The Declarer (Floyd McWilliams' Blog)

Wednesday, November 19, 2003


My friend Eric and I played at the Palo Alto club last night. We didn't do that well, but we did encounter some very interesting hands.

There were a lot of long and strong suits throughout the evening. Here was my hand on the third board we played:

SAKQJ732 H65 DAJ52 C

I was fourth chair, vulnerable against not. LHO and partner passed to RHO who opened with 1C. I bid 4S. This was passed around to RHO, who thought for a little while and rebid 5C.

I doubled. This is not penalty; it just says that I bid 4S to make. Partner pulled to 5S and there was no more bidding.

LHO led the D8. Here is the dummy (and the bidding repeated):















E/W Vul
Matchpoints
Dealer: North


Floyd

S A K Q J 7 3 2
H 6 5
D A J 5 2
C
[W - E]
Eric

S T 9 8 4
H Q 7
D K T 7 6
C 4 3 2
 





West


4 S
X
Pass

North

Pass
Pass
Pass
Pass

East

Pass
Pass
5 S

South

1 C
5 C
Pass



I ducked in dummy and my jack won the trick. I was fine if diamonds were 3-2, but what if RHO had started with DQ9xx? Then I would lose a diamond trick. Fortunately I had a counter. I led a low spade to the ten and ruffed a club with the ace! Then a spade to the nine and a ruff with the king, followed by a spade to the eight and a third ruff.

At this point both hands had one spade, two hearts, and three diamonds. I exited in hearts and what could the opponents do? If RHO won the second heart, he would have to lead into dummy's diamond tenace or give me a ruff-sluff. If LHO won the trick, I could finesse the diamond return, which would win if she somehow had the queen of diamonds, or be covered by RHO, in which case the suit was 3-2. And of course a heart or club return gives me a pitch for my diamond loser. LHO did have the stiff diamond so my caution was rewarded.

Obviously on a heart lead the contract has no play. But what if the opponents led a club? It would take a fine technician to realize that a 4-1 diamond break would have to be catered to immediately -- ruff the club, and cross to dummy three times in trumps, twice for club ruffs and once for a diamond finesse. I bet most declarers would be concerned with the location of the queen of diamonds, and would try to postpone the finesse as late as possible. There will probably not be enough data to make much difference in choosing which opponent to play for the queen; it's better to guess early and cater to the 4-1 break.

An amusing sidenote: Spades broke two-zero, so the opponents were on a heart guess to make six clubs!

The next board we played was a tough defensive problem. All red, fourth chair, I held:

SK4 HAQT DAQJ983 C32

LHO and partner passed. RHO opened 1H. I overcalled 2D. LHO cuebid 3D (showing a limit raise in support of hearts). RHO rebid 3H and all passed.

I made the passive lead of the C3. Here was the dummy:

















E/W Vul
Matchpoints
Dealer: North

Dummy

S T 9 8 7 6 5
H J 9 4
D K 5
C A Q

Floyd

S K 4
H A Q T
D A Q J 9 8 3
C 3 2
[W - E]
 





West


2 D
Pass

North

Pass
3 D
Pass

East

Pass
Pass
Pass

South

1 H
3 H
Pass



Dummy's ace won the trick as partner played a discouraging C7 (we play upside-down). Then the CQ was cashed. Declarer led a spade off dummy, partner played the SQ, and declarer won the ace.

At this point I went into a long trance, and finally played the SK. Declarer led the CK; I ruffed with the HQ as declarer pitched a spade off dummy. I cashed the DA and crossed to partner's SJ. Declarer had opened 1H on HK532 -- I can't understand why people do this, but so many players do -- and partner's third spade would force declarer to ruff with the king. (If he ruffs low I score the HT, which is the fourth defensive trick with the trump ace still to come). I can overruff with the HA. Dummy's HJ pulls my ten, and the nine draws a second round, but partner will be left with the H8 for the setting trick.


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