Four spades play problem continued

June 10, 2009 at 1:27 pm 17 comments

VCC Women’s
Round 3

Board 6
Dlr East
EW Vul









4S………All Pass

Opening lead: D9

Okay….I won the DQ and ran a spade. So too did Phil Markey when given the problem over breakfast during the VCC.

But maybe the person with the best answer is Andrew Mill. He said it is completely ridiculous to get inside the head of this 3D bidder, as it is clearly a completely insane bid whatever she has. Giving her something like you’d have, or we’d have, for other people who answered this, is pointless. We aren’t even on the same planet as she. Therefore, he said, you simply play the hand the right sensible way you’d do with no auction. Cash two spades and claim when you can. How well would that have worked?

This match was a complete disaster for my partnership, we got four VPs. To our credit at the end of the day, which was four rounds, despite this result we were in third place.

It’s remarkable how easy it is to come out of a 14 board match with 4 VPs. There was, for example, a hand which we played the wrong way up (ie South took North’s cards etc). If I’d held partner’s cards I would have chosen a different way to bid her hand and we would have played 4S the right way up instead of the wrong way. Then again, we got to 4H with a 4-4 fit:



Unfortunately my partner didn’t know to play a heart to the nine. I imagine almost nobody in the field did (sorry girls, if you are reading this), but still, it would have been handy if I’d gotten to play it.

A few results like that and voila. You’ve been decimated and you’re calling for more boards. Please? Just a few more boards….


Entry filed under: declarer play.

Four spade play problem Rebid problem

17 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Tony  |  June 11, 2009 at 3:03 pm

    One reason for their delayed action is that they may have no convienient way to introduce diamonds at the two-level after an opposing 1NT opening. I know I don’t. Thus perhaps they have a hand with reasonable defence vs 1NT but not to 2S.

  • 2. Michael Ware  |  June 11, 2009 at 9:47 am

    Hi Cathy,

    If you are looking for an argument to get this hand right, I can provide it. Maybe its a bit post-mortem-ish, but actually I quite like it.

    Just because someone can make an insane bid doesn’t mean they don’t make sane bids as well. Thus on this hand, North is known to have 2+ spades and the percentage play is now to cash Ace, King of spades and run diamonds.

    Why is North known to have 2+ spades? After the QD drops the Jack, we know North has 6 diamonds. Now because if they also had 4+ hearts they would have doubled or bid something else they have a maximum of 3H. The same logic applies to clubs – they have a maximum of 3 as with 4+ clubs they would have bid 2NT for the minors – especially with such great suit disparity. And lastly with 1363 they would have doubled 2S for takeout – again because of suit quality. Thus they have 2+ spades.

    • 3. cathychua  |  June 11, 2009 at 10:40 am

      Well, I don’t agree at all with this argument. Doubling 2S with a 1363 sounds like complete insanity to me. What exactly are you planning to do over 3H doubled??? Personally I don’t like 2N with a 6-4 either. I’d rather just try the six card suit…I’m sure others will disagree with me, it is only my blog, after all. One of the huge dangers with doubling 2S (rather than 2H) or bidding 2NT is that the next hand gets to say, ‘yum, yum, double or redouble’, which will be MUCH harder to do over your 3D on a six card suit….

      • 4. khokan  |  June 11, 2009 at 11:18 am

        It’s not so hard to double 3D if your partnership has agreements about these auctions. Matthew Thomson and I had an agreement that double is takeout, which makes bidding over 3D considerably easier. While you might lose out when the transferer has a penalty double, this is far less frequent than a hand with relative shortage and values to compete to the 3-level, at least.

        • 5. cathychua  |  June 11, 2009 at 12:14 pm

          Yes, I’m not suggesting it is impossible, but offering a free redouble over 2S doubled, or a free double over 2NT have got to be worse options for the intrepid bidder, all the same.

      • 6. Chris Mulley  |  June 11, 2009 at 11:21 am

        I agree with you regarding bidding the 6-card suit most of the time. Six small diamonds take tricks in diamonds … some of the time, anyway. AK(x)(x) of clubs is good for two tricks in most things, so there is no need to play in that suit. It’s where I have softer values in the shorter suits and hard values in the 6-card suit that I consider introducing the other suit(s). On this hand I don’t even have to worry that partner might lead a diamond against something.

    • 7. Chris Mulley  |  June 11, 2009 at 5:24 pm

      Mike, I think there is a logical flaw in your argument. Anyone who pre-balances with the system that you suggest should have learned through experience that holdings like Qx(x) in the opponent’s suit leads to over-balancing and writing down -800 a lot. Geoffo (Pocock) taught us early that sometimes your system is there to protect you from yourself.

  • 8. Khokan Bagchi  |  June 10, 2009 at 9:40 pm

    I’m with Bill in that I reckon this damage is, at least partly, self inflicted – I’d have passed 3NT.

    • 9. Jonathan Mestel  |  June 10, 2009 at 10:54 pm

      Not as quickly as you’d have passed 3Dx!

