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All comments by Stefan Ralescu
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Lots of points of interest in your analysis, Kit.
Feb. 25, 2012
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Nice article Steve.

The play problem is interesting and it turns out that ducking a heart to East may not be such a bad move, yet it should not occur at trick 3.
For instance, if you judge that East has three spades, you can guard against the bad trump break with: club king, ace-king-queen of spades and then a low heart towards dummy. Unless West has QJ109 of trumps, he is helpless. If he puts in the ten (or higher), take the heart ace, cross to hand on the diamond ace, ruff the spade, cash the king of diamonds and run the heart 7, endplaying West when East shows out (if East is able to overruff the spade with his last trump, he is endplayed; if East turns out to have started with three hearts, you will have no diamond losers).
Alternatively, if West plays the heart 6 (as he probably would if he holds it), you cover with dummy’s 7 and if East has no more trumps, he is endplayed.

Observe that this precise sequence of play is required to succeed in 4H if East is 3=1=3=6 with Q-10-x of diamonds (note also that in that case East could defeat the contract by returning the heart instead of the club queen).
Feb. 23, 2012
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On the bidding, declarer can place East with the missing ace.
Another line of play is to draw all the trumps ending in dummy and then lead a club at trick 6 (obviously that would fail when East is 1=7=1=4 as on the actual layout). Declarer succeeds if East is 1=6=3=3, 1=7=3=2, but also (and more importantly) when East is 1=7=4=1 or 1=6=4=2. In the latter cases, cashing queen-jack of trumps and then playing two rounds of diamonds won’t work. When East has four diamonds, declarer succeeds by squeezing East in the red suits.
Dec. 1, 2011
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Let’s count the tricks…

Why not JTxxxx A xx QJxx?


If declarer has the hand you’re suggesting, he wins trick 1, cashes ace-king of trumps (he was never planning to finesse in spades, was he?) and collects 10 easy tricks.

Kitty, I am not trying to suggest that Muller is anything less than a world champion, but he likely failed to infer that with 6 spades and 4 clubs declarer wouldn’t have ducked the club if he had the heart ace.
Oct. 28, 2011
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Who has the ace of hearts?

Can declarer have 6 spades, 4 clubs and the heart ace?

No.

Therefore East should lead a heart at trick 3.
Oct. 28, 2011
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Jason, you are right, I was just reacting to the alternative South hand originally proposed in the article and which has later been changed.
Oct. 28, 2011
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Kitty,

I suggest that when you are uncertain about the meaning of the diamond 10 play, you should at least trust declarer, young as he may be. What I mean by that is that in your 6=2=1=4 hand (for South), declarer would surely win the club ace at trick 1 and not risk the contract (he has 6 spades if they behave, 3 clubs and 1 heart).

I wish you had more USA2 swings to show us…
Oct. 28, 2011
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Henry, there is some misunderstanding here.

As I noted in my previous post, if West has your second hand, i.e. A/KQxx/Jxx/Qxxxx without the heart jack, East must duck and hope that West will switch to a club at trick 2. That's the only way to defeat 2S after the heart opening lead.
June 17, 2011
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Gavin is correct, double-dummy analysis is not always in tune with real play and furthermore it needs to cover all basic aspects of the play and defense.

On the actual deal, from East’s perspective West may be 1=4=3=5 with king-queen (but no jack) of hearts and no ace-of-clubs. If that’s the case and East overtakes at trick 1 the contract can no longer be defeated. True, West may not return a club if allowed to win the heart king, but that’s the only chance to defeat the contract.
June 17, 2011
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North did well not to lead a diamond, but she would have been more inspired to lead a low spade. Of course, if she did that there would be no 3NT “Play Problem” on bridgewinners and anyway, this is just a reminder that hitting the right opening lead is often extremely difficult (and frequently absolutely critical).

Nice article!
June 12, 2011
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You don’t seem to go far enough with your analysis. Haw many times is West (forget about Lev) willing to duck the club with this hand:

*S* A 10 8 7 5 *H* Q J *D* 7 3 2 *C* A 9 4

Once, twice? And after (if he takes his ace), what does West return?
June 8, 2011
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Just to elucidate you Herrmann, suppose West has the same hand but with Q-J of hearts.

So declarer takes the first heart in dummy and plays a club to the king, and West’s ace.

Careful! If, for example, South started with:

*S* Q 9 4 3 *H* 10 4 *D* A Q 8 6 *C* K Q 3

it is not a good idea for West to win and play the jack of hearts now.

Do you see the difference, do you see why? You can surely work out the simple squeeze available to declarer on this defense.

As was correctly pointed out, taking the first heart and hoping that you don’t receive the best defense when the hearts are blocked was smart card play at the table.

June 8, 2011
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This deal provides a nice illustration of a no-trump position where if declarer wins the second heart and plays a club to the king, he may end up with 9 tricks that he won’t be able to collect before losing 5 tricks to the defense.

In the West seat Sam Lev held
*S*A 10 8 7 5 *H*Q 2 *D*7 3 2 *C*A 9 4
and his defense has been perfect. Declarer (Kit Woolsey) knew that winning the second heart and starting clubs was only an illusion, since West would take the ace of clubs at his first opportunity and meanly return a diamond producing irreparable damage to declarer’s communication.
Woolsey’s dummy play was excellent, being based on his only realistic chance to find the hearts blocked. That, of course, was not the case and he ended up down one.
June 7, 2011
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West's opening lead was third and fifth (or third-and-low).
June 7, 2011
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Nice article Kit. West had a difficult time spotting all the danger signs and indeed visualizing the successful defense after he made the decision to shift to the club. Excellent analysis of a tough hand to defend.

May I suggest that in the course of the movie you use italic type to slope those portions that were probably not part of West’s thinking during the play at the table.For example,

…It is too late for the heart shift to succeed.

There is one other possibility. What about continuing what you started and playing another club……………………………………………………………………………………………..
………………………………………………………………………………………………………………
Giving up the club trick is an illusion.


You choose to continue diamonds…
June 5, 2011
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On the actual layout starting spades at trick 2 is fine. However, at the table declarer is somewhat in the dark in the early stages of play.
Nice bidding, very nicely played and very well narrated by Gavin (note also that it doesn’t matter if Joel takes the trump ace when Barry leads a heart, he can always make four hearts on this deal).
June 1, 2011
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Barry,

I know you are against phantom saves, but these guys are good, so why not bid one more diamond in board 7?
:)
June 1, 2011
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I thought Peter (Pender) was a native of Philadelphia, so technically speaking he shouldn't be en tête de liste.
May 28, 2011
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Gavin,

You are an accomplished bridge player and also a patient and talented teacher.
I liked the way you demonstrate the nuances of the game.

Excellent series of articles.
May 25, 2011
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