Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Sleepless in Seattle (conclusion)

It's not often that you pick up a ten-card suit. My partner was dealt this beauty in a side game at the Seattle NABC: ♠AKJT987542 873 ♣–. We were at favorable vulnerability and my LHO opened with a weak notrump. Partner bid 4♠ and that ended the auction. I produced quite a useful dummy as the ♣J was led: ♠– KT97 A954 ♣AQ872. Incidentally, do you think I should have raised or made some try for slam?

Now, the question is how to make the greatest number of tricks. There isn't much you can do about trumps. You can't take a finesse and they either split or they don't. And in the latter case, there's no possible way to pull off a trump coup given that you would need to ruff seven cards in your hand and get back to dummy yet again! So, are there any realistic chances for an extra trick in a side suit? A singleton ace of hearts seems a bit unlikely given that there are nine out against you and RHO opened with 1NT (suggesting at least two and fewer than six). What about diamonds? They might be three-three but even then, you have nothing to pitch on the thirteener. No, the only realistic chance is in clubs. How realistic? Given that you only have one outside entry to dummy, you are going to need the king to fall doubleton. Is LHO really likely to have led J from KJ doubleton? I don't think so either. Therefore, you need RHO to hold Kx. You weren't thinking of covering with the queen, were you?

When you rise with the ♣A, the 9 drops on your right.  There are a total of eight clubs out and the a priori probability of righty having precisely K9 doubleton is only 0.3%! Is it even worth bothering with?  You betcha!  The K is doubleton.

However, only three of 11 declarers actually made 12 tricks, not including my very experienced partner, unfortunately.  Of course, some of these others might not have been given helpful club leads.  There was also a -350 and a -150 our way.  I imagine that these were uncompleted transfers or, more likely, an ill-fated attempt at 4NT or 6NT.

To conclude my commentary on Seattle, I will simply observe that this tiny probability (0.3%) yielded an additional 46% of the matchpoints on the board.  Well worth trying for, especially given that there was negligible down side to the play.


  1. Glad you had fun in Seattle. And congratulations to sister-in-law Kathy upon becoming a LM.

    To answer the rhetorical question of should you have tried for slam opposite the 4S overcall: surely not. I wonder about your partner's call, however: with two fewer spades -- that is, with two fewer winners in hand -- your partner might have overcalled 4S. That seems to suggest that partner should have done something more with the actual hand. However, there is not a whole lot of science in how to bid ten card suits and much depends upon your other agreements. Was it, for example, possible for partner to make a forcing call and then bid 4S? Mostly, I suspect, these are questions without answers, but your partner should be distinctly aware that 4S is an underbid (and yet not want to land above 4S without some input from partner since it is easy to see how that hand might have three losers).

    From Sleepless in Seattle to Comforted in Carlisle ...

  2. Indeed, partner could have bid 2C (single suit) and then 4S. Of course, 2C isn't 100% forcing but it would probably be a risk worth taking. Now, should I do something? I still don't really think so but it would require a few seconds thought at least :)