Monday, January 30, 2012

Interesting Play Problem

Playing in the Swiss Teams at our recent local Sectional, had this hand come up. No one Vul, you hold JT7 4 K9643 J973 and hear it go 2H on your right, you Pass, 4H on your left, Double by partner, and then Pass on your right. I finally decided that this was not a double to leave in, and since partner did not bid 4S himself, I was not that interested in the bad Moysian, even with the stiff Heart in my hand, so I bid 5D, ending the auction.

The opening lead was the A of Hearts, and this is the dummy I got, AK97 6 AJT8 AT62. All I had to do was bring Diamonds in for no losers and compress 3 possible black suit losers into 1, nothing to it. LHO won the Heart while RHO contributed the 8 of Hearts (std count and attitude), and then switched to the 8 of Spades. How do you plan the play?

AK97 6 AJT8 AT62

JT8 4 K9643 J973

First thing to decide is how the Spades are sitting such that you can bring that suit in for no losers. Since you must lose at least 1 Club, you can not afford any Spade losers. If the 8 of Spades is to be believed, then the Q is on your right with the 2H bid, but a little local knowledge tells you that LHO is quite willing to play a dishonest card to try and get to you. And since a Spade was almost a required shift, the actual card means little.

What do we know about the hand so far, Hearts are probably 5-6, as indicated by the bidding and play to trick 1. If Diamonds are 3-1, then you can pick them up, but that might leave RHO too many Black cards to be safe. 1 nice thing about the spot cards in Spades, if you can pick up the Q, you can pitch a Club on the 4th Spade, then split honours in Clubs will allow you to get a forced ruff and sluff to make the hand.

Due to the Spade spots, I think the best line of play is to take the Spade hook at trick 2, and assuming it wins, plan to pull trumps, and run the Spades pitching a Club, before going A and out a Club. This will work any time the Spade Q is onside, and the Clubs are 3-2 with split honours. There are also a few variations available as the play develops, or if Clubs go 4-1 with a stiff honour.

The problem is I decided to delay my Spade decision on the hand, and won the first round with the A. I now played a Diamond to the K and a Diamond back to the A, with the Q appearing on my left on the 2nd round, Diamonds being 2-2. But that left me on board with only 1 hand entry in Diamonds. If I was playing Clubs off board, I now needed Hx on my right, and that coupled with the 6 Hearts and 2 Diamonds he was (mostly) known to hold, meant he held 3 Spades, and I needed the Spade hook now. So hoping for the best, I led a little Club off board, losing to the K on my left. A Spade came back, and I played low, getting some good and bad news. The good news was that the Q was not on my right, the bad news was that RHO showed out on the Spade, meaning he held 4 Clubs to the Q to start, and I was going down on the hand, whereas my first line of play would have worked if I had hooked the Spade at trick 2. So much for delaying decisions, but it was a nice return of the 8 of Spades by LHO that made me think the hand out too deeply. Here is the full hand, turns out with all the singletons, we can beat 4H 1 trick, only because 2 Diamonds cash, but we have to get to them early.


At the other table, they started with the same auction, except my hand decided to pull to 4S with the singleton Heart. The bad Spade split meant they could not pull trump and retain control, so wound up down 2 on the hand, we won 1 IMP, but had a chance for a lot more.

1 comment:

  1. Hi David,

    What about animating your featured hands from within your blog pages?

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    Didier Levy