Recap Of 8/3/2016 28 Board IMP Individual
Wow! Only 4 double digit swings today…and I lost them all. On to the details…
On this first one, I should have reasoned that my 3♣ bid showed extras, and if partner won’t move towards slam, then perhaps I shouldn’t either. But I did. The result was a slam that was quite close to 50% on a successful club finesse (a little less than 50% because it is possible the defense can obtain a first round ruff, or a ruff after winning the ♥A, then the slam would be down even with a successful club finesse). And, without the ♣10, the slam is quite poor. But, partner did have the ♣10, so, with no ruffs available, if the ♣K is onside, we win 13 IMPs. It wasn’t. -100 vs. -650 and lose 13 IMPs.
Should I have pushed on? Should partner have accepted? Not with the ♣K offside! But not the worst slam ever.
Undaunted, we faced this hand on the very next board. Again, I felt I had too much to simply sign off in game, so I offered the 3♣ ‘game try.’ When partner accepted, I envisioned a possibly magic hand with ♠Kxxx and ♣Kx. If partner only had ♠Kxx along with the ♣K, I could survive if trumps were 2-2. Or if trumps are 3-1 with a singleton honor, I can still bring it home as long as I guess correctly whether dummy or my hand should win the first trump trick. So, I trotted out ol’ Black and when partner owned up to 1 key card, I was there, bidding 6♠. It turned out the ♦A was his key card, but he held suitable trump honors to give decent play. As I figure it, this is very close to a 75% slam (you can tell me if I have miscalculated). If either black king is onside, I am in pretty good shape. But, the order of which black finesse you try first matters. I think I played it wrong, now that I have given it more thought. Darn, I hate it when that happens.
I led the ♠Q at trick 2 because I had the illusion that trying spades first gave me a ‘two-fer’. If they ducked, I could then try clubs. If they covered, I was very nearly home, and if it lost, I still had a high spade to then try clubs. But, that thinking is flawed because ‘then try clubs’ means that after I cross to the remaining spade honor, trump likely need to be 2-2, and more critically, I not only need my RHO to hold the ♣K, I need it to be exactly ♣Kx or ♣Kxx, since I get only 1 finesse, then I must play the ♣A, then ruff, and the ♣K must fall, or else I still have a club to lose and the slam goes down.
So, back to what to play at trick 2 after the ♦A wins trick 1? I’m convinced (now) that the right answer is to play clubs first. If the club finesse wins, I cash the ♣A and ruff a club. If the ♣K doesn’t fall in 3 rounds, I enter my hand and ruff my last club. Now, I’m in dummy and I can still try the spade finesse for a chance for all 13 tricks. If the club finesse loses, I win the return (whatever it is), cash the ♣A, ruff my remaining losing club (high) and then start taking spade finesses. This fails if either opponent held only 1 club (so that they then they ruff my ♣A) or if RHO has only 2 clubs so that they overruff the third round of clubs. It also fails if my RHO has all four outstanding trumps ♠Kxxx.
Normally, a slam needing 1 of 2 finesses is considered a 75% slam. This certainly falls short of 75% because it needs a bit more than just 1 of 2 finesses. There are other considerations in handling various scenarios. Most importantly, all lines fail when LHO holds both black kings. They did, so the slam, like the prior board, was down. Since it was non-vulnerable, -50 vs. -450, lose 11 IMPs.
Note to self – don’t play so fast when a 22 IMP swing is looming for make/down in a slam. Consider the possible layouts more carefully before embarking on a plan. Here, my play didn’t matter, but finessing in clubs first after winning the ♦A (rather than spades first) handles many more situations of ‘at least 1 black king onside.’
48 IMPs difference on those two slams vs. the opposing players on the other team. Win 13, win 11, total of 24 IMPs, vs. lose 24.
So, here we go again. Another slam (only this time it was bid by our opponents at the other table). Here it was all on the lead (sort of). As you can see, the opening leader holds 12 cards that can be led to defeat the slam. But, they also hold 1 card (♦A) that can be led that allows the slam to come home. They (our teammate) found that 1 card!!!!!
But on the auction that they heard (no key card ask), the opponents are flying blind. They could be off two cashing diamond tricks, but those (potential diamond winners) may only cash if they are led and cashed at tricks 1 and 2. David Bird says to ‘never lead a singleton against a slam’ when you hold an ace, because the chance that you hit partner with an ace is zero, and you may locate a critical card for declarer by leading the singleton. So, here the singleton works, actually any card works but the ♦A! But, I think our teammate made the right lead based on the information available.
We played a mere 4♥ at our table and the singleton spade was led. The beauty of the singleton is that partner can have either ace – the ace of the suit you led or the trump ace – and you get a ruff. So, as it turned out, partner did not hold the spade A, but they did hold the trump A and provided the ruff to hold us to 11 tricks. However, they ruffed one of our losers that could never go away anyway due to partner opposite the singleton leader holding the ♠QJT7. Declarer has no place to dispose of his 3rd spade and no squeeze. So, we were never scoring 12 tricks, but we were only in game anyway.
