Played in the NAOP pairs playdowns this past weekend with RH. We wound up third overall, not bad considering the number of self inflicted problems we gave ourselves. RH played really good overall, especially on defense. Have a couple of hands that turned out well, although at least on the 1, luck had at least as much to do with it as anything else.
First hand, All Vul, MP’s, you hold Q95 9753 KT5 AK2 and hear the auction go as follows.
N E S W
P P 1H P
4H P P P
Leaving you on lead. I decided to make a bit of an attacking lead, since I expected N to have a short suit somewhere, so I selected the 3 of Hearts, fully expecting partner to show out, and give the suit away to declarer, but threaten ruffs, if dummy had a short suit as I expected. Dummy came down with AT63 J842 AQ94 7, kind of what I expected, although better than I had hoped. Anyways, this went low on dummy 10(!) from partner, Q from declarer. So declarer had opened 1H with 4, that was interesting. Declarer now played a Diamond to the Q, holding, the A of Diamonds, partner showed 3, and a Diamond to partners J, declarers small 1, and my K, leaving a good Diamond on board.
At this point, I did not see any point in letting declarer know the Heart position any more, and getting a cheap winner with their 6 of Hearts. I did not want to lead a Club for the same reason I did not lead 1 to start, I hate leading this holding, so that left a Spade. I decided to cater to partner having the J8x or something like that, and led the 9 of Spades back. Declarer ducked this and partner won the K, declarer following low, and tabled the J of Clubs, covered by declarers Q and my A. At this point, it looks like declarer can do OK left to his own devices. My Spade return did not work as hoped, and I have set up a good part of the board. So time to do something about it. At least the 9 of Spades left me with a bit of an illusion, I now returned the 5 and declarer went into a hitch, finally winning the A on board as partner and declarer followed low.
Declarer now played a Heart to his K, partner throwing a small Club. If declarer now pulls trump ending on board and cashes the Diamond, I can score the last 2 tricks with the Spade and Club for down 1. So declarer tried exiting the Spade to my partners supposed Q, but I was able to win, and now play the K of Clubs, tapping dummy. This meant I had to still score another Heart since declarer was board locked for down 2 and +200. Declarers hand was 874 AKQ6 872 Q93, a lead directional 1H call in 3rd seat that his partner had no sense of humour about.
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The next hand, you hold Vul vs Not, MP’s, J974 AQJ8 AQ86 J and decide to open 1H in 2nd seat after a pass on your right. We mostly play 5 card majors, but I did not want to have rebid problems after 1D, and decided to have fun. This now went 1S by partner, which I raised to 2S (a little heavy, but at MP’s, if partner does not bid again, this is where I want to be). Partner now jumped to 4H, offering me a choice of places to play. Looking at the Diamonds, I decided that this was as good a spot as any, since I assumed we were in parallel 4-4’s here. The opening lead was the K of Clubs, and dummy was a bit of a surprise, AKQ8 K95 J9 T654. Not sure what partner was doing here, I would have assumed that the Spades had to play at least as well as a supposed 5-3 in Hearts. Maybe he was worried I might pass 3H, and would correct to Spades with 4 of them, whatever.
Anyways, it certainly looks like Spades is going to make 5 or 6, depending on the Diamond K, so I am going to need some luck here to come back to near equity, if I can. The K of Clubs held, RHO signaling encouragement, and another Club came back to the A on my right. Since there was little point in holding up, I was being tapped sometime, I ruffed this, and took stock. In Spades, you can ruff a bunch of Clubs safely, and pull trump with the other hand. It looked like the only way to duplicate this, was the same line and hope. So back to the board with a Spade, on which RHO dropped an alarming 10, and ruff another Club to my hand. Now I cashed the 2 high Hearts left in my hand, on which all followed, and another Spade to board, hoping. Thankfully, RHO played a low one now, and when I played the K of Hearts off board, everyone followed as I pitched a Diamond. So far so good. Now I ran all the Spades ending in dummy, RHO wound up having 3 (that was a nasty 10) and LHO pitched a Diamond and a Club, while RHO pitched a Diamond. Hoping I had read it all correctly, I now exited the last Club off board, while LHO won and was endplayed into leading from the K of Diamonds into my AQ in the 2 card ending. Making 5 for a slightly above average board.