    • 10. cathychua  |  June 11, 2009 at 7:35 am

      Yes, I thought hard about passing 3NT but I was worried that we had too much in diamonds – on the auction partner’s partial diamond stopper is not a surprise. And I am correct in this. We are off an entire suit, even though it happens to be blocked.

  • 11. Jonathan Mestel  |  June 10, 2009 at 7:28 pm

    When a good player shows you a hand they went down on, it’s very bad manners to do other than emulate their line. Here in the UK, I and others I asked are ever so polite, apart from one of them who didn’t notice the auction. And he apologised politely afterwards.

    AQ9x xxxx

    Is it better to play to the 9 or to cash the ace and play to the Q
    if no honour appears? (I’m assuming you could survive 4-1 breaks generically and have enough entries etc).

    Playing to the 9 loses against 10,J,K,K10,KJ over you, making
    5 holdings in all.

    Playing the Ace loses to J10, Kx (2 holdings), x (2 holdings)
    Also 5 holdings. Looks pretty close unless I’ve forgotten some.
    I’m sure you’re right on the actual hand. I’m just musing about 6NT.

    I assume your partner played to the Q, losing to
    Kx, KJ, K10, any stiff which looks like 9 holdings.

    • 12. Jonathan Mestel  |  June 10, 2009 at 7:37 pm

      Whoops last line should read 7 holdings (stiff J or 10 is ok).

      • 13. Jonathan Mestel  |  June 10, 2009 at 8:21 pm

        …and I suppose I should consider the 5-0 break when we want to play to the 9. So yes, low to the 9 is right. You all knew this.

        A few months ago, I was thinking about something like this
        having just tabled a rather weak dummy. When partner repeated
        her call for a card, I said

        “Sorry, I was thinking about another hand.”

        She retorted “I see – did *that* one have any values?”

  • 14. phil markey  |  June 10, 2009 at 2:55 pm

    i dont see how andrews point applies to this hand – north has diamonds and after you see the jack at trick 1 its almost certainly 6 diamonds

    if there was no opposition bidding and god happened to tell you at the end of trick 1 that north held 6 diamonds but nothing else about the hand then i think running a spade as played is right

    its a common mistake for an expert to figure that a non expert cant have X because thats not what an expert would have – i think its usually a worse mistake for an expert to assume that a non expert has taken an “insane” action that cant be sensibly understood

    • 15. jill magee  |  June 10, 2009 at 4:42 pm

      ok then. assuming the north action to be sane: the hand has failed to bid a single or 2 suiter immediately, indicating a lack of extreme shape to their hand; dummy comes down and it is clear that the quality of norths D suit is lacking, esp when south flies with the Jack. given these 2 factors, possible sane explanations include: north had their hand missorted initially and found a 6th diamond belatedly, north has a yarborough and is trying to preempt a slam, but they likely would have done that off the bat, or thirdly north holds some compensatory hcp values to stick their neck on the chopping block at the 3-level during a live auction, (even tho these values arent really working). i like the missorting theory, however, If you assume option 3, the values theory, and infer from the opening lead that north is unlikely to hold both the ace and king of clubs (even tho that turned out not to be so), wouldnt that place them with 1 or more likely both of the missing queens so they are 50% or more to hold the queen of spades hence finesse them? im just joking and of course this is sophistry– in the real world no one is finding that line of play.

      • 16. Chris Mulley  |  June 10, 2009 at 5:36 pm

        I disagree that this is a live auction – this auction is half dead because East is a passed hand. Certainly given the strong NT opening it is more dangerous than normal, but how is this auction different to an auction that goes (1S) – P – (2S) – ?; they can still have the values for game on that auction as well, and yet many people play OBAR BIDS (Opponents Bid And Raise Balance In Direct Seat) in that sequence?

        As with Phil, I prefer the explanation that involves North not having “forgotten” to bid last time, but having a hand where they could not take a legitimate action last time. To me, that argues in favour of a hand which did not have the values and/or suit quality to take an action last time but is acting now for good reason (6 diamonds and/or spade shortage). Either of those reasons justifies running the SJ.

        I don’t think the 3D bid is necessarily insane on the auction – give me a hand like x QJx 98xxxx AQx and I am likely to find the same 3D bid (although I might double instead) and I would swing D9 if on lead with that hand.

        If I am presuming they would always swing a club honour from any holding of AK, can I presume they know enough that holdings like Qxx and Qx in spades are a waste of HCP in the auction, and therefore would be considered as irrelevant to the delayed overcall … or even make such an overcall less likely?

  • 17. jill magee  |  June 10, 2009 at 1:43 pm

    its funny — i was just about to submit a hypothetical devils advocate palooka solution, assuming this was from the womens. given the insane, delayed interfering bid, i was giving north 5D and 4H with Qx or Q singleton spade, and Kx or Kxx or Ax/ Axx of clubs, assuming she could not have ak of clubs or would have led it. i was going to win D lead in hand and play spades up to dummy.

    i was just about to press the submit button but i deleted the solution 5 minutes ago at the last minute, deciding it would be too embarrassing for me to suggest even as an idiot hypothetical.

    the true solution surpassed my wildest dreams.


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