Combine your chances

By Barry Rigal

 

While a fair percentage of the E-W field reached 4S on this deal, with mixed success, 2S was a sensible partscore.

 

S J 10 4

Dlr: West H A 10 4

Vul:N-S D J 8 2

C A 10 8 4

 

S 8 5 S A K 7 6 3 2

H Q 5 H 8 3

D K 10 9 6 D A Q 3

C K Q 9 3 2 C J 7

 

S Q 9

H K J 9 7 6 2

D 7 5 4

C 6 5

 

The C6 was the usual lead from South, and declarer usually put up the king to muddy the waters. When North takes the ace, he has the problem of whether to play for a ruff or to cash the hearts. It looks reasonable to return a club, I think.

 

Now declarer takes the CJ and has to decide what to do next. Obviously he has two potential winners in dummy for his heart losers. If diamonds are 3-3 he might emerge with 11 tricks, but if he plays for 11 he might finish with only nine winners. For example, if he tests diamonds and the suit is 4-2, he might not get the club discard in time.

 

The best play is to enlist the opposition's help by leading the DQ before cashing the SA-K. Both defenders can be relied on to give count, assuring their partner has the DA, and when the suit seems to be 3-3, declarer can cash the top spades, unblock the diamonds and follow up with the CQ. When the same hand is long in both black suits, declarer can get both his hearts away for a valuable extra trick.

 

 

 

The paths of glory

By Barry Rigal

 

They lead but to the grave, as the poet says. The first round of the tournament often is a good indication of how the event will go. This Board was a clue that the gods would not be running my way.

 

S A 7 6 2

Dlr: West H 10 8 5 2

Vul: None D A 9

C K 10 2

 

S J 8 4 3 S 10

H Q 9 7 6 4 3 H --

D K D Q J 10 8 6 5 2

C Q 9 C 7 6 5 4 3

 

S K Q 9 5

H A K J

D 7 4 3

C A J 8

 

WEST NORTH EAST SOUTH

Katz Rigal Levin Schneider

Pass Pass 4D Dbl

Pass 4H All Pass

 

Four hearts by North is not such an unreasonable spot, is it? Of course on a top diamond lead the suit was known to be 7-1, which made my chances decent. I led a heart from hand -- ugh!!! Not to worry I would still be well placed if the spades were 3-2. I put in the heart jack and Katz won to return another heart. I cashed the top hearts and prepared to cash the spade king and play a spade to the ace. I intended to cash the heart 10 and play winners. Sooner or later West would ruff

and be endplayed in clubs.

 

The 4-1 spade split was a blow, but the stiff spade 10 gave me chances. Since Levin was known to be 7-5, I could hope to cash three clubs with the aid of the finesse. Again Katz could ruff in but would be endplayed to lead a spade into the tenace. Alas!!! When Katz turned up with the doubleton club queen I was one down. The spade endplay still held my losses to minus 50, but it was yet another case of what might have been!

 

 

What's the worst game contract you've ever seen? Well, this one has to come mighty close.

 

S J 10 9 4

Dlr: South H A 5

Vul: None D A 10 9 5

C 8 4 3

 

S A 8 5 S Q 7 3

H Q J 10 8 7 3 H 4 2

D K 3 2 D 6

C A C K 10 9 7 6 5 2

 

S K 6 2

H K 9 6

D Q J 8 7 4

C Q J

 

You have three top losers in aces and kings, not to mention a couple of finesses. Well, consider five diamonds. All you need is a 7-1 club split with West holding the stiff ace -- not too much to ask for, is it? Then on a top club lead and a heart shift you win in hand, draw trumps with the aid of the finesse, and take the spade finesse. So long as the spade queen is onside and the suit splits 3-3, you can dispose of your club loser on the fourth spade. How likely is the game to make? Well, a conservative estimate comes to .005%. And of course if all that comes home, your partner will point out that 3NT would have fetched plus 430!

 

 

 

Two for the book

By Barry Rigal

 

Michael Rosenberg is known to be technically superb but his game has more dimensions that that. It's a fact that tends to be overlooked when he plays with Zia.

 

It was Zia, however, who reported these hands to the Daily Bulletin. That's just what a good player needs -- an admiring partner. Of course, this also gives the Bulletin a chance to plug Michael's new book -- buy a copy now!

 

S A Q J 8 2

H K 9

D 10 4

C J 8 7 3

 

S K 6 S 9 5 3

H 8 4 3 H A Q 10 6

D A 7 6 5 D J 9 3

C Q 6 5 2 C K 10 9

 

S 10 7 4

H J 7 5 2

D K Q 8 2

C A 4

 

North found himself in 3S after an aggressive auction. He won the opening trump lead and played a diamond to dummy's king. When it held, he led a heart to his king and East's ace. Now it looks as if declarer is a step ahead in the game to establish a heart trick. But Rosenberg (East) returned the H10.

 

Declarer decided to play Zia for SQxx and ducked. Now Rosenberg played a low heart to Zia's 8, ruffed by declarer. Declarer next tried two rounds of clubs. Rosenberg won his king and switched back to a spade. With the DA offside, declarer was dead.

