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Gargoyle Chronicles - Event 3, Match 9, Board 8
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gargoyle

Board 8
Neither vulnerable


Phillip
AQ1076
AJ754
103
6
LHO opens 1. Partner, of course, bids 3, passed to me.

There is something to be said for bidding 3 and driving to game in one major or the other. Since I expect to go down in 3, I might as well get to a contract that scores better if it happens to make. I would do that if the opponents promised they wouldn't double. In the absence of such an assurance, however, it seems wiser to accept a small loss in 3. I pass, as does LHO. RHO leads the Q.


Phillip
AQ1076
AJ754
103
6
Jack
84
1093
86
AKQ743
W
N
E
S
1
3
P
P
P

That's quite a hand for a pre-empt opposite an unpassed partner! I would be afraid of missing 3NT. At least our prospects of making 3 are better than I expected.

East and I both encourage on the Q (East with the 9). West continues with the 5 to East's king. East continues with the 2.

I don't believe East sold out with seven diamonds. He must think West has a doubleton diamond instead of me. Could West have found some clever reason to lead a low diamond at trick two from QJ5? I pitch the 4 and ruff in dummy. West follows with the 7. I guess West had QJ75. (East would surely not expect West to have a doubleton if West had QJxxx.) West should have played the J, of course. His partner knows what he has at this point, so there is no reason to bring me into the loop.

I play the A--5--8--2, then ruff a spade to my hand. East plays the 9; West, the 3. If the carding is honest, spades are 3-3. Everyone follows to three rounds of trumps (East playing 5, 9, J), and I am down to this position:

Phillip
Q10
AJ7
Jack
1093
73

I've taken six tricks. The A and two more trump tricks will bring me up to nine. If I can take a second heart trick, I'll make an overtrick. I'll start by taking a heart finesse. Then I can decide whether to repeat the finesse or play East for KQ doubleton.

Which heart should I lead? There is a slim chance West has both heart honors, If I head low, he might duck, hoping I have 98x and intend to finesse the 7. If that happens, dummy's jack will hold. I can then ruff out a spade and take all the remaining tricks. Leading the 9 might create a more effective illusion. But it wouldn't help, since I can't afford to overtake the 9 with the J.

I play the 3--2--J. East wins with the K and taps me with the A. I pitch a spade from dummy.

It appears East is 3-2-5-3. He has 8 HCP in the minors. Assuming he has 12 to 14 HCP in total, that leaves him with 4-6 HCP in the majors, so he can have the following combinations of high cards:

J, K
J,  K Q
 K, K

By restricted choice, the heart finesse is a 4:1 favorite--and that's before considering that East could have a singleton heart if I made a wrong assumption somewhere. I repeat the heart finesse. It works. Making four.

Marcin
J32
Q62
QJ75
1082
Phillip
AQ1076
AJ754
103
6
Daniel
K95
K8
AK942
J95
Jack
84
1093
86
AKQ743
D
8
 

The ruff-sluff didn't matter. As the cards lie, there is no way the opponents can take more than one major-suit trick. Here I was thinking 3 would have no play, and the opponents can't stop four.

How should East card at trick one? A discouraging diamond would suggest a heart shift, since that is dummy's weaker suit. East can stand a heart shift, but if West's hearts are good enough for a shift to accomplish anything, he might find it on his own. I think to discourage in diamonds East needs either better hearts or worse spades, although I'd hate to have to pinpoint exactly where the dividing line is.

Does 4 by North have a chance? If our opponents bid and make it at the other table, they will tie the match. But it should be easy to beat. West will signal with the Q at trick one, and East will underlead for a spade switch. Actually, I don't think that's even necessary. Say East starts by cashing two diamonds then switches to a club. Declarer leads a low heart to the jack (keeping the 109 in dummy so he can remain in dummy after repeating the heart finesse). East can now defeat the contract by giving declarer a ruff-sluff. Underleading the diamond at trick two is certainly easier.

Our opponents don't put our teammates to the test, however. They reach the improbable contract of 3 and go down two, so we pick up 6 IMPs to win the match by 13. We win the event with 165 victory points, 17 points ahead of second place.

Time for a break while I ponder whether there will be a Match 4 and, if so, what format it will take.

Table 1: +130
Table 2: +100

Score on Board 8: +6 IMPs
Result on Match 9: +13 IMPs (19 VP)

Final Total: 165 VP (out of 270)

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