Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Keeping focus

On the very next board, the opponents bash to 3NT after strong 1C, neg 1D and 1NT showing 17-18. It's my lead and I have QJx/J98/xxx/KQxx. I go with a spade honor and dummy comes down.

______Kxx
______xxx
______K987
______JTx
QJx
J98
xxx
KQxx

Declarer takes the K as partner encourages and ducks a H to your 8, partner playing the 2, even number or a holding unsuitable for other contribution. You're up.

What's going on? Is declarer trying to steal a game with something like Axx/AKTxx/AQx/xx or is he perhaps just building a potential heart trick with AKxx? How should we defend to beat this contract against the maximum number of layouts? Why did we just go down in a slam?

The decision to go active or passive when in defence is sometimes the hardest one to make. I decided to shift to a club honor. This would avoid the 'steal' and while giving up a trick when declarer has the ace, it might not be over as it also builds a trick for the defence.

This was the full deal:

________Kxx
________xxx
________K987
________JTx
QJx___________Txx
J98___________QTx
xxx___________AJTx
KQxx__________xxx
_______A98x
_______AKxx
_______Qx
_______Axx

Wrong - but not fatal. Declarer grabbed the ace and played the 9 of spades from hand to Frederic's ten. Nothing mattered now. We could always get five tricks before declarer could get nine and a bullet was dodged. A low club shift would have been the end of the defence's chances.

Teammates were +150 when North (Mårten) found a minimum (within 17-19 range) with 4-4 in the majors and the auction halted at 2NT. He didn't let any fear of missing a [possibly] playable game affect his evaluation of the hand's worth.

Don't panic on defence and, whenever possible, look for ways to hedge your bets.

3 comments:

Jan said...

I must tell you about an interesting deal from the match against Torino Allegra (Lavazza) Saturday evening.
Their opponents had just bid a tough spade slam with few points but with an excellent fit (missed in the closed room) when the following hand occurred. Ulf had in first position:
x
Kxx
AK9x
ATxxx

He opened with 2D showing 11-15 (or perhaps 13-15) with 9 cards in the minors. They were vulnerable but I don't remember the zone of the opponents. On his left a certain Massimo Lanzarotti entered with 3S. (Lanzarotti has recently re-commenced playing after the suspension from Teneriffe. He was bonused with 6 months thanks to a much criticized decision by the Italian Federation)
Back to the table Frederic declared 4S showing fit and a good hand. Guido Ferraro in the East seat doubled and Lanzarotti alerted with "he doesn't like spades" (on lead). Ulf passed and Frederic re-doubled (first control). Now Ulf bid 4NT and Frederic after some thought concluded the auction with 6 Diamonds. Lanzarotti led a club and this was the deal:

Axxx
x
QJ8x
KQ98

x
Kxx
AK9x
ATxxx

The play went 9, J and A. The lead was nasty as it had complicated a bit the communications. Declarer tested trumps with Ace and a small to the Queen, west showing out on the second round, hmmm. Well, at least Ulf knew where the diamonds were. He now led the obvious heart from dummy and the good news were that Ferraro fell into trance for a good 5 minutes. Obviously he had the Ace and was considering the best defense.
Finally he played low and I was happy for the Swedes. It was now easy to take the king, ruff a heart with D Jack and to return to hand with a trump finesse paying only one heart to the defense at the end. Just made.
Later at the bar I said to Ulf "good that Guido didn't play the Ace because a diamond return would have ruined your communications" (declarer take the diamond with the 9 and ruff a heart with dummy's last diamond, but when he returns to hand with club Ace to draw the last trump, the club suit is blocked)
"No problem he said", I had prepared myself for the "play for the public" "After the club ace I would have played the two red Kings, discarding the two blocking club honours in dummy to take the last three tricks with my T32" Did you see that?
The slam was missed at the other table.
J-O

ulven said...

Thanks J-O.

The ckub position was KQ98 vs AT76x with Lanzarotti leading an obvious singleton. So, after 8-J-A trick 1, I could overtake the 9 with the T later and after discarding the H's, my 7 would be good enough for the remaining club with Guido.

ulven said...

A funny story came about when Lanzarotti was declaring 1NT on this:

Tx
A9xx
J8xx
xxx

AJx
JTxx
KTx
AQT

West led a spade to the 9 and J. He attacked D's with the K from hand and LHO took the ace and continued with K of spades.

Lanzarotti grabbed the ace and led the ten of D to Wests Q, and another spade to Easts Q.

East shifted to a club, declarer inserted the Q, winning and played a diamond, getting a low from LHO.

What to do? Spades looked 5-3. Lanzarotti still inserted the 8 and made it, picking up AQ9x (West was 5-1-4-3).

Later in the bar Frederic was a bit amazed that Lanzarotti made the winning D play. Krister was fast and sharp: "Diamonds never break!" :-)

_________________________________
This of course refers to the Teneriffe incident, which can be found elsewhere at the Internet.

I believe he got it right because with AQx, Frederic probably would have ducked the K. The comment was priceless.