«

»

Jan 23

A suit combination and a squeeze

So Martin and I failed to qualify for the NAP flight C nationals by about half a board… such is life.  We agreed just before the start of the play to switch to Beowulf intermediate twos (two of a major showing exactly four cards with 8-11 HCP and unbalanced), but guess what, we had no two-level opening at all in the two sessions (2 is precision, 2 a classic weak two and 2N 5-5 in the minors).  Anyways, here is an interesting deal:

West deals
EW vul
Martin
K84
AQ64
62
KT63
Antony
AQJ532
92
53
Q87

Despite having an uncontested auction, I end up too high, in 4 (due to some mixup about vulenrability-dependent NT ranges… anyways).  The opponents cash two top diamonds and switch to a trump.  Now what?

Clearly the field is going to end up in 2 or 3, so I expect the board to be a top if I make and a zero if I go down.  Thus I need to play clubs for one loser, and will probably need the heart finesse as well (or some endplay position with 2-2 trumps).  I start by drawing trumps, they are 3-1 so no endplay… now what's the best line in clubs?  The excellent SuitPlay program gives me the answer: small to the queen and small to the ten, which has a 32.5% chance of producing three tricks.  This is quite reasonable as it keeps a major tenace if the queen loses.  However at the table the line failed as the club position was A54=J92, where I cannot avoid two losers…  Down one for a full zero.

Here is the whole deal:

West deals
EW vul
Martin
K84
AQ64
62
KT63
West
7
KJ85
QJT97
A54
East
T96
T73
AK84
J92
Antony
AQJ532
92
53
Q87

I can actually make my contract on a ruffing strip-squeeze without the count against West: as I run my trumps, he can pitch three diamonds and a heart, reaching the following position:

North
AQ64
KT6
West
KJ85
A54
East
irrelevant
South
32
92
Q87

On the penultimate spade, he has to choose between pitching a heart, allowing me to finesse the queen, take the ace and set up the last one by ruffing (keeping the club king as an entry), or a club, allowing me to play clubs for one loser (small to the king and small ducked back).

I'm quite impressed to see that half of the declarers in the C field managed to score 10 tricks (whereas only four out of 10 in the A field got it right)… I'm curious to know how they did — in particular if this line is better than simply playing on the clubs!  (It's also after noticing that that I bothered checking the hand records and discovered that indeed 10 tricks were takeable double-dummy.)