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All comments by Stefan Ralescu
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Michael, I am sure you know better than me what the average club player might or might not do, and especially that many bad plays stem from making auto-pilot plays. Still, even the average player is encouraged to count and always analyze every situation based on its own merits.

I have already made clear that I didn’t like Kit’s ‘proof’ as to “why it is wrong to play the 7 of spades at trick 1,” but covering the opening lead with the 7 may indeed not be such a good idea when you intend to finesse the queen and East turns up with 3 spades ( I know you said it’s extremely unlikely for the average club player to lead a singleton trump, but let me continue anyway). Give East 1065/KQx/Qxx/Kxxx and you will see what I mean. When East returns a trump, you must be prepared what to play from your hand: if he exits with the six, you need to play the four and win in dummy with the seven, while if East returns the 10, you must play the NINE from hand and overtake in dummy with the jack (I hope we are all paying attention to the spots.) Is South an average club player as well? I know, the average club player will never defend this way…
Oct. 17, 2014
Stefan Ralescu edited this comment Oct. 17, 2014
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Your contribution looks like a botched up comment to me. What do you mean by “no heart ruff is possible?” Are you suggesting that RHO will always return a diamond after winning the club?
Oct. 16, 2014
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What ‘fantasy world’ are you talking about?

If West started with 1063 and he didn’t suffer from a Memory Squeeze, when you lead a low spade (i.e. the 4), he KNOWS what your lowest ranking remaining spade is. Unless he wants to help you, he WILL play the 10 and you will go down in a contract that you could have easily made-that’s as simple as that.
Oct. 16, 2014
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“Finessing the club queen pays off when the club king is off sides”

You should pay more attention to what you are writing,
Oct. 16, 2014
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“In practice, I think there is very little danger to the contract from taking the club finesse. Suppose it loses and a diamond comes back, worst case (if a spade comes back, either the spades are 2-2 or we have the dummy entries to establish and get to the second club). I duck the first round, win the second round of diamonds, and lead a small spade. If West follows small, I insert the 7. When that wins, I have another spade entry to dummy and can brute force set up a second club trick to come to 6 spades, 2 clubs, and 2 aces. This is why it is wrong to play the 7 of spades at trick 1”

You are incorrect on several fronts, but for now I’ll only focus on your play in the above scenario. Allowing everyone to follow the play, assume West started with 1063/KJx/K10x/Jxxx (say). You lead the club deuce to the queen and king, duck the diamond return, win the diamond continuation and then lead the spade four, and if West follows small, you insert the 7.

This clearly assumes West is asleep! In practice, West WILL play the S10 and you will go down. (BTW, the same fate awaits you if West has a similar hand with 3=3=4=3, but in that case, if you lead the club deuce to the TEN, you can easily score eleven tricks).
Oct. 16, 2014
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A strong case could be made for leading a club to the ten at trick 2.

If RHO started with at least two spades, barring extreme distributions, you will collect eleven tricks when West is holding the jack, provided he also has at least one heart honor when East holds three trumps.

Now, even if West started with three trumps, a club to the ten allows you to make the contract when the jack is onside, but you will only be able to make the overtrick if West holds the club king as well.
Oct. 16, 2014
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I hate to sound like a spoilsport, but I have had difficulty mustering much enthusiasm for some of the post-mortem discussion on page 4. Obviously, no offense is meant to the author of the book and I hope none is taken.

“Well, obviously you don’t have anything, maybe a jack or two. …If you have the ♣J, obviously any club will work. If declarer has honor-doubleton, I need to lead the ace.”
“The queen would have worked, too,” Randy said.
“On this hand. But not if declarer had king-doubleton and dummy has jack-fourth,” Tony replied.

On this hand, if the club honors in North/South are switched, not only the club ace is a disastrous choice, but we can all see that declarer can succeed easily after any club opening lead.
Oct. 14, 2014
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Yes, you’re right. In fact, there are other variations where a low heart is needed at trick 2. For example, Q765/QJ42/AK/K42 or QJ76/J432/AK3/K4
Oct. 12, 2014
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Nice problem, but as you said, virtually any card in the West hand could be right.

