The Ones That Got Away

All but one of the hands that follow were played at the Mayfield Club recently and they are all more interesting than the results indicatedÖ

 

Dealer East

Both vul

 

 

A Q J 9

A K 6 4

K 2

K Q J

 

10 7 6 2

Q 9 8

6 3

9 6 4 3

N

 

W†††††††† †††††E

 

S

None

10 7 3

Q J 10 8 7 5

A 10 7 5

 

 

 

 

K 8 5 4 3

J 5 2

A 9 4

8 2

 

 

Youíd think that bidding and making 6S on this lot would be fairly straightforward but it wasnít managed once at seven tables.† One pair bid it and went one down.† No less than four pairs missed the spade fit completely Ė three of them going off in 6NT, one making three overtricks in 3NT!† Why is it so difficult to find the spade fit?† Or did those three misguided pairs think that both 6S and 6NT would make and therefore they should play in the higher-scoring slam?† Bidding and making 6S would always be a decent score and there may, as here, simply not be a twelfth trick without being able to ruff a loser.† A decent auction would be:

 

West

North

East

South

 

 

No

No

No

2C

2D (1)

2S

No

3S (2)

No

4D (3)

No

4NT (4)

No

5H (5)

No

6S

All pass

 

 

1)      Even at this vulnerability, worth the slight risk to ensure partner doesnít get off to a bad lead.† Also if he can raise, we may be able to jam up their auction.† East would double a Benjy 2D to send the same message.

2)      No need to do more.† The sequence is game forcing and leaves partner room toÖ

3)      Ö show an ace

4)      Roman Key Card Blackwood.† The 4D bid has vastly improved this already massive hand.† Now North can be sure that the opening lead through his king of diamonds wonít hurt.† Also the king is a trick and his partner may be able to score an extra trick by ruffing a third round.

5)      Two of the five aces, no queen of trumps.

 

If spades had broken 3-1 or better, twelve tricks would be trivial; Southís heart loser going on the third club and the diamond being ruffed in dummy.† The bad break spoils this because after ruffing the diamond declarer canít get back to hand to draw Westís last trump.† There are in fact two plausible lines.† You could draw all the trumps and try to squeeze a defender (presumably East) in the red suits.† Unfortunately the queen of hearts is with West and anyway a diamond lead and continuation when in with the ace of clubs ruins the entries for the squeeze.

The route to twelve tricks is on dummy reversal lines, as follows.† Win the diamond lead with the king and cash the ace of trumps, discovering the bad news.† Abandon trumps for the moment and play on clubs (taking the slight risk of a diamond ruff).† Assume East takes the first or second round and continues diamonds (nothing else is better).† Win, draw a second round of trumps with dummyís queen, and cash the ace and king of hearts.† If the queen drops you can draw the remaining trumps and claim.† Otherwise, discard the jack of hearts on the third club and ruff a heart low.† If West canít over-ruff you are home.† Ruff the last diamond and then ruff the last heart with the king of spades, West having to under-ruff.† Trick thirteen will be won by dummyís jack of trumps.† Note that you mustnít ruff the diamond any earlier or West can discard a heart as you lead through him.

 

By the way that is the best line in 5S too at pairs.† If West is able to ruff in at any point - for example, on the second round of diamonds Ė eleven tricks are still safe, even on a trump return.† So how many match points do you think we scored when our opponents played in 5S making eleven with 6S cold?† One out of twelve, thatís how many!

 

 

Dealer East

EW Vul

 

 

 

A 8 2

K 10

Q 5

A K 5 4 3 2

 

5 4 3

A 6 3

K 10 9 8 7 3

9

N

 

W††††††††††††† E

 

S

K Q J 10 9 6

J 8 7 4

6 4 2

None

 

 

 

 

7

Q 9 5 2

A J

Q J 10 8 7 6

 

 

 

 

 

 

West

North

East

South

 

 

2S (1)

3C (2)

No

3S (3)

No

4C (4)

No

6C (5)

All pass

 

 

1)      Some people ban opening weak twos with four cards in the other major.† The huge disparity in quality between the suits makes this fine (in my opinion).

2)      A dilemma Ė if partner has a balanced twelve or so with a spade stop and a club honour, he may not be able to bid, but a club partscore or even 3NT may be cold. In general, the hand which is short in the enemy pre-empt suit should strain to bid.† The danger is that partner may expect more and go too high and West will be looking to double.† If itís wrong itís just one more bad board at pairs.† Not really recommended at teams or rubber though, when you donít want to concede 500 or 800 on a partscore hand.

3)      Game force Ė initially South is being asked to show a spade stop for 3NT, but obviously thatís not what North has in mind this time.

4)      Less than nothing to say!

5)      Bidding what he expects partner to make.

 

Strangely twelve tricks by South are virtually cold (and can only be broken when North is declarer on an unlikely diamond lead).† Win the opening spade lead and ruff a spade high.† (It should be automatic to begin eliminating the enemy side suit on this type of hand with so many trumps.)† Cross to a high spade (drawing the enemy trump) and take another spade ruff.† With East having such good spades the heart ace is almost certainly with West, so continue with a heart to the king.† West has to duck or you have two heart tricks and can discard dummyís diamond loser.† Now lead the ten of hearts from dummy.† If East covers, so do you and you have set up the nine for a diamond discard.† If he doesnít cover, you run the ten to West.† As the cards lie this forces the ace and you have your discard, but even if he is able to win with the jack, he is end-played.† A diamond return is into your tenace; you can ruff the ace of hearts establishing the queen; and, knowing he has the ace, you can run a low heart return round to your hand discarding a diamond immediately.

