Sunday, February 11, 2018

Counting Endplay


Here is another endplay where the bidding helped me get a count on the hand.

Playing teams, RHO opened 2, described as 11-15 HCP with either a 6-card club suit, or, if only a 5-card club suit, then a 4-card major on the side.

I held this hand so I overcalled 2NT.

Kxx
KJx
Kxx
AK10x

Partner bid 3NT which ended the auction. A club was led and I beheld the dummy.

Qxxx
A10x
Qxxxx
x

Kxx
KJx
Kxx
AK10x

If I can bring in the diamonds, I should be OK. Otherwise, the contract will take some work. I won the J with the A and started on diamonds. There were potential problems no matter how I played the diamond suit, so I started with the K from my hand. RHO won the A and returned a club which I won with the 10, pitching a spade from dummy. Now at least I have 3 club tricks. I next led a diamond from my hand and when I won the Q—disaster—RHO showed out, pitching a club. 

Now I have 3 clubs, only 1 diamond, probably 3 hearts and one spade--8 tricks--not good enough. Well at least I’m starting to get a count on the hand.

I cashed the A and led a heart to my J which held.  With nothing better to do, and to complete the process of getting a count on the hand, and perhaps also to strip RHO of his exit card, I cashed the K and RHO followed with the Q. It is looking like his initial distribution was 4-3-1-5, or possibly 3-3-1-6.

Either way I’ve got him. How do I execute the endplay to make the hand?
Here are the remaining cards.

Qxx

xxx


Kxx

x
Kx

If you're trying to learn endplays, stop here and try to figure it out.

Hint: You've got to force RHO to lead spades for you.

Answer: I first cashed the  K and then threw RHO in with a club. As he had already discarded a club, he could only cash at most one more before exiting with a spade. He led a low spade and I let it ride around to my Q. I then led a spade back toward my hand and he couldn't prevent me from scoring a second spade trick--my 9th trick! We won 10 IMPs and the match.

See you at the table!

Thursday, January 25, 2018

Bidding Slams With Voids

I am currently teaching a class on slam bidding. We have studied Blackwood and Gerber and defense against slams. The next class is on play of the hand at slams. I haven't yet told them that sometimes it's inconvenient or inappropriate to ask for aces and you just have to jump to slam! That is often the case when you have a void. If you ask for aces, you often won't know whether partner has an ace in your void or a useful ace!

I had two example hands tonight at the local team game. If you're playing at home you can relax and score up your game bonus, but if you're head to head with another team, you better bid your slam if you have one. If they bid it and you don't, you will suffer a big loss--often enough to lose the match. Conversely, if you bid your slam and they don't, they will be the one with the big loss and you will likely win the match!

Partner opened 1 and I responded 2 (game forcing) with this hand.

♠ Void
AKxx
Q985
♣ A9875

Now I figured he would bid 2 and I would have a bid of a problem with my rebid. But no, to my surprise, he rebid 2! As we were already in a game force I raised to 3. He now bid 3. This could be a cuebid in support of diamonds. It could show extra length in spades. He could be looking for a cuebid from me. Rather than do anything to confuse the auction, I just jumped to 6!
 
Here are the two hands:

♠ Void
AKxx
Q985
♣ A9875

♠ AK1096
QJ
A109xx
♣ x

A heart was led and he won in his hand with the Q and played the A  and another diamond and LHO won the K. Partner won the club return with the A, finished drawing trump and claimed. He only needed to ruff one spade and could pitch two spades on dummy's hearts. We won 11 IMPs (and the match) as our counterparts only bid 5

Hand 2. Very next match

I loved this hand. (No wonder--it's a 3 loser hand!) As I was admiring it, partner opened the bidding with 1! Wow! RHO bid 2 and I cuebid 3, showing a good hand with club support. LHO bid 4 and partner doubled! Next hand passed and I thought for a moment and jumped to 6!

♠ x
Void
KQJ10xx
♣ AKJxxx

I didn't want to sit for 4 doubled and Blackwood would be of no use. I needed to know WHICH ace(s) partner held, not how many.

I breathed a sigh of relief when he won the opening spade lead with the A. He drew trump and gave up the A and claimed. 

Both hands: 

♠ x
Void
KQJ10xx
♣ AKJxxx

♠ AQxx
Axxx
98
♣ Q10x

This time our good score of plus 1370 was matched at the other table and the board was a push.

As I tell my students: "Be brave. Bid your slams!"

See you at the table.

Sunday, January 7, 2018

Jenn's Tips: Avoidance Play

Here is a play-of-the-hand tip for up-and-coming players.

How do you play this routine 3 notrump contract after a lead of the ♠5 to the 10 and your ♠Queen?

 72
AJ6
A742
KQ82

♠ KQ6
K1095 
K98
♣ A75

It appears that the lead is 4th best and that left hand opponent (LHO) has the ♠ Ace. After the first trick, your hands look like this: 

 7
AJ6
♦ A742
KQ82

♠ K6
K1095
K98
♣ A75

First you count your tricks.  Your sure tricks are 3 clubs, 2 diamonds, 2 hearts and 1 spade – for a total of 8. What is the best way to get your 9th trick?

Although clubs could break 3-3 for a 9th trick, the quickest and easiest way to a 9th trick is to play on hearts. Once the Queen is knocked out you will have 3 heart tricks.

How should you play your hearts? You can finesse either way and can start in either hand. Does it matter?

Absolutely! If your right hand opponent (RHO) gets in with the Q, she will return a spade through your king. Your LHO will then win all of his spade tricks and you will go down.

Whereas...if you LHO wins the Q, he will be helpless to take any tricks other than the ♠Ace and you will make your contract!

You must play the hearts so that LHO has the opportunity to win the trick if he has the Q. If he doesn't have it--fine, you will score at least 9 tricks. You must AVOID the dangerous opponent-which in this case is RHO. You must avoid letting RHO get the lead as she will cause you major problems. 

This is a classic avoidance play that comes up frequently. It also comes up in various guises, so be on the lookout. Take pains to keep the "dangerous opponent" off the lead!

See you at the table!