Thursday, September 3, 2009

Don't make partner guess

Playing online Tuesday, on the last deal of a 12-board mini-tournament, a player held:
A K 5 3 9 5 2 6 A K Q 9 3.

The opponents were vulnerable and his side was not, and he opened 1. Left-hand opponent overcalled 4, his partner passed, and RHO raised to 5.

5 passed out and partner led the Q, and he saw this dummy:

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

The defense needs to be careful. Assuming standard leads and signals, which card would you have played?

The player at the table clicked on the 5, and so his partner continued the suit.

Here are all four hands:

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

The declarer was my partner Kate. She ruffed the second spade, drew trumps and discarded a club loser on dummy's K -- making five when off three top tricks.

Where did the defense go wrong?

Above I asked which spade should East signal with. That was a trick question. I don't think East should play either spot card (too ambiguous for West). East should overtake the Q with the king and cash the K (or queen), and very carefully watch what his partner plays. The K doesn't ask for attitude -- this is a cash-out situation, so West should give count. Now, the defense will get it right. (If declarer ruffs the club, too bad, but, more often, that's the defense's best shot to take their tricks.)

Making 5 was worth 7.29 IMPs for the good guys.

By the way, I was the 5 bidder. Do you disagree with it? I thought I was taking out some insurance, in case the opponents can make 4. If the diamond suit doesn't split 1-1, they rate to be able to make it. In fact, the board was played 76 times and, indeed, nine pairs made game in spades.

You can see all the results here, and if you review the bidding, you'll see that several players opened 1NT with the East hand. Kate jokes that these people must be high on meth. If so, it must be a powerful drug -- just sayin'.


  1. I don't know what's right, but I think I'd be too scared to bid 5 diamonds with potentially 2 suits wide open, especially vulnerable.

  2. @warren: Thx for the comment. It would have been *real* wrong if partner were short in hearts.