August 16th, 2005

Weekly bridge column

                                  INCORRECT ANALYSIS

			          by Stephen Rzewski

	On several occasions every year, bridge events are held in local clubs in 
which the same hands are played across the entire ACBL, or in some cases, world-
wide.  The events are popular because club players are given the opportunity to 
achieve a high score that may rank nationally or globally.  As a further attraction,
a record of the hands played, along with an expert analysis of each deal, is 
provided to every player on conclusion of play.

	Today’s hand came from one such event, an “International Fund Pairs”, held in 
1987.  Imagine yourself as the declarer, and try to think and play the hand along 
with the narrative:

	My partner and I are vulnerable and the opponents not, and in 2nd seat I pick 
up this promising collection:

		     ♠ AK9732     ♥ -----     ♦ A84     ♣ AKQ3

        My right-hand opponent, who is the dealer, begins with a weak 2♥.   Many 
years ago, a 3♥ cue-bid might have been used to show a hand of this type, but my 
partner and I have a different conventional understanding for that call, so I decide 
to start with a takeout double.  Over this, my left-hand opponent jumps to 5♥.  This 
is a good tactic from his side at favorable vulnerability, called an “advance 
sacrifice”.  He figures we can probably make a game somewhere, and elects to make the 
sacrifice bid against our contract before we actually reach it, rather than wait 
until we can determine at what strain and level we best belong, thus forcing us to 
guess whether to bid or double.  My partner passes, as does my RHO.  Well, I’m not 
going to let myself be shut out with a good playing hand like this one, so I bid 5♠. 
This is followed by a pass on my left.  My partner thinks for a bit, then bids 6♠, 
which is passed out.  The complete auction has been:

	               	    E      S      W      N
                           2♥     dbl    5♥      P
                            P     5♠      P     6♠ (all pass)

	West leads the ace of hearts, and the dummy comes down:		
                                     ♠ QJ84
                                     ♥ J82
                                     ♦ J106
                                     ♣ 972

                                     ♠ AK9732
                                     ♥ -----
                                     ♦ A84
                                     ♣ AKQ3

	It probably would have been more judicious for partner to pass, since he 
knows I am counting on him for a little something.  Still, he does have very good 
trumps, and he could be right.  In any case, here I am in a slam.  How should I plan 
the play so as to come up with 12 tricks?

	I have 6 spades and 4 top tricks in the minors.  In addition, I can always 
ruff the 4th club in dummy after drawing trumps, giving me 11 tricks.  If the clubs 
are 3-3, the 4th club will be a winner, and I can discard one of dummy’s diamonds on 
that card, then give up a diamond and ruff a diamond for my 12th trick.  With all 
this aggressive pre-empting, though, I would be very surprised if the clubs split 
evenly.  Is there any other reasonable chance that I can play for in addition to the 
even club break?  

	If only that 8 of diamonds were the 9, I could take a double-finesse in 
diamonds.  With West leading the ace of hearts, East’s heart suit can only be headed 
by the KQ at most, which easily leaves room for a diamond honor in his hand in spite 
of his pre-emptive two-bid.  Is there any way I may be able to play the diamond suit 
for one loser with this combination, other than hoping for a defensive mistake?

	Besides a very lucky holding of KQ tight or singleton honor, there is also 
the chance of K-x or Q-x doubleton in either hand (most likely East, as few players 
would open a weak two-bid with 6-5 distribution).  If you thought that LHO had that 
holding, for instance, you could prevail by leading a low diamond from the closed 
hand.  If LHO played his honor, your J10 in dummy would give you a finessing position
against the remaining honor in RHO’s hand.  Conversely, if you thought RHO held a 
doubleton honor, you would start the diamonds by leading the jack from the dummy.  If
RHO played his honor, you would win and lead through LHO’s honor to establish the 
10.  And if either player ducked his honor on the first lead, your play would force 
the honor in the opposite hand, then you could pick off the remaining stiff honor 
with your ace.

	There is also the chance of an endplay, if either hand holds both diamond 
honors. That hand would most likely be West, since a weak two-bid with KQ in both red 
suits would be very rich.  To allow for that possibility, I will want to strip the 
hand as much as possible so as to force the opponents to lead diamonds in the end, as 
well as to try to get a count on their distribution.

