Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Nice breaks

Here's a funny one from a club evening:

Dealer:South
Vul:NS
Scoring:MP
xxxx
AJ9xxxx
x
J
K
Kxx
AKQJxx
xxx
AQJxxx
QTx
-
AQxx
xx
-
T9xxxx
KTxxx

I was sitting South and saw the opponents mess up the auction. They ended up in 3NT by West. Partner lead a and they made +3. When we saw the scoresheet somehow we got a bottom: opponents usually got to 6 which is easily defeated...

Those were some really poor breaks in 6, and West only has 1 entry to try his luck in . However, these poor breaks mean 6NT is laydown, whatever partner leads! Even if he leads J, declarer can make it if he plays A, K, AKQJ discarding his s and to the Q to finish off with the s. Partner can't return a . Question remains if Ace at trick one is the right play...

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

"Either-Or" squeeze

Here's an interesting hand from Friday:

Dealer:North
Vul:EW
Scoring:MP
xx
AQJxx
A9xx
AT
Jxx
xxx
KQTx
9xx
Kxx
Txxx
xx
Q8xx
AQT9x
K
Jxx
KJxx

We had a relay auction where I showed a 5-1-3-4 distribution and GF opposite 15+HCP. I ended up playing 3NT by South, and LHO lead K.

I thought it was a good idea to duck, since it's almost a real "bath coup". LHO switched to after considerable thought. It's quite obvious to play the T, for the Q and my King. The switch didn't matter much, since there's only 1 useful way to finesse anyway. Now I tested the s: K, followed by A and 2 more s. Both opponents follow nicely, so it's time to think about overtricks.

I was considering my squeeze possibilities, and played a small . RHO played his K leaving me no choice than to play my Ace. Now I cashed J (LHO playing the 9) discarding a , J (covered) to the Ace and ran my s. This is a simple squeeze played like a double squeeze, also known as an "Either-Or" squeeze. Whoever has J will have to concede it, since LHO has to guard the virtual Jx and , and RHO has to keep the virtual Jx and . We don't care who we squeeze, but it works with both opponents.

Also interesting would it have been if RHO played small. Now there are 2 possible lines:
1. play the Queen, and if it works use a double squeeze to get to 12 tricks
2. play the T hoping for RHO having KJx
Obviously line 1 is better. If RHO has KJx he'll be caught in a simple squeeze later on anyway.

By playing K my RHO gave me an opportunity to add this one to my list.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Another "wrong" contract

Here's one from a few days ago. Playing with an intermediate partner against intermediate players, we got this game:

Dealer:North
Vul:EW
Scoring:MP
AKQxx
ATx
Ax
8x
7x
xxx
Qxxxxx
Qxx
Txx
K
Kxx
AKTxxx
J98
QJ98xx
Jx
xx

The auction went:
1 - 2 - 2 - 3
3 - pass - pass - pass

You may disagree with the 2 bid, it's non-forcing and I thought the hand would play better in than in . Partner somehow got scared and only bid 3 with this beauty. I didn't have much to say with my garbage...

Anyway, we ended up in 3 played by South, instead of 4 or 4. We had to play this contract, so lets make the best out of it. LHO started with 7, proving his poor skills.

It's typical in MP to go for the best score. Chances are low that we'll get a good score here since we're in the wrong contract (the field will probably bid 4) so the only possibility to score some big ones is when K is offside and 4 can be defeated. That's why I started with A, luckily dropping the K! A moment of joy, but the play is not over yet.

We have 12 top tricks now, so there might be a squeeze or fake squeeze in there. A real squeeze is quite hard with 8 and J as menaces. Nevertheless, the best chance to fool the opponents was to go for a ruffing squeeze. Cashing all but 1 , followed by 5 s is probably the best shot. This is the end position:
A
8x

x
Jx
Nobody discarded a high , but they kept on discarding . Ruffing the small and using A as an entry got me to 13 tricks.

Obviously the opponents made critical errors, but the point of cashing A is still valid after a lead. The ruffing squeeze didn't have much chance of success, but in function of the opponents you can always give them a chance to make mistakes. All RHO had to do is count the trumps and the s, so she'd know that discarding a would be fatal.

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Wrong contract isn't always a disaster

I haven't had much interesting hands lately. This is the only interesting one, where we ended up in the wrong contract:

Dealer:North
Vul:Both
Scoring:imps
T875
654
A82
A43
KQ643
KJ93
T
QT6
J92
AQ82
43
9852
A
T7
KQJ9765
KJ7

The auction went:
pass - pass - 1 - Dbl
pass - 1 - 3 - pass
3 - pass - 4 - pass
5 - all pass

I considered a 3 opening immediately since partner passed, but the hand was just too strong. On the next round, since partner passed (no RDbl), it was probably best to jump in for several reasons. Now partner came in action and later regretted he asked for a stopper instead of hoping for a 4-4 split. 3NT is laydown, 5 can be defeated. Anyway, after trick 2 I knew I was pretty safe.

LHO started with a to his partner's Ace. He made the wrong choice. Think about it: what is the best continuation and why?

He switched to a small , after which it was pretty easy to squeeze LHO in and . Thanks to the Double and the lead I knew RHO had some values left in , so the finesse would not work.
A switch can ruin my communications for a squeeze later on, but I wonder how he could know to switch and not . Even if he plays a now, he needs to overtake J and return another in the next trick.

So I took A and played my last , rectifying the count. LHO took his J (which held) and tried K which I ruffed. I only needed to ruff 2 s to set up T as a menace, to combine with my extended menace, A and K taking care of the communication. K is not necessary, but the Ace is vital.

After ruffing one more and running s, LHO got trouble. He had to keep Q and QTx. He tried the , but that didn't help, the hand was an open book. A, followed K pinned the Q and 5=.

As you can see, I don't need K in the end game because it's a positional squeeze: if LHO discards a my T is high, otherwise I discard and pin the Q.