Sunday, February 7, 2010

Just another 2-imp swing

This hand is from a home team game. Play 5D on the SK lead:

Dummy: Axx QJ8xxx AJx x

Declarer: x Ax KQ9xxx Kxxx

Declarer opened 1D in second seat, white/red; the full auction was P-1D-1S-2H; P-3D-4C-5D; AP. Dummy had a tough call over 4C -- as it happens, even with partner having Ax in hearts, diamonds might be the best game. Discussion of the play below…

Vulnerable, LHO must have almost everything to bid at the 4-level; if he is 6-5, I suppose he could be missing the HK. Running the HQ next seems to cover almost every case. If it holds, you play a club to the K (to keep righty off lead in case hearts 4-1) then have enough tricks, with at least two club ruffs in dummy followed by pulling trumps; maybe 3 club ruffs if lefty has no trump to lead. If, more likely, the heart loses, your plan is to use the long hearts, which works unless the HK was stiff (lefty can’t have 4). You even survive diamonds 4-0 when hearts break. After unblocking HA, you play DK, DJ and start hearts; righty is helpless since you can overruff and pull his trump, and still have just enough pitches. I can also see an argument for starting hearts with the ace, in case lefty has stiff K. This may lead to more complicated play when righty has KTxx and they tap dummy, but I think you always survive.

At the table, LHO held KQTxx Kxx –- AQJTx. I don’t know declarer’s actual play, unfortunately, but he went down 1. Maybe he cashed a high trump from dummy before working on hearts, which looks natural but is fatal on the 4-0 trump break. The lesson is not to pull a round of trumps “just to check” unless you are really sure it doesn’t cost a vital entry; this is easy to miss here because you only need that entry on 4-0 trumps.

I was at the other table, and didn‘t make that 4C bid on the black two-suiter. Any opinions on that? We got lucky because my lefty bid 3NT over her partner’s 3D, down 2 on a spade lead when the heart hook lost. Win 2.

Wait, did I imply that 3nt is routinely down? After 3 rounds of spades, I’m finished if declarer just runs diamonds – no pitches avoid the squeeze/endplay, even if I unblock my spade spots so partner’s is highest. Work it out. Of course, I had only bid once, so this line wasn’t clearly marked. There is a mild inference from partner’s failure to raise, but hardly certain. To defeat 3NT legitimately, I need to somehow convince partner to switch to clubs at trick 3, which is presumably impossible, and he must produce the 9; I don’t know if he or declarer had it. As I said, just another 2-imp swing.


Kenny Z said...

I would bid 4cl only if I know partner will not raise spades with JXXX and out. In this auction though, I definitely think he should raise with that.

Over 4cl, I prefer 4D to 5D with dummy's hand. It gives partner a chance to bid 4H with HX, and if partner passes 4D, there is a decent chance that's all we can make.

Jonathan Weinstein said...

I confess I would also pass with partner's Jxxx xx Txxx xxx at these colors. How sad that we probably make 4S. Would you bid 3S? Then we might preempt their diamond fit and buy it in 4S. Over a raise to 2S I think they wind up bidding 3D and taking the push to 5D. Anyway, I would expect a vulnerable preemptive raise here to be at least Kxxx and a doubleton. Sad on this hand.

Kenny Z said...

Yeah, I'd bid 3S. With only JXXX, I'm virtually certain that the opps are bidding game, so not all that worried about the number I might go for in 3SX. The other advantage of bidding this way is that I strongly dislike 4 card overcalls, and this kind of bid has the effect of making sure partner naver makes those. With KXXX and a doubleton, I'd bid only 2S at imps, 3S at MP. I'll note that this only applies when we have spades. When our side has the boss suit, I don't pass without letting partner know first. If the auction were 1D-1H-1S, I would pass at these colors with XX JXXX XXX XXXX. But not when we have spades.

Jonathan Weinstein said...

Interesting. Is it because the opponents showed strength that you would bid 3S on so little? If they doubled instead of 2H would 3S show more?

Kenny Z said...

I feel better about 3S with the opponents having shown strength, but I'd bid it anyway if they had X'd instead of bidding 2H. The alternative is passing, and never establishing that we have a 9+ card spade fit. I don't consider that an option. I should note that partner often laughs aloud when I put down these kinds of dummies, but I have developed thick skin over time.