Saturday, November 04, 2006

Thin grand

This one came up during partnership bidding, but it's an interesting one for declarer play:

We ended up in 7 by South, because North was a bit agressive.

Perhaps an interesting question: What lead should you be afraid of? I'll come back on that later, because if you know how to play this hand, you'll know the answer to this question.

On this hand I think you'll get a trump lead, which is usually a good choice against grand slams. It doesn't matter much, but realise that some suits split nicely and some badly. Plan the play!

First thing we notice: trumps will need to split 3-2 or 3-3. You'll need to set up sooner or later to get rid of your losers in the North hand. First things first, test trumps. How? If trumps split 3-2 you need to be able to handle a 4-2 split. So you need to keep exactly 1 tophonour and a small trump in dummy. Wherever you end up, it seems trumps split 3-2. Now we need to develop the while there's still a trump out, since we need to handle a 4-2 split. AK and small, LHO still follows. For safety reasons you ruff with the tophonour you kept. Success and a problem at the same time: RHO shows out, so LHO still has a and there's still a trump out. Is all hope lost? No, there's still a possibility: if RHO started with 2 trumps, he won't be able to overruff, so you return to your hand with K to ruff another small. A very exciting situation when RHO decides what to do, and luckily he can't overruff! The situation is as follows (you're in dummy):

The safest way now is to ruff a , draw trump, play the last and cash your remaining high cards in dummy.

Now back to my question earlier: what lead should you be afraid of?
A spade will kill the communication to your hand and you'll need 3 in LHO's hand to get to your hand. This however won't work, since he had a stiff...

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