The NZ Playoff

May 7, 2009 at 12:00 pm 12 comments

Thanks for all the thoughts on bridge and aesthetics….I’m spending some time collating the ideas and will present them with some hands soon. By all means keep the discussion going as you may feel inclined.

Meanwhile, a hand from the NZ playoff, taken from Michael Ware’s report which will appear in NZ Bridge magazine.





You are West, opened 2C showing 18-19 balanced. Your partner bid 2S, puppet. Interestingly, in his article, Ware comments that this method ‘has the advantage….of preventing crappy 1 level lead-directing overcalls’. Still, here South doubles 2S, lead directing. You bid 2NT and partner raises to 3NT.

Contract: 3NT by West
Opening lead: sJ.

Plan the play.


Entry filed under: declarer play. Tags: , .

On the role of beauty and regret in bridge. NZ Playoff continued

12 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Wayne Burrows  |  May 11, 2009 at 4:55 am

    I posted this hand on BBO forums a couple of weeks back.

    Ducking needs dA with LHO and dQ with RHO.

    Winning needs dA with RHO. You don’t care who has dQ.

    Ducking also loses when dAQ are both wrong and spades are 6-1.

    Ducking is also only an option because of the presence of the d10. Curiously there were two hands in this set of boards where the presence of the d10 in dummy or the possible dummy was crucial to the winning (on the layout – not necessarily single dummy) decision.

  • 2. Michael Ware  |  May 10, 2009 at 8:05 pm

    Ben, I don’t understand your vacant spaces comment. North is just as likely to hold QD by your argument – he has more vacant spaces than South. If North holds both AQ of diamonds, then ducking KS is down as well – losing the first 3 spade tricks and the AQ of diamonds, so Khokan is correct in my opinion as South may have both.

    • 3. Khokan Bagchi  |  May 10, 2009 at 8:43 pm


      Congratulations on winning the Playoff.

      I think the real point of the hand is in the bidding, which is where your team won the board, rather than the play. I would double 2S any time I held AQ9xx in spades and risk the opponents making 2SXX – the DA and DQ wouldn’t influence my decision.

      I guess on the “normal” heart lead without the double, your best shot to make after misguessing hearts at trick one (I would) is to play for the DQ to be onside.

    • 4. Ben Thompson  |  May 11, 2009 at 9:50 am

      Yep, North is also more likely to hold DQ but if he holds DAQ, you’re likely to be doomed either way. If you win SJ when North has DAQ, you would need North to have SJ9 tight (Khokan mentioned this case) or stiff SJ.

      Incidentally, you still make ducking SJ if it’s stiff and South has DAQ.

      So this is where I went wrong …. if spades are 5-2, North is only 2-to-1 to hold NOT the 9 as his pip (remember we’ve seen one from South). Spades 5-2 and 6-1 are probably the only cases available, and 5-2 is a priori a 9-to-2 favourite over 6-1.

      I lazily translated “likely to be doomed” into “doomed” when actually it’s close to even money that spades are laid out favourably (J9 or stiff J) for winning SK. And the key point of winning the SK with DAQ offside is that you need the trick!

      So I’m convinced, winning the SK and playing South for the DA (or a favourable spade layout) is about a 2-to-1 favourite (I’ve crunched some numbers, covering all the cases this time, and I reckon it’s more like 11-to-5, allowing for vacant places)

  • 5. khokan  |  May 8, 2009 at 12:55 pm

    Harking back to the theme of the previous post, ducking the SK seems to be the “aesthetic” line, whereas winning and playing a diamond to the K seems twice as likely to succeed, sympathetic team mates, notwithstanding. Winning also works when north holds J9 tight in spades and AQ of diamonds.

    • 6. cathychua  |  May 8, 2009 at 1:28 pm

      Yes, quite right, there is an aesthetic consideration here, isn’t there?

    • 7. Jonathan Mestel  |  May 8, 2009 at 6:41 pm

      Yes, sorry, I miscounted my tricks forgetting that playing SK
      actually wins one! Seduced again by the muse of illusive

      • 8. Jonathan Mestel  |  May 8, 2009 at 6:42 pm

        I meant elusive, but illusive isn’t bad either.

  • 9. Jonathan  |  May 7, 2009 at 9:02 pm

    Well, I suppose I’ll duck, playing for 5+spades, DQ with S, DA with North if necessary. If he’d doubled with SAQ9x xxx Qxx xxx – well I’m sure I have sympathetic teammates…

  • 10. Ben Thompson  |  May 7, 2009 at 7:42 pm

    Presumably South is ducking the SJ

    The ways to go down are
    a) win the SK, play a diamond to the K losing to the A and get another spade through to lose the next 4 spade tricks
    b) wise to this problem, duck the spade, get a spade continuation, and eventually play a diamond to the J … except RHO hops the A and cashes his spade winners

    How to decide?

    There’s no serious indication about points from the auction. I go on vacant places. North has more spaces than South left, so he’s more likely to hold any given outstanding card – particularly the DA.

    So I go down via method (a). That is, I unaesthetically win the SK, cash 4 clubs ending on the board in case someone is tired or silly, then lead a diamond to the K.

    Of course, I’m a lucky guy so spades are 6-1 for me.

    • 11. Ben Thompson  |  May 8, 2009 at 1:10 pm

      Rereading my post, I realise I’ve been completely obtuse in stating what I do. IF I want to go down, I win the SK etc.

      if I want to make (which, by and large I do), I play North for the DA for the reason I gave, which means I duck the SK and play diamonds by playing to the J.

  • 12. khokan  |  May 7, 2009 at 12:47 pm

    Firstly, I’d treat the west hand as a balanced 20 count.

    Assuming the spades aren’t blocked eg north doesn’t holds J9 in spades, then:

    Winning the SK wins when south holds the DA.

    Ducking wins when south holds the DQ and north holds the DA.

    The edge in winning the SK comes when south holds both the DA and DQ.

    Therefore, I win the SK, go to dummy with a club and play a diamond to the king – I can’t see that holding the DA or DQ would have much influence on whether south doubles, so both these holdings are equally likely, to me.


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