Here is a South hand for which it is necessary to lead a low heart at trick two: Q765/Q32/AKQJ/K2. You want to take three spades and two hearts before South gets a chance to make his contract (and possibly score some overtricks if you are not careful).
Oct. 12, 2014
Stefan Ralescu edited this comment Oct. 12, 2014
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“After a spade to the ace and a spade ruff, isn't it better to start with the heart finesse?”

Well, it depends. You came with a pretty extreme construction to counter Steve’s suggestion, so I think you might consider also what happens if West’s hand is xxxx/Kxxx/xxxx/2. Finessing in trumps after the spade ruff is not a problem, but following your line: “club ace, spade ace, spade ruff, heart six to the nine and spade ruff,” the contract will fail if (as you propose) you lead a heart next. I mean, you will go down in four hearts (forget the overtrick, which in this case was never there for the taking). However, you COULD score ten tricks on this line if after ruffing the second spade, you cross to the diamond ace, ruff dummy’s last spade and then play a diamond to the queen and king. East cashes a club and continues clubs, but West is stuck. His best defense is to pitch his last diamond, but you ruff low and exit with a diamond.
Oct. 9, 2014
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“Why not lead a small diamond from dummy?”

East takes the king, cashes a club and continues clubs, allowing West to pitch a diamond and you can’t score the overtrick.
Oct. 9, 2014
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“Ace of clubs
Ace of spades, spade ruff
Diamond to the ace, spade ruff
10 of hearts to the jack (you are better off if West covers), spade ruff while East discards a club
Queen of hearts.”

Are you keeping track of how many hearts you have in your hand? You ruffed 3 spades, went to dummy on the HJ and want to lead your queen of hearts?

Your idea is good, but after ruffing two spades, lead the HQ.
Oct. 9, 2014
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This is indeed an interesting deal, but as the other comments have implied, the analysis is not first-rate. It suffices to point out that if West is 5=2=2=4 or 5-2=3=3 with the queen of hearts, declarer can succeed by leading the club ten at trick two, pitching a …DIAMOND, not a spade.
Sept. 30, 2014
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“I didn't have a way to indicate that with our mechanism.”

Indeed, YOU SHOULD NOT HAVE DONE IT!

I think this is a case of poor judgement by the admin on duty.
July 26, 2014
Stefan Ralescu edited this comment July 26, 2014
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In Europe many players would jump to 3NT with Axx/Qxx/763/KQxx. In that case, a heart switch at T2 is fatal for the defense.
June 22, 2014
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Declarer may have played the diamond 7 to leave doubt as to whether West started with 4 or 5 diamonds. If declarer’s hand is Axx/Qx/873/KQxxx, East needs to switch to a high spade at trick 2.
June 22, 2014
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West led the diamond 5 (4th best) and East played the 7, so I thought the chance of East showing up with four diamonds is zero. But if South discovers that East is 3-2-4-4, he should call the TD.
Dec. 25, 2013
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You are correct, that's exactly what South should do if East shows out on the second top spade. Here. however, eliminating the diamonds doesn't change anything.
Dec. 24, 2013
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If spades are 3-1 and the player with three spades to the queen has two hearts (as on the actual layout), there is another simple way to generate the overtrick. Cash a top spade to test the trumps and then duck a heart. Win the diamond return (say), cash the other top spade to confirm the split, cross to the king of clubs, ruff the diamond jack, cash the ace of clubs followed by the ace of hearts and exit with a spade. Notice that any heart doubleton will do here, so the likelihood of success is pretty good.

Once the second trump is cashed, ducking a heart is clearly no longer an option, but on the present deal declarer has a secondary simple squeeze (squeeze throw-in) against LHO, provided he reads the end position exactly.
Dec. 24, 2013
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Your point about playing three rounds of spades is well taken. However one should note that there are other hands where switching to the jack of hearts at trick 2 may not be a good idea as well. Say, for instance, that South has
109x/KQ10xxxx/K/Qx. You won't defeat the contract by leading the heart at trick 2 (sorry, another fancy squeeze operates in that case), but you will if you return a club or if you cash the ace of spades and then switch to the jack of hearts.
Nov. 11, 2013
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