Join Bridge Winners
Gulf Coast Curiosities
(Page of 4)

I did not encounter many technically interesting positions at the Biloxi Regional, but three deals stood out for unusual reasons. The first is a tale of woe (click NEXT to follow the play):

West
K5
J752
A42
9753
North
A98432
95
AKJ104
East
QJ76
AQ63
Q6
862
South
10
K10984
KJ10873
Q
W
N
E
S
1
P
1NT
P
2
P
2NT
P
3NT
P
P
P
D
3NT South
NS: 0 EW: 0
2
5
Q
K
3
1
0
3
4
9
6
1
2
0
4
8
Q
3
3
3
0
J
A
2
3
0
3
1
5
A
6
4
1
4
1
K
2
8
9
1
5
1
J
6
7
7
1
6
1
10
Q
9
7
1
7
1
3
6
10
K
0
7
2
5
8
J
8
2
7
3
A
10
2
4
2
7
4
7
10
5
9
1
8
4
A
Q
K
J
1
9
4
N/S +400
13

North dealt and opened a hyperlight 1, showing 8-14 HCP. "The lightest the ACBL will allow us to open," explained South. South's 1NT was semiforcing, and North rebid 2, completely artificial, simply confirming full opening values. South tried 2NT, alerted but not asked about, and North's undiscussed 3NT ended the auction. The opponents had reached 3NT with two 6-5 hands without ever showing their distribution.

My partner pulled the 2 out of his hand, but before leading it he paused to inquire about the 2NT bid—mistake! The 2 would have defeated 3NT, but armed with the correct information, he knew that South had five hearts, so he tried his other red deuce, an unbid suit.

South gratefully won my Q with the king and fired back a diamond to the 9. When that held (rising with the A doesn't help), she crossed to the Q and drove out the A. Partner exited with a club, and declarer ran that suit. On the last club, the position from my point of view was:

North
A9843
10
East
QJ76
AQ

I had to decide whether partner held the K10 or the K without the 10. If the former, I have to discard the Q and partner's spade holding will be sufficient to establish three tricks in the suit to go with the red aces. If the latter, I need to keep the Q, because the fourth spade will be a loser. Based on the carding, I knew that partner did not have the K, but unfortunately, declarer's singleton spade was the 10.

She exited with a low spade to her 10 and partner's king, then inserted the 8 on the return. I won the J and cashed the A, but I had to concede the game-going tricks to dummy's A9 at trick 12: -400 and a 6-IMP loss when my teammates played in partscore at the other table (see this bidding problem).

Does partner have a better exit available after winning the A? No. Say he exits the K to dummy's ace. Declarer cashes the clubs and comes off dummy with the 9 to endplay me. A low spade away from the king does no better: declarer ducks, and again dummy's spots eventually stand up. A heart to the ace simply delays the inevitable.

The next deal was a triumph for my team. At my table:

West
A1073
A1043
Q103
J3
North
9864
985
A9
AQ94
East
KQJ2
7
K7654
862
South
5
KQJ62
J82
K1075
W
N
E
S
1
P
1NT
P
2
P
3
P
4
P
P
P
D
4 South
NS: 0 EW: 0

I was South, and I opened 1 in a Precision context. When my partner showed a three-card limit raise, I kicked it into game. The mesh was excellent, but West's unfortunate heart holding meant I had four losers: -50.

At the other table:

West
A1073
A1043
Q103
J3
North
9864
985
A9
AQ94
East
KQJ2
7
K7654
862
South
5
KQJ62
J82
K1075
W
N
E
S
 
P
1
P
1
P
2
P
2N
P
3
P
4
P
P
P
D
4 East
NS: 0 EW: 0

My teammate opened 1 in second seat, and he and his partner bid and raised spades. Over the 2NT inquiry, West forgot that his partnership played 3 as a maximum four-card raise (more commonly 3 shows a minimum), so they accidentally reached 4. All was well, though, when they made 10 tricks for +420 and a 9-IMP pickup.

But what did I find interesting about this deal?

Answer: Both pairs on my team bid game on power, on a deal that might have been passed out in past decades.

 

My final offering was a disappointing push (click NEXT to view the play):

West
Q4
A742
K73
8754
North
A1062
J1086
QJ5
A9
East
J53
953
A842
Q106
South
K987
KQ
1096
KJ32
W
N
E
S
1
P
1
P
1
P
3
P
4
P
P
P
D
4 South
NS: 0 EW: 0
4
A
6
2
1
1
0
6
3
K
A
0
1
1
5
9
Q
K
3
2
1
K
4
2
3
3
3
1
Q
2
8
5
3
4
1
7
Q
A
5
1
5
1
J
9
6
4
1
6
1
10
8

I opened the South cards a Precision 1 and rebid 1 over partner's 1. When partner issued his strongest invitation in spades (he could also have made a normal raise to 2, a heavy raise to 2, and a light raise to 3), I had an easy acceptance.

West led a fourth-best 4 and I did not like my chances. Aside from some miracle position in spades, I needed the opponents not to figure out to cash their diamonds before I could discard them on the hearts (and even then I am not cold). I rose with the A and led a heart to the king and ace. West huddled and then returned a club, so I had 10 tricks for +420.

This was a nice result, but unfortunately it was a push rather than a swing, because my teammates also went wrong in the cashout after a similar start.

Of course, misdefense does not an intriguing deal make. Barring a singleton spade honor or QJ-doubleton, is there any chance to make 4 if the defense takes its three top winners?

West
Q4
A742
K73
8754
North
A1062
J1086
QJ5
A9
East
J53
953
A842
Q106
South
K987
KQ
1096
KJ32
D

The trump position resembles the matrix for a Devil's Coup, where declarer can make a seemingly-sure trump loser vanish like so:

West
Qx
x
North
A10
x
East
Jxx
South
K9x
D

Dummy leads its heart through East. If he ruffs low, declarer scores the 9 and subsquently makes the top trumps. If he ruffs high, declarer overruffs and finesses against West's Q. The key is that West must follow suit to the last plain-suit card led from dummy.

So, does it work on the actual deal? No. Since West holds the four-card length in hearts and clubs, declarer needs to ruff twice in dummy and once in hand, ending in dummy, and lead the last remaining heart through East's Jxx. But East will be in position to overruff dummy on the fourth club, ruining the coup.

What if you switched the fourth diamond and the fourth club? Still no good, because now when you lead the fourth club, to which East must follow, West will remain with

West
Qx
x
x

and can simply discard his heart, allowing him to overruff declarer on the fourth round of hearts.

To enjoy a Devil's Coup, declarer must eliminate all the opponents' side-suit cards except one in the suit to be led at trick 11. The fact that the opponents hold the long diamond means that declarer can never prevail.

 

What looked so promising at first glance turns out to be fool's gold. I guess I shouldn't be surprised—after all, the devil is in the details.

17 Comments
Getting Comments... loading...
.

Bottom Home Top