he will be aware that we belong to game contract. If we pass, there is inevitable guessing involved if to stay low or move on.
Oct. 23, 2017
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You are right, so it seems indeed close choice, not even possible to calculate. Maybe just one tiny argument for winning lead in hand to play a club up early: there is small chance that LHO will fail to hop with the ace (he will not expect our singleton, and will maybe duck with say AJTxxx, not likely but who knows), and then we are always making. If we instead start with early spade finesse, LHO is, as you described, more or less endplayed into playing ace of club-club(or, even worse, he exits with diamond if he has one and we are quite badly placed, as we will have to win in hand, play a club, and until then LHO might figure out to hop and return a heart from Hxx, (or even from Hx if you are sitting in his chair :)). We might try to play three round of hearts now, but RHO might ruff partner winner, to give him a diamond ruff, and we are again down. If we instead try to play ace of spades, RHO might turn out with Hxx.
Oct. 18, 2017
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Kit, I think it is not immediately fatal if second diamond is ruffed by LHO. He will most likely play ace of club-club, we will play ace of spade-spade, and at the end, we will make if RHO has any 3 hearts because he will be squeezed in red suits. We will make if LHO is 3217 or similar, we will fail if he is 3316 or similar. We can't make with any line if LHO has KQx H?X in majors. So it depends if it is more likely that he has HHx Hx Tx A??xxx (when we should play two rounds of diamonds early to avoid heart loser) or Hxx H?x T A??xxx (when we should take lead in dummy and reasonably hope that we will be in position to finesse two times in spades). Hard to tell, but as first line wins sometimes also when LHO holds KQ tight in spades and second requires slight although likely misdefense, ill give first line slight precedence :)
Oct. 18, 2017
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Richard, I could say that opponents are solid, albeit bit timid bidders. I can't find definite clue from (lack of) their bidding if clubs are more likely to split 6-4 or 7-3.
Oct. 18, 2017
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Sorry Richard, wrong name, hopefully right line :) Yes, this innocent looking board is indeed quite fascinating and not easy to figure out.
Oct. 18, 2017
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Well spotted Robert, that would be great defense! Perhaps that suggests that best line is to just play two rounds of diamonds without touching hearts and play club up, and later , when LHO returns hearts from ?x after winning first trump trick (if he opts for spade or club we are home), and then we guess if ? stands for H or x :)
Oct. 18, 2017
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Michael, Kit, thx for great comments!
Kit, I agree that winning diamond lead in dummy for immediate spade finesse will probably give us second chance to repeat it when LHO opts for intuitive passive line of defense later. Thats best chance to hold trump losers to one, but nearly sure we have to accept heart loser (unless someone holds QJ tight). So we are going down, if LHO has KQ(x) in trumps, not that unlikely. If LHO has that trump holding and any doubleton heart we can still make if we play two round of diamonds early, so I'm inclined to think that this is more promising line.
Oct. 18, 2017
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You are right. Bonus of playing two rounds of hearts after two round of diamonds is that you eliminate guess in hearts (if you dont play hearts early, at some point of time LHO will have to exit with heart and if he has Hx, he may be tricky exiting with small one and we have to guess that to make, similar guess if he exits with honor). Risk is that hearts are 4-1, although this does not seems likely (no heart lead from singleton, not likely that LHO has four either). So right, best line seems to be KQ diamonds, AK hearts, than club.
Oct. 17, 2017
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Yes, its well conceived plan. Its nearly sure good idea to cash two rounds of diamonds before playing club up. Its harder to judge if its justified to cash two rounds of hearts, this will kill us always when RHO has H?x there, as he will win and play a diamond and we are down regardless of spade split.
Oct. 17, 2017
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OK, I admit that I took some time to analyze this hand, and here is my take on strongest line:

As we hold 9 of diamonds, its nearly sure lead is singleton or doubleton. Therefore, quite promising line is to win diamond in hand and play another high diamond immediately. Two cases can arise:

-if LHO led from doubleton we hold a trick. We now play club up. RHO presumably wins and he is already in problems. If he returns a spade we nearly surely make. If he instead returns small heart, we will win RHOs honor, and later have choices of play: if we believe RHO returned heart from xx, we can play trumps from top, usually conceding two trump tricks, but using only table entry to finesse in hearts. But, if we believe that LHO returned heart from Hxx (would he?), than best line is to throw him again with third round of hearts and we will get that way second table entry for two trump finesses. If RHO instead returns heart honor, its again probably best to play three round of hearts (he will usually have HH(x)). Finally, if LHO returns a club (most likely), we are on table and can play spade to jack. When LHO wins that, he is more or less forced to return a heart and again we for sure have a splendid chance to make (we dont have legitimate chance only if RHO has KQx H?x Tx A??xxx.
-but, if it happens that LHO ruffs second round of diamonds, we still have legitimate chances to guess either spades or hearts (with good chance to count hand, as clubs seems to be 6-4 having in mind silence of opponents in favorable vulnerability).

This is obviously complex hand, but my feeling is that this is best was to tackle it. Quite fascinating hand, i'm nearly happy I went down (in real life RHO had Hx in spade, so simple line of just one spade finesse does the trick)
Oct. 17, 2017
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That line covers 3-2 spade breaks expect Hxx or HHX with LHO, with smalll additional chance in these cases if LHO happens to have bare heart honour and we guess that right. I think there is a line that cover nearly all 3-2 spade breaks.
Oct. 17, 2017
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I think you are right, its best to just win diamond in hand and play a club up. But there is one intermediate step that can increase our chances considerably, easy to overlook..
Oct. 17, 2017
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thats reasonable, but perhaps there is a way to make even if East has Hxx or even xx in trumps, if we can reduce chance of loosing heart trick.
Oct. 17, 2017
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