Thursday, December 1, 2011

Sleepless in Seattle

My efforts in the NABC have not been my best and as a result, I've had a few restless nights.  Well, that's a relative term: I could sleep through WW III but I do sometimes find myself obsessing about hands in the middle of the night.  Kim and I played the first day of each of the Life Master Pairs and Blue Ribbon Pairs.  Easily our best bridge of the tournament came in the first session of the Blues when we were briefly in third place in our double section (on the "burner" sheet).  Unfortunately, I had made two very bad decisions in the auctions of the last two boards and we dropped out of the "money" by 1 match point (top was 25).

Two of my most challenging declarer play hands came in regional team games rather than in the big events.  In each case, we were in the last round, and in a major-suit game.  In the first hand (4 spades), dummy was ♠AKJ7 K9 KT8642 ♣2 while I held ♠8765 J7 Q6 ♣AJ765.  The lead was a somewhat surprising (and erroneous) A.  In fact, anything but a heart would make my job impossible, but this lead actually gave me a chance.  Entries were scarce and, after a heart continuation to my K, I "wasted" a valuable dummy entry by testing trumps with the A.  The gift I had been given was now given back.  At the other table, a diamond was led and, thinking this was a singleton, RHO went up with the Ace and tried to give partner a ruff.  It was a doubleton.  After that, declarer couldn't find a way to go down.

Last night's challenge was this hand (in 5) in the last round of a "B" round-robin (bracket 2):

Dummy: ♠– AKQ97 T642 ♣AQ32
Declarer: ♠J2 JT84 AKJ98 ♣74
LHO had opened the bidding with 2♠, Kim doubled, RHO contributed 3♠ and I had to decide what was best.  4 (or another double) would have turned out best perhaps, but I bid 4.  Kim "cue-bid" spades with 4NT and I, suffering from my usual last-round funk, thought that she'd asked about key cards (which would have been 4♠).  I therefore bid 5♣ showing one.  Had I bid the proper 5 (showing a control in diamonds), we'd have ended in 6 and I'd have had no chance to make my contract.  As it was, we stopped in a safe 5.  Don't they say that the ones that look easy are the ones you should pay special attention to??  They do.

Let's see if you can make 5.  The lead is the ♠A (RHO contributing the T) and whenever you decide to play hearts you will find that LHO doesn't have any.  Answer to come in the comments.


  1. Ruff the spade high and draw one trump. Panic and think for ages.

    Play a diamond towards hand. If East ruffs you'll need the club finesse but if the Ace holds ruff a spade and play another diamond up. Win the King and play the third round West winning. Claim.

    If West is void in hearts, East void in diamonds and East has the CK you can't make.

  2. Daniel, you're on the right track. The club and diamond finesses are offside but you can still make the hand with careful play because LHO has Qxx of diamonds. Play twice towards your hand and if RHO ever ruffs in you of course play low and you never lose a diamond. If he doesn't ruff in, you give up the third diamond to the Q, but LHO cannot now give RHO a diamond ruff! Draw trump and cash the CA giving up a club at the end.

  3. It's so much easier to play hands when you know there's a problem =)