Monday, March 22, 2010

Six-card ending; conclusion

See two posts ago for the problem.

The club pitch strongly implies that lefty was 2-4-2-5, so the ending looks something like:

N: --- AJ7 --- Q9x

W: --- ??? --- JTx E: Tx ?? 75 ----

S: ---- Tx 82 Kx

If West has both heart honors, you can make it by straightforward play. If East has the K, you can’t make it – the position is frustratingly close to a double squeeze, but there just isn’t a way to rectify the count without East cashing the setting trick. What if West has the K and East the Q? That is how it was at the table. If you cash the D8 now, at trick 8, West has three losing options. A club pitch is obviously no good. A low heart pitch lets you set up hearts while keeping East off lead, by a standard avoidance play. So should he pitch the HK? Then you cash the Q and K of clubs to execute a standard strip-squeeze against East (who must pitch his spade winners and get endplayed or bare the HQ.)

The catch? Suppose West pitches the HK, then when you cash your clubs East pitches a spade and a heart. So East just bared the HQ, right? Maybe. But maybe West has made a genius *fake* unblock holding both heart honors, and East has alertly cooperated (if he threw his spade winners from his entryless hand you would give him a diamond and claim.) I say if they do this to you, gracefully go one down, write the hand down carefully and you get to be the journalist for the Defense of the Year.

By the way, it is tempting to cash the CK first in the 6-card ending, to check the break. But then West can pitch the HK from K-empty and beat you, because you no longer have an endplay threat against East.

Friday, March 19, 2010

A small extra chance

Most people are either busy at Reno or recovering from Reno, so I’ll wait a few days before the follow-up to the previous hand. In the meantime, here’s a cute and non-taxing story of the play in a grand slam:

North: 843 J3 AKQT84 K4
South: AKQT2 AT954 52 A

We arrived in 7S by South and I got a club lead. With no side entry to dummy, you basically need both spades and diamonds to come in – thanks to your tens this is about a 62% chance. Do you see a small extra chance, about 2-3%?

I didn’t see the small extra chance initially, but when I cashed two top spades I was alert enough to notice that the J9 fell on my right, and appreciate that the 8 had appreciated. I went to a diamond, pitched my diamond on the CK, ruffed a diamond high, and could go to the S8 claiming even if diamonds were 4-1. They were 3-2, but I still like the story. The opponents stopped in 6, for one of our few pickups from the GNT final.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

A nice 6-card ending

Reno was a disappointment for me, but congrats to Franco and Andy as the inaugural Platinum pairs champs. (Most of you have seen Franco's blog, linked from this page.)

A nice catalog of pretty double-dummy 5-card endings with some practical value is George Coffin’s “Great 88,” reproduced at Richard Pavlicek’s web site here.

A 6-card ending worthy of Coffin came up last week at the GNT. I’ll give it as a single-dummy problem.

North: AKx AJ7xx 3 Q9xx
South: xxx Tx KJT82 AKx

N-S arrived at 3nt via an uncontested auction where South opened 1D and rebid 1NT, then North relayed to reveal his exact shape and South chose 3nt.
The play began SQ ducked; spade to dummy; diamond to J and Q; D9 to T; DK to East’s A (West pitched club);spade to dummy (West pitched heart); club to A (both following). This left:
N: --- AJ7 --- Q9x
S: ---- Tx 82 Kx

with declarer having taken 4 tricks, and looking at 4 more. How should declarer continue?

Sunday, March 7, 2010

No crying in bridge

But it's tempting after another second-place finish. Qualifying for the final had plenty of excitement; we were on the border with just a few boards to go and won a couple of big swings. But then in the first 16 boards of the final Sorkin-Mandell and Mouser-Defotis added 38 to their carryover of 16, and not much happened in the next 16. Congrats to them. I'll post some hands eventually, but am tired now and will have to catch up on work before Reno starts on Friday! I'll check in during Reno; excited about playing in the first running of the platinum pairs, with Josh Sher.

GNT in progress

The field was cut from 6 to 4 via the first round robin; today we'll have a 1-session RR among these 4 teams, followed by a 32-board final, with full carryover at each stage. We made the cut, with our total carryover against the remaining teams being basically even (+4 imps I think.) After playing all 60 boards yesterday due to teammates' conflicts, Jerry and I will have the first segment off today, so I'm still at home although play begins in 20 minutes. As usual, I had trouble winding down after a day of bridge, but managed to sleep a bit. Back to work around 1 today! I'll definitely have some hands to write about when I get time.

Friday, March 5, 2010

District GNT this weekend

The district GNT (for the Chicago/Milwaukee area) is this weekend. It’s always one of my favorite events on the calendar. I was on district runner-up teams 2 years ago here and last year in NJ – hope we can do one better this year. As always, it will be a tough field, including some friends and readers. See you there! Update on Monday.