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All comments by Stefan Ralescu
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When you claim that the “logic that East might have forced a switch to diamonds by playing the queen and therefor should not hold the king of diamonds is impeccable”, I am not sure you understand my earlier comment. It's difficult to make definitive statements here, since this problem is clearly not well-posed. You do realize you were not correct when you categorically stated that “If partner has the club ace and 3 spades, a spade continuation will always beat the contract”.

How is East supposed to defend if he has KQx/x/QJxxx/Axxx?

(a) If West has the original hand, only a spade continuation defeats five hearts.

(b) If South has xxx/KJxxx/xxx/Qx, only a diamond shift defeats the contract.

Could East really risk asking for a spade continuation when declarer might hold the hand shown in (b)? I don’t think so.
April 15, 2013
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Kit,

Are you suggesting that with a hand like KQx/x/QJxxx/Axxx East knows that a spade continuation is necessary to defeat the contract?
Also, Reiner commented earlier that “If partner has the club ace and 3 spades a spade continuation will always beat the contract”.

I don't agree. Say East has KQx/x/QJxxx/Axxx.

With the actual West and North hands, a spade at trick 2 is indeed required to defeat the contract. However, if West continues spades and declarer turns up with xxx/KJxxx/xxx/Qx (after all, South is more likely to have the heart king), the contract is safe. But in that case, once East shows SP for diamonds, a diamond shift from K-x defeats five hearts and in fact, it beats it by two tricks on the normal play of the king.

The argument that the king of spades is asking for a spade continuation (as a result of East knowing that a spade return from West provides the best defense) is not established on a sound foundation.
April 15, 2013
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Kit,

Even if you had an agreement that spade queen asks for a diamond switch and spade king for spade continuation, there is no guarantee that East has both spade honors and in fact I suspect that at the Bridge Club where this hand was played, there was not unanimous consensus that if East plays the king he must have the queen. Suppose partner has Kxx/x/KQxx/A9752. When you cash the spade ace, he wants a diamond switch. In the absence of the spade queen and due to possible ambiguity of the message if he follows suit with a low spade, East plays the king asking you to lead a diamond. If you do so, declarer will go two down. On any other return, South makes five hearts.
Modify that hand by removing the queen of diamonds and the same argument applies to defeat the contract.
April 14, 2013
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Not sure I agree with Kit. The spade king from East might well be asking for a diamond switch. In addition, West is likely to be helped if he notices those club spots in dummy.
Suppose West continues spades and declarer is 3=5=4=1 with the red jacks and the ace of clubs (a likely occurrence). South ruffs, crosses to the closed hand on the club ace and draws trumps in three rounds ending in dummy. Meanwhile, East must keep all his clubs and thus can only retain K-Q-x of diamonds. At trick 7 declarer leads a low diamond from dummy and East has no counter.
But if West switches to a diamond at trick 2, there is nothing declarer can do to fulfill his contract.
April 14, 2013
Stefan Ralescu edited this comment April 14, 2013
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Nice d-d problem on a trump lead.

Win SK, CA (pitch the D3), ruff the C4 and cash all the trumps but one, keeping in dummy all the hearts, the D6 and the C10. Meanwhile, East must keep four hearts to the queen and:

(A) If East keeps the CK, cash the DA, play a heart to the king and endplay East with a club.

(B) If East reduces to a low club and a high diamond, cross to dummy on the HK, ruff the C10 and endplay East with a diamond.

(C) If East remains with honor-4 in diamonds, play the last trump throwing the diamond from dummy and forcing East to do likewise. Cash DA, HA and duck a heart.

(D) If East tries to prevent being endplayed by keeping the C8 and D4 (say), play the last trump throwing a heart from dummy and turn your attention to LHO. In the five-card ending, dummy has K-J-small of hearts, D6 and C10. Cash the HA and lead a heart from the closed hand. On that, West (who remained with 10-7 of diamonds and Q-J of clubs, say) is forced to pitch a club. Win in dummy with the HK and endplay West in clubs.
April 13, 2013
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Michael,

To be honest, it does bother me that East-West “might have gained from their MI.” That is why it is “possible” that the AC might have done better to adjust the East-West score, but not the North-South score.
BTW, I happen to believe that Roy and Sabine and their team played very, very well throughout the Vanderbilt and I can assure you that I had no bias against them.
March 27, 2013
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Michael,

Re #1), the answer is that it is possible, but not probable. I hope you understand
the nuances.

Re #2), since the answer to #1) is “not probable”, #2) becomes a moot point, no longer requiring any debate.

Re #3), allow me to suggest that I ‘probably’ have a little more experience with likelihoods, at least with those types used in probability theory. You put a lot of weight on subjective likelihoods and the argument against those is not on solid ground. However, since you press that issue, suffice it to say that if East started with KJx of spades, there should be nothing to fear from South’s perspective. On the other hand, South does have a unique chance to defeat the contract by covering the H9 in case East started with KQJ/109/AKJxx/KJx which is consistent with the bidding and the early play.

