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Gargoyle Chronicles - Event 3, Match 9, Board 7
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gargoyle

Board 7
Both sides vulnerable


Phillip
Q6
AKQ73
874
Q53
I open 1NT (12-14), and everyone passes. LHO leads the A.

 

 

 

 

 

Jack
J1095
10
J63
AJ1096
Phillip
Q6
AKQ73
874
Q53
W
N
E
S
1NT
P
P
P

There is no way for me to ask about this opening lead, but I guess it's not going to affect my play at trick one. I'll find out soon enough what the lead is from. I just hope diamonds are 4-3. Otherwise they can beat me off the top.

I play low from dummy, East plays the 5, and I discourage with the 4. West continues with the K--6--9--8, then the Q, on which East plays the 10. Good. He followed. The opponents can take four diamonds and two spades. I can't afford any other losers.

West cashes the 2. If the club finesse wins, I'm making this. Do I have any chance if the club finesse loses? For starters, I need for the opponents to avoid cashing their spades. Let's say West cooperates and switches to a heart at trick five. Now what? I float the Q. Might East take his king and dutifully continue hearts? That's certainly possible. East might conclude I wouldn't leave two heart winners stranded in an entryless hand. What happens if the club finesse wins? I have no entry back to my hand to cash hearts, but that's OK. I've taken five clubs and one heart. I need only one more trick, so I can drive the AK and score a spade for my seventh trick.

The problem with this plan is that I have to find a pitch from dummy on this trick. I can't afford a club if the K is offside. So I must pitch a spade. Now, if they do find a spade switch, they may score a long spade for down two--or even down three if East has five spades.

If I think I am unlikely to make this contract anyway if the K is offside, perhaps I should pitch a club on this trick. Four club tricks are sufficient if the finesse works, and pitching a club ensures I can't go down more than one. No, I can't bring myself to do that. I hate to rely solely on a finesse when I have some chance to make this contract if the finesse is off. I pitch the 5 from dummy; East pitches the 2.

East's heart pitch probably ensured a spade switch. But it also gives me an extra chance. East might not have appreciated the value of a holding like 8xxx. So I may now be able to score five hearts, a spade, and a club. To keep that possibility open, I must hold all my hearts. I probably don't need all of my clubs. If West has Kxxx, I don't have the entries to take a third-round finesse against him anyway. Could I need both my spades? Possibly. Say, for example, West shifts to a spade, and East wins and plays a heart. If I have saved both my spades, I have the option of trying to run hearts, pitching down to a stiff A in dummy, then leading my last spade. I might be hard pressed to decide to play that way, but I see no reason not to leave the option open. So I pitch the 5.

West shifts to the 2. That's unexpected. He surely has the K. He wouldn't shift from a worthless club holding and risk picking up the queen in his partner's hand. So East must have both spade honors, else West would have doubled 1NT.

Why is West playing clubs? Maybe he is playing passively, letting me break the majors myself. Or perhaps he has Kxxx and wants to get clubs led twice to eliminate any chance of his being squeezed. My gut feel is that the latter is more likely. Defenders don't usually lead dummy's source of tricks except as a communication-killing maneuver. It is a bit strange that East, with a singleton club, nine cards in the major, and AK, would have sold to 1NT. But, in general, I have more faith in inferences from the card play than I do in inferences from the bidding.

Do I have any chance if West does have Kxxx? Suppose I win the Q in my hand and play a spade. East wins. To give me a problem, he must switch to a heart. I take the ace and cash the king, pitching a club from dummy. I am now down to this position, needing four more tricks:

Jack
J10
AJ10
Phillip
6
Q73
3

A club to the ten will succeed when West began with Kxx. If I judge that he began with Kxxx, I can cash the Q, pitching a club from dummy. If my hearts are good, I'm home. If not, I take a club finesse, and drive the A, hoping East doesn't have another heart. That requires West to have begun with

West
x
Jxxx
AKQx
Kxxx

which I suppose is possible, since the opponents are inexplicably not playing Astro (where you can show this pattern by bidding 2, followed by 2NT if partner bids 2).

I'm not sure yet which line I will take. But it costs me nothing to aim for this position and decide later. I play a low club from dummy, East plays the 8, and I win with the Q. I play the 6 from my hand--7--9--K. East doesn't find the heart switch. He makes it easy for me by cashing the A--Q--2--10.

If I had any doubts that West has the K, they are gone now. East, looking at the AK, would not have ducked the setting trick. So I am now cold. East switches to a heart. I cash the AKQ, pitching clubs from dummy, play a club to the jack, and claim.


Daniel
7432
98
AKQ2
K72
Jack
J1095
10
J63
AJ1096
Marcin
AK8
J6542
1095
84
Phillip
Q6
AKQ73
874
Q53
D
7

Our opponents at the other table made an overtrick in 1NT, so we lose an IMP. I could have tied that result. When I won the Q, I could have cashed out for eight tricks, giving up on king fourth of clubs. But it could hardly be right to risk the contract for a 1-IMP gain..

I do, however, think I made a mistake in pitching a spade from dummy at trick four, since the misdefense I was hoping for, while possible, was unlikely. It would have been the right play if I weren't vulnerable, since the cost of extra undertricks is small. But when I'm not in game and when extra undertricks are 100 points each, I should be more concerned about them. If I had finished -300 in this contract, I would have cost myself more than I stood to gain by making it.

Table 1: +90
Table 2: -120

Result on Board 7: -1 IMP
Total: +7 IMPs

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