Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Jennbridge: Declarer Play Problem

Here's a cute hand from a NAOP qualifier today.  (Board 12, hands rotated.) Holding the South cards, I opened 3 hearts after RHO passed.  Bob, my partner, raised to 4.  The ace of diamonds was led.

♠ AKJxxx
xx
QJ10xx


♠ Q10x
AQJxxxx

♣ xxx

I ruffed the diamond and studied the hand.  How would you play it?

****************

I first think about ruffing a couple of clubs, but that would still leave me with a club loser and unable to take a heart finesse. 

What about a loser on loser play--throwing a club on a diamond honor?  That line has risks--getting to the board for the play and getting back to the board for the heart finesse.  There has to be a better way.  Plus, this is matchpoints, so the maximum number of tricks is the goal.

Any other ideas?

***************

How about this?  Lead the queen of hearts from my hand, in order to maintain trump control!  Yes, this is it.  LHO won the king of hearts and returned a trump. I scored up 680 for all the matchpoints. Once LHO wins the king of hearts she has no recourse.  Of course, if she started with more than 2 hearts she can cause me trouble by refusing to win the king.

See you at the table!

1 comment:

Jennifer Jones said...

From Bob Klein:

A reasonable alternative to playing the queen of hearts at trick two is to play a spade to dummy and a heart to the queen. This has the advantage that if RHO started with Kx of hearts, you can make seven instead of six. The disadvantage is that if LHO has Kx or singleton K of hearts and 3 spades, he can win the heart and give his partner a spade ruff, holding you to five. I'm not sure whether it is more likely to make five or seven with this line, but it certainly is worth considering.

An interesting aspect to this hand is what would happen if the queen of hearts holds, either if played immdiately or after a spade to dummy. It would be good defense for either opponent to duck with Kxx, because declarer cannot afford to continue with a second heart. If the queen holds, declarer, to ensure at least making the contract, must ruff a club in dummy, ruff a diamond back to hand and cash the heart ace. If the king doesn't fall, then declarer just starts to run spades, and concedes the heart king and as many clubs as are left once the opponents ruff in with the heart king. If the king falls, RHO began with Kx and you can claim seven.