July 2007 deals


Author: Larry Cohen
Date of publish: 08/08/2007
Level: Intermediate to Advanced


2007 Grand Nation Team Winners (Cohen-Berkowitz, Becker-Spector, not pictured: Meckstroth-Rodwell)

Here are some (advanced-to-expert level) deals from the tournament trail:

First, on the road to the GNT Teams title, I was amused as I turned the dummy:

?A 8 7 6 5
?A 9 8
?A K 10 2
?J

I was dummy in 3NT (partner has shown a flattish hand with 5 clubs and about 8-12 HCP). The opening lead was a low diamond which ran to my partner's jack. He returned a diamond to dummy's 10 to play the ?5 at trick 3.

 

The next trick shocked me. It went ?5, ?2, ?3, ?4 ! Impossible? I had never seen such a trick. Had somebody revoked? No. This was the full deal:

    NORTH (LC)  
Vul: 
Dlr: 
  ?A 8 7 6 5
?A 9 8
?A K 10 2
?J
 
?4
?Q 7 4 2
?Q 9 5 3
?K Q 9 4
    ?Q J 10 9 2
?J 6 3
?8 6
?10 5 3
    ?K 3
?K 10 5
?J 7 4
?A 8 6 3 2
 

Yes, East (a National champion) should have split his spade honors, but he didn't want to risk latter getting endplayed in spades, so he nonchalantly played low ' not expecting the actual scenario. Anyway, this cost only an overtrick. The other table played 4? down one on our cards. Believe it or not, that contract can make even with the 5-1 trump split. There are many variations, but I leave it to anyone with double-dummy software (such as GIB or DeepFinesse to play around with this deal).


On this deal from a July regional in Illinois, my partner produced expert defense:

Vul: East West
Dlr: South
?K Q 5 4
?Q 6 5
?A J
?A J 4 2
 
WEST (DB)   EAST (LC)
?8
?J 8 7 2
?K 9 8 7 6
?K 9 8
  ?A J 10 9 3 2
?--
?10 4 3 2
?Q 10 3
  ?7 6
?A K 10 9 4 3
?Q 5
?7 6 5
 

South opened 2? and North raised to 4?. As much as I love to bid 4? over 4?, at unfavorable vulnerability, I passed (good thing).

David led his singleton spade to the queen and ace. I returned the ?J (I wanted to clarify the suit as opposed to playing a suit-preference card).

David knew his trumps could be picked up (declarer would start with the ?A to reveal the 4-0 break), so he had no natural trump tricks. Should he ruff?

No. He followed the normal expert principle of not "ruffing on air." He realized that even if he did ruff, declarer would still get to use dummy's high spade for a winner later in the deal.

He discarded a diamond, a winning defense. Declarer played to the ?A revealing the break. Next came the ?10, ducked (a necessary, but easy defensive play). Now, declarer was stuck. He could finesse the diamond, but nothing mattered. Eventually, he took the ?Q, but couldn't get off dummy to draw the last trump.

Stuck in dummy, he had to play a black suit. East gets in and keeps playing spades to promote West's ?J. Once David discarded at trick two, there was no way to make 4?.


This freaky deal comes from a match we played in the Spingold at the NABC in Nashville:

Vul: None
Dlr: West
?--
?A Q 10 7 5
?Q J 8 4
?A J 3 2
 
?A K Q 7 6 5 4 3
?8 2
?A
?K 6
  ?J 10 9 8 2
?9 6
?K 7 6 5 2
?4
  ?--
?K J 4 3
?10 9 3
?Q 10 9 8 7 5
 
WestNorthEastSouth
David   Larry  
1?* Dbl** 1?& 3?&&
4? 5? Pass Pass
5? Double Pass 6?
Double Pass Pass Pass

 * Strong Club

** Red Suits or Black Suits

& Artificial,5-7

&& Pass or Correct

Had we bought it in 5?, the opening lead would have been crucial. On a diamond lead we make 12 tricks (setting up the long diamond and eventually throwing both hearts on the diamonds). Of course, the defense can cash the first 3 tricks on a club or heart lead.

How about the lead against 6?? Also crucial. Yes, a spade lead would be disastrous (giving a ruff-sluff), but actually, any lead but a diamond lets the contract make. On a spade lead, declarer ruffs in hand (throwing a diamond from dummy) and takes the next 11 tricks (5 hearts and 6 clubs). On a trump or club lead, declarer draws trump, cashes some clubs and exits in diamonds, endplaying West (the ruff-sluff gives the 12th trick). David did lead a high diamond and he carefully shifted to a neutral trump and declarer had to lose a second diamond trick for down one. (The other table played 5? down 1 so our team had a small gain on this very dangerous deal).


Test your declarer play on this deal I played in the NABC Swiss Teams in Nashville:

?A K Q 10 9 7 6
?Q 3
?7
?A J 9

West opened 1? and East raised to 2?. What should I bid? Vulnerable at IMPs, I love to bid games that might have a chance. Opposite as little as the ?K, I'd have play (even opposite ?Q10x and a spade entry for a finesse, I'd have a chance). Anyway, 4? might push them to 5?--so I jumped directly to the spade game and played it there.

  NORTH  
Vul: Both
Dlr: West
?5 4
?10 6 5
?9 8 6 5 3
?K 8 2
 
? 
? 
? 
? 
  ? 
? 
? 
? 
  SOUTH (LC)  
  ?A K Q 10 9 7 6
?Q 3
?7
?A J 9
 

West leads a low heart to the ace and a heart comes back, West playing the king and then the jack. You ruff and draw trumps (West follows with the jack and then throws a heart and a diamond).

How will you play the clubs?

The questions, of course, is premature. Why not run some trumps first and see what happens?

You play another trump, LHO throwing his last heart, RHO throwing a low club. Another trump gets a diamond from LHO and a club from RHO. This leaves:

Vul: Both
Dlr: West
?--
?--
?9 8
?K 8 2
 
? 
? 
? 
? 
  ? 
? 
? 
? 
  SOUTH (LC)  
  ?7
?--
?7
?A J 9
 

Let's review. The first 3 tricks were hearts and then you ran off 5 rounds of spades. LHO followed once and threw away his last 2 hearts and 2 diamonds. RHO followed to three spades and discarded 2 clubs.

Now what? There is no rush to make a club play. You should exit with your little diamond. If the defenders break clubs, you'll be delighted. Instead, LHO plays the ?10 and RHO wins the ?J, then cashes the ?A, LHO dropping the ?K. You ruff, and ...

The entire hand should be known. RHO started with:

?x x x
?A x x
?A J
?10 x x x x

How do you know? There is only one high diamond missing--the queen. LHO must have it. Why? RHO raised to only 2? and has already shown 9 HCP. You can be sure LHO's last 3 cards are the ?Q and the doubleton ?Q. There is no need to run the ?J (West might cover from Q10 doubleton, forcing you to guess). Simply play the ?A and ?K and when the ?Q drops, as expected, you claim 620. Our team won 12 IMPs for this result when the declarer at the other table played clubs prematurely and misguessed for down 1.

The full deal:

Vul: Both
Dlr: West
?5 4
?10 6 5
?9 8 6 5 3
?K 8 2
 
?J
?K J 8 7 2
?K Q 10 4 2
?Q 7
  ?8 3 2
?A 9 4
?A J
?10 6 5 4 3
  ?A K Q 10 9 7 6
?Q 3
?7
?A J 9