Monday, January 11, 2010

How to Screw up a Hand in 1 Easy Lesson

Had the following hand in the weekly Sat Aft Team Game. With No one Vul, you hold QT8632 5 KT3 AKT and open 1S in first seat. The opps are silent throughout and partner bids 2C (Nat but not 2/1). You rebid 2S (time to raise Clubs later), and partner bids 3S. 3S is a special bid, showing a Slam Try in Spades (2N would have started an auction showing a lesser hand). You bid 4H (in your limited discussions on this new convention partner threw at you, 4 level bids now were shortness), and partner jumps to 6H. You decide to bid 6S thinking it will play better, and you have arrived.

The opening lead is the 6 of Diamonds, and you see this dummy, A2 AK87 A52 Q964. Just a side note, I do not like to make a 2/1 in any suit that I do not want to have as trump, so I would probably have bid 2H over 1S here. The real problem occurs when it goes 1S-2C-3C, now you are not sure if the agreed trump suit is going to be good enough to play in. If it were to go 1S-2H-3C, you are a lot happier supporting Clubs, the only problem on 1S-2H, is if partner rebids 2S, you are not always sure of a 6 card suit.

Anyways, on to the play problem. At the time, it looked like I had to pick up the Spade Suit for 1 loser, since the Heart K would take care of the Diamond problem. I won the A of Diamonds on dummy (BAD PLAY) and played A and out a Spade, playing for some 3-2 break and either an honour appearing on my right, or a good guess. RHO played the 4 and 9 of Spades, and LHO contributed the 5. So now I had a guess. After some thought, I paid my RHO a compliment and put up the Q of Spades, of course losing to the K, down 1. I thought about it for a while, trying to decide if this was a guess or not, and had come to the conclusion that it was.

Then I thought about the hand overnight, and came to the complete conclusion that I had totally blew the hand, and it should not be a guess at all. I believe (well after the fact), that the correct way to play the hand is as follows. Win the Diamond in my hand (need that Diamond entry later), and play A and out a Spade again. But this time, I cover whatever RHO plays, since I have a chance if LHO shows out for a trump coup on a 4-1 Spade break, something I thought I could not handle at the time.

If LHO shows out, you need RHO to hold at least 3 Clubs and 2 Hearts, and play in the right order. Decide which RHO is longer in, Clubs or Hearts, and play that suit off first, ruffing the 3rd or 4th round. Then play the other, pitching the Diamond loser along the way, and another ruff. If all goes well, the Diamond to the A, provides the entry for the trump coup now (hence the reason for winning the first Diamond in hand). The biggest difficulty on the hand is deciding at trick 4 what order to play the rounded suits in. If RHO has 4 Clubs, they have to go first, if only 3, Hearts have to go first (so that you are able to cash everything without RHO ruffing early, or getting a bad pitch). Based on the lead, I would likely play RHO for 3 Hearts and play AK and ruff a Heart first, then the 3 rounds of Clubs ending on board, and decide what else to ruff to hand at that point. This works any time LHO did not lead a 3 card Diamond suit, but in that case, you probably had no hope.

Back to reality, at the other table, they also got to 6S, and made the prosaic play of A of Spades and a Spade to the 10, for an 11 IMP win on the board. My RHO might have ducked the K of Spades if he had it, but since he did not, will never know.

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