September 10th, 2005

Bridge column

                                TEST YOUR PLAY (III)

                                 by Stephen Rzewski



                                    ♠ AKJ2
                                    ♥ AK7
                                    ♦ K7
                                    ♣ 9863


                                    ♠ 1085
                                    ♥ Q82
                                    ♦ A4
                                    ♣ AK1042

	          bidding:    S        W        N        E

                              1♣       P       1♠        P
                             1NT       P       2♦        P
                              2♠       P       3♣        P
                              3♦       P       6♣  (all pass) 

                                opening lead:  ♦ J

	North’s 2♦ bid at his 2nd turn was a conventional forcing call (“New Minor 
Forcing”).  South’s 2♠ showed 3-card support in case North held a 5-card suit. 
North’s 3♣ in this sequence was a natural slam try in that suit.  When South bid 3♦, 
he was making an encouraging cue-bid, implying good clubs (with a less suitable hand,
he would have signed off in 3NT).

	You win the king of diamonds in dummy and lead a low club to the ace.  On 
this trick, East follows with the 5, and West plays the queen.  Plan the play.

	*          *          *          *          *          *          *

        The complete deal:


                                   ♠ AKJ2
                                   ♥ AK7
                                   ♦ K7
                                   ♣ 9863

                      West                          East

                     ♠ 764                         ♠ Q93
                     ♥ 10654                       ♥ J93
                     ♦ J1095                       ♦ Q8632
                     ♣ QJ                          ♣ 75


                                   ♠ 1085
                                   ♥ Q82
                                   ♦ A4
                                   ♣ AK1042

	This hand came from a Swiss teams match at a Sectional tournament.  At one 
table, South was a somewhat experienced player, who had read and learned the “Rule of 
Restricted Choice” (see an earlier article on this website, entitled “Find the Jack”,
hand #1).  He knew with this club combination that when an honor appears on the left, 
the percentage play is to finesse on the 2nd round of the suit against a probable 
holding of J-x-x on the right.  So he played a heart to dummy, led the ♣9 and passed 
it when East played the 7.  This lost to the jack.  Later, he had to fall back on the 
finesse for the queen of spades, which you can see was offside.  Result:  down 1 and 
certainly bad luck, as declarer’s choice of plays gave him better than an 80% chance 
of landing his contract.  This sort of result feels embarrassing, as an inexperienced 
player, who would not know about Restricted Choice, would typically play off the top 
clubs and make the contract easily.

	At the other table, South was a player of even greater experience.  He also 
knew about Restricted Choice, but chose to spurn the finesse and played the top 
clubs, catching West’s doubleton Q-J, just as the novice would.  So why did he choose 
to ignore the “right” play?  Because he saw that if the finesse actually did work 
(East holding J-x-x in trumps), he didn’t need to take it.  If West were to show out 
on the 2nd high club, declarer would play off his remaining high diamond and heart 
winners, then throw East in with a club to his jack.  East would now be endplayed, 
either by leading a spade to dummy’s tenace, or playing a red card, allowing South to 
sluff his losing spade while ruffing in dummy.  The chance of this line succeeding: 
virtually 100%.

	The moral:  Always consider the technically correct play of any given holding 
within the context of the complete deal.