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Adrenaline Hangover
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When I have to make a tough decision or a complex(ish) calculation during a hand, the after effect is a sort of an adrenaline hangover preventing my brains from functioning at the normal level. The best case scenario is sub-optimal play and the worst case scenario is a complete blunder. I know I'm susceptible to this but still there are times when I fall for it.

Playing Swiss teams against good opponents I picked up a strong hand leading to the following:

West
A102
AQJ
AJ2
AK73
East
K7654
K72
K7
Q109
W
N
E
S
 
P
P
2
P
2
P
3
P
4
P
4N
P
5
P
5
P
5
P
6N
P
P
P

You would probably bid 2NT instead of 3. I considered it, too, but opted for the support with support principle. We can pretend that the auction continued 2NT-6NT.

North leads the T. First thoughts?

West
A102
AQJ
AJ2
AK73
East
K7654
K72
K7
Q109
W
N
E
S
 
P
P
2
P
2
P
3
P
4
P
4N
P
5
P
5
P
5
P
6N
P
P
P

Lead: 10

The contract looks great. There are 10 top tricks so you need either four spade tricks or seven minor suit tricks.

What is the percentage play to bring in the spades?

West
A102
AQJ
AJ2
AK73
East
K7654
K72
K7
Q109
W
N
E
S
 
P
P
2
P
2
P
3
P
4
P
4N
P
5
P
5
P
5
P
6N
P
P
P

Lead: 10

If spades are 3-2, there are no problems. Are there any 4-1 splits that you can handle?

If North has the length, there is nothing you can do. If North has a singleton quack, you can pick that by starting with the K and then finessing the T and later giving South a trick. If North has a smaller singleton, you can start with a low spade to T; if South splits, you go back to dummy and lead low towards the T. If South follows low, you can insert the T.

Which way to go?

The singleton in North hand is either Q, J, 9, 8, or 3. You can pick 2/5 by the K and 3/5 by low to 10 making the latter the percentage play.

This was the mental work I did at the table before playing to trick one from dummy. So I decided to go up with K and lead a low spade to the T when South followed low. North contributed the 9 to this trick. At this point my inherited instincts told that I have just escaped the saber tooth cat and can breathe again.

What would a focused declarer do now?

West
A102
AQJ
AJ2
AK73
East
K7654
K72
K7
Q109
W
N
E
S
 
P
P
2
P
2
P
3
P
4
P
4N
P
5
P
5
P
5
P
6N
P
P
P

1: T, K, 6, Q

2: 4, 3, T, 9

At this point there are a couple of certainties: a) you can make the contract, b) spades are 4-1 c) the top trick count is up to 11

Item c) should be your guidance. I claimed 12 tricks by setting up the spades. You should, instead, focus on getting all 13 tricks without risking the contract. How?

The full hand:

West
A102
AQJ
AJ2
AK73
North
9
1098543
83
8642
East
K7654
K72
K7
Q109
South
QJ83
6
Q109654
J5
W
N
E
S
 
P
P
2
P
2
P
3
P
4
P
4N
P
5
P
5
P
5
P
6N
P
P
P
?
D

1: T, K, 6, Q

2: 4, 3, T, 9

At this point you should cash A and Q. If nothing happens, give away a spade and take the 12 tricks. However, when the J comes down, cash the rest of the clubs pitching a spade, then the the spades and finally two hearts squeezing South for a risk free overtrick.

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