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Gargoyle Chronicles - Event 3, Match 9, Board 2

gargoyle

Board 2
Our side vulnerable


Phillip
10532
J84
K87
A42

Pass on my right, pass by me, pass on my left. Partner opens 1. I bid 1. Partner raises to 2, and everyone passes. LHO leads the Q.


Jack
K864
A106
A10943
5
Phillip
10532
J84
K87
A42
W
N
E
S
P
P
P
1
P
1
P
2
P
P
P

RHO plays the 8, and I take my ace.

If everything breaks normally, I can take one spade, one heart, four diamonds, the A, and a club ruff for eight tricks. It takes a four-one break in spades or diamonds to give me a problem.

Given the opponents have 21 high-card points between them and failed to open the bidding, it's going to be hard to construct layouts where either suit splits four-one. For starters, it is unlikely that anyone has a small singleton. If anyone does have a singleton, it is apt to be the queen or the jack to justify their silence. In addition, any diamond singleton is apt to be on my left (given RHO's pass over 1) and any spade singleton is apt to be on my right (given LHO's pass over 1 and failure to balance).

I will need to lead a spade toward dummy's king sooner or later, and I have limited hand entries. So I might as well do it now. While a spade to the king is not how I would handle this suit in isolation, I don't have a lot of flexibility. I play the 2--7--K--J. RHO apparently has queen-jack doubleton or a stiff jack. Since I can afford to lose three trump tricks, I can now abandon trumps and set up diamonds. If I can establish diamonds with one loser, I'll make my contract.

Since I expect any diamond singleton to be on my left, the way to play diamonds in isolation is to cash the ace (guarding against a singleton honor) then lead the ten and let it ride (guarding against a small singleton). But the lack of dummy entries may make that approach problematic. Say I cash the ace and no honor appears. I pass the ten, and West, with AQ9 remaining, ruffs. He can now cash the AQ and tap dummy with a club. Diamonds are blocked, so I can't develop another diamond trick. I finish down one.

The only way to make it if West has a small singleton diamond (and four trumps) is to float the 10 without cashing the ace. If that holds, I play a diamond to the king. If West ruffs, draws trumps, and taps dummy, I have no further problems. I can ruff out a diamond to establish my eighth trick and return to dummy with the A to cash it.

But if West has a singleton honor, a first round finesse will not work out well. In that case, I must play a diamond to my king. I can then concede a diamond to East. In short, I can guard against a small singleton or a singleton honor but not both. A priori, a small singleton is more likely. But the opponents' silence may have changed that. Consider this layout:

Daniel
AQ9x
xxxx
x
QJxx
Jack
K864
A106
A10943
5
Marcin
J
KQx
QJxx
Kxxxx
Phillip
10532
J84
K87
A42
D
2

Some Easts would pass that hand in first seat, but many would open, and I suspect Marcin is among them. So I must move some honor to the West hand to make this a viable construction. I can't move a heart honor, else West would open in third seat. But perhaps he wouldn't open with a singleton diamond honor (at least not with the jack).

Frankly, I doubt diamonds are four-one at all. But if they are, a singleton honor seems more likely than a small singleton. Accordingly, I play a diamond to the king. East contributes the five; West, the six. I play the 7, West plays the deuce, and I duck in dummy. East wins with the jack. He returns the Q. West ruffs with the 9 and shifts to the 2. This is the position:

Jack
864
A106
A10
Phillip
1053
J84
42
I can afford to lose three more tricks. If I duck this, my contract is safe, the opponents can't take more than a heart and two spades.

Do I have a safe play for an overtrick? If I duck, East will win and tap dummy with a club. If the remaining spades are one-one, I can play a spade and make an overtrick. But I can't afford to try that. I risk going down if West has AQ.

What if I hop with the A and play a diamond, pitching a heart? That's perfectly safe. The opponents still can't take more than two trumps and a heart. But now they have a chance to make a mistake. If they don't cash the heart, they aren't going to get it. I can't imagine whey they wouldn't play a heart. But it doesn't hurt to try. They can't make a mistake if I don't give them the chance.

I play the A--7--8. Now I play the A. East ruffs with the Q, and I pitch the J. West pitches the 5. There is no reason I can think of for East not to play a heart, but he doesn't. He plays the K. I ruff in dummy and cash the 10, pitching my last heart. Making three.

The actual layout is below:

Daniel
A97
K952
62
QJ97
Jack
K864
A106
A10943
5
Marcin
QJ
Q73
QJ5
K10863
Phillip
10532
J84
K87
A42
D
2
The result is the same at the other table.

Table 1: +140
Table 2: -140

Result on Board 2: 0 imps
Total: +2 imps

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