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Plan play in 1NT

#1 User is offline   pescetom 

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Posted 2022-May-07, 12:53

MP


Matchpoint tournaments can hinge upon insignificant and insidious deals, like this one which was passed out by a few wiser souls.
Most ended up in 1NT like you.
West leads 4 ("probably fourth of four or more, but it's years since we played together") and East plays A and returns T.
How do you proceed and with what expectations, hopes and fears?
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#2 User is offline   LBengtsson 

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Posted 2022-May-07, 20:16

This is a good hand to post as 1NT is a difficult contract to make most times. My first priority is to make the contract obviously as other tables will probably have passed out this hand. It has 9 losing tricks despite its 2+1/2 quick tricks so I would not open this hand in 2/1 myself. I like that the opps. have not overcalled 1 here, but the danger is that you could lose 2 + 2 + 3 if the opps. get the defense right.

Timing is all here. I am tempted to cover the 10 with the J but that just feels the wrong move. I will go up with K and play on suit hoping for split honors while I have entries in the suit. I need just one of the red suits to split 3-3 to get to seven tricks before they get to their seven.

Edit: I had to smile :) as no one else has tried to answer this problem in the last 9 hours. My line might be wrong, but when some problem hand appears (especially in play or defense) - and I have noticed this more than once on here - there seems to be reluctance to provide comments. It is a very good hand that pescetom has posted. I think there is no wrong or right answer to the problem as it all depends on how the opps. hands are shaped, and what honors they have. It is so difficult to calculate at trick 2, especially not knowing what carding the opps. play. All I have seen as declarer is 4 points A out of a possible 20 the opps. hold. I assume that the Q is on my left due to the lead, so that adds up to 6 points total but still the other 14 points have to be somewhere, and we know that both East/West did not have the values for an overcall or a balancing bid here. Trying to establish the exact hand shapes for this contract to be made at trick 2 is so, so difficult. And the vulnerability is a clue here also, because the opps. would need slightly better hands to intervene. I welcome other players ideas...
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#3 User is offline   AL78 

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Posted 2022-May-08, 06:08

I wouldn't have opened the South hand either but given I was forced to open, I'd cover the ten and plan to lead hearts towards the QJ when I get in. I hope to scrape seven tricks but the given hand layout means extremely accurate defence is required to avoid giving anything away. Looks liks spades are 4-3 given the lack of an overcall, and if they attack spades, they will set up a high spot card eventually.
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#4 User is offline   pescetom 

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Posted 2022-May-08, 06:50

View PostAL78, on 2022-May-08, 06:08, said:

I wouldn't have opened the South hand either but given I was forced to open...
...
Looks liks spades are 4-3 given the lack of an overcall

Dealer was N not S, sorry - now corrected in OP.
Our own spades are 4-3.
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#5 User is offline   AL78 

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Posted 2022-May-08, 08:33

View Postpescetom, on 2022-May-08, 06:50, said:

Dealer was N not S, sorry - now corrected in OP.
Our own spades are 4-3.


Sorry, in that case even lower chance one of them has five.
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#6 User is offline   mikeh 

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Posted 2022-May-08, 09:01

It appears that clubs are 5-3, and that west has Q9xxx. It has to be wrong to win the king, since east will usually get in again and then a third club letís west run the suit. Not only is that 4 club losers but what do we pitch from dummy? Btw, regardless of which club we play are trick 2, we have to plan our discards now. As I note below, winning trick 2 with the king almost always dooms the contract.

If we assume 4 diamond tricks, either because they break 3-3 or because the Jack drops, we have 6 tricks and need only one more.

Put in the Jack of clubs. Now if west errs and plays a third club, we take two club tricks.

A competent west knows not to play a third clubÖ.so what does he play instead? Btw, I pitch a heart from dummy.

My plan is to play towards the heart QJ twice.

My expectation is that my line will dissuade them from playing on spades. I expect east to win the first heart and to play his last club, on which Iíll pitch a spade. Then, having won my club King, Iíll play another heart. West can run his clubs but the means Iíve set up my heart trick and theyíve not tackled spades.

