Friday, August 27, 2010

That unlucky 5

Playing in our weekly IMPS game the other day, I did one of my usual overly aggressive things and opened 3S (NV vs NV) on the following 2S hand KQJ643 JT Q653 8 in first seat. I felt the Spades were a little good and the 2 suited nature added to the offensive value, hence the bump to the 3 level.

The auction was quick after that, double by LHO, all Pass. So much for wanting to head for the 3 level I thought.

The opening lead was the 2 of Spades and pard put down a dummy I really probably did not deserve, 87 K9xx Kx Kxxxx, but was very appreciative of. Ok, so I am off 4 Aces, that does not mean I am down yet, but kind of cuts into the wiggle room a little. And with that hand, partner may question my bidding a little more than usual if I don’t come close or make this one.

So the first question is, what was the Pass of the Double on. I am assuming the rest of the Spades, so that means RHO has AT95 in his hand, making the Spade suit real interesting. Although a Spade lead is normal on these auctions, it looks like that might not have been the ripper here, with the interesting spot cards. The other question is, does RHO have much other than those Spades? I expect not much, since that leaves LHO with a probable 3 Aces and a couple of Queens for the double. I am sure there might be a stray Q in RHO’s hand, but I think on initial evaluation, I am going to play LHO for the majority of everything else, and RHO for only the Spades.

RHO covered the 8 of Spades with the 9 and I won my K (std philosophy here, always try to win with the highest of touching honors, as it tends to disguise your hand from at least 1 opp). I am really not happy with the line I took, as I think the opps could have beaten me if they thought about it a little more. I decided I needed to shorten my Spades for a probable trump coup, since I thought I needed to ruff a Diamond on board. I actually led a Diamond at trick 2, and LHO won the A and returned the 9 to boards K. I now led the K of Clubs off board, effectively requiring RHO to be 4243 to make the hand, and some help. I got it when RHO won the A of Clubs and returned a Club for me to ruff. When I led the J of Hearts and LHO played low, I won the K, ruffed another Club, cashed the Q of Diamonds, and led the 4th Diamond. When LHO pitched, I could claim by ruffing and leading another Club off board, scoring all my Spades minus the A.

The opps best chance to beat me is by killing my entries before I shortened my trumps. Win the A of Clubs, cash the A of Hearts, and lead another Heart. At this point, I would be forced to take the Heart hook, since I would not have the entries for a trump coup now. Turns out, everything was friendly, RHO had the distribution I needed, and the Q of Hearts was onside. So I think I was always destined to make the hand.

After the fact, I decided that leading a Club to the K at trick 2 was probably better. Assuming LHO wins the A and returns one, I can ruff, and lead the red suits up now, making on most distributions that RHO has. And if LHO ducks the A of Clubs, when the K holds, I can ruff a Club back to my hand and again lead red suits up, plus I have an extra trick to play with. Of course, if any of the A’s are offside, and RHO gets in to lead a second Spade, I have a lot more work to do, but it was a good day.

At the other table, the contract was the same, 3S doubled, but I do not know the auction to get there. Declarer lost his way though, and went down 1, so we wound up with a nice pickup.

The reason for the title is the small spot card RHO has vs the 6 in my hand. After the Spade lead, I can always pick up the Spade suit for 1 loser. But if you exchange my 6 and RHO’s 5, then on many lines, I require the trump coup to have any chance.


  1. Nice deal, good analysis and write-up. What happens if LHO ducks the diamond? By winning the ace at trick two, he set up the Q-K.

  2. Actually, I was a little surprised when LHO won the Diamond and returned one, I had expected to win the K and was planning on returning 1, then ducking as much as possible on RHO's card to force LHO to win it. I was banking on no 2nd spade to return, and playing for Axx in Diamonds, so when I ruffed out the 3rd Diamonds, the A would fall. That was sorta how I wound up having to play the K of Clubs, since I did not exect to be on board.

  3. You have an RHO and LHO mixed up once above, RHO certainly never got in with the club A. My (LHO for any one else) hand was x AQxx Axxx AQxx. I'm still not entirely sure what the right defense was from my side of the table. You received the diamond return because I had no trump to return and I wasn't convinced that leading away from my AQ's was the way to go. I knew my partner couldn't have much in the way of hearts to leave in the double so I suspected that playing out hearts was going to set up unwarranted heart tricks in your hand. I'm still thinking about what defense was beating this on the extremely friendly layout in hearts and trump.