Finally, I completely agree with Kit: it is healthy to disagree as long as we believe “that the committee did their job properly, following correct procedure and coming to a logical conclusion. That is what is important.”
March 27, 2013
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Time for some conclusions and how I would have written the unbiased appeal report:

“South first claimed that with correct information there was a chance that he might have led a heart. Five experts were polled and they all said that a heart lead was out of the question. The director also ruled that South is unlikely to choose a heart opening lead. After the dinner break, South said he would have played the D10 (upside-down carding) on the first round of diamonds had he been given the correct information. Despite further discussion of the play and the director’s attempt to discuss the hand at the session, South never mentioned the play of the D10. Since the ‘D10 argument’ was discovered after the session, the committee considers it to be a self-serving statement that cannot be taken into account. A few other experts contacted by the committee believe that it would be correct to adjust the score. However, neither they nor North-South were able to produce even a single example of a declarer hand where the MI would deter North-South from defeating the contract. The committee had difficulty connecting MI, South's actions and damage. The inaccurate defense appears to be caused more by the complexity of the hand, than by the MI. After careful analysis, the committee determined that there was not a significant chance that South would have found the winning defense with the correct information.
At the same time, since East’s hand was by inference 3=2=5=3, the committee noted that South missed a unique opportunity when he failed to cover the heart nine at trick 3. That would have been essential if East had KQJ/109/AKJxx/KJx.
The committee found that MI was present but it did not lead to damage. We judged that there is not sufficient justification to overturn the decision of the TD. Therefore the table result stands, 3NT making three, East-West plus 400.”
March 27, 2013
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Kit,

I concur with you on most issues, in particular that not covering the heart nine had nothing to do with South’s play on the diamond shift. However, as mentioned earlier (and noted in the Appeal), when the TD was called, “despite further discussion of the play and the director’s attempt to discuss the hand at the session, South never mentioned the play of the D10.” Therefore, from the Appeal report, it is very clear that the “diamond 10 argument” was not present during the session, but instead had been “discovered” during the dinner break.

Why in the world would this “fabrication” be allowed to reverse the decision of the TD? Remember that South first said that he might have led a heart given the correct information. However, that claim had been tested by the AC and rejected 100%.

The more I look at this episode, the more it strikes me as being one with an unjust ending.
March 26, 2013
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Kit, I agree with your interpretation but the whole episode was bizarre.

Let’s review the Facts of the APPEAL (CASE 6):

“South said he might have led a heart with the correct information.”
“FIVE expert players were polled and ALL said that a heart lead was OUT OF THE QUESTION.”
“AFTER THE DINNER BREAK, South said he would have played the D10 (upside-down carding) on the first round of diamonds had he been given the correct information."

So there was an attempt to argue that the MI kept them from defeating the contract.

The Ruling:

“The director ruled that South is unlikely to choose a heart opening lead.”
“Despite further discussion of the play and the director’s attempt to discuss the hand at the session, SOUTH NEVER MENTIONED the play of the D10. Therefore the D10 play was ruled unlikely and the table result stands, 3NT, making three, East–West plus 400.”

So the “business” about the D10 was discovered during the dinner break, since according to the TD South never mentioned it when he had a chance, during the session.

From the Appeal:

“South explained that his defense was predicated on the information that East had at most three spades. All his efforts were channeled into making sure his partner not play a second spade.”
“The D8 promised a higher card, so he knew declarer could not come to nine tricks without help.”
“He (i.e. South) was likewise concerned that discouraging with the D10 might result in partner playing spades.”

It is not clear why South was so concerned that a spade return from North would damage the defense. In fact, based on these developments, how could the AC find that the MI (which was indeed present) led to damage? If you read carefully the Appeal, you are likely to see that the statement “The committee found that MI was present and that it led to damage.” comes almost out of the blue, although at first it does appear to be the logical conclusion of what has been mentioned prior to it.

Re a passive defense: it does not work if East has the 3=2=5=3 hand that I suggested. That was a likely possibility in view of the bidding (recall that E/W open with 1C with
4-4 in the minors). In that case South cannot passively follow suit by playing a low heart. Instead, he must put-in the heart jack at trick 3. When declarer has 10-9 doubleton of hearts, that is the only defense. At the table South missed it. When declarer has any other heart doubleton without the king, playing the jack at trick 3 can’t hurt.
March 26, 2013
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“It was suggested that hand would have opened 2NT”. That was clearly a wrong suggestion and we need not discuss it further.

You are missing the whole point of my posting.

North-South did not put forth a constructive defense against 3NT when East is 3=2=5=3 and did not demonstrate how the MI kept them from defeating the contract.

At the same time, it should not take “ample time” to observe the error asserted on South. That was a fatal error with the given elements of play.

