Two Problems: Answers

Today's Panelists: Mike Shuster, David Caprera, Barry Rigal, Web Ewell, Marshall Miles, Kent Hartman, David Weiss
  1. MPs, unfavorable, you are East

    S: 2
    H: AJ82
    D: KQ7
    C: 108642
    S: A107
    H: Q743
    D: 10
    C: AKQJ5
    West North East South
    Pass Pass 1C: 1D:
    Pass 2C: Dbl 2D:
    All Pass

    Partner leads the C:3; declarer follows. What do you play at T2 and T3 if you hold the lead? If declarer leads a spade from dummy, do you duck or win?

    I'd win the club, lead a trump, win the spade and lead a club for partner to ruff to play another trump. I think this covers the most cases.
    I am playing clubs top down, hoping to generate some trump tricks. I expect partner to cross in clubs (or pitch if declarer ruffs high), and will grab my S:A to play yet another club.
    I'm unimaginative. I'll win C:A C:J then lead C:Q/K depending on what partner pitches. I've not worked out what I want from partner but I assume some 4-2-5-2 shape in declarer ( S:HHxx H:?x D:A?xxx C:xx). Not sure which six tricks we hope to get. If partner pitches a discouraging heart at trick two I'll signal for spades. If a discouraging spade I'll signal for hearts.
    Cash a second club honor at trick 2, lead a third one at trick 3 (so partner doesn't have to ruff if declarer pitches a loser). Play the honors in whatever order indicates a spade card rather than a heart card — we don't want partner playing us for the H:K. Fly ace on the spade lead. Declarer would play the S:K if he has it. Exit the D:10 after winning S:A (if I still have it).
    I win the jack and return the king, showing I don't know what I want returned if partner overruffs. If partner discards a little spade [upside down --Jeff], I duck the spade lead. If he discards a big spade or a heart, I hop to lead another round of clubs.
    In the context of answering this as a problem at 3:37 am instead of at the table, I lead a trump at trick two. If declarer leads a spade from dummy, I win and lead a low club, which I hope forces partner to ruff and from the play at trick two, lead a second round of trumps.
    It's hard to believe I can beat 2D:. I would not be defending 2D:, however, as I would have passed 2C:, and when 2D: came around to me, I would have doubled. I don't know how that would have worked out, but that's what I would have done. [Partner will bid 2S: and one of two things will happen. Either RHO will bid 3D: (likely) or he'll pass and LHO will double. Probably RHO will pull that to 3D:, but if he passes, partner had better play it well to manage -200. That's a zero anyway, but at least it's not -500. --Jeff]

    I will hope for partner to have a heart honor. I win the club jack, queen, and king. If declarer has the hand I hope ( S:KQxx H:xx D:Axxxx C:xx), he will ruff and be overruffed, and partner will return a heart. If declarer ducks that, I win and play another club. We will win 2 clubs, 2 trumps, a heart and a spade. So declarer won't duck. When he grabs the ace to play a spade, I grab it and play another club, hoping for the same parlay. If after winning the heart he tries to draw trumps instead, I will duck the spade when it comes off dummy.

    Win the first trick and shift to a trump. I think that if you are going to play trumps, there's no good reason to cash a second club. Moreover, you should play high clubs, not a low one to force partner to ruff. He's a player and he'll ruff your high one if that's the right thing to do, but if you force him to ruff with a natural trump trick, you may have blown the hand.
    Play high clubs. Declarer had a moose:  S:KQxx H:Kx D:AJ98x C:xx. Three rounds of clubs allows partner to shed two hearts and when you win the spade, you can guarantee partner a trump trick on length with another club (high or low). Yes, this only holds declarer to 3, but -110 was a 70% board, and -130 was an average minus.
    Play clubs 4
    Play trumps 3
    Other 1
    I think playing clubs is correct. Partner has at least five spades and didn't bid 1S:. That means he has no high cards. Declarer rejected the game try with an opening bid; he'd've done something else with six diamonds. So partner appears to have a Yarborough with four diamonds; continuous club plays will generate a trump trick for partner, which is the most he can possibly contribute.

