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Collegiate Clashes
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I am the captain of the University of Chicago collegiate team (Oren Kriegel, Julian Manasse-Boetani, Kelly Mao, Ruth Ng, Alexander Okamoto, Aaron Song), which recently qualified for the national semifinals, to be played at the Summer NABC in Chicago. In the qualifying stages, we play two 16-board matches each month. Here are a few interesting (to me, at least) deals.

In a match against Stanford, I declared a 3NT contract with some squeeze potential (click NEXT to follow the play):

Kaplan
Q1093
J3
A7
Q10653
M.-B.
872
104
108
AJ9842
Zhou
J65
7652
J96542
Kriegel
AK4
AKQ98
KQ3
K7
W
N
E
S
2
P
2
P
2
P
3
P
3NT
P
P
P
D
15
3NT South
NS: 0 EW: 0
5
9
6
K
3
1
0
A
3
4
2
3
2
0
K
J
10
5
3
3
0
Q
3
2
6
3
4
0
9
3
2
7
3
5
0
8
10
4
9
3
6
0
Q
A
8
2
0
6
1
6
8
4
7
1
7
1
A
5
3
10
1
8
1
12 tricks claimed
N/S +690
9

Obviously, the stakes are higher in 6NT or at matchpoints, but against the notrump game, Adam Kaplan led a low club. When Erli Zhou showed out, I overtook with the K and ran five heart tricks. Feeling a bit squeezed, Kaplan parted with one club and two spades, leaving Zhou to guard both pointed suits. I knocked out the A and took 12 tricks on the ensuing squeeze.

To have any chance (of stopping the third overtrick, that is), Kaplan must keep three spades. Pitching two clubs is obviously fatal, so he must blank the A. Now unless I work out to duck a diamond, the defense can always hold me to 11 tricks.

There was nothing particularly significant about this deal, but I enjoyed it nonetheless.

Playing against Berkeley, last year's national champions, overbidding by me put my partner at the helm of a thin 4:

West
North
KJ108654
643
7
Q3
East
South
Q
AK9875
AJ54
J6
W
N
E
S
1
P
1
2
2
P
4
P
P
P
D
4 South
NS: 0 EW: 0
5
3
K
6
2
0
1
A
J
9
Q
2
0
2
10
3

Click NEXT to see the first few tricks and plan the play.

Standard operating procedure when offered a ruff-sluff is to ruff in the short-trump hand and discard a loser from the long hand. On this deal, however, you must ruff in hand, draw trumps (they must be 2-2 or you have no hope), and overtake the Q with the king, setting up two spade winners in dummy for discards. You can ruff a diamond with dummy's third trump to access the good spades. The full deal with the succesful line:

West
9732
102
K1083
975
North
KJ108654
643
7
Q3
East
A
QJ
Q962
AK10842
South
Q
AK9875
AJ54
J6
W
N
E
S
1
P
1
2
2
P
4
P
P
P
D
7
4 South
NS: 0 EW: 0
9
3
K
6
2
0
1
A
J
5
Q
2
0
2
10
5
7
4
3
1
2
A
2
3
Q
3
2
2
K
10
4
J
3
3
2
Q
2
K
A
2
3
3
10 tricks claimed
N/S +620
6

Unfortunately, partner didn't find this play at the table, so he finished down one. The opponents played a partscore in the other room, so we lost 7 IMPs, but making 4 would have won 10.

Another deal from the Berkeley match, another thin game. Alexander Okamoto is a first-year who will be anchoring the team before long. As you can see, his bidding could use some work, but as they say, the play's the thing:

West
74
KQ542
KJ3
J43
North
2
AJ1087
A102
A872
East
KJ10653
9
84
KQ65
South
AQ98
63
Q9765
109
W
N
E
S
P
1
2
X
P
3
P
3NT
P
P
P
D
3NT South
NS: 0 EW: 0
7
2
K
A
3
1
0
3
2
10
9
1
2
0
2
4
Q
K
0
2
1
3
2
Q
9
2
2
2
K
10
4
A
1
3
2
8
5
8
J
0
3
3
4
10
10
Q
3
4
3
6
4
J
6
1
5
3
8

