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Gargoyle Chronicles - Event 3, Match 8, Board 7
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gargoyle

Board 7
Both sides vulnerable

 

Phillip
AQ10
A9
Q984
K1064
 
I open 1 in first seat. Partner responds 1, and I bid 1NT (15-17). Partner bids 2 (checkback Stayman), and RHO doubles. I redouble.  Jack and I haven't discussed this redouble. But I think K10xx is the worst holding I could have. I need the ace or king, so the defense can't play three rounds of trumps, and I need a second trump trick. 

Partner bids 3. RHO passes, and I bid 3NT. LHO dutifully leads the 7.

 


Jack
J9
Q8762
AK6
832
Phillip
AQ10
A9
Q984
K1064
W
N
E
S
1
P
1
P
1NT
P
2
X
XX
P
3
P
3NT
P
P
P

I might have taken a shot at 2 redoubled with partner's hand. If I didn't know Jack better, I would think he was playing it safe because we just bid and made a slam off two cashing tricks. That's not a strategy I approve of, by the way. If you think it's wrong to pass the redouble, that's one thing. But if you think it's right, I believe you should do it regardless of the state of the match. I've never understood why being up in a match tempts people to take actions they believe are anti-percentage.

I have eight easy tricks: two spades, a heart, three diamonds, and two clubs. And I have lots of possibilities for a ninth. I play low from dummy, and East plays the J. I see no reason to win this trick, so I encourage with the 6. East cashes the A. I play the four, and West plays the 2. Perhaps this means the K is onside.

No, it's not. East shifts to the 8. He doesn't know I have the ten, so he would not lead away from the king in this position, especially after his partner's deuce. I might as well retain some flexibility by playing the queen. West can't possibly duck this trick. I could be 2-2-5-4 for all he knows.

West takes the king and continues with the 4. East plays the five. Where's the three? It's possible East is playing low (present count) from three and West's four is high from four-three doubleton remaining:

(A)   K 4 3 2  8 7 6 5


It's also possible East is playing high from a doubleton and West is leading low from three:

(B)   K 7 6 4 2  8 5 3


I have to keep both possibilities in mind.

If diamonds are three-three, I've made this. So I might as well assume they aren't. In that case, West is probably the one with four diamonds. If West has four spades, then he is 4-4-4-1, and I'm cold. I can win this trick in dummy, take a club finesse, then play a low heart to dummy's queen. If it loses to the king, West is caught in a red suit squeeze. If West has five spades, then he is 5-3-4-1. In that case, I will need some luck in the heart suit. I need to find West with the K (so I can score the queen) or with J10x (so he will be squeezed).

I win in dummy with the J, then lead a club to my ten. West pitches the 3. He is surely 5-3-4-1 now. He would not pitch from four hearts, allowing me to establish the suit.

I play the 9; West plays the four. I play the queen. East wins with the king and plays the 7 to my ace. West follows with the three, and I pitch the 2 from dummy. I am down to this position:

Jack
876
AK6
Phillip
A
Q984
K

Once I deduced spades were five-three, I expected East to show up with the 3. But West had it, suggesting layout (A) above. Is that possible? Could West be 4-4-4-1?

No. There is no chance that West, with a perfectly safe spade pitch available, would have pitched a heart from jack fourth or ten fourth, allowing me to run the suit if I guessed to duck out his partner's king. The spade suit must lie as follows:

(C)  K 6 4 3 2 8 7 5


That means West made a strange lead of the 4 from 643 at trick three. But it is more likely that West carded strangely than that he risked handing me the contract for no reason. West must be 5-3-4-1.

There is no squeeze, so I need to take four diamond tricks. If I had worked out West's shape earlier, I could have played for this lie of the diamond suit.

  NORTH
Jack
A K 6
 
WEST
Floyd
J 10 x x
  EAST
Christian
7 x
  SOUTH
Phillip
Q 9 8 4
 
 

I lead the eight. If West covers, I win in dummy, return to my hand, and lead the nine, pinning East's seven and establishing dummy's six. Unfortunately, I don't have the communication to do that any more. My only chance at four diamond tricks is to find East with jack-ten doubleton.

It costs nothing to lead the 8 anyway. If West plays low, I may decide to play him to have made a mistake and to let it ride. It's unlikely I would do that against a computer, but I might do it in a real game if I sensed a sufficient degree of anxiety on my right once West's low diamond hit the table.

On the 8, West plays the seven. I can't believe he would fail to cover with J107x, so any notion I had of letting this ride has vanished. I go up with the ace; East plays the deuce. I return to my hand with the A and cash the Q. knowing full well there is no squeeze. There isn't. Down one.


Floyd
K6432
J43
10753
7
Jack
J9
Q8762
AK6
832
Christian
875
K105
J2
AQJ95
Phillip
AQ10
A9
Q984
K1064
D
7

Was I making 2 redoubled? That's unclear. Suppose East starts with AQ. I win, play a diamond to my king and float the J. West wins and plays another diamond. I win with the ace and cash two spades, pitching a diamond from my hand, to reach this position:

Floyd
6
J43
107
Jack
Q8762
8
Christian
K105
J95
Phillip
A9
Q9
106
D
7

Counting the A and 10, I have seven tricks. I need one more. In this layout, I can ruff dummy's 9 in my hand. East must overruff (else that's my eighth trick). If he leads a heart, I score the Q. If he exits in trumps, I score the Q. (Note a heart shift by West when he is in with the K does not help.)

This line will not work, however, if West has the K, since he can gain the lead to give East a second diamond ruff. In that case, in the diagrammed position, I must play ace and a heart. West wins and must play a diamond or a spade. I ruff in my hand, East overruffs, and I pitch the 9. Again, East must either give me the Q or draw trumps, allowing me to cash the Q. 

A different opening lead might give me more problems. But sooner or later, I reach the same position. In all variations, my success comes down to guessing who has the K.

Unfortunately, our teammates did not beat 3NT. Should they have? After a strong notrump opening and a Jacoby auction, West will probably lead a spade, which declarer will win in dummy. If declarer allows East to win the first heart trick, a spade continuation will beat it. (The defense establishes spades or shifts to a club depending on which hand has the remaining heart entry.) But if declarer leads a heart to the nine at trick two, there is nothing the defense can do.

This deals illustrates why I think the strategy of "playing it safe" when you are up in the match is wrong. Of course you would like to duplicate the result at the other table if that were possible. But it's not. You don't know what's going on at the other table. So why not just take your percentage action? Presumably, that's how you got in the lead in the first place. 

I don't know if I would have made 2 redoubled or not. But I do 16 imps better if I make it, and I lose only 2 imps more if I go down. I like those odds. 


Table 1: -100
Table 2: -600

Result on Board 7: -12 imps
Total: +19 imps

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