This line does depend on what west plays at trick 3. If he plays a spade, Iím almost always down, but thatís why I pitch a heart at trick 2. That spade suit will look dangerous to west, who rates to hold an honour. Give me Hxx, where the H is the Jack or higher, and a spade switch from Hx(x) or HHx would be very bad.

Note that if we win the king at trick 2 and pitch a heart, then east wins the next trick, they run the clubs forcing three more pitches from dummy before weíve set up the heart. If we stiff the spade ace they switch to spades with a heart entry!

If they do play spades at trick 3, I have to hope for misdefence. I duck, win the next club and lead another spade, hoping that they donít work out my red honour location. But Iím being forced to make discards from dummy and canít afford two hearts. So I donít see much hope. However, Iíd be very surprised at a spade switch.

Finally, note that east almost surely doesnít hold both heart honours. AAK is enough for most to bid, and the odds are high that he has a spade card as well.
'one of the great markers of the advance of human kindness is the howls you will hear from the Men of God' Johann Hari
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#7 User is offline   LBengtsson 

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Posted 2022-May-08, 11:09

View Postmikeh, on 2022-May-08, 09:01, said:

It appears that clubs are 5-3, and that west has Q9xxx. It has to be wrong to win the king, since east will usually get in again and then a third club letís west run the suit. Not only is that 4 club losers but what do we pitch from dummy? Btw, regardless of which club we play are trick 2, we have to plan our discards now. As I note below, winning trick 2 with the king almost always dooms the contract.


Your analysis is always excellent, mikeh, however can we be sure that West has Q9xxx? If East has A10x what would be correct card to play on the 4 lead from your partner. The A looks right but it might be best to keep communication with partner open, or if declarer has KQ(xx) I agree it is more likely that West has the 9 from the law of restricted choice and that West has probably led from a 5 card suit as opposed to one with four clubs.
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#8 User is offline   mikeh 

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Posted 2022-May-08, 12:52

View PostLBengtsson, on 2022-May-08, 11:09, said:

Your analysis is always excellent, mikeh, however can we be sure that West has Q9xxx? If East has A10x what would be correct card to play on the 4 lead from your partner. The A looks right but it might be best to keep communication with partner open, or if declarer has KQ(xx) I agree it is more likely that West has the 9 from the law of restricted choice and that West has probably led from a 5 card suit as opposed to one with four clubs.

I suppose it is remotely possible that east has A109x or A109 in clubs. However a club lead from Q6xx(x) or worse would seem unlikely (especially a 4 card suit). If he has A109 then we may eventually score our second club winner anyway. While our 1C opening didnít promise long clubs, the 1N rebid strengthens the likelihood that we have real clubsÖon some hands with short clubs we would be raising hearts.

As for the correct card from A10x at trick one, it is, imo, 100% to play the Ace. Give partner KJ942 and see how partner likes your communication preserving 10😀. Meanwhile, if he has Q9xxx, entirely likely, ducking gains nothing even assuming that partner ethically reads the situation, perhaps by you playing some smith echo or, more likely, you winning the next defensive trick. Note that most defenders, if considering the 10 from A10x, are likely to break tempo, thus conveying illegal information to partner. However, the A is technically superior in all cases. The exception would be a hand where you do not expect partner to have any side entries which is clearly inapplicable on the auction and dummy.
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#9 User is offline   pescetom 

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Posted 2022-May-09, 05:32

Thanks to LBengtsson for having the courage to break the ice B-) and to mikeh for his great analysis.

South covered T with J covered by Q, discarding a spade from dummy.
Now as mikeh feared, West led K.
South covered with A and crossed to hand in diamonds to play to Q.
Do all agree?

I'll post the full hand and some comments this evening.
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#10 User is offline   mikeh 

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Posted 2022-May-09, 06:59

View Postpescetom, on 2022-May-09, 05:32, said:

Thanks to LBengtsson for having the courage to break the ice B-) and to mikeh for his great analysis.

