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

Board 8
Neither vulnerable

Phillip
A82
KQ84
Q973
A5

LHO opens 1, partner passes, and RHO bids 1. I do play 1NT in sandwich position as natural, but I bid it only with a source of tricks, not with a flat hand. I pass, LHO bids 1NT, and there are two passes to me. This looks like a good spot. Rather than contract for seven tricks in notrump on offense, I'll contract for the same number on defense.

I pass, and partner leads the 10, showing zero or two higher honors.


Christian
10654
AJ10
652
Q98
Phillip
A82
KQ84
Q973
A5
W
N
E
S
1
P
1
P
1NT
P
P
P

Partner has the KJ, leaving him with at most a queen or two jacks in addition. South covers the 10 with the queen, I take the ace, and declarer follows with the seven.

With three small clubs, declarer would duck to block the suit. So declarer must be 2-3-4-4 or 3-2-4-4 with 76xx. We have three club tricks, one spade, and two hearts (if we can manage them). We need one more trick somewhere.

I'm pretty sure the best defense is for me to lead a club to partner and get a heart shift. But how will partner know to do that? He should be able to draw the same inference I did that declarer has four clubs. But how does he know a heart shift won't just pickle my queen? Maybe it will help if I return a diamond--a high one to suggest I want a shift. Then, when declarer plays clubs himself, perhaps partner will work out to play a heart.

It might cost to break diamonds. Declarer might, for example, have AKJ10 and be unable to take two finesses unless I lead the suit for him. But I'm probably going to have to lead diamonds sooner or later anyway. So why not now?

I switch to the 7. Declarer takes the ace; partner plays the four. Declarer has marked himself with the ace and king (winning with the king would have been a better idea), thereby increasing the chance from partner's point of view that I have both heart honors. Maybe partner will get this right.

Declarer leads the 3 to partner's jack. If it wasn't clear to partner at trick one that declarer had four clubs, declarer's attacking the suit himself should certainly make it clear now. Come on, partner. Heart shift! No such luck. Partner cashes the K. As a general rule, I should pitch the major I don't want led in this position. But I'm not sure I can afford a spade. I don't want declarer to be able to lead a spade toward his hand once, then duck out my ace. So I pitch the 8. That can hardly be my lowest heart, so perhaps partner will appreciate my problem.

Partner is having a hard time getting the message to play hearts. He shifts to the 7. Declarer plays the ten from dummy. I play the ace, and declarer plays the three. Partner's seven was the lowest outstanding spot, so he must have Q97 or J97, giving declarer a 3-2-4-4 pattern with KQ3 or KJ3. Playing the ten from dummy doesn't make a lot of sense with the latter holding, so I'm betting on KQ3.

If declarer takes three spade tricks, he'll make this: three spades, one heart, two diamonds, and one club. So I must get the A off the table while the spade are blocked. Of course, if I lead the K, declarer can just duck it. But he doesn't know spades are three-three, so he might find something else to play for. And there is nothing to lose by trying. If declarer does duck, at least I have one heart trick in the bag.

I lead the K--6--2--A. Well, that's some progress. Dummy is now dead.

Declarer plays the 4 to his queen. I play the deuce; partner plays the nine. Declarer would probably have taken the diamond finesse if he had the jack, so we must be down to this position:

Jack
J
xxx
J
2
Christian
65
J10
65
Phillip
8
Q4
Q93
Floyd
K
x
K108
6
D
8

Declarer has taken three tricks so far. He can cash three more and play a heart to the jack. I will have to give him one red-suit ten or the other for his seventh trick.

Declarer cashes the 6, pitching a diamond from dummy. I pitch a heart. Declarer then cashes the K. Partner follows with the ten rather than the jack as I expected. Yes, of course. That was foolish of me. I should have realized declarer has no reason to take the diamond finesse. If I have the queen, I'm endplayed anyway, so he might as well try to drop the queen in partner's hand. Nice play, Floyd.

I expect declarer to cash the K and play a heart to endplay me. But he leads a low diamond out of his hand instead. I cash my three red-suit winners and declarer takes the K at the end. Down one.


Jack
J97
7532
104
KJ102
Christian
10654
AJ10
652
Q98
Phillip
A82
KQ84
Q973
A5
Floyd
KQ3
96
AKJ8
7643
D
8

Declarer misread the ending. He thought I had four spades and three diamonds Perhaps my 7 confused him. That's serendipitous, since I didn't mean it as a falsecard. It was an honest attitude card, intended to suggest a heart shift. Of course, Jack doesn't signal that way. His attitude cards pertain to the suit led, not to the hand as a whole. So he would never lead high himself when holding the Q. Declarer might also have been misled by my pass over 1. In the postmortem, Jack expressed the opinion that I should have bid 1NT. I'm a big believer in playing 1NT in the sandwich position as natural. But if partner started bidding it on hands like this, I would change my mind.

Could we beat this legitimately if partner shifts to a heart after cashing his K? Declarer would duck, and I would win with the king. (No need to win with the queen, since partner is now out of the picture.) I would play another diamond. Declarer would finesse the jack, reaching this position:

Jack
J97
753
2
Christian
10654
AJ
6
Phillip
A82
Q4
Q9
Floyd
KQ3
9
K8
6
D
8

When declarer cashes his long club, I'm squeezed. If I pitch a spade, he plays king and a diamond. I would now either have to cash the A, giving declarer two spade tricks, or lead a low spade, setting myself up to beendplayed. To have any chance to beat it, I must hold all my spades and stiff the Q, hoping declarer doesn't read the position.

To beat this by force, partner must play a heartbeforecashing the K. Declarer can't come to seven tricks without setting up his long club, so partner will eventually gain the lead to play a second heart. This would be difficult even for an expert partner. It is well beyond Jack's ability, since he seems unable to draw the inference that his clubs aren't running.

The board is a push, although we deserve some extra credit, because our opponents at the other table beattwonotrump a trick. We win the match by 18 IMPs and collect 21 out of 30 victory points. We retain our lead, but we are only ten points ahead of second place with one match to go.

Table 1: +50
Table 2: -50

Score on Board 8: 0 IMPs
Result on Match 8: +19 IMPs (21 VP)

Current Total: 146 VP (out of 240)

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