Saturday, April 17, 2010

Jennbridge: When Plan A Fails, Try Plan B, C, ...

Sometimes you have to dig deep into your contingency plans to land a contract.  Yesterday in the club's team game, I was dealt, in third seat,


♣ KJTx

Jenn opened 1 Diamond.  I bid 1 Spade.  She rebid 3 Diamonds.  Since she showed a good hand and didn't reverse, I knew she didn't have 4 hearts, so I didn't bother bidding them and followed Hamman's Rule and ended the auction with 3 No-Trump.  I got a low heart lead, and looked at:

♠ K
♣ Axx


♠ QT87x

♣ KJTx

There were only four quick tricks, so I had a lot of work to do.  The shortest route to 9 tricks is to work on the diamonds for 5 tricks after knocking out the king and queen.  If I lost 2 diamonds, a heart and the ace of spades, I would have the rest.  So how could I execute Plan A?

To set up the diamonds, I needed three entries to dummy: two to lead diamonds to set them up, and the third to get over to cash them.  There are only two sure entries - the heart and club aces.  The opening lead gave me a possible chance at the third entry; the lead could have been from K9xxx.  If so, I could get to dummy with the 8, so I played it.  Unfortunately, RHO produced the 9.  I won with the Jack (the best way to confuse the opponents about my holding).  What now?

I had to start planning ahead.  If I couldn't set up the diamonds, how was I going to get to 9 tricks?  If I could bring in the clubs for 4 tricks, I could get 4 clubs, 3 hearts, the ace of diamonds and a spade trick by driving out the ace.  Plan B was to play a spade to the king.  I had a faint hope that the defense, not fully aware of my entry problems, would duck, after which I would be able to set up the diamonds.  This didn't work as RHO took the ace and continued hearts.  What now?

Plan C was to pick up the clubs.  The best way to get 4 club tricks here is to start low from dummy and finesse the jack.  You can only pick up Qxxx if RHO has it since you don't have the hand entries to start clubs from your side.  RHO figures to have more clubs than LHO since LHO started a low heart.  So I played a club to the jack.  This didn't work either as LHO won the queen.  He cashed the king of hearts, RHO following, and exited with a heart.  I pitched two diamonds from dummy on the hearts and won in my hand.  I still only had 8 tricks.  What now?

I had to find a Plan D.  It had to be to get a second spade trick.  I took a good look at my spades. If I could smother either the Jack or nine, I could get a second trick without losing more than one.  I cashed the Queen, and finally something good hapened: LHO dropped the nine!  Now I could force out the Jack, get back to my hand with a high club and the rest were mine.  If the Queen had only gotten low cards, I would have had to guess whether to play the ten, hoping for Jxxx/9xx, or low, hoping for Jxx/9xxx.  It turned out that LHO had J9x. 

Good luck!