  2. IMPs, both vul, you hold

     S:A109x H:A10xx D:AQ8 C:9x

    3H: Pass Pass ?

    Unless RHO had a problem in the auction, 3NT is clear. This hand evaluates to a solid 16.
    3NT. There is a premium for bidding games. Double could work if partner has spades, but 3NT looks like my best shot. The great dealer in the sky didn't give me three bullets so that I could pass.
    Pass. Let's take a typical hand opposite, 4-1-4-4 pattern and 8 points:  S:Qxxx H:x D:Jxxx C:KJxx. 4S: rates to be down, 3H: rates to be down. Bidding when team mates are +100 (or -100) swings about 6 imps.

    Bidding 3NT or doubling when it's right swings 9 IMPs (we would get +200 most of the time).

    Bidding when it's very wrong costs at least 10 IMPs from -500 or so.

    For game to make our way we need partner to have rather more than half the missing points, when we gain 10. If he has less than half the deck our expected loss averages at least that.

    It's clear to pass at favorable, clearer to bid at unfav/love all I think.

    This looks like a phone number hand. Partner couldn't act with short hearts, so game is unlikely. I'm passing.
    I would (just barely) bid 3NT.
    Pass. Wonder how this would play opposite RHO's hand!
    Just another bidding guess. Partner could have a hand like  S:QJxxx H:x D:Kxxx C:xxx, where 4S: is reasonable, or  S:xx H:xx D:KJxxxx C:KQx, where 3NT is excellent, or  S:xxx H:xx D:xxx C:AKxxx, where passing 3H: is best. These hands swing matches, and one must take a position, but it is hard to believe there is a theoretically best solution. My guess is 3NT, because Hamman is a better player than I am.
    3NT, but there is a story behind it. At the table, I thought pass was the percentage call, so that's my vote.
    Pass. Partner has  S:xxxxx H:x D:xx C:KQ8xx. 3NT has play (!), but as the cards lay (spades 3-1, clubs 4-2 offside with no miracles) it was hopeless and went two down. 3H: is down one or two.
    Pass 4
    3NT 4
    Dealer pulled out a stop card, and partner immediately pulled out a pass card before LHO even bid. Whoops. So dealer bid 3H: and it went pass, pass, to me. I thought about this for 2-3 minutes and judged that pass is the percentage call, but that some number of my peers would bid 3NT. (It never occurred to me that the number was more than half of them.) Clearly, passing is demonstrably suggested over 3NT by the UI I have that partner hasn't an opening bid, and probably not even a 1-level overcall. So 3NT is required.

    I bid 3NT, and had real play for the contract (vs. a 5-count!) but in the end had to go down two.

    In the bar after the game, I brought this up as a problem, and the group thought bidding 3NT was ridiculous, even laughable. They thought my reasoning here was absurd, ridiculously over-compensating for the situation. Oddly, one of those people was Marshall, who bid 3NT this time around.

    Another of the players who thought 3NT was ridiculous often serves on appeals committees around here. A lesson to AC members: if you have a very strong opinion about a situation, consider that your opinion might not be shared by the rest of the world, so don't be too emphatic about it. It's a rare case where there are no logical alternatives. To appeals coordinators: 3-person ACs are not acceptable. To appellants: it's possible to get 5 people who see a situation strongly and wrongly. Live with such judgments and don't complain; this simply can happen some of the time with no one's doing anything particularly wrong. This doesn't mean the AC was biased or stupid; they just misjudged the bridge situation. Players misjudge bridge situations all the time.

    If 3NT has play vs. a 5-count, maybe it's not so anti-percentage after all. Add the C:10 to partner's hand, and 3NT was rolling, admittedly on sub-optimal defense, but 3NT is often hard to defend on blind auctions.

Jeff Goldsmith,, Sept. 1st, 2007