Back to Bridge!
So after a few months off while graduating college (yay!) and getting a job I finally got back into bridge this past November. I hadn’t really played since the Houston NABC so there have been a few mental adjustments while I get back into the swing, as can be seen on the following hand:
*Doesn’t show clubs, could be void if 4450 shape
** Promises 5
As the illustrious west who vigorously passed, I was now on lead with: JT9xx x KJxx Kxx. As I dislike leading away from kings against game contracts (unless the auction screams for it) and I hate singleton trump leads, the J of spades was a standout lead. Dummy hit with:
Kx AT3 x AQJ9xxx
and play went: Declarer won the A of spades. She then finessed the Q of hearts from her hand into partner’s K. Partner went A of diamonds (I encouraged) and a diamond and declarer hesitated and then played the Q which I covered with the king. This was ruffed in dummy with the ten of hearts. Declarer then played A of clubs and Q of clubs (partner pitching a diamond on the 2nd club) and I was on lead with after winning the K. Here is the hand situation now that I get to make a decision:
It seemed like I basically had 2 options. I could play a diamond. Declarer ruffs their diamond loser on the board, comes to their hand with a club (since they know I’ve got another) and draws trump. Alternatively if I lead a spade, they can play the J of clubs. If partner ruffs in they over ruff and cross to dummy w/ the ace of hearts (pulling the last trump) and cash their good clubs. If partner doesn’t ruff it their diamond goes away on the club and then they can play the A of hearts and ruff a club to their hand to draw the last trump. I thought about it for a bit and decided I didn’t see a valid way to win. I did think if I played a spade declarer might error and play the A of hearts first instead of clubs (letting us beat the contract) so that’s what I did.
Horrible Error. While I got lucky at the table, the correct play is the diamond and hope partner has the 9 of hearts (which they could have). Now declarer trumps their diamond loser but gained a trump loser in the process (partner has 9x of hearts and declarer has J8xxx with no way to finesse). So.. this might have been a bit boring but I think the hand does get interesting looking at it from declarer’s perspective.
Now, you are in 4 hearts and on the J of spades lead you have some work to do:
Dummy yelled at his partner for not playing clubs at trick 2, but I’m not sure its a trivial hand to play. There are lots of things to think about on this hand. Trump diamonds? or set up clubs? When do we want to use the 1 reliable trip to our hand? When we get to our hand, which finesse do we take? What line caters to more of the various possible situations in hearts, diamonds, and clubs?
Clubs could be (left – right) Kxx – x or Kx – xx or xx – Kx. It could also be xxx – K or K – xxx but both feel a lot less likely (3 ways to make Kxx – x while only 1 to make xxx – K).
Hearts could be 2/2 or 3/1 with the K and/or 9 in either location. Only consideration is that if RHO has a stiff club, they will have at least 2 hearts (nobody is quiet with 6/5 distribution).
Diamond distribution doesn’t matter, but the AK do. LHO won’t have both the A and K but RHO might have both or they could be split.
So with all that jabbering, I think there are a few valid ways to start the hand (will edit in analysis later):
1) Win the K of spades and play A of hearts and a heart.
2) Win the K of spades a start a diamond. If they come back a spade (almost always) then take a club finesse. Minor chance they’d switch to hearts which would be nice.
3) Win the A of spades, finesse a heart (Running the Q)
3b) Win the A of spades, finesse a heart (small to the T)
4) Win the A of spades, finesse a club
5a/b) Win the K of spades, play a spade to the A, and go with 3 or 4.
Will edit back later with analysis of each, but if someone reads this before then… what approach do you like best? I’m also curious what bridge baron will pick, so will set up the hands and give it a while to think on that as well.