One hand from Gryphons II -- July 7, 2001 Jim Plank, with commentary by Kevin Wilson The biggest swing board was boards 18, which is largely a bidding board, but there is a play issue in it. Here are the bidding decisions: ---------------------------------- Board: 18 Dealer: E Vul: N-S East opens 1C. Decision one. You are south, with: S KQJ83 H 9843 D J874 C Do you open your mouth? I'm bidding 1S myself, since it does three things -- 1. It has a little preemptive value 2. It shows my 5 spades, where partner can compete 3. It's a great lead director. The downside is that you're a point thin, which sometimes haunts you when partner pulls out the red card at the end of the auction, but I'm still doing it. I imagine some would try a takeout double with that hand (give yourself 5 points for the void???), but that's a bit rich for my blood. Kevin: I think 1S is absolute. It is the perfect lead director. This hand isn't close to a takeout double; I'd need at LEAST another ace. If I were a passed hand already then I would consider double, but with the honors in spades and that being my longest suit I still would probably overcall 1S. Now look at the west hand: S AT92 H T6 D QT92 C AT6 I think 1N is fine, although with all those tens and nines, 2N might be a good call too. Kevin: Again, I prefer 2NT. This is a 10 count that has two guaranteed spade stoppers and all those tens really help in notrump. I play that 1NT is 6-10 HCP and 2NT is 10-12. This lets me evaluate my hand and decide which bid is most descriptive. I really don't want partner passing with anything but the barest minimum. 2H by north and 3c by east and we're back to south's hand. Do you bid 3H or 4H? I think your hand is a gold mine in hearts -- you have tricks (spades), entries (hearts) and clubs stopped. And if you're counting points, I think now is the time to add 5 for the void. 4H certainly wouldn't be unreasonable. It will also end the auction. Here are the hands: S 6 H AKQJ52 D 63 C 9432 S AT92 S 754 H T6 H 7 D QT92 D AK5 C AT6 C KQJ875 S KQJ83 H 9843 D J874 C Kevin: My guess is that my partners would double 2NT... But if they did bid 3H, I think I would raise and accept blame immediately if we went down. There are many other potential bidding decisions -- if south passes initially, should west bid 1D or 1S? I'm a 1D bidder, since I have the strength to bid again if N/S get into it. Take away a point and I'd probably opt for 1S. Kevin: I prefer what's called Walsh style and just bid my majors. Suppose south passes and west bids 1D. What's north's bid? I'm in the 1H camp -- I think north is too strong to preempt. Maybe south can give a strong raise (as south would here), and north can explore game. The hand layout is impressive: 4H is making for N/S (ruff two clubs, and park the other two on spades) and 5C is making double dummy for E/W. A Law-Of-Total-Tricks violation (There should be 19 total tricks, but instead there are 21). Kevin: Good point Jim. Here are the results: First, the N/S plus scores: 2: +790, in 4H, doubled: both Elaine Bohle and Sharon Plescia, and Ben Brabson and Vincent C found the game and punished those who dared to bring out the red card (my side was one of those so punished...). I'll take any odds that I will receive a mail from Ben bragging about how their bidding put them into the optimal contract... 1: +100, defending 5 clubs doubled, 6 clubs down two, or perhaps 3 notrump down two. 1: +50, defending 5 clubs or 2 notrump. And now the E/W plus scores: 1: +400: Gerry Williams and Jean Mather bid and make 5C. 1: +200: Did N/S sacrifice in 5H? Looks that way. 3: +130: Club part scores, making 4. Onto the play. You're in clubs. You have QT92 of diamonds in the dummy and AK5 in your hand. Starting in dummy, you play the CT, hoping to induce RHO to cover, which they shouldn't even if they have it (there's nothing to promote in your hand or partner's by covering the ten. You can cover the nine later if there's an 8 to promote. Ok, maybe if you ahve Jx you'll need to cover to promote partner's 8 -- given the current layout, covering with Jx doesn't actually hurt anything...). You go up with the ace, cash the king, and lead the 5. Both opponents have followed so far, and LHO covers the 5 with the 8, the last diamond out with the exception of the jack. Your move -- finesse or drop? It certainly looks like at least three people played for the drop -- maybe four or five. Only Gerry/Jean hooked it. Which is the percentage play? Suppose there are no clues from the bidding and play so far. Is it more likely that LHO started with J8xx, or 8xx? I'll be honest -- I don't know -- my gut feeling is to play for the hook, but only a good mathematical analysis (which I don't have time for), or a simulation can tell you for sure. Here are simulation results: Out of 150,000 hands opposite the E/W hands, 24,274 hands had Jxxx in the south hand, and 26,746 had Jxx in the north hand. So that says that playing for the drop is the better play by about 5% (52.4% to 47.6%). What about here? Well, chances are that north bid hearts somewhere along the line, which places him with 5 or 6. Maybe seven. South's club void will be revealed pretty early on -- so with at least eight cards, and potentially nine in spades and diamonds, I think the inferences are pretty clear to play for the hook. Good job, Gerry/Jean. Of course, if you're in 4C and not 5, perhaps the inferences are not that clear to jeopardize 4C for the sake of an overtrick. It all depends on the bidding to that point. Kevin: There are ALWAYS clues from the bidding and the opening lead. Even passes can say a lot. This one is particularly easy for a thinking declarer. My thinking would be along these lines. The 1S bidder probably doesn't also have 5 hearts or he probably would have bid Michaels. (This is a case where as declarer, I'd check the opponents' convention card! They're so handy for stuff like this.) So, if the 1S hand has only four hearts, then the north hand has six. North shows up with one spade and four clubs leaving him with no room for more than two diamonds (pattern: 1-6-2-4). Therefore, the finesse is 100%. If they didn't lead spades after 1 round of hearts, then I would risk the extra undertrick, and lead the ace of spades to check my count before I tackled diamonds. I would also watch south's discards carefully to see how many hearts he started with. If he is kind enough to pitch two hearts then I will know he started with four, and my hand count is also complete. For the curious, here are the boards, average scores (N/S), and standard deviations. Board Average Stddev 18 82.22 401.46 12 20.00 359.75 8 225.56 338.37 14 -261.11 338.18 2 474.44 307.50 26 -377.78 296.68 1 508.89 266.60 4 -351.11 251.95 9 835.56 244.59 21 575.56 239.26 25 -373.33 227.50 19 165.56 221.52 7 195.56 214.12 5 97.78 203.57 22 -516.67 194.88 16 26.67 188.44 24 362.22 170.02 3 224.44 169.32 17 417.78 165.65 13 108.89 165.02 20 77.78 149.05 10 -234.44 146.37 27 -32.22 113.31 23 -60.00 113.14 6 457.78 108.30 15 -46.67 106.67 11 -12.22 94.25 Kevin: hmm. interesting.