Tuesday, August 14, 2012

One Higher than Splinter, but Below Game

There are occasionally calls that are one level higher than necessary for a splinter and yet below game.

One example is the double jump reverse.  For example:





In all four sequences, two of Opener's second suit would be forcing.  Three of Opener's suit can operate as a splinter option.  Thus, four of the suit is one higher than the minimum call needed for a splinter but still below game.

A second example would be a double jump cuebid below game.

I mention this merely because I saw a lot of posts recently where people bid four of a suit as a splinter, perhaps thinking that four of the suit sounds like a splinter, whereas in the sequence three of the suit would also sound like a splinter.  When I mentioned this, some noted that three of the suit works and then opined as to what four of the suit should mean (void splinter? other?). 

Personally, I think that if three of the suit is a splinter, then four of the suit should be a Picture Splinter of some variety (very well defined), because the call usually consumes a lot of space that would otherwise be available to unwind a lot of information.  "Void Splinter" seems bad, if only because a void makes (1) slam more likely but (2) fine-tuning more important.  Consider that with a void you might have much less other stuff to merit the splinter, but then you might also have a lot more stuff than the minimum void splinter requires.  Accordingly, you have more need to unwind (it seems) with the void hands. 

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Strange Rusinow Benefit?

I just was reminded of a strange situation that may argue for Rusinow leads in a strange way. Granted, this almost never comes up, but it was interesting to me as a thinking experiment.

Suppose that you are on lead against 3NT with something like AJ9x in one suit and a side Ace.  Dummy is expected by you for some reason to likely have the strength (if any) in your AJ9x suit, and you feel like an aggressive lead.  So, you decide to give Dummy Qxx and to lead the surrounding-play Jack. 

You hope to catch Dummy with Q-x-x, partner with the King, and either partner or Declarer with the missing 10.  Great lead! (if it works)

But, what if Dummy has K-x-x(-x), partner the Queen, and Declarer the 10-x-x(-x)?

Now, put yourself in Declarer's seat.  If you are playing standard leads, the Jack looks like a card seeking partner's suit and certainly on its own.  Accordingly, Declarer will likely cover this, expecting to lose but also expecting his 10 to grow up quickly.  Ducking would be fatal.

What if, instead, you play Rusinow?  In that situation, the Jack looks like Jack from Q-J-9-x(-x).  Now, Declarer cannot pop the ing, as ta would be fatal.  Ducking, however, makes the suit a frozen suit.  So, if you lead the Jack, playing Rusinow, and catch this layout, the Jack probably holds.

On the next play in the suit, you can lead small, "hoping partner has the 10," and catch Declarer ducking again!  So, you scoop the suit.  Rusinow leads made this possible.

Of course, the counter is that non-Rusinow works better if you lead the Queen from A-Q-9-x, which is technically true.  And, that lead might be a sexy lead if you expect Dummy to have the King and partner the Jack.  But, (1) reading partner for the Jack, and more importantly Declarer for not having the Jack, is more difficult (making the lead less attractive), and (2) the A-Q-9-x lead only gains on the tricky play whereas A-J-9-x wins naturally (and hence roughly twice as often).  Thus, the Rusinow protection seems more effective in the long run. 

What about the parallel of the lead of the Jack from K-J-9-x?  Here, you are playing for partner and Dummy to each have one top honor, Ace or Queen.  In either situation, there is no trickery.  However, there might be some trickery for partner.  If he cannot see the 10, he may decide that you have it if you are playing standard leads and if the Queen covers the Jack, which might induce a switch.  If Rusinow, he will see the Queen on Dummy or in his hand and may be able to work this situation out contextually.

Notice how Journalist leads ("Jack denies") really messes up both scenarios terribly and is perhaps the worst method, for opening-lead surrounding play reasons.