What’s a king gotta do?

November 1, 2008 at 7:10 am 6 comments

Spring National Open Teams
Round 7
Board 20
Dealer West
All Vul



S Q2
H K6
D KJ98



S K97
H 1073
D Q74
C J1097



S J106543
H A82
D A10
C 32



S A8
H QJ984
D 6532
C 85

After a nebulous Polish 1C opening by North, East bid 2S, South doubled. North bid 3S and South ended the auction with 3NT. This meant single-dummy they’d wrong-sided the contract. Double-dummy, alas, they had done the right thing. Two wrongs make a right? Maybe so. As it happens the spade I put my fingers on as the opening lead was the king and now the contract can no longer be made….except that after declarer won and played the king of hearts off the table partner failed to duck the first round. Hence 3NT made.

It’s an example of what happens when it seems that the critical point of a hand is over. In this case as soon as dummy came down the whole table had a chat about how lucky NS had got because they had accidentally right-sided the contract. And yet there was still a critical point to the hand. How easy to write about it, how hard to keep that in mind at the table.

One heroic act with a king had failed. It’s only a week later and this happened:

State Pairs qualifying round 2
Board 15
Dealer South
NS Vul


S 6
H 97532
D K743
C J103


S 83
H 1086
D J986
C 9765


S KJ542
H J4
D Q1052
C K2


S AQ1097
C AQ84

I was on lead to 6H with the East hand. For better or for worse I began with the C2. Declarer ran that to his hand, played ace of spades, ruffed a spade, crossed to a club and played a spade off the board – wow! What a payout for the low club. Except that partner pitched on the spade…..slam now making.


Entry filed under: defence, VBA. Tags: , , , .

Spring National Seniors Final Making a mountain out of a molehill….

6 Comments Add your own

  • 1. cathychua  |  November 6, 2008 at 5:11 am

    True, Ben, diamond to the king works for the diamond ace with RHO…..so it has to be better.

  • 2. Ben Thompson  |  November 6, 2008 at 4:13 am

    The problem with heart to the K, even assuming spades 7-2, is that it may not be knocking out East’s entry.

    On the other hand, diamond to the K either:
    (a) scores, and you switch to HK to make when clubs are 3-3 (or 4-2 with all the key cards with West); or
    (b) knocks out East’s entry and leaves you well placed (eg win, cash clubs and play hearts from the top – you score a 2nd red trick somewhere, assuming a side A is enough for a gutless weak 2 with 7 spades)

    Put me in the D-to-the-K camp

  • 3. sartaj  |  November 5, 2008 at 6:41 am

    Btw, “double dummy” a heart to the king is 100 percent no?

  • 4. sartaj  |  November 5, 2008 at 6:30 am

    We argued this one at great length at the pub on monday night. Including the spade 7-2 possibility.

    The way i see it, there is no clear way to quantify all the possibilities.

    For example, your proposed layout is just one option. HA has to be offside, spades have to be 7-2, clubs have to be 4-2 …for diamond up to be wrong..

    There are plenty of others.

    In all layouts with spades 6-3 and clubs 3-3 , a diamond up is clear. How to weigh that against all other options is a task for a real truth seeker.

    How do you judge, for example, the likelihood of SK from Kxx.

    Or how do you even judge the right lead with that holding. Say Declarer = AJx and pard = Q109 and the defence can freeze declarer’s tricks. But say pard = A to six and dummy = stiff, will partner really play low at trick one (why cant the opening leader have Qxx)

    Despite all this “too hard to work it out all out”, i’m sticking with a diamond at trick 2.
    Because even assuming spades 7-2, cant see a clearly favorable case for a heart. And with spades 6-3, a diamond appears clearly superior

  • 5. cathychua  |  November 5, 2008 at 3:06 am

    I’m not sure that your analysis, Sartaj, isn’t rather double-dummy. Consider only declarer’s problem. Declarer is surely permitted to assume 7-2 spades, and if so, a heart – assuming that this knocks out East’s entry – has something going for us. East has to duck and then win. If West has the AQ of diamonds, I have to be some chance to get home even with clubs 4-2. Eg win the spade return and 4 rounds of clubs. What is West going to do? Win and play a diamond. Can’t I win a big diamond and exit a big diamond, perhaps, making whenever West has AQ of diamonds. Eg


    I’ve lost a heart, a club and 2 diamonds. Making 3NT.

  • 6. Sartaj  |  November 3, 2008 at 5:54 am

    The first hand has an interesting point.

    Declarer’s line of play has a clear flaw. He has to assume 5 club tricks and 2 spades and so a diamond to the king at trick two guarantees the contract with Axx of diamond onside.

    This is the way the Italians play, always playing for their legitimate chance (if that is a reasonable shot).

    But here in Australia, we are so used to misdefence that most declarers tend to do something quickly and hope for something good to happen.


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