The Tao of Gaming

Boardgames and lesser pursuits

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Playing in a (real) unit game I’m having a good session when we sit down against a Pro and his (expert, but non-Pro) wife who are the strongest pair in the field. We have two probably “touch below” average boards (I guess wrong on the first board; the pro takes the maximum number of tricks in a board that a few will get wrong) when I pick up:

S:A8xx H:J9xx D:9x C:Axx

With nobody vulnerable, it passes around to partner who opens 1 Club. With the opponents silent, I bid 1 Heart. Partner jumps to 2 No Trump, and I bid 3 Diamonds (checking back). Partner bids 3 Hearts, but I was checking for a 4-4 spade fit, so I bid 3 NT. Partner considers this and bids 4 Hearts. Uh-oh. We’re probably playing a Moysian, but I can’t correct it, so 4 Hearts it is. My LHO (the Pro) leads the diamond 8, but they lead second and fourth.

Dummy S:Kx H:AQx D:KQx C:KJT9x

Diamond 8 led

Hand S:A8xx H:J9xx D:9x C:Axx

I suspect LHO has led from ?8x of diamonds, but for now I have an easy cover with the king. RHO wins the DA and returns the diamond five to the 9, ten and the queen. This is ugly. I don’t necessarily need the king of hearts on side, but it looks like I need a 3=3 break. I’d like to come back in clubs, but that risks some ugly things so I think I’ll make the somewhat weird play of blocking spades and lead a small spade to the ace and then I take the heart finesse which wins, RHO playing the heart eight. That could just be suit preference, but it could also be T8x or KT8 simply waiting to see how I take the finesse again (the stiff eight is too ugly to contemplate).

I could just bang down the heart ace and a heart, playing for the 3=3 break. Then I’d have to ruff the diamond return and pick up clubs. But since I have to pick up clubs I think I’ll try to do it first. RHO has five diamonds (assuming that LHO wouldn’t lead 2nd from a bad four or five, which I think is true) so all I’ve got to go on is the principle of vacant spaces and the fact that LHO led from diamonds, so perhaps that was his safest lead and he didn’t want to lead from an honor. Both of this inferences make LHO more likely to have the queen of clubs, so I cross to the club ace and take the hook. When it wins (whew!) I play the heart ace and it goes 7-small-Ten. I don’t think I’m being jobbed so I play a 3rd round of hearts and when they break I claim the rest. Making five for an excellent score, as the normal 3N by partner will be have ten tricks on the (expected) diamond lead but not path 11, so +450 is the maximum. (Update — It being a club game this turned out to not be a top as a few pairs slipped up and let 3N make 5 (and in one case, six!) but it was still 14 out of 17 or so).

The rest of our session is solid (and our few questionable plays are never punished and in one case rewarded for +800 on a part score hand), so we get first overall. A nice return!

Written by taogaming

June 5, 2021 at 5:01 pm

Posted in Bridge

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