Click NEXT to follow the play. Okamoto (South) captured the K with the ace and led a heart to the 10, noting the fall of East's 9. A diamond to the queen lost to the king and a club came back. Again watching the spots carefully, Okamoto set up the 7. West returned another spade to the 10 and Q as Okamoto shed a diamond from dummy. Now a heart to the jack and the 7 squeezed West in this position:

West
KQ5
J3
North
A87
A
7
East
J653
8
South
9
9765
D

If West let go of a heart, Okamoto would play A and a heart, setting up his ninth trick with the A still in dummy. In practice, West threw a diamond, and Okamoto hadn't come this far to fail now: he cashed the A and exited with a low heart. West had to lead away from her K5 into dummy's A8. 

Well played: +600 won 11 IMPs.

In our second encounter with Berkeley, the stakes were higher: the winner would advance to the semifinals, and the loser would have to try again later.

Here are two lead problems from that match:

Problem 1

West
KQJ43
Q83
KJ
AK10
W
N
E
S
P
1
X
2
P
3
P
3
P
4
P
P
P

What is your opening lead?

 

Problem 2

West
8543
95
KQ42
1095
W
N
E
S
P
P
P
1
P
1
P
2
P
2
P
4
P
P
P

What is your opening lead?

Solution 1

I was West, and I thought the K was normal enough, but this was the full layout (click NEXT to advance the play):

West
KQJ43
Q83
KJ
AK10
North
762
1054
4
Q98432
East
85
62
109853
J765
South
A109
AKJ97
AQ762
W
N
E
S
P
1
X
2
P
3
P
3
P
4
P
P
P
D
4 South
NS: 0 EW: 0
K
2
5
A
3
1
0
A
J
4
10
3
2
0
2
K
4
3
1
3
0
2
5
7
10
3
4
0
6
3
5
5
1
5
0
3
6
9
K
3
6
0
7
A
10
8
1
7
0
6
8
9
J
0
7
1
4
7
2
10
2
7
2
9
Q
3
4
0
7
3
10

South, Isha Thapa—who represented the United States last August in Istanbul on the Rona Cup (women under 26) team—won the A, cashed the A, ruffed a diamond, ruffed a club, and played a third diamond. I was helpless. If I ruffed high, Thapa would just discard a spade and be able to ruff her last low diamond with the 10, so I discarded. Thapa ruffed in dummy, ruffed another club, and ruffed her last low diamond. She exited with a spade, and I flailed around a bit, but to no avail: -420.

The winning lead is a low heart: If declarer tries to ruff diamonds, I can ruff high and play a second round of trumps, and declarer loses two spades, one heart, and one diamond. Drawing trumps is no better, because she loses two spades and two diamonds.

In the other room, the bidding was:

W
N
E
S
P
1
X
P
2
P
2
P
P
P

When North failed to raise hearts immediately, East picked off South's second suit. 2 did not play well, and when the dust settled, declarer was -300. But still, Berkeley won 3 IMPs.

 

Solution 2

I would have led the K, and so would everyone else I polled, but Julian Manasse-Boetani found the killing lead of the 10. The full deal (click NEXT to advance the play):

M.-B.
8543
95
KQ42
1095
North
QJ2
KQ62
AJ8
J86
Kriegel
107
A83
9763
AQ32
South
AK96
J1074
105
K74
W
N
E
S
 
P
P
P
1
P
1
P
2
P
2
P
4
P
P
P
D
14
4 South
NS: 0 EW: 0
10
J
A
4
2
0
1
2
K
5
6
3
1
1
4
5
K
A
2
1
2
Q
7
9
8
2
1
3
7
9 tricks claimed
N/S -50
5

Manasse-Boetani's inspiration was worth 10 IMPs when the pedestrian K lead at the other table allowed 4 to make. Our margin of victory? 7 IMPs.

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