Friday, April 27, 2007

Listen to the auction

Leading against slams may be nerve-wrecking, especially if you get it wrong. Anonymous auctions can be a nightmare and may be a pure guess without any attractive holdings. Often the opponents have had some sort of long(er) dialogue which means that there are pointers in the right direction available. Sometimes it's downright obvious, sometimes almost obvious; take a little time and the 'solution' stands out.

Take this hand:


Auction (with you silent!):

2C - 2D;
2S - 3C;
3S - 3NT;
4C - 4H;
4N - 5D;
6S all pass

2C strong, 2D waiting, 3C second negative (I guess), 5D 0 keycards.

What do you lead?

Let's see. Declarer has a seriously good hand and launched into Key-Card Blackwood after learning that dummy had a heart control but lacked a diamond one. And we have 2 aces. Don't you think declarer is void in diamonds and has pretty good black suit holdings? I think the heart lead stands out; it's only a matter of which one to pick. This time it didn't matter as long as you picked the right suit.


When this hand came up in the Bermuda Triangle Teams Cup final last weekend, no other than Adam Zmudzinsky didn't lead a heart, going for the 'auto-pilot' high diamond instead. Declarer guessed hearts for +10 imps.

Wait a second. Was this a mistake or a deliberate choice by Zmudzinski? Maybe he didn't miss the fact that declarer was void, maybe he just tried to lead safely; going for a layout where the heart lead would cost a trick, even knowing the king would be in dummy.

I think it was a mistake (xx in clubs increases chances of club length in dummy; declarer not likely to have genuine 2-suiter) and that a low heart is indicted. Whether the mistake was based on faulty reasoning, according to me, or not listening to the auction, i.e. missing the 'pointers', we'll never know.

On some layouts where a low heart lead is 'wrong', the trick may come back. Say declarer has Qxx vs KTx in dummy and no discards coming in other suits. After winning the queen he's likely to lead low to the T next time. If declarer has Jx vs Kxx(x), a low heart gives him a losing choice.

Everybody makes mistakes; mistakes that could have been avoided. Even the very best.


Anonymous said...

The auction is missing the 4N bid. Also, in my understanding a second negative would deny a side-king, and looking at the actual hands isn't it obvious that 3C was natural? With the correct information i agree a heart lead stands out.


ulven said...

Corrected the auction. Is it obvious that 3C is natural?
If 2D is waiting then maybe 3C could be '1st negative' and not deny a K.

We seems to agree, anyhow, on the basic premise.