At the other table, in slam, after the ♦A was led and ruffed, declarer must lose the trump A, so they have to figure a way to dispose of the spade loser. It is standard, for those who lead A from AK, to lead the K from AK at the 5 level or higher (this is because it is more likely that you might lead an unsupported A at that level and it is helpful to partner to know). Anyway, declarer doesn’t know that the opening leader plays that ‘standard’. Who has the ♦K is huge in the planning of the play of the hand. As the cards lie, RHO has the ♦K and the only legitimate play to make the hand is to take a ruffing finesse in diamonds. This is incredibly complicated because declarer only has 1 sure entry to dummy (♠K). The ♥K could be an entry. Or club ruffs could be an entry (yes ruffing your good AKQ of clubs!). It is almost double dummy for declarer to play ♣A at trick 2, ruff a high club at trick 3, and then float the ♦Q, hoping for RHO to hold the ♦K. But 2 entries are required for the ruffing finesse in diamonds. You could try to force the ♥K to be an entry by first leading a high heart from hand (since you have no ‘need’ to ruff a club). If everyone plays low, the ♥K is an entry only by ruffing a club. Then use the ♠K as the entry, later, to discard your spade loser on the established high diamond.
At the table at trick 2, declarer led a heart to the ♥K and ♥A. Now the spotlight switches to East. What do they return after winning the A? It turns out, on the run of hearts and clubs, they will become squeezed in spades and diamonds, so a spade return (at trick 3) is required to break up the squeeze. If declarer wins in dummy, they have lost the late entry to the diamond threat, and if they win in hand, they have lost their entry to the spade threat, so after running clubs and hearts, East will have the luxury of discarding after dummy and the slam goes down.
But wait – declarer can win the spade in dummy, lead the ♦Q, taking a ruffing finesse, and then, if covered, enter dummy with a club ruff and discard his losing spade on the established diamond. But, that line of play is the only way to make the hand at this point as the cards lie. Declarer might take the view that his LHO has the ♦K (so the ruffing finesse is a losing cause) and simply win the spade in his hand, draw trump, run clubs and hope to squeeze LHO at trick 11. If LHO is the only one that can guard spades (he is hoping) and has the ♦K (he is hoping), then his last 2 cards cannot include both the ♦K and a spade guard. Dummy’s ♠Kx will take the last two tricks, 12 tricks in all. But, as the cards lie, that line will fail.
Now back to reality – East did not return a spade at trick 3, so declarer had a double squeeze available (spade transportation intact). He didn’t care who held the ♦K if they also held the stopper in spades, they would be squeezed. And they were. On the run of hearts and clubs, declarer has won 9 out of 10 tricks, losing the trump A, but winning 3 clubs and 6 hearts. Needing the last 3 tricks, Dummy comes down to their last 3 cards ♠K9 ♦Q. Declarer’s last 3 cards are ♠A85 and East…has no answer. If they keep the ♦K, they can only keep 2 spades and declarer’s last spade is good. If they throw the ♦K, then dummy’s ♦Q is good. This is what happened and this is how declarer brought home 12 tricks. Not a good slam (looking at the 2 North-South hands you would have virtually no play). But, +650 vs. -1430, lose another 13 IMPs. Disappointed.
What do you think of the 2♣ opening bid? What do you think of no search for slam after opening 1♥? Certainly the 4♥ rebid shows a very strong suit in a strong hand, so with some hands that will make slam, I might have made a move over 4♥. I almost did with the actual hand!
It is so embarrassing to put in this last hand that I almost didn’t include it. While I lost 37 IMPs on the first 3 reported hands, I wasn’t embarrassed about my actions on any of them (well a little embarrassed about my play in 6♠ when I tried the spade finesse first instead of the club finesse). But this hand shows a classic beginner lesson that you can get wrong every time if you are not paying attention (and I wasn’t paying attention). First, the bidding. Not a thing of beauty at our table. I was 100% certain of playing a 5-2 fit, but fell victim to thinking 10 tricks are easier than 11. I should have been thinking “I can take heart taps ‘forever’ if diamonds are trump, but if spades are trump, heart taps could present a problem.” With that proper thinking, I should pull 4♠ to 5♦ and we would either push the board (if our opponents doubled) or lose 4 IMPs if we took our 11 tricks undoubled (since our teammates had doubled 5♦ making). Anyway, we were playing 4♠ so the objective is to make the bid we are in.
I won the opening lead with the ♣A in dummy, cashed the ♠A and led a spade to the ♠10 (thinking the takeout doubler likely had length in spades). Boy did he. But, no problem. Draw 4 rounds of trump, let him ruff a diamond, then cash a winning heart and a winning club and claim the rest for 10 tricks. What could go wrong? Well, diamonds are likely 3-1 (if they are 4-0, I’m hopeless). If they are 3-1, I need to discard a diamond from dummy while playing spades to get the ♦7 out of the way of my ♦32. Failing to do that will result in round 4 of diamonds being won in dummy (for my 9th trick) with no way back to my hand to score my good 13th diamond. This is not even intermediate play. This is basic beginner bridge that ‘no one’ could get wrong when presented as a problem on a piece of paper, but, at the table, I was careless, failed to throw away a diamond as I played spades, and therefore went down in 4♠ when it was cold on the club lead (yes, they could have started with hearts and I would have had no chance because I am tapped out at trick 2, but they didn’t). That goes back to the bidding, where I said I should have bid 5♦ over 4♠ and then I would not have to be reporting this embarrassing hand. -50 and -550, lose 12 IMPs.