Thursday, July 31, 2008

It was gruesome

A former NABC champion dropped the ball on this deal from the Spingold Knockout Teams (it was reported to me by a friend and the low spots in diamonds and spades are approximate):

A 8 7 5
10 8 6 3
A 9 7 4
K Q 10 J 9 6 2
K Q J 4 3 9
A 9 7 4 K Q J 5 2
5 6 3 2
4 3
A 8 7 6 5 2
K Q J 10 8

The auction was 1 by West, Pass, 1 by East. South overcalled 2 and West doubled -- his double showed values. North cuebid 2, East Passed and South made the 'big' bid of 5 which was doubled by East. I don't know this, but I'm guessing 2 would have been a three-card LR or better, whereas 2 showed 4+ clubs. Knowing that North has a nice fit makes the South hand look better.

West led the Q (or a high heart of some sort, I was told). Do you agree with the lead of a high heart? East is surely doubling on tricks (not trumps) and a club lead rates to be better -- I'm just sayin'. Deep Finesse agrees with me. He says you can set the contract with a club lead or a diamond lead, but not with a major-suit lead.

Declarer won the opening lead and played the 8. When West didn't cover. South saw that if he ruffed with the 4, East could likely overruff, so he ruffed with the 7. From this point on, he basically played on a crossruff and took five club tricks in his hand, three ruffs in the dummy and two aces for down one.

Do you see what declarer did wrong? He had a blind spot. South can win the opening lead, draw three rounds of trumps and then lead the 8. If West doesn't cover, he runs it. If West covers with the king or queen, South ruffs in dummy, returns to his hand, concedes a heart and his hand is good. That's the easy way to make the contract, but Deep Finesse says that after declarer ran the 8 at trick two (and West didn't cover), declarer could have discarded and let East ruff the trick and still make 5 doubled!

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