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Board 3 Day 1 Session 1 LM Pairs

3NT East
NS: 0 EW: 0


At my table there was a long thought by North before passing out 3N.  It was at least a minute (my partner and I both thought more like 2 minutes), and was followed by a joking "no problem."

South made the normal lead of the 7.  I was declarer and guessed right to play low from dummy, winning the King with the Ace.  I now cashed a club, crossed to the A, and finessed the J, losing to South's Q.

South now promptly led the J, which was necessary at that point to hold me to nine tricks.  This may well be a demonstrably "correct" play.  Fwiw, the partnership was using "Reverse Smith Echo" and North had played high-low on the clubs. 

However, I felt that this play was made MUCH easier by the long huddle before passing out 3N.  I did not immediately call the director, because we were late and had another board to play.  After considering it further, I decided a bit later in the session that this really did not feel right, so I spoke with a director during our first break.

The director was skeptical from the start, feeling that there was no other logical play for South.  I felt strongly that some in the South position would not find the J shift without the huddle, playing instead the J.  There were certainly positions where the J shift could be giving me a trick outright, or taking away a guess.  Eventually the director did some polling, and came back to me saying that 5 players all felt the the J was a clear play.  

I was surprised by this, but accepted it (what else could I do?), and thanked the director for looking into it.  I did question whether those polled were peers of the South at my table, and was told that those polled were "good players, but not world class."

During the dinner break, it coincidentally came to my attention that a considerably stronger player than the South at my table, in an identical position (including the Reverse Smith), had played the J. 

It also came to my attention that apparently (not 100% sure about this) at least one of the players polled was a world class player participating in the event (so presumably had already played the board, and was just giving an opinion on the play). 

Even if all the players polled were exactly the right level, didn't know the deal, and gave it serious thought, I would think the results of any such poll are not very compelling.  Defending when given a problem is very different from defending at the table without UI.

It seems to me that the evidence of even one player, in an identical position, making a different play, is more pertinent than anything that can be learned from a poll.  Obviously the J was a logical alternative.

On the first day of the LM's, when there are many tables playing the board, would it make sense for the directors to look for the same position, rather than polling?  Polling takes a lot of time and effort.  Would this actually be any harder?  Is there any rule which says that directors must base rulings on polls, rather than simple logic and/or other more compelling evidence?

I decided to write about this hand in part because I think it is also an interesting play problem, which I got wrong.  Since I AM entitled to use the hesitation, in retrospect I feel I should have been confident that North had seven spades.  Best then was to duck a diamond at trick two.  Not only does this allow me to take ten tricks if I go wrong as I did in clubs, it allows me to get a complete count on the hand and go right in clubs for 11 tricks.

I'd be interested in hearing from others about what happened on this board at their table.  

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