Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Jennbridge: A Tough Hand from the Vanderbilt Semifinals

Watching the Vanderbilt on BBO is always interesting.  It is possible to see great plays and also amazing blunders by the top experts playing in these matches.  In the finals, amazingly, there was a hand where both pairs bid to a grand slam missing the ace of trumps!  I won't write about that hand, which no doubt will be discussed in all the bridge magazines. 

Here is a hand from the semifinals that presented a challenge in both bidding and play.  At the table I was watching, Michael Kamil held it.  In third seat, he held::

♣ QJT985

Partner dealt and opened 1 Heart.  He replied 1 Spade.  Partner now jump shifted to 3 Diamonds.  What do you bid?  Kamil made the interesting bid of 5 Spades.  This bid was likely never discussed, but a likely meaning is that he is asking partner to bid slam if he has a control in clubs, the unbid suit.   Partner duly bid 6 Spades with:

♠ void
♣ A7

♣ QJT985

This auction cried out for a club lead, which was duly made.  Now, how should he play it? 

There are three possible lines:  (1) duck; (2) win the ace and play another club; (3) win the ace, ruff a red card and draw trumps, then knock out the king of clubs.

If you try line (3), you succeed whenever spades are 4-3.  You can draw trump in 4 rounds, play a low club to knock out the king, and can ruff a red card and use the long clubs.  You also succeed if RHO has the stiff king of clubs when spades are 5-2.  However, if spades are 5-2 and the king of clubs doesn't fall, you cannot  get back to your hand to use the clubs because you will have used all your trumps.

If you try line (1), you succeed whenever LHO has the king of clubs, whether spades are 4-3 or 5-2.  You will also succeed when RHO has Kx or Kxx of clubs when spades are 5-2.  This line loses when the opening lead is a singleton, as you will go down immediately with a ruff.  If so, and trumps are 4-3, then line (3) would succeed while this line fails.

Line (2) is inferior to either of the other lines, since you will go down whenever either hand holds Kxx no matter how spades split. 

It is hard in the heat of battle to calculate the odds here.  Kamil actually chose (3), unwilling to go down right away, and went down when the full deal was:  

Vanderbilt Semifinals

North Deals
None Vul
♠ —
A Q 10 7 6 5
A Q 10 9 8
♣ A 7
♠ 5 2
4 2
K J 7 6 3 2
♣ 6 3 2
♠ 9 7 6 4 3
K 9 8 3
5 4
♣ K 4
♠ A K Q J 10 8

♣ Q J 10 9 8 5
1 Pass1 ♠
Pass3 Pass5 ♠
Pass6 ♠
6 ♠ by South

If he had chosen either (1) or (2), he would have succeeded. 

At the other table, Geoff Hampson reached 6 Spades on a different auction and got a heart lead.   On this lead, the play was easy.  He ducked the heart, losing to the king, and eventually was able to draw trumps and throw all his losing clubs on dummy's hearts and ace of diamonds. 

Good luck!


Memphis MOJO said...

I hate to sound picky, but over 5 spades, shouldn't Fleisher bid 6 clubs? Kamil's hand was unlimited and it might be all he needed to bid the grand.

Jennifer Jones said...

From Bob Klein: Yes. Perhaps he should have, but he didn't.