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All comments by Steve Bloom
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Was this IMPs or MPs?

Go back one trick. In the four card ending, both defenders had two clubs and two spades. The spade king was marked. The contract can't be set unless East has the club ace, so West should discard the club ten when the last trump was led.

That sets the contract. However, it costs an overtrick if South had Ax in clubs.

At IMPs, I would expect the robots to get this right.
12 hours ago
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Not exactly routine.

Let's assume 3 is natural, not pass/correct.

East leads a club, and declarer runs trumps, reaching your ending, but with West holding another club winner: East is a 5-3 favorite to hold the diamond ace. Playing for the squeeze holds declarer to nine tricks when the diamond ace was onside. Even at pairs, it might be right to guarantee your contract.
13 hours ago
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OK, here's a simple example. On suit auctions where dummy has shown a strong balanced hand, and I have no attractive lead, I'll underlead an ace.

On more than one occasion, the suit has been KJx(x) in dummy, 10x with declarer, and third hand has faced a “guess” holding Q9x. Betty has always gotten it right. She knows, from past hands, that I am likely to have the ace.

Surely that is partnership knowledge. If asked, after the lead, she would certainly say “An underlead of an ace is common when dummy is known to be strong and balanced.”
13 hours ago
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Unfortunately, the most effective defense usually includes partner. We don't defend double dummy.

If I think a bizarre lead stands out, I will make it. But, if it is close, I stick to the normal, since the bizarre lead might be the winner, and yet fool partner enough that we still botch the defense.

Starting with the second best opening lead might be more productive if you and partner can then follow up with an accurate defense.
13 hours ago
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Of course, there is more to this than active or passive.

Lew Mathe used to castrate partners who led from a jack.

The answer, “Passive” doesn't help if both the jack and king are off-side. What is relevant: Would you prefer leading from a jack-high suit or a king-high suit?
Oct. 20
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You write, “every declarer in that contact successfully guessed the trump queen, reinforcing the standard advice ”eight ever, nine never“.”

I suspect that there was enough bidding at most tables for declarer to judge that North, with four spades and 0-1 hearts, would not sell to four hearts.
Oct. 20
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@DC: +980 vs +50: 14 IMPs. +980 vs +100. Now you win a whopping 14 IMPs.

Now take another scenario: Both slams depend on a finesse. You take 13 tricks or 11. They stop in six at the other table. Half the time, you win 11. Half the time you lose two. I like those odds.

My biggest worry is bidding a pushy grand only to find my counterparts were in game. That won't happen when I have 15 highs facing a 2NT opener. On a big fit hand, I am much more conservative in grand slam auctions.

Too often our big fit means my teammates are jacking up the auction with their big fit. Settling for 1010 may seem like a loss, but not if my troops come back with -500 in five diamonds, doubled.
Oct. 19
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What makes you think declarer hasn't upgraded a bit?

My guess: South holds Qx Kx AK10xxx AQx.
Oct. 19
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Why?

Bidding a marginal grand is quite poor when they might miss the slam at the other table, but there is no chance of that.

So, you simply need 56% odds to make to justify bidding seven.
Oct. 19
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Declarer played poorly. A low diamond at trick two would almost always get a second club lead, and nine easy tricks.
Oct. 19
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Depends on agreements. Since East would normally not have a hand with a long, self-sufficient heart suit, three hearts might (by agreement) show heart length or values with a club fit.

If so, then passing three hearts is clearly not logical.
Oct. 19
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Well,then, according to the text partner played two clubs, the six and the three. Hard to do that on only one trick. Even harder to do that when I hold the club three.
Oct. 18
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While you are at it: The cold slam on p.4: AKxxxx x AQJx xx, is cold because partner has four hearts. The club losers go away. Would the methods really have avoided the hopeless slam when partner was 4-3 in the majors?
Oct. 18
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Picture declarer with AJx in clubs. You want South to play the ace.

South might play the ace if you make a surrounding play with Q108xx (but that is a play that you know can't gain). Declarer will certainly play the ace if the lead looks like a singleton and if West still has another entry.

If you held one club and the heart ace, you would always overtake and shift to that club. So that is how you should play here.

As to encouraging in hearts - partner might not read the heart five as encouraging - that may depend on where the 2 and 3 are located.
Oct. 18
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The math is wrong. East is a passed hand, and would open with both the king and jack of clubs. So West must have one of those. So East is not a 5-2 favorite to hold any specific card.

Moreover, West might have played the jack from Jx, or Jxx. So, I play the queen.
Oct. 15
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(1) I know the hand, and it was from Matchpoints. You did a total point analysis. Four clubs is better at pairs.

(2) South never showed five clubs. Couldn't South be 2-4-3-4?

Passing three spades seems best.
Oct. 15
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Thanks. Didn't read the D as the queen.

I still want to know more about the double. Did this really promise four or more spades, and force to game?
Oct. 15
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I am quite lost in all of this. Was the double always a game force? If not, then I can't imagine any hand where West would not be making a strong move: West is vul versus not, and has AQx in diamonds, and a big club fit, but didn't cue-bid? That makes no sense. Couldn't 3NT be laydown?

I guess I need to know more about the methods, and the double.

We are forced to decide if West holds xx xx AQx ??xxxx or xx Qxx AQx ??xxx. The 2-2-3-6 shape, with no other cards, seems to fit the auction better. That gives East xx Q10 J9xx AKQxx. Not a lovely two club overcall. So, I would be asking lots of style questions.
Oct. 14
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Partner is a huge favorite to be very short in diamonds, and you have the trump ace. Leading a spade is simply an attempt to win one spade trick before it goes away. Leading a diamond seems much better.

So, I don't think we will find the winning defense on a spade lead, but it seems pretty easy to collect 1100 on a diamond lead.
Oct. 13
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If I knew spades were 5-2 either way, I would play the queen of spades, to tighten up the position.

If I knew East had four hearts, I would play low.

At most tables, declarer knew nothing. Playing low works when East has four hearts and when I read the ending. Playing high gains when either hand holds five spades. Seems right to play the spade queen. Most declarers agreed, so I am not surprised at the results.
Oct. 13
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