Did South do anything wrong? by Alan Truscott


Ken Barbour was West and I was East in the following layout:


                         Dlr: South, Vul: N-S


                            S  A 10 6 2

                            H  A K Q 9 5 2

                            D  A 6

                            C  10

           S  K 9 7 4                       S  Q J 3

           H  J 10 7 3                      H  8 4

           D  J 8 3                         D  K 10 7 2

           C  7 3                           C  Q J 9 6

                            S  8 5

                            H  6

                            D  Q 9 5 4

                            C  A K 8 5 4 2


           WEST         NORTH         EAST         SOUTH

            -            -             -           Pass

           Pass         1H            Pass         2C

           Pass         2S            Pass         3C

           Pass         3H            Pass         3NT

           All Pass


A diamond was led and ducked to the king. East returned the CQ, seriously damaging South's communications. South won with the ace and played the top hearts. He then cashed the DA and led a fourth heart, leaving West on lead in this position:


                            S  A 10 6 2

                            H  9 5

                            D  ---

                            C  ---

              S  K 9 7 4                S  Q J 3

              H  ---                    H  ---

              D  J                      D  ---

              C  7                      C  J 9 6

                            S  8 5

                            H  ---

                            D  Q 9

                            C  K 8


West could have led the SK, providing for a singleton honor in the South hand, but that seemed unlikely. He did the best he could to deal with the actual layout by leading the S9. This was covered with the 10 and jack, and when the queen was led South could not escape defeat.


We were pleased with our defense. But could South have done better?


In the ending South should not have wasted dummy's S10. He could have survived by winning the SA, cashing one heart  (preferably not two) and leading a low spade.


But the main problem came in the original planning. South should have won the first trick with the DA and played hearts. This would have preserved his communications and guaranteed nine tricks, barring a terrible heart split. As it was, after winning the second trick, it would have been wise to cash the second club winner.



A spot of torture -- tortured by spots by Alan Truscott


My team was only 9 IMPs behind the top-seeded Mike Levine team going into the final session of the Senior Knockout semifinal. The fourth deal was a turning-point.


                         Dlr: East, Vul: Both


                            S  A J 8 4

                            H  A K 10 6

                            D  9 5

                            C  Q 9 8

           S  K 10 3 2                     S  7

           H  J 9 7 3                      H  Q 8 5 4

           D  8 7                          D  A K Q 10 6 2

           C  K 7 3                        C  10 2

                            S  Q 9 6 5

                            H  2

                            D  J 4 3

                            C  A J 6 5 4


           WEST         NORTH         EAST         SOUTH

            -            -            1D           Pass

           1H           Pass          4H           Pass

           Pass         Dbl           Pass         4S

           Dbl          All Pass


East and West were using a Precision-type system in which the opening was limited to about 15 points and the 1H response to about 10 points. East's surprising leap to 4H was based on the expectation that 4H would have some play and that he would shut out the opponents' likely spade fit. He proved to be wrong on both counts.


North's double was intended to be for penalties, and he would probably have collected 500. But South was unsure and tried 4S. West doubled, not wishing to hear any more about hearts, and led a diamond.


Three diamond plays would have forced the dummy and insured a one-trick defeat. But South threw the DJ quickly, and after taking two winners East was unsure about the location of the last diamond. He shifted to the C10, and Chuck Said, as South, took full advantage of the opportunity.


He won with the ace and led the SQ, covered by the king and ace. South cashed two heart winners, throwing his remaining diamond, and ruffed a heart to reach this position:


                            S  J 8 4

                            H  10

                            D  --

                            C  Q 9

              S  10 3 2                  S  --

              H  J                       H  Q

              D  --                      D  K 10 6 2

              C  K 7                     C  2

                            S  9 6

                            H  --

                            D  --

                            C  J 6 5 4


South led a low club, and as West I inspected the position and searched in vain for a way out. I was tortured by the spade spots. If I took the CK, South would unblock the queen. Then my S10 would be trapped whether I returned a heart, a club or a trump. After a club return, for example, South would win and lead a trump for a finesse, with the CJ as the next winner for South to trap West.


If West does not cover the SQ, the play is similar. South takes the top hearts, throwing a diamond, and ruffs a heart. Again, a low club is led and West has no escape.


I congratulated Said on his excellent play. His team gained 12 IMPs when they might have lost 8, and was on the way to victory in the semifinal and, eventually, the event.