Friday, May 23, 2014

The Hitchhiker's Guide to Bridge - part 3

Part two of this series added some thoughts on safely cashing out in doubled contracts. Today I want to add a useful principle which I call "The Principle of the Disappearing Trick." Not the kind of trick whereby rabbits disappear under handkerchiefs  but the situation where a cashing trick becomes uncashable. This hand just came up with a random partner from the internet about whom I know nothing at all. Matchpoints.

First of all, you might ask yourself if you should sit for the double. If North has just the two red aces, they might make 3 while we will be down only 1 in 4♣ (may be better to bid on). If North has the ♠A and one other trick, then 3 is down just 1 (100)  unless we can ruff some spades  but we will be making 4♣ (130) (again, may be better to bid on).

You (random partner) decide to pass the double. If you step through the first couple of tricks, you will find yourself on lead at trick 3 with the exhortation in the comment area "DON'T PANIC!"

Ask yourself "what can go away?" If partner has a natural trump trick, it can't go away. If he has a promotable trump trick it will go away if we don't act quickly enough. What about the side suits? If partner has the A, it's not going anywhere. What about the spades? Declarer presumably has five so they can't all be pitched on those diamonds. Is there any other way that our spade trick(s) (assuming we have some) are going away? Yes, if we try to promote partner's trumps by playing a third round of clubs. Declarer may be able to ruff high in hand and pitch one spade from the dummy. That defense, therefore will at best break even unless partner doesn't have either the ♠A or the ♠Q. But in that case, what is he doubling on? Five points?

So, let's look at this another way. First of all, there's an inference that declarer doesn't have much extra, either in points or distribution  he was content to let us play 3♣. Let's assume that North has the A and that it will cash (we don't know if West is 5512, 6412 or 5422 yet). If North has the ♠A too, we need to cash out, starting with the ♠K for down one at least. If he only has the ♠Q then he'll have to have a natural trump trick. Based on all of these considerations, the ♠K is by far the best continuation as, if all goes well, we can also get some spade ruffs!

Here's the complete hand. If you step through again to trick 3, you can now press the GIB button to see what will happen with various continuations. Notice how the ♠K will result in down 3 for a magnificent 500 which would have scored 15/17. A diamond is OK providing North now under-leads his ♠A to give you just one spade ruff. Anything but a club results in at least +100 for a 7.5/17 matchpoints. Needless to say, random partner continued with a club giving us a total goose egg.

1 comment:

  1. Playing online, is the term "random partner" redundant?