 

Now put yourself in the West seat with John Sutherlin, holding:

 

S Q63, H Q6, D 2, C AQT9832

 

WEST NORTH EAST SOUTH

- - 1S 2H

3C 5S Dbl 5NT (1)

6S 7H Pass Pass

?

 

(1) Exclusion Blackwood, implying a spade void.

 

This was the complete deal:

 

Dlr: East S J 8

Vul: Both H 10 9 4 2

D A K Q J 10 8 7

C --

 

S Q 6 3 S A K 9 7 4 2

H Q 6 H 7

D 2 D 9 6 4

C A Q 10 9 8 3 2 C K J 7

 

S 10 5

H A K J 8 5 3

D 5 3

C 6 5 4

 

Sutherlin passed and led the CA. Wouldn't you?

 

 

 

Off on the right footing

By Barry Rigal

 

One of my few superstitions is the first board of a new partnership. My record in all my successful ventures has been to bid and make a slam.

 

When I sat down with Brian Platnick, I held:

S A874, H QT76, D KT73, C 5

 

and heard this auction:

 

WEST NORTH EAST SOUTH

- Platnick - Rigal

- - 1S Pass

2C Pass 3H Pass

4C Pass 4NT (1) Pass

5C (2) Pass 5NT Pass

6C (3) Pass 7NT Dbl

All Pass

 

(1) Roman Key Card Blackwood for clubs.

(2) Zero or three key cards.

(3) No kings.

 

This was the full deal:

 

Dlr: North S 10 5 3

Vul: E-W H 9 8 5 4 2

D A 9 5

C K 6

 

S 2 S K Q J 9 6

H -- H A K J 3

D Q J 8 6 2 D 4

C 10 8 7 5 4 3 2 C A Q 9

 

S A 8 7 4

H Q 10 7 6

D K 10 7 3

C J

 

I led a mundane SA and shifted to a heart, allowing declarer to win cheaply. Declarer cashed the CA and exited with the queen. Brian cashed our remaining top winners for plus 1100.

 

Our opponents were falling off their chairs with laughter -- I wish I could deal with disasters that well.

 

 

We moved on to the next deal:

 

Dlr: East S A J 5 3

Vul: Both H A K Q 10 9

D 8 6 4

C 4

 

S 9 S Q 8 7 4 2

H 5 4 H 2

D Q 5 D K J 10 7 2

C J 10 8 7 6 5 3 2 C A K

 

S K 10 6

H J 8 7 6 3

D A 9 3

C Q 9

 

WEST NORTH EAST SOUTH

- Platnick - Rigal

- - 1S Pass

Pass Dbl Pass 2H

Pass 4H All Pass

 

 

West had obviously learned her lesson but she zigged instead of zagged -- 5C is a good save. Of course, 10 tricks were easy in hearts -- the question was whether East-West could hold me to plus 620.

 

After the spade lead, I could win cheaply in hand, draw trumps and knock out the club. The defense shifted to a diamond but I ducked and won the diamond continuation. After ruffing a club, I ran the trumps for a spade-diamond squeeze.

 

The final board that gave me problems was this:

 

S --, H K872, D Q72, C KQJ984

 

Vulnerable against not, you open 1C in second seat (it goes against the grain to pass, doesn't it?) and the auction continues:

 

WEST NORTH EAST SOUTH

- - Pass 1C

Dbl 1H Pass 2H

2S 3D Dbl 4C

Pass 4H Pass Pass

4S Pass Pass 5H

Dbl All Pass

 

This was the full deal:

Dlr: East S A 7 5

Vul: N-W H Q 6 5 4 3

D A 6 4

C 10 2

S K Q J 10 9 S 8 6 4 3 2

H A J 10 H 9

D K 10 3 D J 9 8 5

C A 6 C 7 5 3

S --

H K 8 7 2

D Q 7 2

C K Q J 9 8 4

 

There was good news and bad news. The bad news was that despite partner's five-card heart holding, the 3-1 split and the unfortunate spot cards meant we had two trump losers. The wasted SA was an almost irrelevant discard.

 

The good news: when East led a spade at trick one, partner had time to play a heart to the queen and drive out the CA. The defense did not have time to set up a diamond trick and we escaped for minus 200.

 

Even better news: with the DQ onside, there was no way to beat 4S. Our teammates duly collected plus 590 for a win on the board.

 

Active ethics

By Barry Rigal

An appropriate subtitle for this article might be "Nice Guy Award." Board 18 of the first session of the Open Pairs qualifying was our last deal -- and if you want to know why we had only 48%, the following will show you. I was West.

N/S Vul. Dealer East.

 

S 6
H J8
D T3
C KJT98765


S K3 S A852
H A32 H T94
D J8654 D AKQ9
C AQ4 C 32

S QJT974
H KQ765
D 72
C --

WEST NORTH EAST SOUTH
1NT (1) 2S
2NT (2) 3C Pass 3H
Dbl 4C Pass Pass
Dbl All Pass

(1) 11-14.
(2) By agreement, showing five clubs.

After a defense consistent with my bidding, I let declarer out for minus 500, although the score was still worth 75% of the matchpoints on the board. Jeff Polisner, one of our opponents, raised a vague eyebrow about the auction but just
said, "It didn't make any difference, we would have bid the hand just the same way. --that it is to say equally badly, with the right information."
Thanks, Jeff.