	I shall draw trumps by leading to dummy’s honors, so as to ruff hearts on the 
way back.  So I start by ruffing the opening lead, then I lead a low spade to dummy’s
jack.  On this trick West discards a heart. 

        The 3-0 trump split is annoying, because I now won’t be able to draw three 
rounds of trumps and ruff all three of dummy’s hearts and still leave a trump in each
hand, limiting my end-play possibilities.  Still, I see no better way to continue, 
since playing the hand in this way will still help me build up a picture of the enemy 
holdings.  West may also have some discarding problems and under pressure may make a 
defensive error in that regard.  As my club holding is concealed, an opponent might 
easily make a careless discard of a club from something like 10xxx, which will make 
my 4th club good.

	After leading a spade to dummy’s jack, I lead the 8 of hearts and ruff in my 
hand, both opponents following.  I continue with a low spade to the queen:  on this 
trick West discards the deuce of diamonds.  I lead dummy’s last heart, the jack, 
which East covers with the queen; I ruff in my hand, West following suit.   This 
                                     ♠ 84
                                     ♥ -----
                                     ♦ J106
                                     ♣ 972

                                     ♠ A
                                     ♥ -----
                                     ♦ A84
                                     ♣ AKQ3

	West presumably began with four hearts, so he is out of major-suit cards now, 
having followed to three heart leads and discarding a heart and a diamond on the two 
trump leads.  East has one trump left, and now is the time to draw it with my ace. On 
this trick, West discards the 4 of clubs.  That may be the mistake I am looking for. 
So I next try the ace of clubs on which both opponents follow with spot cards, then I 
play the king, but no such luck:  West follows low, but East discards a heart.  

	That’s more bad news for another reason, as I now know East’s distribution. 
He is presumed to have begun with 6 hearts, 3 spades, and a singleton club.  That 
means he holds three diamonds, and West, who discarded a diamond earlier, now also 
holds three.  So there is no chance of playing either opponent for a doubleton 
honor.  Am I therefore licked?

	Not necessarily.  If West holds KQx of diamonds, I can strip the clubs from 
his hand and endplay him.  But I also see another chance now:  maybe that 8 of 
diamonds will prove to be of some use after all.  I lead my third high club:  West 
follows with the 10, and East discards a heart.  Then I lead my small club, West 
covers with the jack, I ruff with dummy’s last trump, and East plays another heart. 
All hands are now down to nothing but diamonds.  The lead is in dummy, and I am 
looking at:



If West has KQx, I have him now, as I should simply lead the jack and pass it.  He 
will win and have to lead away from his remaining honor, on which I should play 
dummy’s 10.

	However, my gut feeling is that West does not hold both honors.  East had 
three opportunities to discard on the club plays and threw a heart each time.  It is 
true that an expert East, holding 9xx in diamonds would understand my problem and 
would have discarded all his hearts, since they are useless cards anyway, which he is 
known to hold, thus forcing me to guess the diamond holdings.  But East is not an 
expert, and most average players at some point in the hand will typically discard a 
low diamond from such a weak holding.  This suggests to me that the diamond honors 
are divided between the two hands.  I therefore believe that my best chance is to 
hope that West holds the 9 of diamonds, making my 8 the key card all along.  So I 
lead the jack, which is ducked by East and me to West’s king.  West leads a low card 
back, and I follow my instincts by playing low from dummy.  East can either play low 
and let me score the 8, or he can cough up the queen, the full deal being:


                                   ♠ QJ84
                                   ♥ J82
                                   ♦ J106
                                   ♣ 972

                   West                               East

                  ♠ -----                            ♠ 1065
                  ♥ A764                             ♥ KQ10953
                  ♦ K972                             ♦ Q53
                  ♣ J10654                           ♣ 8


                                   ♠ AK9732
                                   ♥ -----
                                   ♦ A84
                                   ♣ AKQ3

	Had West returned the 9 of diamonds, I would simply have covered with the 10, 
pickling East’s queen and establishing my 8.

        The opponents carded as well as they could.  If West had discarded a second 
diamond, for instance, South could well have figured him to have come down to Kx, and 
would have made the winning play of a low diamond from his hand before playing all 
the clubs.

	Interestingly, the hand analysis you are given after the game states that on 
the normal ace of hearts lead, 6♠ can not be legitimately made, as E-W must come to 
two diamond tricks!