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The Fight for 3
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Today I was playing in a regional KO with Justin Lall against to-be declarer Michael Kamil.  You pick up as dealer, none vul, 

West
K9542
109
1072
AQ10
and pass.  JLall in 3rd seat, as usual, finds an opening bid and you respond 1

you have the following auction

W
N
E
S
P
P
1
P
1
P
P
X
2
2NT
P
3
P
3
P
P
P

1 was precision, 2N was scrambling, so probably now and .  Partner kicks off with a trump lead and you see

West
K9542
109
1072
AQ10
South
107
K32
AQ98
K843
 

declarer plays the 8 and you have your first choice. Playing the T would make declarer end in hand, but that T could come in handy and you aren't convinced you want declarer in his hand anyway.  You give it you best shot at smooth low and declarer overtakes the 8 with the jack to lead the 5-2(UDCA)-K- and your ace. Looks like partner has 4 clubs and declarer 2. 

What now? 

 

we've reached:

West
K9542
109
107
Q10
South
107
K32
AQ9
843
 

At first glance it looks simple.  Just return a trump and get in with the Q to return the third trump, wait for the club trick in the end plus whatever else we can take in spades and hearts and tell partner nice lead as usual. 

So you consider how the hand will play out: looks like declarer has KJxx of diamonds, 2 clubs, 4 hearts we know from the bidding, so 3 spades.  the points we can't see in our hand and in dummy total only 19, and declarer has show up with 4 of those. So you start by guessing partner has about 10-11 and declarer about 8-9. so partner probably has 1 or 2 spade honors, some heart holding he was trying to protect by leading trump, and probably the j. After a trump return declarer will win and try to play more clubs, but you'll win and kill the last club ruff with a trump back. Partner will get in and play clubs to force out the last trump, then get in again to cash his hard earned club. down 1 easy, probably down 2. 

Something wasn't feeling right to me. I went into the tank trying to figure out what was really going on. There were a few other hands possible.  Sometimes declarer will be able to force a spade trick for a heart discard (QJx or AJ8). Sometimes it won't matter what you do. Maybe it was the idea I have that Mike Kamil has a good hand always. I mean always. The guy is a card rack. A king heavy for every bid. Never double him. I was starting to imagine what if declarer has good hearts. He did bid voluntarily, so if he has AQxx of hearts and KJxx of diamonds and you return a trump how will the play go? Surely seeing no future in clubs he'll play a spade to tighten the position. Partner will win, play a club to you for the last trump and you can sit back and relax. Right? No, partner already has a little problem. Declarer plays a second spade and arranges to ruff a club and pull trump. On the 3rd trump, and then on the last trump (or a spade ruff) partner is squeezed in hearts and clubs and declarer wraps it up. There won't be anything to the play either, it'll just fall into place. 

What then?

What to do? Well, the goal is only to beat the hand, so ignoring the hand's where it didn't matter I decided we had the tempo to attack hearts and if we let a club ruff go through hopefully we'd get it back in an extra heart trick or ruff or promotion.  The idea: play hearts, declarer will play clubs, more hearts and if declarer takes his club ruff he'll won't have a way back to dummy without allowing your T to score. This looked at least as good as a trump back, and maybe a trick better in that scary squeeze lay out.

So you play the T-A-4-2.  Declarer plays the 9-x-x- and you win the T.  All good with the plan still, you return the 9-x-x-K. to reach:

West
K9542
107
Q
South
107
3
AQ9
84

Declarer starts to think, and you know now that you got him.  

Time to change chairs.  You're Mike Kamil.  You have a good hand always. I mean always. You have an extra King for every bid you make.

You're in second position and get dealt a pile of garbage 11 count

North
J83
AQ85
KJ43
95

You hear the auction pass on your right, you don't even have to think about it as you pass, 1 by JLall who never has anything but bids more than anyone, P from partner 1 on your right.  Your shape is wrong so you pass again without a care. Passed around to your partner who keeps the auction alive with a double.  They compete to 2, and you bid 2nt to get to your better fit, landing in 3

West
K9542
109
1072
AQ10
North
J83
AQ85
KJ63
95
East
AQ6
J764
54
J762
South
107
K32
AQ98
K843
D

They've done well it seems to start with a trump. You try winning in hand to attack clubs.  Didn't work. Back comes the trump? No, your opponent tanks and returns the T. You push on with the plan, leading a second club, and the 9 of hearts comes back. You win in dummy, ruff a club, and take stock. 

West
K9542
107
North
J83
Q8
K6
East
AQ6
J7
5
J
South
107
3
AQ9
8
D

You're in hand and have to return to dummy with a trump to play the last club.  You'll have scored 2 hearts, 2 diamonds, 2 ruffs and still have the master heart, master trump, and the 9 needing all of those tricks. You know the shape is roughly what it is.  Since they are pounding away at hearts instead of trumps you know whats happening, the hearts are 4-2. What can you do from here?

Back to the trump in dummy, ruffing the 4th club can't win anymore. The very aggressive PH West has shown up with AQT of clubs and 5 spades.  You know he can't have two honors or he'd have opened the bidding.  

What then?

You see it now. You run your trumps. 

 

Last change. You're JLall, you can and often do bid on anything.

You pick up 

East
AQ6
J764
54
J762

and watch two passes to you.  You were down in the match and need a little action. You mix it up with a precision diamond. Your partner tries spades, good with you. They balance, partner competes, they bid out to 3 while showing the red suits. You fire out that trump. Declarer wins and tries to lead up to the K. Partner is with you and returns your trump lead...or he doesn't and tanks for 5 minutes. Standard Kevin. Pard comes back with a heart and you already know by now that if he came back the trump you'd have been squeezed.  Alright I'm with you partner. We got this.

You spend the whole hand just following suit as partner pounds away at hearts while declarer pounds away at clubs.  Eventually declarer ruffs the 3rd round of clubs and plays two rounds of trumps as you pitch a low spade. Then comes the last trump, declarer throwing a spade, you to discard:  

West
K954
North
J8
Q8
East
AQ
J7
J
South
107
3
8
D

You see your last hope is that partner has the KJ. You throw your ace of spades, declarer plays the last club and you're done.  

5 hard fought imps for Mike Kamil who wins by 5. 

 

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