Monday, October 18, 2010

The Path to Dummy

Playing MP’s at a local club this week, you pick up the following hand with everyone Vul, 763 AKJT A T8732 and hear the auction go 1D in first seat on your left, P, P back to you. As a partnership, we play aggressive overcalls, so partners pass should mean the lack of a biddable major, but at MP’s, passing is not really an option here, the major question is what to do. I was not sure this was our hand, so I decided that I did not want to make a nebulous TO double, have the opps buy the hand in 2 or 3 Diamonds, and have partner lead a little Spade from some random holding for a 0 on the board, so decided to overcall 1H. This had the advantage of getting partner off to what I thought would be the best lead if we wound up defending.

This went 2D on my left (interesting, less values perhaps than expected), 3D by partner, P on my right. I decided that I liked my hand if partner had Hearts and some values, since the probability was that I would be leading Black suits through the opener to partners supposed values, I had the red suits fairly well covered. And the 2D bid on my left improved the chances that partner would not have too much wastage in Diamonds, so I leaped to 4H, which ended the auction.

The opening lead was the K of Diamonds, and partner put down a very nice collection, perhaps too nice. A4 Q753 985 AKJ9. I won the A of Diamonds perforce, cashed the A of Hearts, both following, and led a Club towards dummy. LHO sportingly produced the Q, so I won the A and ruffed a Diamond high. It looked like I was probably a lock for 12 tricks now, the question was could I come to all 13? I cashed a second Heart in my hand, both following, and now made a mistake in the play. My plan was to go to dummy, ruff the last diamond, then see if the Club lived to get back and pull the last trump, finally pitching the Spade on the 5th Club from my hand.

This is fine, but I played the Spade to the A for the ruff first, then tried the Club to see if I could get 13 tricks, which actually worked. But I should try the Club first, after pulling the 2nd trump, since even if it gets ruffed, I still have the timing to take 12 tricks, and the knowledge that I could not get all 13. The problem with doing the Spade first is that I have opened up the Spade suit, and if the Club then gets ruffed, the opps have the ability to cash a Spade winner and hold me to 11 tricks, for what should be a bad score.

Turns out that 3 of the 11 pairs made all 13 tricks, while most of the others made 12. There were only 2 that managed to hold themselves to 11 tricks somehow, for a very bad score.

As for bidding to 6 on this hand, I am not sure how possible that is, especially when LHO bids a 2nd time. It requires partner to have an absolute perfecto super max for passing 1D, with the Q of Clubs appearing, and having a 3rd Diamond, without anyone bidding Spades on this auction. I think that is kind of a lot to ask for, and I certainly feel admiration for anyone that can honestly say they can bid this slam with some confidence.

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