Don't Give Up


Author: Larry Cohen
Date of publish: 04/06/2006
Level: Intermediate

The South Florida IMP game is held every Wednesday. It features some of the country's best players such as Mike Becker and David Berkowitz. Many famous players (Billy Eisenberg, Benito Garozzo, Bob Hamman, Kerri Sanborn and Paul Soloway) have played in the game while passing through Boca Raton, Florida.

This deal was recently (mis)played :

South
?A J
?A 10 8 7 5 4
?Q 5
?A J 3

In second seat, at unfavorable vulnerability, you open 1?. I hope you didn't gloss over that previous sentence. An expert player always takes note of the vulnerability and position. (That's a hint!).

LHO bids 2NT for the minors and your partner bids 3?. It is important to know what you do against the opponents' 2-suited bids. Here, 3? and 3? would both be cue-bids. I recommend using one as a good raise (limit or better) and the other as a strong hand in the 4th suit (here, that would be spades). Let's presume you are using 3? as a limit-or-better heart raise. What next?

You obviously have enough for game. But, slam is in the picture. You are too good to jump to 4?. You should investigate slam. It seems strange, but I think the best call here is 3?. I know you have "nothing" in diamonds, but bids below game don't promise controls. Partner will take 3?, for the time being, as a game try. If he bids only 3?, you know right away that he is limited, and you can probably give up on slam. If he bids something other than 3?, you can continue exploring.

At the table, the player with these cards bid 3? . After a bunch of cue-bids (the exact auction is not on record), 6? was reached. The lead was the ?8 and this is the dummy:

Vul: North-South
Dlr: South
?7 6 5 2
?K J 9
?A 10 6 2
?K 7
   
  ?A J
?A 10 8 7 5 4
?Q 5
?A J 3
EastSouthWestNorth
       
Pass 1? 2NT 3?

... (unknown -- but reached 6?)

 

LEAD: ? 8

East puts up the ?Q--over to you.

 

 

 

There seem to be inescapable losers in spades and diamonds. What if you can set up an extra diamond trick? Let's say you draw trumps (somehow guessing the ?Q) and play a diamond towards your queen. If West has ?KJ he wins his king and you can later finesse against his jack to throw a spade loser. BUT--this assumes West will have no more spades to play when he wins his diamond trick.

Is it possible that West has only 1 spade? He did show 5-5 in the minors. BUT--remember my hint? You were in 2nd seat, unfavorable. East dealt and passed. What East would pass as dealer favorable with ? KQ109xx? None that I know of.

So, assume West has another spade. Does that help?

It means you can't lose the lead in diamonds (they will cash their spade). The only hope is that East has the ?J.

What's that? If East has the ?J, you can make your contract !

You can ruff your club loser in dummy (presume 5-3 clubs), draw trump, and endplay East. East will have to keep his ?J x, and he can be thrown in with the high spade to break diamonds at the end.

I am getting ahead of myself. How will you draw trump?

You "know" West has 2 spades, and 5-5 in the minors. Accordingly, you will play him for heart shortness. Time to execute the plan. (As usual, thinking at trick one is the key to declarer play.)

Win the ?A.

Play 3 rounds of clubs*, ruffing the 3rd round in dummy. But, be careful to ruff with the jack -- to unblock.

Now, ?K, and all follow low.

Then the ?9, low...

And, as planned, you finesse. But, you overtake with the 10 (this is why you unblocked the jack) so you can be in your hand to finish drawing trump. West shows out on the ?10 (as expected), and you run all your trump to leave (you hope):

Vul: 
Dlr: 
?7
?--
?A 10
?--
 
?--
?--
?Kxx
? 
  ?K
?--
?J x
?--
  ?J
?--
?Q 5
?--
 

East had to keep diamonds guarded (lest you play the ?Q to pin his jack). So, you exit with a spade at trick 11 and East has to break diamonds. There was no way to defeat 6?.

In real life, East was in fact dealt the ?J. But, when the dummy came down, declarer started screaming at his partner. That was No-No number one. Then, declarer failed to think about the hand and ended up down two, minus 200 when he should have made 1430.

 

 

 

 

 

The full (Real) deal:

 

Vul: North-South
Dlr: South
?7 6 5 2
?K J 9
?A 10 6 2
?K 7
 
?8 3
?6
?K 9 8 7 4
?Q 10 9 8 6
  ?K Q 10 9 4
?Q 3 2
?J 3
?5 4 2
  ?A J
?A 10 8 7 5 4
?Q 5
?A J 3
 

* (It is probably better to play the ?K at trick 2, in case hearts are 4-0. Then, you have to try for some miracle, such as West holding six diamonds to the king, East a singleton jack).