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Dinkin Donut
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Golden Oldie  - a fascinating hand. The contract is 7. The opponents have not bid, and your LHO leads the 7. Plan the play before reading further.

 

North
AK84
AKJ82
32
98
Sam Dinkin
106
AKQ1097
AQ742

 

Your problem: try to react to this hand somewhat as if you were playing it at the table.

On the 7 lead, first, plan slowly. You have 11 top tricks assuming a 3-2 break in s, and, if s break badly, there is no need to worry as you will almost surely be defeated.

 

North
AK84
AKJ82
32
98
Sam Dinkin
106
AKQ1097
AQ742

Consider the lead carefully, but do not duck the trick (Wink).

What are the opponents' agreements about leads? If the 7 was from length, it would appear to be 3rd best. From Q97x,maybe. West would lead the queen with QJ97 - or not lead the suit at all against the grand.

If there are 3 or 4 spades on your left, does this imply the other suits are splitting fairly evenly?

Not really. If one suit is splitting evenly (if the spades in particular are 4-4-3-2) the other suits need not be breaking well. After all, you know the s are not splitting.

A very likely possibility is that the 7 was from shortness, a singleton or doubleton. In this case RHO has five or six s, and the s would seem more likely to be divided 4-2 with more s on your left.

However, if the K is tripleton onside, you can finesse in s, cash the A, ruff a with a low , pull trumps and claim. Not a good percentage play, about 1 chance in 6, or less. 

North
AK84
AKJ82
32
98
Sam Dinkin
106
AKQ1097
AQ742

All this speculation is mildly useful only. You need some hard data. What comes first? Pulling trumps early?  No, leave trumps alone. You are unlikely to make the hand if trumps are 4-1 anyway.

However, there is one way to improve your chances.

 

Test hearts first. It costs you nothing to ruff a heart, and you should cash the ace and king of hearts. Maybe the queen will drop.

North
AK84
AKJ82
32
98
South
106
AKQ1097
AQ742

It doesn’t drop in two rounds. On these two s, you get rid of 2 small s, and the defenders discard up the line. No one will show count anyway. Good players give nothing away.

Now lead a third . You have to risk a little on any line of play, and the risk at this point is minimal. If RHO follows, you plan to ruff with the 9.

Dummy

– K84

– J8

– 32

– 98

 

Declarer 

– T

- ---

– AKQT9

– AQ7

Happily, on the third your right hand opponent drops the Q and you ruff low. The J will eventually be your 12th trick. No need to ruff a club since you can discard it.

There is one more thing to consider. LHO started with five s (since RHO started with three s to the queen).

If the lead is from shortness, the finesse is not looking too good.  Since you don’t need a ruff (3 clubs are going on hearts), maybe you should lead trumps now?

 

Yes, lead all your trumps.

– K84

– J8

– 32

– 98

 

Declarer (You)

– T

- ---

– AKQT7

– AQ7

 

This is called “Pressure Play.”  West shows up with three s, and East with two.

Everybody hates to find discards. Watch them squirm! Your Dummy will discard one and two s forcing West to hold two s in the endgame.

Here is what you see with four tricks to go. You lead the T to dummy's K. On this play, West pitches a .

Dummy:

– K

– J8

– 

– 9

 

Declarer (You)

– T

-

– 

– AQ7

Now you know the full distribution:   Initially, West had: one , 5 s, three , and consequently four s clubs. He has to save the 97 to cover dummy’s J8. 

West is down to one and two s.  You cash the J tossing away that small 7 of yours. East has his original two s and a worthless – he throws away that . West follows with a small . He has the 9 and an unknown remaining.

 Down to 2 cards now. How do you play clubs?

You have improved your odds with your play so far. Or have you?

 How do you see it?

 Since West started with four s and East with only 2, the odds are 4-to-2 that West started with the K originally.

 The fact that East now has two and West only 1 does not imply that the odds are 2-1 that East now has the missing K.

 Quite the opposite. The odds are still 2-1 that West on your left has that bare K left.

 Go with the probabilities – play to the A and watch ...

 ....the K fall.

There is a certain justice that this well-played hand resulted in making 7. This hand actually occurred in a major competition. The American Junior Sam Dinkin scored this grand slam to come in 4th in the 1992 Junior Pair Trials.

It is not surprising that an expert player, as so many of Bridgewinners readers are, can keep the facts discovered in play well in mind at trick 12, and, at that critical point, take a superior line of play. But it never ceases to amaze me that inexperienced (usually young) players can rise so rapidly in awareness and understanding and play a hand like this.

[Dear Spencer,

Please feel free to put the hand up. You can add that my LHO and screenmate John Gassenheimer, said he'd be sick if I made the hand so I had a hint the ♣K was behind me. We needed something like 3-4 imps per board per comparison in the last quarter to qualify. There was a Bridge Today writeup of the same hand. 

In the IMP Pairs, later that week, I had another 7 hand with Michael Shuster that I sent to the daily bulletin at the 1992 Toronto NABC (not yet scanned). It had a Vienna Coup with a similar 3-card ending that also made. The auction on that one: 2-3; 7. Since one of the pairs ahead of us was Canadian, 4th was good enough to qualify for USA1. They later split USA1 and we ended up on USA2.

My vague recollection of the auction on this one was 1-2(some strong jump shift); 2N(relay)-3(strong diamond jump shift); 3 (2/3 top hearts)-4(solid diamonds); 4(cue)-4NT(RKC ); 5(3 discovery  keycards)-(think)5NT; 6 (2 kings)-7

Best Regards,  Sam]

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