Friday, February 3, 2012

Ignoring those 4-4 Major Fits

Had a very interesting hand in the Swiss Teams at our recent Sectional. All Vul, I picked up T74 KJ86 AKQ K98. Playing a 12-14 1NT, I opened 1C in first seat, and with the opponents silent throughout, bid 1N (15-17) over partners 1H bid. If I had a doubleton on the hand, I would raise partner first, but with the 4333 shape, wanted to emphasize the flat shape. Partner now raised this directly to 3N, not bothering to do any of our Stayman auctions. This tends to imply a very flat hand, so after some thought, I decided I would accept partners rath for never supporting her suit with this holding, and play the hand in 3N.

The opening lead was the 3 of Spades (3rd and 5th), and partner put down AK5 AT74 654 T62. That was certainly a flat hand, and it looked like there were going to be enough problems taking 9 tricks, no matter 10, unless I could locate the Q of Hearts. Here are the 2 hands with the lead of the 3 of Spades.

AK5 AT74 654 T62

T74 KJ86 AKQ K98

Basically, if you can pick up the Q of Hearts, you have 9 tricks, with backup possibilities in Spades and Clubs for a 9th trick. From the lead, LHO could have 5 Spades, but it is slightly more likely that this is 3rd best since the 2 is missing. Also, the Spade honours are likely to be split, since LHO did not lead the Q or J. Ducking this with the AK on board will almost certainly lose to one of the missing Q or J on your right, and expose your K of Clubs to immediate danger, so it looks like you have to win this on board. And as stated before, picking up the Q of Hearts means 9 tricks, wherever the A of Clubs is.

After winning the A of Spades, with RHO signaling encouragement, I played the A of Hearts off board, RHO following with the 3 and LHO with the 9. When I led the 7 of Hearts off board, RHO now echo’d with the 2 of Hearts. They play upside down count signals, so if these are honest cards, it shows 3 Hearts, tending to leave LHO with the Q9 of Hearts (with 9x, it is a standard false card, but not sure LHO would make that play). Is there any reason for RHO to give honest count? First, he does not know I have 4 Hearts, I never did raise partner, so if he is playing his partner for 3 or 4, especially 4, then giving an honest count is more important. But if I have only 2 Hearts, why would I start with the A, and if I have 3, then there is no way for his partner to get the Hearts wrong. A clear case of Spy vs Spy. After some though, I played the K of Hearts, dropping the Q9 offside, and when the A of Clubs was onside, made 4.

I had actually been hoping for the A of Clubs to be offside when I dropped the Q of Hearts, as that effectively made it impossible to make 4H. Turns out, they bid 4H at the other table, but did not get the Hearts correct. When something else went wrong for them, not sure what. they went down 2, for a 13 IMP pickup for us.

1 comment:

  1. Not so sure about not supporting hearts at your second turn, since partner might have a doubleton in a black suit.

    The play bears interest and produces questions: Why is LHO leading a three card suit (if you are correctly reading their signaling agreements) against notrump? Might his longer length be in suits that your side had bid; that is, the rounded suits? If that is the case, then playing LHO for the HQ and length seems indicated.

    Also, is it useful for defenders to be playing count in this circumstance? How much credibility is to be given their carding?

    Contra to that is protecting the CK by finessing hearts through RHO into LHO. However, the spot cards in clubs are so strong (T98) that the suit needs little protection.