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Gargoyle Chronicles - Event 3, Match 9, Board 1
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gargoyle

Board 1
Neither vulnerable


Phillip
9
A1097
J9543
A64

Our opponents for the final match are playing Bridge World Standard.

Two passes to me. I pass, and LHO opens 1NT (15-17). RHO bids Stayman, LHO bids 2, RHO raises to three, and LHO goes on to game--pass--pass to me.

When the opponents reach game after a limit bid and an invitation, you should consider doubling if it appears they are going to run into any bad luck. The game will usually be marginal, and a little bad luck will probably defeat it. If you're lucky, you may beat it two, which is where the edge in doubling comes from. If your upside were a mere two IMPs, it would not be worth the risk.


On this deal, I know spades are breaking almost as badly as they can, and whatever spade honors we have are behind the stronger hand. Another plus for our side is that partner has roughly as many high cards as I do. When the high cards are evenly split, the defense has maximum flexibility. They have the communications to establish their winners and cash them. And they are less apt to be subjected to squeezes or endplays. Add the K to this hand, and it would be a less attractive double.

The biggest danger in doubling is that someone will show up with a fifth spade. Then the bad spade split isn't so bad. In fact, my hand may well be good news for declarer. Our aces are in front of the notrump bidder instead of behind him where they belong. I'd be happier doubling if one of my aces were a queen-jack.

Nonetheless, I'm doubling. What sways me is I don't think Jack will expect me to hold a hand like this. If he thinks I have a spade stack, he may adopt a creative line of play and go down in a cold contract. If double causes him to go down, it is a big winner.

Of course, I would not consider doubling if RHO had raised to 4 instead of to three.You can afford doubles like this only when you know the opponents can't have extras. Otherwise, bad luck may simply mean they make fewer overtricks than one would normally expect

I double, everyone passes, and partner leads the Q.

Marcin
QJ107
54
KQ76
1085
Phillip
9
A1097
J9543
A64
W
N
E
S
 
P
P
P
1N
P
2
P
2
P
3
P
4
P
P
X
P
P
P
Partner might have led a singleton diamond, so probably both he and declarer have doubletons. Declarer can't have four hearts, so he is either 4-3-2-4 or 5-3-2-3. Partner is unlikely to have led a club from QJx. So my guess is declarer is 5-3-2-3. So much for the bad trump break. The good news is that, with five spades, declarer would have accepted even with a minimum in high cards, so partner could have up to five high-card points in addition to his QJ.


We have two aces and a club trick, so we need only one more trick. A spade honor or the A in partner's hand will do nicely. The K will not do, since declarer can draw trumps and pitch a club away, holding us to one club and two heart tricks.

I don't see any gain in taking the A. If I duck, declarer will play three rounds of diamonds, pitching a club. Partner can ruff and play a club to my ace for another diamond play. If I win the ace and return a club, partner would have to play a heart to my ace after ruffing. Why expend two entries for a task when one entry will do? I encourage with the 6. 

Declarer wins with the king and cashes the A. Good. He would be drawing trumps if he had AK. So partner must have one of those cards, which means we're beating this at least one. Partner plays the deuce; I play the three. Declarer plays a diamond to the king and cashes the Q, pitching the 2 as partner ruffs with the 2. I follow up the line in diamonds, confirming my A, as if partner couldn't work that out himself. 

Partner plays the 7 to my ace. Declarer follows with the three. Can playing a diamond accomplish anything? What if partner has K8 left? If declarer ruffs low, partner overruffs with the eight, plays a heart to my ace, and gets a trump promotion for down two. So ducking the A paid off. We couldn't do this if I had wasted my club entry.

Declarer can prevent the second undertrick by ruffing with the ace. But it doesn't hurt to put him to the test. I lead the J. Declarer ruffs with the 5. Partner, unfortunately, pitches the 9. Declarer cashes the A; partner follows with the four. Declarer made no attempt to get to dummy for a spade finesse, so he probably can't. With KQ, he could have driven the A and ruffed a heart to dummy, so he must have KJ, which gives him 15 high-card points.

Declarer exits with a spade to partner's king. We may still beat this two if declarer misguesses hearts. But I need to make sure partner plays a club. Jack doesn't understand the concept of putting declarer to a guess, so he might see no reason not to lead a heart. To ensure he doesn't do that, I need to trick partner into trying to cash his J. I need to hold onto my club, leaving open the possibility that declarer has it. Accordingly, I pitch the 9. Partner plays the J, and declarer ruffs. 

Declarer plays a spade to dummy and plays a heart. I play low, and declarer goes up with the king. Down one.


 

Jack
K42
Q832
102
QJ97
Marcin
QJ107
54
KQ76
1085
Phillip
9
A1097
J9543
A64
Daniel
A8653
KJ6
A8
K32
D
1

We were pretty close to collecting 300 on this deal, so it was right to double. Declarer probably guessed right in hearts because he thought I wouldn't have doubled without the A. Little does he know.

As declarer played, we would have collected 300 if partner had held my 9. Why did declarer ruff low? I can think of two layouts where ruffing low saves a trick: (1) I have K94 and a small doubleton heart. If declarer ruffs with the ace, I score my K, two hearts, and the 9 on a trump promotion. (2) I have 94 and a doubleton club. If declarer ruffs with the ace, I score a club ruff with the 9 when partner gets in with the K. But neither of these layouts is plausible for a variety of reasons. If the bridge gods had any sense of justice, they would have given partner my 9 to punish declarer for this play.

Then again, maybe I shouldn't argue with the bridge gods. As Edgar once said to me, "Actually, it's fortunate we aren't punished for all our mistakes. If we were--well, I won't presume to speak for you, but I would have given up the game long ago."

Our teammates went down one undoubled in the same contract, so we pick up two IMPs.

Table 1: +100
Table 2: -50

Result on Board 1: +2 IMPs
Total: +2 IMPs

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