Long time….

March 19, 2010 at 10:12 pm 10 comments

Please see Jonathan’s comment below for the full story.

Wednesday. Sorry. My trusty steed has yet to deliver the details of this hand. But comments are now below. More tomorrow, I hope!

Update: we’ll have the denoument of this tomorrow, Wednesday. Sorry to all those who are patiently waiting to compare their comments!

Sorry, my life is a complete shambles, not least because my father’s been very ill and then died a few weeks ago, having found out in Canberra that things were coming to a head.

I make no promises as to the regularity of posting here for now, but still. Jonathan Mestel gave me an interesting declarer play the other day. I’ve spent a while looking at it and don’t have a clue…





2C…….4H……..5C…….All Pass

Not a word about the bidding, please! How else could you get to this interesting play problem. The opening lead is the HA under which South plays the queen. This might mean North has nine hearts, but might it also mean that South is unblocking from a doubleton?

What do you think?

I will suppress comments for now, and I might leave this up for a few days so that, with a bit of luck word gets around that we’re back in business here!


Entry filed under: declarer play. Tags: .

sorry… A situation you’ve never been in before.

10 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Jonathan  |  March 24, 2010 at 7:19 pm

    Thanks to all for these comments. The full hand was:


    It was Love all at IMPs.

    This elegant bidding sequence was duplicated at both tables.
    I was South and had a good two minutes to decide whether to unblock HQ or not. I elected not to as declarer ruffed with the 6.

    He continued CK, CJ, DA, CA and ran diamonds. I ruffed in led HQ and oh, how I wished I’d unblocked at trick 1.

    At the other table, South also didn’t unblock. Teammate crossed to hand with SK and finessed CJ. My hand won with the CQ and led a 2nd heart and again the contract rolled in. This was poor defence in my view. It looks natural to hold up CQ which keeps control and would set the contract even had declarer crossed to hand with DA, avoiding the S ruff as the cards lie.

    I was debating with myself whether I was wrong not to unblock HQ – this could easily cost if West held H J10x(x). But a less obvious downside of playing HQ is that it telegraphs the H split. As some of you point out, it is is fairly easy to exhaust my hand of hearts and concede two trump tricks. But this is less clearly best if hearts could be 7-3. The fact that so many of you think a 9-1 split is at all plausible is evidence that the unblock is unnatural.

    Not that the hand isn’t without traps. I don’t think Ben’s line works does it? On his line, or equivalently, say ruff small, DA, ruff a heart CK SK, CA and OOPS, South ruffs in the diamonds and knocks out SA rather than cashing CQ, and we never make the 5th diamond. If we exit with a low C as Ben suggests, again a S return is lethal. It seems we have to cross to hand twice in diamonds.

    Ruffing with CJ at trick 1, finessing C10 ruffing a 2nd heart and crossing to DA works well. Also discarding at trick 1 is nice,
    but you’d have to do these before seeing HQ.

    Thanks again for your comments. And good to have you back, Cathy. Sorry for delay in replying, I was waiting till I saw what you all said.


  • 2. Mikey1nt  |  March 23, 2010 at 6:52 am

    I think 9 hearts is more likely – why would South think to unblock hearts?

    That doesn’t help me much though. I’ll take the mama papa line and play North for 1912. Ruff. CK, CJ finesse. Then play for clubs 4-2 and to make 8 of the 9 tricks available in D, S and trumps = 11.

  • 3. Bill Jacobs  |  March 22, 2010 at 3:54 pm

    I won’t keep you long.

    Club jack. Club king, club to the 10, finessing.

    There are various things that could happen, but in all likelihood, I am going to be praying for hearts to be 9-1.

    I’ve never played for a 9-1 break before.

    Cheers … Bill Jacobs.

  • 4. Richard  |  March 22, 2010 at 2:34 am

    I’m sorry for your loss.

    I don’t know where to begin with this hand. I think I will assume 8 hearts, and a halfway decent trump break. But that still doesn’t leave much room for spades or diamonds in the North hand. I feel like any line I suggest will be complete guesswork.

  • 5. phil markey  |  March 21, 2010 at 7:49 pm

    well if i knew the vulnerability it would help but really what would help a heap is if i was sitting at the table – i mean i’m not sitting north with AKxxxxxxx and selling at this paltry level

    perhaps better though is how happy was south to pass ? – a good player with 5/6 betrays himself with added indifference whilst a weak player thinks before passing because he eventually figures doubling will give away the trump break

    i suspect its right to ruff hearts if the trumps are really bad and right to run the jack if they break ok

  • 6. Dave Memphis MOJO  |  March 21, 2010 at 4:02 pm

    Sorry to hear about your loss.

  • 7. Ben Thompson  |  March 21, 2010 at 10:56 am

    I ruff the opening lead then run CJ.

    Vulnerability would be useful information, but it’s inherently more likely that North has 8 hearts than 9.

    Anyway, if CJ wins, I’ll cater for South to have started with 2 hearts, so I cross to SK, ruff a heart with CK, cross to DA, cash CA and … there are a few ways to go from there, but the fun one is to play a 3rd club. That’s the pathway to 5 off if North is something like 3712 or 4702, but that’s very unlikely.

    If CJ loses, North could … play a C back (I claim), or play another big heart (I ruff, cross to SK, cash CA & 10 and claim unless D’s are 4-0 and C’s are 4-2 .. in which case I can ruff a spade and claim) or play a S or D (I win, cash CK, play the other side suit to hand, cash CA & 10 and claim unless C’s are 5-1, in which case I do some fiddling to salvage as many tricks as possible)

  • 8. Chris Depasquale  |  March 20, 2010 at 10:02 pm

    Amazingly, I had this hand in a tournament recently. South’s distribution was 3-4-3-3, so I simply ruffed a heart, crossed to a diamond, ruffed another heart, cashed K C, crossed to hand, played Ace and another club and claimed 11. After racking up the score I severely chastised my partner for his bidding.

    After the interval I got dealt exactly the same hand and ended in exactly the same contract, after exactly the same bidding. Imagine my shock when my partner put down the identical East hand! After the bidding discussion we had just an hour earlier!! I guess that’s why we call him “Dummy”!!!

    Anyway, the second time I played the hand, Jonathon Mestel was sitting South, so I naturally assumed he would have 2-1-4-6 distribution. I ruffed the first heart, cashed 4 diamonds and two spades, then exited a heart from hand discarding one of dummy’s spades. South ruffed and led a club, and when North showed out I claimed. So the contract is completely cold whatever the distribution. I suspect the hand has been introduced here so people can discuss why Dummy bid the same way twice.

  • 9. Khokan  |  March 20, 2010 at 9:39 pm

    On further reflection, and some tips from Cathy, line 2 might be better as it caters to hearts being 8-2 and clubs 4-2, as south won’t have a third heart.

  • 10. Khokan  |  March 20, 2010 at 1:14 pm

    I won’t say anything about the bidding, but……

    It looks as though north has nine hearts. If that’s the case, then you need some luck and good guessing. After ruffing the heart on the table, I would run the CJ. This seems better that cashing the CK first, as there is some chance to make if north holds the CQ. This way, I hope to restrict my losers to one heart and one club.

    The alternative line of ruffing two hearts and playing for clubs 3-3, or doubleton Q, and using the DA and SK as entries figures to fail.


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