Saturday, December 10, 2011

Jennbridge: Beware the Automatic Play

I made a 3NT contract in the STAC game yesterday while most other declarers went down.  I suspect it had to do with early plays in the spade suit.


Dec. 9 Holiday STAC

Board 18
East Deals
N-S Vul
♠ A 3 2
A J 4
K Q J 9
♣ Q 8 4
N
WE
S
♠ Q 7 4
K 7 3
10 6 4 2
♣ A 3 2
WestNorthEastSouth
JennLarry H.
PassPass
Pass1 NTPass3 NT
All pass

As North, I got the ♠ J lead and paused to consider the play.

Obviously several things needed to work to come to 9 tricks.  I didn't know where the ♠ K was, but there was no need to do anything drastic at trick one--like covering the ♠ J with the ♠ Q.    There would be another chance to play the spades and I hoped that by that time I would have more information.

I won the ♠ A (West playing the 6, the pair playing upside-down attitude signals) and played the K which East won.  She next played the ♠ 9, in tempo, and the moment of truth had arrived.  What should I do?

I had two questions:  a)  how many spades did East have, and b) did she have the king? If East had 5 spades headed by the jack, the ♠ K would fall on this trick so I should duck again.  On the other hand, if East had the ♠ K, I needed to play the ♠ Q, regardless of how many spades she started with or I would lose it.

At this point we rely on our knowledge of the players, if any, and our close observation of any mannerisms, including tempo.  I finally decided that East might have paused for thought had she held the ♠ K and decided to play West for it.  Accordingly, I ducked again and West followed low.  A third spade cleared the suit, West winning the ♠ K.  West switched back to diamonds.  So far, so good.

I cashed my diamonds, and was pleased to see not only the Q well-placed but also the ♣ K. 


Dec. 9 Holiday STAC

Board 18
East Deals
N-S Vul
♠ A 3 2
A J 4
K Q J 9
♣ Q 8 4
♠ K 8 6
Q 10 8 6
8 7 3
♣ K 9 6
N
WE
S
♠ J 10 9 5
9 5 2
A 5
♣ J 10 7 5
♠ Q 7 4
K 7 3
10 6 4 2
♣ A 3 2

The 13th ♠ was left stranded in the East hand and plus 600 was a tie for top. 

See you at the table!

1 comment:

Jeffrey.Lehman.MA said...

Third hand's signal at Trick 1 would be useful information. Absent any other considerations, I would expect third hand to encourage if holding the SK and otherwise to discourage.

Smith echo, if played by the opponents, would also be helpful information.

I am surprised at how few players will check the defensive carding section of the opponents' convention cards before planning the declarer play.

I share your suspicion that many declarers played the SQ at Trick 1, without even considering that if the SK were onside then, it would still be onside later. Good that you were rewarded for being patient!