Any Yes, one can assume perfect play from Helgemo.
March 25, 2013
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Let’s pay close attention to the defense.

Operating and defending in a “three spade world”, with East’s shape being by implication 3=2=5=3 (as agreed also by the AC), Welland has committed a fatal error by not covering the heart nine at trick 3. If declarer has KQJ/109/AKQJx/Kxx, after a spade to the ace, a diamond return (won by declarer with the king) and the heart nine, assuming perfect play by declarer, the only way South could defeat 3NT is to put-in the heart jack.

What was the North-South defensive approach, how were they trying to collect 5 tricks to defeat the contract? In presenting their argument, all the emphasis was put on trying to prevent North from leading another spade, but there was no constructive defense put forth.

North-South never explained how they would have defeated 3NT if East had the expected 3=2=5=3 shape.

Could they do it now?
March 25, 2013
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I agree with you. Following an email exchange, Adam has already clarified the position of the AC by saying that
”if failure to cover is an error, it does not rise to the level of “serious error” per Law 12. Per both the ACBL LC and the WBF LC that is reserved for egregious mistakes such as revokes, failure to cash the setting trick against a slam, and similar.”

Now that the smoke has cleared, I was trying to generate some more discussion on this latest incident at the Vanderbilt.
March 25, 2013
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Here is a statement from the Decision rendered by the AC: “The facts of the case also made it clear that the winning defense would be more attractive had South had correct information. In fact he was defending in “three spade world” and gave no consideration to “four spade world.”” Indeed, in view of the bidding and the information provided at the table, East-West correctly asserted that East’s shape is by implication 3=2=5=3 since they open 1C with 4-4 in the minors.

Considering all these elements, careful examination of the play reveals that South did make a “serious error” (*Law 12*) by not covering the heart nine at trick 3.

If declarer has KQJ/109/AKQJx/Kxx, after a spade to the ace (jack from declarer), a diamond return (won by declarer with the king) and the heart nine, assuming best play by declarer, the only way to defeat 3NT is for South to put-in the heart jack.
March 25, 2013
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If West is 1=5=3=4 with the DQ, the club spots are irrelevant. Simply ruff all the clubs in dummy and endplay West with the DQ. No squeeze needed.
Feb. 10, 2013
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Your implication is not quite right in that ducking the DK opening lead is not necessarily a move prevailing over all others.

Take for example the same North/South hands as in my previous post, but give West K87/8/KQ109/A9832. In this situation declarer must win the 1st trick with the ace and then play well in the endgame to make the contract. On the other hand, if South ducks the opening lead and West guesses to switch to a low club, the defense takes the first four tricks and declarer has no way to avoid losing two more tricks.
Jan. 24, 2013
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Andrzej,

Suppose South has A654/543/A64/1064 and North Q93/AKQJ10/32/Q75.

Following your assumptions, if West’s hand is K107/8/KQ1098/A932 (say), the DK opening lead defeats two hearts.

Likewise, ducking the king of diamonds doesn’t help if West has
K1072/8/KQ109/A932.
Jan. 24, 2013
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Thanks.
It turns out that if West pitches a heart on the 3rd round of clubs and declarer decides to play his last club, the discard of the heart king from West won’t help the defense. Declarer pitches the last diamond from dummy and leads a heart from the closed hand. After West ruffs air, he is left with two spades and a diamond. If he returns a trump, South takes the A-Q of spades and the heart ace, while if West returns a diamond, declarer ruffs with the ten.
Nov. 24, 2012
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Kit,

As the play went at the table declarer had a unique chance once East returned the deuce of diamonds at trick 3. In the six-card ending that ensues, South has A-Q of spades, Q-6 of hearts and K-9 of clubs. Declarer should lead a club trying to score a club trick. If both opponents follow, South can ruff his last club in dummy. As it happens, LHO has no more clubs, but he has an impossible choice.
(1) If West pitches a diamond, South cashes the A-Q of trumps and continues with his last club. Down to one trump and K-9 of hearts, West must ruff now but is endplayed.
(2) Alternatively, if West ruffs declarer overruffs with the ten, ruffs dummy’s last diamond with the queen, cashes the ace of spades and leads his last club, having reached the same three-card ending as in (1) where West has no riposte.
Nov. 24, 2012
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“Now try to look at matters through West’s eyes, who actually held the J-5 doubleton of trumps. What in the world was declarer doing leading a diamond, knowing that he could ruff? His partner must hold the DK for declarer’s play to make any sense at all. He was worried that if he ruffed, I would be able to cash the SK and pick up the trump suit by finessing his partner (which was actually the case, though declarer would not be able to make his contract with this line of play).”

I want to address one thing you might be overlooking in your analysis: if West ruffs the diamond and leads the HK, declarer can’t avoid losing a trump if he started with A-10-x-x.

Nov. 18, 2012
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