stevesgames (stevesgames) wrote,

Bridge Column

                    The Greedy Overtrick (V)

                       by Stephen Rzewski

     Playing in the familiar matchpoint venue at the local club, I 
pick up as dealer:

                ♠ AJ6     ♥ AQJ104   ♦ AK2   ♣ 75

     This 19-count should certainly be upgraded with all its controls
and excellent five-card suit, and as we play Puppet Stayman, I open 2NT. 
The opponents are silent as my partner bids 3♣.  I respond 3♥, showing 
five-card length (both calls are alertable), and partner raises to 4♥. 
The auction has been:

                   S       W      N       E
                  2NT    pass    3♣      pass
                  3♥     pass    4♥    (all pass)

     LHO leads the ace of clubs, and I contemplate the play:

                             ♠ K5
                             ♥ K32
                             ♦ 10764
                             ♣ K1042

                             ♠ AJ6
                             ♥ AQJ104
                             ♦ AK2
                             ♣ 75

     The contract appears normal, and will likely be the one reached 
at most tables.  Those who open 1♥ with my cards will typically be 
given a single constructive raise by partner, or possibly a limit raise,
perhaps resulting in a bad slam contract.  I can’t be concerned about
the latter case, but I need to try to outscore the majority of pairs
who will be in game, and that can only be accomplished on the basis 
of overtricks.

     At trick #1, LHO’s lead of the ace of clubs fetches the jack from
his partner. A low club is continued.  I seriously doubt that LHO would 
have led the ace from AQxxxx with the strong hand on his right, even 
with six of them, so I call for dummy’s king.  This turns out to be 
correct, as RHO follows with the queen.

     With the ace of clubs onside, and what appears to be an almost certain
diamond loser, I would expect the normal result to be 11 tricks, so if I want
to score well, I must look for a way to take the remainder.

     The early play appears to have put me ahead of the game, as dummy’s
♣10 is now good for the discard of a loser, and may provide me with the
12th trick I am seeking.  There is a problem, however:  since I can always
ruff a spade in dummy, the ♣10 has value only if I can use it to get
rid of a diamond.  If I draw trumps first, I won’t be able to ruff a spade,
and if I ruff a spade first and then draw trumps, I will have no entry to 
dummy to enjoy the good club.

     One possibility is to ruff a spade low, then draw two rounds of trumps,
ending in dummy with the king, leaving one high trump outstanding if they 
divide 3-2, then play the good club, hoping that the last trump will be in 
the hand with the long clubs.  That seems to be against the odds, however, 
as the hand with the long clubs is more likely to be short in hearts, meaning
that RHO will probably be able to ruff the good club when I play it.

     I think there are better possibilities.  There is a way to play for
diamonds to be 3-3 and set up dummy's 4th diamond for the 12th trick, and 
if that chance doesn’t pan out, I can always fall back on the finesse of 
the jack of spades for the second overtrick, which is a 50% chance in 
itself.  So in the following position, at the 3rd trick:

                               ♠ K5
                               ♥ K32
                               ♦ 10764
                               ♣ 104

                               ♠ AJ6
                               ♥ AQJ104
                               ♦ AK2
                               ♣ ---

I play the queen and jack of hearts, as both opponents follow suit.
Now if I am going to try to establish dummy’s long diamond, I need
to unblock the ace and king of that suit, taking the slight risk of
having one of those cards ruffed by the opponent who holds the
remaining trump.   Both opponents follow again, LHO contributing the
jack.  I then lead a heart to dummy’s king, as LHO discards and RHO 
follows with the last  trump.  Now I call for the 10 of clubs, RHO 
discarding a low spade and I the deuce of diamonds.  Next comes a 
low diamond from dummy, RHO playing the 9, I ruff, but the hoped-for 
queen does not appear on my left, as that player discards a low club.
So the following cards remain:

                                ♠ K5
                                ♥ ---
                                ♦ 10
                                ♣ 4

                  ♠ ?xx                       ♠ ?xx
                  ♥ ---                       ♥ ---
                  ♦  ---                      ♦ Q
                  ♣ 9                         ♣ ---

                                ♠ AJ6
                                ♥ A
                                ♦ ---
                                ♣ ---

     So should I now take the spade finesse?   

     Actually, at this point that finesse has become an illusion,
as I can now be sure of 12 tricks even if my jack of spades were
the deuce.  Instead of playing immediately on spades, I lead the 
last trump, which creates a double squeeze:  LHO, who has to
discard ahead of dummy, must keep his high club, lest dummy’s card 
in that suit become good, and so lets go a spade.  Now I can discard
dummy’s club, and the pressure then falls on RHO: he has to hold the
queen of diamonds or dummy’s 10 will be established, and so must also
discard a spade.  Since both opponents must be down to two spades in
each hand, it must be right to first play the king, then ace of spades,
making the last spade in my hand good, the full deal being:

                                ♠ K5
                                ♥ K32
                                ♦ 10764
                                ♣ K1042

                 ♠ Q1042                      ♠ 9873
                 ♥ 86                         ♥ 975
                 ♦ J5                         ♦ Q983
                 ♣ A9863                      ♣ QJ

                                ♠ AJ6
                                ♥ AQJ104
                                ♦ AK2
                                ♣ 75

     Of course, the result achieved would not have been possible had it
not been for West's poor choice of opening lead, but when such opportunites
are offered, one needs to exploit them to best advantage.

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