South covered T with J covered by Q, discarding a spade from dummy.
Now as mikeh feared, West led K.
South covered with A and crossed to hand in diamonds to play to Q.
Do all agree?

I'll post the full hand and some comments this evening.

No. As I explained, I think it an error to pitch a spade. But Iíve no choice now but to play for a miracle. Maybe clubs are 4=4 and west has A109x. I suspect itís impossible to know whether keeping all the spades would have prevented the switch.
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#11 User is offline   pescetom 

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Posted 2022-May-09, 12:41

View Postmikeh, on 2022-May-09, 06:59, said:

No. As I explained, I think it an error to pitch a spade. But Iíve no choice now but to play for a miracle. Maybe clubs are 4=4 and west has A109x. I suspect itís impossible to know whether keeping all the spades would have prevented the switch.

I agree it was an error to pitch a spade rather than a heart. My question was more if now anyone would do anything other than raise with the Ace and cross to play a heart.
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#12 User is offline   pescetom 

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Posted 2022-May-10, 10:04

So here is the full hand as promised.

MP


As can be seen, on the actual layout South could do nothing to take a seventh trick once West found the spades switch.
From that point of view maybe it would have been better to present this as a defence play problem (only this EW pair managed to set the contract) although the choices of South are still interesting.
But what struck me after discussing this hand with South and other players was the variation in depth of insight given the same information: I was intrigued to see what experts might be able to read into the same hand, and mikeh gave a humbling demonstration of that.
The only tip I feel authorised to give others in this respect is to hunt out the old "How to read your opponents' cards" by Mike Lawrence, which was an eye-opener for me.
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#13 User is offline   mikeh 

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Posted 2022-May-10, 11:53

Looking at west’s hand, I think the spade King should be fairly easy to find after winning the club Queen (south covers the 10 with the Jack). KJx or QJx or Hx(x) would all be far more difficult to find.

It’s not as if he has any good options, and he’s not giving declarer anything he can’t get himself, should declarer hold the Jack. East could have A108 in clubs, when a club continuation is best, but that seems a long shot.

A diamond could be fatal…picture south with A9x.

A heart gives up a tempo, although it rates to be ‘safe’ in that declarer would probably pitch a diamond if his red suits were, say, Kxx Axx.

Once he switches to the spade King, south is in trouble but he’s not necessarily down yet. He ducks.

Now what? West knows east has the spade Jack….possibly even J9xx….so he may continue the suit. Now declarer makes.

If west plays a low spade, declarer rises with the Ace and exits the suit. All ew take are two spades, two hearts and two clubs. Declarer score a club, 4 diamonds and two spades.

If west continues with the spade queen, declarer ducks.

Best defence is to switch to hearts after the spade king holds. This should be possible….if declarer held say Axx Axx in the reds, he’d almost surely pitch a diamond rather than a heart at trick two.

But defence is tough. Indeed, I think defence to this sort of 1N is amongst the most difficult because one is often having to make a critical decision with incomplete information. Inferences, and there are definitely solid inferences available, are rarely 100% reliable.

I think what this and similar hands reflect is that as declarer we need to think about what problems defenders have, and to try to sow doubt. Don’t assume that the defenders will always do the right thing.they won’t…especially if you don’t draw a roadmap for them. Similarly, defenders need to try to imagine partner’s hand and declarer’s hand. One useful guide, that is sometimes available, is to ask, having formed a tentative picture, whether there is anything about the play so far that suggests or casts doubt on the accuracy of our picture.

To beat a dead horse, that’s why one pitches a heart on the second club. Pitch a spade and you’ve told west that you don’t have a spade honour. Pitch a diamond as you would with Axx Axx in the reds, and you’ve told west that you don’t hold the AK and that you therefore hold a top heart.
'one of the great markers of the advance of human kindness is the howls you will hear from the Men of God' Johann Hari
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