Thursday, July 29, 2010

Play Problem!!!

I almost never comment on play problems.  Bidding is my passion.  But, one from the US Team Trials written up in the ACBL Bulletin caught my interest.

Dummy: Kxxxx-K10x-x-KQ108
Declarer: x-AQ9xx-AJx-A7xx

Moss-Gitelman ended up in 6H by an auction that makes my head hurt.  My auction would not resemble theirs.  But, I'll refrain.

On a diamond lead, Moss won and attacked spades at trick two, King won with the Ace, spade back, and a late trump promo set the contract (LHO held two spades and Jxx in hearts).  The Bulletin commentary was that "Double Dummy" the line could be to ruff a diamond, pull a trump, club to hand, ruff another diamond, and exit a spade, which makes on this layout.  What a poor analysis!

I asked my friend Eichenbaum his line, and his was what I saw. 

Win the diamond and ruff a diamond.  Trick three -- small spade off table.  This is a timing play and deprives the opponents of any ability to create any stinkers, whether a spade tgrump promo, a diamond trump promo (the Bulletin concern), or clubs 4-1 and a simple trump in clubs.  Plus, it give RHO a problem when he has the Ace of spades but no Queen and must make a trick-three big duck.

Suppose that the small spade catches air, however, and someone wins it cheap.  Again, no harm can be done, but it gets interesting after this.  Suppose a club comes back.  You have to win in hand even if the 8 would win, because you cannot risk a 4-1 club split.  So, you win and ruff the last diamond, play the top heart, and ruff a spade back to pull trumps (one remaining in hand if they split 3-2).

One ending is to simply save KQ10 in clubs and a spade.  If LHO has Jxxx in clubs, you can win the club Queen, finding this out, and cross back with a spade ruff to hook clubs.  But, there is a sexier line, I think.

Save KQ tight in clubs, and the Kx in spades, as the last four cards.  On the same play to the Queen, clubs 3-2 means a claimer.  Cash the second club, pulling the last club, ruff back to hand, and enjoy the good 7.

If clubs do not cooperate, however, after winning the club Queen, ruff a spade back to hand, hoping to see the spade Ace, and then go back to dummy's club King to enjoy the established spade King.

That line works whenever either opponent started with the Jxxx in clubs and the spade Ace, because they will be squeezed out of their small spade to have a now-tight Ace of spades.  Even if the person with the Jxxx doesn't have the spade Ace, the alternative line works when the person with the Ace started with only Ax or Axx in spades.
The straight hook line is superior when LHO has Jxxx with no spade Ace and fewer than four spades.  My alternative line is superior when RHO has the Jxxx and either the spade Ace or 4+ spades.

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