More CNTC 2010 Semis
The Rest of the Match
In my first Post, I talked about how we fell behind by 63, and aired my thoughts on how one might reasonably engineer a comeback.
Although the final total was big, it all came in that quarter! Curiously, we beat them in the round-robin (okay, by 1); and over the other three quarters of the match, we were up by 9. But in that one quarter….
Where did their IMP’s come from?
There were plenty of big swings, so let’s consider first the classic “big-swing” situations: Slams. As it turns out, they did not beat us with slam bidding:
In the first quarter, our opponents lost 13 bidding a slam against us, down two, while our team-mates rested comfortably in game. There was one slam swing, earned by the Gartaganis team on declarer’s play, which I will give you next time I post.
In the 2nd quarter, which Jord and I sat out, there was one slam, and it was a push. The third quarter had one decent slam their way, which they missed, but our team-mates were in a part-score! The fourth quarter had two slam pushes, and our team-mates outbid them on another, reaching and making a good grand, when only a small slam was bid at our table. I also hoped for a pickup when our opponents reached only 5C with:
6C needs only to pick up the Clubs, a decent chance (and this in the 4th quarter when we were down 63, so you’d think we’d be gunning the engine a bit)…but our team-mates took a very negative view of things and stopped in 2H! The QJ of Clubs were doubleton, onside, so it was foolproof.
If not slams, then perhaps part-scores? I think they had slightly the better of the partscore battles, but no huge gains were made there, either.
The Play’s the Thing
The main difference was in the play, mostly at game contracts.
I will pose a few problems from various stages in the match…
Opening Lead Problems
Consider the following Opening Lead problems, with answers following here and there…
This one needs a trump lead, followed by a minor brilliancy of partner ducking with his AKQ of Spades when the stiff is later led off the dummy, to allow you to get in to play a second round of trumps . The lead and the duck were both found at the other table for a well-earned game swing by the opponents. And they doubled, to boot, which we did not.
Either a Spade or a Heart lead attack a critical dummy entry, preventing the Clubs from being set up: We earned a game swing when our partner’s stopped in 4H and we beat this slam on a Spade lead. They had:
The Play of The Hand 
From leads, let’s switch over to some declarer’s play situations.
Directions are switched for convenience. South opened 1H in 3rd seat, both Vul, and took North’s preemptive raise over a takeout double to game. The opening lead was the King of Spades, and a low Heart was continued at trick two. If you duck in dummy, the Queen comes up. What is your line of play?
You have nine tricks: 6 Hearts in hand, the Ace of Clubs, and two ruffs in Dummy. You need to find one more trick.
At the table, declarer hoped the Queen of Diamonds was with the Doubler, (or, later, the Ace onside) and drew trumps before leading up towards the Jack of Diamonds. This is not hopeless, but it failed. Say, instead, Declarer wins the first Heart in his hand, plays Ace and a Club ruff, ruffs a Spade, and ruffs his last Club. He then leads a Spade off the board. If RHO plays low, he throws a Diamond, and LHO is endplayed if he has no more Hearts. He can play a Spade, setting up the last one with the Heart King serving as both an entry and a means to draw the last trump; he can give you your King of Diamonds; or he can give you a ruff-sluff. If he does have a second heart, you can always hope the Ace of Diamonds is onside.
If back at the time that you tried to duck the Spade into LHO you find RHO playing a Spade Honour, you ruff and can try your Diamond play at that time.
Doubler had: AKQJ, 3, AT9, KJ954 so he would have been end-played.
At the other table, the defense continued Spades at trick two which simplified setting up the long Spade.
The Play of The Hand 
Here’s another hand to play:
South opened 1H in 2nd chair, none Vul. There was a 1S overcall. North doubled, and East Cue-bid 2H, a strong spade raise. South bid 3H and was raised to game. The opening lead of the Jack of Clubs (standard Honours) was covered by the Queen and King. The 7 of Spades was returned to the Ace, and a low club continued. How do you play? Declarer shunned the Club finesse. He drew 7 rounds of trump and tried to throw the opening leader in with a Diamond to lead from the Queen of Spades. Against weak opposition, this may work; but certainly, top-flight opponents can arrange to avoid an endplay when they own the AKQJ of Diamonds? This is one of those hands where if the finesse (in clubs) is right, you may not have to take it (perhaps, better put, you may get away with not taking it!).