 

Iím confident my partner would have played the hand this way, but at our table West led the ace of hearts at trick one (despite her partnerís 2S opening) and continued with a low diamond!† +920 was a clear top, three pairs making exactly 400 in 5C and one scoring the same in 3NT (which can go off on two rounds of spades - ducked perforce - and a diamond switch).

 

 

Dealer West

NS Vul

 

 

 

9 4

Q 9 7

K 3

A 10 7 5 4 2

 

 

N

 

W††††††††††††† E

 

S

 

 

 

 

 

A Q 8 7 6 5

A 8

A 4 2

K 6

 

 

 

 

 

 

West

North

East

South

No

No

No

1S

No

2C

No

3S

No

4S

All pass

 

 

How should this hand be played at pairs on the lead of the queen of diamonds from West?† Well, itís a normal contract, so you should expect everyone to be in it and try to make as many tricks as possible, taking reasonable risks.† So play three rounds of diamonds, ruffing, and play a spade to the queen.† When the finesse works, play ace and another, drawing trumps.† East exits with another diamond and you ruff.† West has thrown hearts on the last two tricks.† Youíve lost one trick.† These cards are left.† How should you continue?

 

 

 

 

-

Q 9 7

-

A 10 7

 

 

N

 

W††††††††††††† E

 

S

 

 

 

 

 

8 7

A 8

-

K 6

 

 

If the king of hearts is with East youíre only going to make eleven tricks (unless the QJ of clubs are doubleton).† But if sheís with West, there may be a squeeze.† Cash the ace of hearts (Vienna coup) and play off your last two trumps, discarding dummyís queen of hearts if the king doesnít appear.† Sure enough West began with three clubs and dummyís seven scores trick thirteen.† The full hand:

 

Dealer West

NS Vul

 

 

 

9 4

Q 9 7

K 3

A 10 7 5 4 2

 

10 3

K 6 5 4 2

Q J 5

Q J 3

N

 

W††††††††††††† E

 

S

K J 2

J 10 3

10 9 8 7 6

9 8

 

 

 

 

A Q 8 7 6 5

A 8

A 4 2

K 6

 

 

This was a real mixed bag.† 5 out of 6 pairs played in spades but two missed game and made only ten tricks.† Only one declarer (our opponent) made twelve.

 

Finally a tough slam:

 

Dealer South

Love All

 

 

 

None

J 7 5 2

A 10 8 4

A K 8 5 3

 

 

N

 

W†††††††††††† †E

 

S

 

 

 

 

 

A K 5 4

A K 8 6

Q 7 6

10 4

 

 

Can you make the slam on a low club lead?† The main chances are the queen of trumps falling in two rounds (it doesnít) or clubs 3-3 (theyíre not).† So you win the lead, draw two rounds of trumps and continue clubs, but East throws a spade on the third round.† Youíre going to have to make lots of trump tricks, so next you should cash one top spade (youíll see why shortly) and ruff a spade.† Now lead a fourth club.

 

Letís say East discards another spade.† The two discards suggest he began with spade length but presumably he wonít have unguarded the suit, so you can cash a second top spade and lead a fourth round.† West drops the queen under your king and then throws a diamond.† You ruff, East playing the jack.† All the spades are gone now, and so are all your trumps, but youíre in dummy and can cash the last club that you have worked so hard to set up.† One of the defenders will have to ruff this with the queen of trumps or you can just cash the ace of diamonds for your twelfth trick.† At this point everyone has only diamonds left:

 

 

 

 

-

-

A 10

-

 

-

-

? ?

-

N

 

W††††††††††††† E

 

S

-

-

? ?

-

 

 

 

 

-

-

Q 7

-

 

 

In fact it was East who had the queen of trumps, showing that he began with 6-3-2-2 shape.† What do you do when he returns the five of diamonds?

 

Answer: guess!† I canít think of any indicators as to which honour heís underleading (if either).† Anyway if you play low, guessing that he began with J5, you make the slam, otherwise, otherwise!† The full hand:

 

Dealer South

Love All

 

 

 

None

J 7 5 2

A 10 8 4

A K 8 5 3

 

Q 9 3

10 3

K 9 3 2

Q 9 7 6

N

 

W††††††††††††† E

 

S

J 10 8 7 6 2

Q 9 4

J 5

J 2

 

 

 

 

A K 5 4

A K 8 6

Q 7 6

10 4

 

 

Everyone bid to either 4 or 6H but the only pairs to make twelve tricks were treated to a diamond lead away from the king, which they pretty much had to run to the queen.† One final twist: going back to the point where East discarded his second spade; it clearly doesnít gain to ruff, as he is ruffing a loser with a trump trick, but suppose he throws a diamond instead, baring his jack.† This is why you couldnít cash both top spades earlier, because when he comes in with his trump trick he could then cash a winning spade.† If he throws a diamond the only way to make the slam now is to guess the diamond position correctly and lead the queen, pinning his jack.† And it has to be now because this is the last time you will be in hand!