Lesson #1, wherein smug comes undone.

September 25, 2008 at 3:48 am 1 comment

Playing Justin Stark and Martin Willcox at the VBA last night, this hand came up:

Dlr: West
Vul: NS

NORTH

S J852

H AKJ975

D Q

C K3

WEST

S Q93

H 3

D K108743

C A107

EAST

S K1076

H Q108

D J2

C Q952

SOUTH

S A4

H 642

D A965

C J864

West, Martin, passed but then over 1H 2H he backed in with 3D over which 4H ended the auction. Justin began with the jack of diamonds and I won the ace. You can’t make unless the club ace is onside. Meanwhile in the majors you are on a guess of sorts. If hearts are 3-1 you can make by taking 2 spade ruffs in dummy, eventually conceding a trump to go with the club and spade tricks. If trumps are 2-2 and East has the queen you need to draw two rounds of trumps, losing 2 spades and a club. If you try to ruff the fourth spade West will be able to win and promote a trump trick via the diamond suit.

Mull over that as you will, you have to do something. I played ace and another spade, West giving count which suggested three. East won that and he could force me to guess how trumps are divided by continuing with a spade or a diamond. Instead, however, he shifted to a club, won by West who reverted to diamonds. Now you are able to find out exactly what shape West is. Ruff the diamond, cash the king of clubs, ruff a spade and play a club off dummy. If West follows, then he has only one heart. If he shows out he has two hearts. As it is, he followed, so I cashed one heart and took the second spade ruff.

I like this hand. It’s neat. It gives you that nice feeling you get when you fill in a Sudoku number without guessing. And frankly, I was smugly thinking about it a couple of hands later when I found myself declarer, again in 4H, on the following deal. We’re not talking as smug as smug can be here…more like if it were prefacing a TV show it would say ‘Warning, low level smugness. Parental guidance recommended’. About that much smug. Still, it was there and it meant I was thinking about that hand when I should have been thinking about this one:

NORTH

S AK5

H AKJ1094

D 8

C 742

WEST

S Q862

H 8765

D AKQ9

C 8

EAST

S 7

H Q2

D J10732

C KQJ103

SOUTH

S J10943

H 3

D 654

C A954

This time East opened 2N, majors or minors, West tried 4D and I ended matters with 4H. Justin shot out the seven of spades, I covered, West ducked, I hooked a heart, two down. Oh yes, dear reader. I’d just gone down in a coldie, I realised a second later. East’s hand is entirely known. 1?55. He can only have two hearts and therefore the only way to make it is to play hearts from the top, hoping the queen is doubleton.

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Entry filed under: declarer play, VBA. Tags: , , , , , .

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1 Comment Add your own

  • 1. Jonathan  |  September 25, 2008 at 11:13 am

    Even with the come-uppance, though, I think you can still feel smug on average. I do worse things before breakfast.

    I suppose technically on the 2nd, one should even win the first spade in hand before laying down HAK, making an overtrick on
    the lie at no cost that I can see. But then you’d have been so insufferably smug that something truly dreadful would have happened on the next hand…

    Jonathan

    Reply

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