A Diamond should be ducked early on. You hope LHO wins it, but if RHO does, you can hope that the Spades are a frozen suit. The bidding shows the suit to be 4-3. If RHO holds the Ten, neither defender can play spades again. Their best play is a Heart, and you can then ruff a club to try to clarify that suit. In the ending, LHO is squeezed in the black suits.
If RHO can win the Diamond and safely return a spade, you are down and will really regret not finessing in Clubs.
Much simpler to just finesse the 9 of Clubs. Is it really likely that LHO, with only 4 Spades, is also short in Clubs? He had: AQ86, 2, K74, JT764. At the other table, the squeeze was more relevant (although they stopped in two Hearts). A low Club was led, the Queen finessed. Later, on a similar defence as far as all relevant plays are concerned, the squeeze would eliminate one of West’s black suit winners.
Notice that on the run of the Hearts, West must throw some clubs, clarifying that he had not led from shortness. Moreover, the Diamond duck could still have been made to set up the squeeze even after a few rounds of hearts.
Bizzarre PS: On the BBO play record, it shows that West, on the last heart, threw the Ten of Clubs, setting up the Nine, which Declarer then threw on the same trick! I hope that was a transcribing error on both parts, because West should hold as his last three cards: Qx, –, —, T, with his partner holding 2 Diamond winners; and Declarer should not throw a winner from dummy to save a loser! Don’t tell me, I don’t want to know the Truth. I can’t handle The Truth.
The Play of The Hand 
Liking my controls and spot cards, I opened 1C and rebid 2NT over 1D, showing 18-19. Partner raised to 3NT, and I received the Jack of Spades lead. What’s your plan? I played three rounds of Clubs, all following, unblocking the 9 from my hand on the third round on which RHO pitched the 4 of Diamonds. This suggested to me that he held 5 Diamonds, so I played the Ace from dummy, hoping for singleton Q, J or 9. When the 9 dropped on my left, I led a low Diamond towards my KT, intending to finesse had he not split his Quack. Nine tricks in.
Defense counts, too…
Let’s segue to a defensive problem:
You are East, and hear 1NT (15-17) on your left, the dummy bids 2C and, fearing the Spades, raises 2H to 3H. Opener carries on to game in Hearts, and your partner leads the Jack of Spades. Declarer wins the Ace and leads a low Heart to the Jack, which you win. What do you play next? At the table, East switched to Diamonds, which allowed it to make with little worry. The analysis looks like this to me: Partner is marked with 4H, and embarked on a forcing game (In fact, he did well not to lead his stiff Diamond, which I think makes life easy for declarer – this is Lead Problem “C” from above). All you have to do is continue Spades, and I think the defense must come to a long Heart and a Diamond trick, or the equivalent. Delarer will play a second round of trumps, ducked, but then partner can win a 3rd round and play more Spades, while if declarer switches, he can’t shut out a Diamond trick and partner’s long Heart.
Again you find yourself on defense:
Your partner passes, North opens 1D and raises a weak-jump-shift response of 2H to 4H. Partner leads the 4 of Spades. The King is played from dummy, and declarer will follow with the 5. (Your leads are 3rd from even #, low from odd). What is your plan to beat this?
We got this wrong: You had better give partner a Spade ruff! He had Lead Problem hand “A”, above, [x, Axxx, AJxx, Qxxx]. He would have done just as well to lead a club and get a tap going, as it was hard to read the declarer’s 4 card spade suit on the side. But a Spade seemed likely to be readable, and would ensure (!?!) a beat if partner had ANY fast trick at all: At the other table, our partner’s defended 3C, making 5. I guess they must have opened my hand…