It’s just odds…

December 1, 2009 at 4:12 pm 12 comments

It’s the Interstate. You are in 3NT by East on the lead of the ♦10. Your jack holds if you like. The opponents have passed throughout after West opened 1♠ and you responded 2♣. Oh, did I mention that you are vulnerable? Make and you’ll be playing the next set. Go down and it’s the dinner break that never ends.





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Entry filed under: declarer play.

When bridge was popular… It’s just odds…the answer

12 Comments Add your own

  • 1. andrew webb  |  December 3, 2009 at 11:40 am

    I’ve seen this hand before – my recollection is that the last time the CQ was doubleton offside; but I still can’t remember how to rationalise playing for that.

  • 2. Nigel Kearney  |  December 3, 2009 at 6:10 am

    I cash one top club, two top spades then finesse clubs if SQ doesn’t appear.

    Maybe it is too early in the morning but I’m having trouble finding an alternative that is sufficiently promising to make it worth working out the odds.

  • 3. neill  |  December 3, 2009 at 2:27 am

    Combining chances:
    Win the JD on table, club to the A, spade to the A, play the Spade K (praying for the Q to drop), if the Q hasn’t dropped take the club hook (if the Q doesn’t appear in front of me).
    What have I missed???

  • 4. Chris Mulley  |  December 2, 2009 at 2:47 pm

    I am going to premise all of this by saying that I will leave it to someone else to calculate the odds – I am going to go by gut feeling.

    That “gut feeling” is that in isolation it is very close between (CQ dropping or Q(x)(x) of spades onside) versus (SQ dropping or any CQ singleton or Qx(x) of clubs onside).

    We know that LHO probably has AQT9(x) of diamonds, but has not found a takeout double or some other action … and the opponents have a combined 18-count. To my mind, that increases the likelihood of suits breaking – LHO may well have found something to do with a black suit singleton and a fairly chunky diamond suit.

    As a result, I have talked myself into trying to drop the CQ and if that fails I will take a first round spade finesse.

    • 5. Chris Mulley  |  December 2, 2009 at 2:51 pm

      Maybe a should have done a bit of calculation … or at least thought; singleton QC has to be offside to help. I hope they are on autopilot and won’t drop the CQ from QT offside. It shouldn’t make any difference to my gut feeling, though, as either line is identical in this respect.

  • 6. Bill Jacobs  |  December 2, 2009 at 11:13 am

    club ace
    two top spades
    club finesse (if spades not good)

    I think this represents the best chance of making, combined with the most undertricks if the club finesse fails.

  • 7. Tony Tee  |  December 2, 2009 at 6:36 am

    Odds … schmodds … this looks like smirk and counter-smirk!

    CA – if both follow small then CK and if Q has not appeared finesse in spades.

    if South plays CQ under the Ace – is it (a) genuine or (b) from Q-T(-x)? Shades of Eddie Kantar! As a counter-smirk play – couldn’t stand the look on South’s face if it was case (b) – play CK anyway! If South started with Q-T-x I would now be very confident of the spade finesse being successful!

  • 8. Ben Thompson  |  December 2, 2009 at 6:28 am

    Losing the lead is obviously bad, so the aim is to maximize your chances to take 6 tricks in one of the blacks without losing the lead in the other.

    The 3 basic options are:
    1) cash top spades then hook clubs
    2) cash top clubs then hook spades
    3) screw that, hook CJ and cater for stiff C10 on your left; and if that doesn’t work, hook the spades

    Line 2 looks best to the naked eye because you’re trying to drop the short honour in your longest fit before plan B.

    In both 1) and 2) you should cash CA first in case CQ drops on your left. In 1) if the C10 drops, you might believe and switch to 2). I doubt people are faking the CQ at the table – they don’t know you don’t have 7, and they have no reason to believe partner’s potential count signal.

    Line 1) 47%
    – 3% to drop LHO’s CQ, then
    – 18% of the remainder in spades (short Q in 4-2 or 5-1) then
    – 34% of the remainder in clubs (half of the 3-2’s)

    Line 2) 49%
    – 3% to drop LHO’s CQ, then
    – 27% of the remainder in clubs (Qx) then
    – 28% of the remainder in spades (3-3/2-4/1-5 with the Q onside)

    Line 3) 41%
    – 37% in clubs (3-2 with Q onside or stiff 10 off) then
    – 28% of 13.2% (if the C finesse lost, you already went down)

    And line 2 (try to drop the CQ first) takes it by a short half-head.

    • 9. Chris Mulley  |  December 3, 2009 at 11:56 am

      I think you need to deduct the Qxxx(x) onside from line 2 – you need six spade tricks and you cannot repeat the finesse.

      • 10. Ben Thompson  |  December 3, 2009 at 1:17 pm

        I did. In round numbers…

        3-3 is 36%, Q onside is half of that – 18%
        2-4 is 24% (just the one way), Q onside is 1/3rd of that – 8%
        1-5 is 7.5% (again, just the one way), Q onside is just 1/6th of that – 1.25%

        The finesse is irrelevant in the 2-4 case, and doesn’t really happen in the 1-5 case, but they’re still wins.

        But I did mis-add – 27% is closer to the mark than 28%. Doesn’t have a big effect on the final odds, because this is a fraction of the final residual – it gets lost in the rounding.

      • 11. Chris Mulley  |  December 3, 2009 at 2:51 pm

        Ah yes – I misinterpreted the 2-4 as being either way, when it clearly is not.

  • 12. Chris Depasquale  |  December 1, 2009 at 11:48 pm

    Instinctively I play club to the A at trick 2, and cash the top 2 spades. Assuming the Q S doesn’t drop (if it does I am already home) I play a club to the J. The only time I will consider deviating from this line is if South drops the C Q at trick 2. In that case I will finesse C 9 at trick 5. If South has dropped C Q from QT doubleton I was always going off in this contract, but one of the points of making all the percentage plays is to get home when South started with C Q bare, so I’ll live with that. So with my line I will get to 9 tricks whenever the Q S falls within 2 rounds, whenever South has Q C bare and whenever North has Q C with 1 or 2 other clubs. I can’t imagine another line that goes close to this.

    When I stopped to think about it (mistake?) I started to wonder if it made any difference whether I used C A or C K at trick 2. Not having cashed a spade at trick 2 marks me with a singleton spade; if I play C K at trick 2 I might as well turn my cards face up, because North didn’t rise C A and fire a diamond through, so declarer must have C A. Essentially, by choosing between C A and C K at trick 2 I am going to play the card that will be more likely to induce South to drop C Q from Q x doubleton, and I think that must be the Ace, because if I turned my cards face up there is no way South would ditch the Q.


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