Thursday, April 2, 2020

An interesting hand at matchpoints

A hand came up in a BBO speedball which caused a dent in an otherwise decent session. First let's look at it from my (declarer's) point of view.

The opening lead is D9. There's really very little time in a speedball to ask (or consult) about lead conventions. East played the J and I won with the Ace. What do you think of your chances in this contract? Since West didn't lead a heart (presumably, he has the ace), we have a shot at making 12 tricks. Partner did the right thing however, in signing off in 4S with that wasted HK.

Still, that diamond lead is a bit awkward. My only entry to the dummy now is by ruffing the small diamond. But I can't now draw all the trumps before taking the club finesse. So, I took two rounds of trump and ruffed the diamond. Now, I took the club finesse. Good news: it won. Bad news: the trick was ruffed by West. Now, I had to lose to the CK too and just made my game. This was worth a paltry 30% of the board.

It turns out that the way to make five (or more) on this hand is to be either a) lucky; b) forgetful (or insanely optimistic); c) brilliant; d) playing double-dummy. Needless to say, I was none of those. With 128 tables in the event, you can imagine that there were all sorts of results, but the vast majority of the NS pairs were in 4S.

At one table which also received a diamond lead, declarer didn't worry about that losing diamond, drew trumps, took the club finesse a couple of times and conceded two red cards. At many other tables, declarer was fortunate to receive the lead of HA. Now, there's no excuse for not making six (although many such declarers still only made five).

I mentioned that you can make 5 playing double-dummy. How so? Well, since we know we have to lose a heart anyway, how about playing a heart up after drawing two rounds of trump (or playing the HK after ruffing the diamond)? Now, South has no choice but to draw any remaining trumps and try to drop a singleton CK. It won't work but at least he doesn't suffer a ruff.

Interesting hand.