Saturday, August 23, 2008

A 7-5 Beauty

Today I picked up, in second seat, non-vulnerable vs vulnerable playing with Jenn:


RHO passed. How should I plan the bidding? It is hard to describe a hand like this. One option is to open 1 Diamond, then jump shift in Spades, then bid Spades again. The other is to open 2 Clubs, then bid Diamonds then Spades. Since this hand is so strong (2 1/2 losers), I decided to open 2 Clubs. I surely didn't want everyone to pass if I opened 1 Diamond! LHO passed and Jenn surprised me with a response of 3 Clubs. This showed a hand with a good club suit, usually 6 cards with 2 top honors. Now I was sure that my club loser was covered. I bid 3 Diamonds, and she surprised me again with a raise to 4 Diamonds! So I knew that she had at least xxx in Diamonds. So there would be no diamond losers unless she didn't have the Queen and the suit split 3-0. I thought there were excellent chances to avoid a Spade loser: I could ruff one or two in dummy if needed to set up the suit, or else if Jenn had AQxxxx or better in Clubs, the Clubs could provide discards for any losing Spades. So I decided to just bid 7 Diamonds.

LHO led the Ace of Hearts, not really expecting it to cash. Jenn had a suitable dummy:



I was surprised that Jenn had only one Heart. The opponents held 12 between them and never bid. The vulnerability had kept them silent. Jenn's Diamond holding was excellent, but her doubleton Spade meant that I had to work to avoid a Spade loser. So how would you play it after ruffing the opening lead?

There were 2 possible approaches, as I had considered during the bidding: ruff enough Spades to set up the suit, or set up dummy's Clubs using her trumps as entries. There was some risk associated with either approach. If diamonds split 3-0, I couldn't ruff spades with the Jack and Queen since the Ten would be promoted. If Spades were 5-1, I couldn't cash 2 rounds before ruffing. On the other hand, if I went after the clubs, if that suit split 4-1 I might not have enough entries.

I decided to test the trumps by leading a low one from hand. LHO followed with the Ten to dummy's Queen and RHO's 2. Now the Spades can be ruffed safely without fear of an overruff, so the contract will come home as long as spades were 4-2 or better, a very good chance, and either clubs were 3-2 or LHO had a stiff club and falsecarded the Ten from T8 of Diamonds, a very unlikely combination. (If RHO had a stiff club, I could safely overruff the second club to hand.) So I played a club to my King, played AK of spades, ruffed a spade with the 9, ruffed a club back to my hand (everyone following), ruffed another Spade with dummy's last trump, ruffed another Club in hand with the Ace, drew the last trump and claimed.

It turned out that any line would have succeeded, as the entire hand was:




It is interesting to note that if my LHO had interfered with our auction with a preempt of 3 Hearts, it could have been hard for us to bid this. Jenn would have bid 4 Clubs, then RHO could make life difficult with 4 or even 5 Hearts. I would have to introduce my Diamonds at the 5 or 6 level, and we would have been guessing. I think that in the long run, especially in matchpoints, it pays to interfere with the opponents whenever possible when they open 2 Clubs. Here, even with unfavorable vulnerability, they are safe at the 5-level (-800) against a Diamond slam (-920) or even have a good save (-1400) vs our grand slam (1440).


Len said...

If you need CK to cash, and aren't playing for someone to have a stiff trump and a club void, it seems (much) better to try establishing the clubs. Ruff the heart, cash CK, DQ, then, depending on how the trumps break, you can ruff clubs, high if necessary, with diamond entries, and you'll make unless clubs are 5-0 or 4-1 with all three trumps on your right. I think that's around 95%. You need 4-2 spades or 3-2 clubs. Even 4-2 spades requires no club void with the long trump. Even 3-2 clubs requires no stiff/void spade with the long trump.

Memphis MOJO said...

Why don't I ever get hands like this at rubber bridge?

Nice hand, thanks for sharing it.

Jennifer Jones said...

From Bob Klein:

Len, your analysis is right. I thought about this after posting this comment, and I agree that the best line is to cash the king of clubs, then a trump to dummy, then set up the clubs.