Two hands from Gryphons II -- August 4, 2001 Jim Plank, with commentary by Kevin Wilson No chatty intro -- straight to a board that I thought was clear, but the post-game postmortem proved otherwise. It's board eight: Board: 8 Dealer: W Vul: None S AJ S K9642 H AQ H J2 D AKJ96 D Q873 C 7653 C AK Our bidding went as follows: West East 1d 1s 3c 4d 4h 7d 4d was key card for diamonds, and 4h showed one or four. Suzy assumed that I wouldn't jump-shift with one, so hoping that I'd have one of the black queens, or perhaps some other undisclosed jewel, she bid seven. I got a diamond lead, low, ten, ace. My thoughts were this -- if diamonds split 2-2, then I can cross-ruff spades and clubs, and if spades break 4-2 or better, then my last heart goes on the long spade. If they don't split 2-2, I'll think about it later. So I cashed the DK, low, low, heart. Damn. Now I've got issues, but if spades split 3-3, I can still make it by cashing the ace and king and ruffing a spade. Then I draw trump, ruff a club and throw a club and heart on the two spades. And if they don't break 3-3, I can ruff a club, ruff another spade, cross to dummy with the last trump, throw a club on the last spade and try the heart finesse for the last trick. Note, I can't ruff two clubs and establish the long spade, because I don't have the entries to do this and get trump out. So this is what I did -- spades broke 4-2 (RHO having QTxx), and LHO had the HK, so I was down one: S 53 H KT64 D 542 C QJ82 S AJ S K9642 H AQ H J2 D AKJ96 D Q873 C 7653 C AK S QT87 H 98753 D T C T94 I can make it by taking the spade finesse, but I think that's anti-percentage. A zero -- two pairs (Gloria/Pat, Paul/Norma) were in 6N making 990, three pairs were in 3n+6, one was in 4S+5, and one was in a diamond partscore, I think, for 170. I thought it was a good bid, far greater than a 50% grand, -- probably nearing 80%, but got rather strong disagreement from Jerry Vaughan, and from our mentor Kevin, who gave it 50%, and hinted that some hallucinogens might be at work for my optimism. After some pointed discussion, I was put to the task of proving my assertion on the hand of the week, so here goes. (And before embarking on it, I received the following email from Connie and Jerry: Re our discussion today.....I agree to about an 80% of the chance of the 7D slam succeeding, but only on the following sequence: 1. Check to see if diamonds split 2-2 2. test the spades to see if they split 3-3 3. take the heart hook. Since these items can be checked without jeopardizing the slam, and are independant of each other, the percentage rises to over 90%, a truly unique circumstance! ) Certainly, if diamonds break 2-2, and spades are no worse than 4-2, then it's cold on my original line. Diamonds breaking 2-2 is 40.7 percent. If this happens, I'll make my slam when spades are 3-3, 4-2, or when the queen is stiff. Those probabilities (out of 100%): 3-3 spade split: 35.5% 4-2 spade split: 48.4% 5-1, stiff q: 14.5% / 6 = 2.4% Total: 86.3% And if spades break 5-1 or worse without the queen being stiff, I still have the heart hook to make seven. That's 50% of the remaining 13.7%, which is 6.8% (I'm rounding down to be conservative...). So, the probability of diamonds breaking 2-2 and me making the grand is 40.7 x (86.3+6.8) = 37.9%. Now, if diamonds break 3-1, then it makes on the secondary line when spades split 3-3. Diamonds breaking 3-1 is 49.7% and spades splitting 3-3 is 35.5%, so that part of the line is 17.6%. This brings our grand to 55.5%. If spades don't break 3-3, or trumps split 4-0, you have to rely on the heart finesse -- in my case with a trump lead, I only needed one club ruff, since I could throw a club on the long spade. But if a 4-0 trump split is located, or the 4-2 spade break is revealed (if you can test it), then in all but a few cases (Txx of diamonds and spade doubleton on your left maybe, or 4 diamonds and a club doubleton on your right), you simply have to bank on two club ruffs and the heart finesse, and you'll be able to figure this out rather quickly. Rather than calculate it exactly, I'm just going to say that for the remaining 44.5%, the chances are 50%, banking on the heart finesse. This is 22.3 (I'm rounding up this time), bringing the slam to 77.8%. And sure, I'll subtract 5% for the pathelogical hands that you will go down on due to bad breaks (diamonds are 3-1 and spades are 5-1, for example). That's roughly 73 percent. And of course, that also doesn't factor in the probability of a rather favorable heart or spade lead.... Kevin: I'll grant you that its over 55% but don't agree that you need only the heart finesse for your math in the end. I will also agree that 73% is higher that I suspected it was. I think that's a reasonable proposition against good to expert competition. It depends on how many pairs are reaching a slam. In a club game, I bet less then 50% would reach this minor suit slam and then I'd drop a little more because not every declarer that was in it would realize all the possibilities to make 7. However, in a North American Championship or a World Championship I would like to reach 73% grand slams at any form of scoring. Plus I like it when "I'm there" and then I have to make it. Thats the challenge I live for. ---------------------------------------------------------------------- Making sure we kill a dead horse, now the question is -- is 7D a good bid? My gut feeling is yes, of course, or I would not have gone into all this detail. Not only does it give you a nice fat top, but making those 7 bids, especially when you get to exploit your bidding agreements, makes you feel good. One of Connie or Jerry made the point that 6d probably would have been good enough, and certainly they have a point, especially given that west will likley convert 6d to 6n given the nice heart holding -- 6d would be worth 6/8 (75%) and 6n 7/8 (88%). Of course, 7D making would be 8/8 for 100%.... How about in a team game? That one is easy. 6D is 100%. 7D is 73, but I'm giving 80% because of all the possibilities for a favorable opening lead. So, the expected point values are: 6D: .8 x 940 + .2 x 920 = 936 7D: .8 x 1440 + .2 x -50 = 1142 Not even close. Even if we make the defender's perfect and call it 73%, the expected value is 1038. ---------------------------------------------------------------------- Ok, another quick one, largely because I want to hear Kevin's opinion. This is board 15: ---------------------------------- Board: 15 Dealer: S Vul: N-S You are west. You hold one of those hands that makes you want to give up the game: S J754 H T753 D J2 C Q82 RHO opens 1c, pass, 1s by LHO, pass by partner. I wonder how quickly they'll reach 6n? No, they fight. 2c by RHO. 2s by LHO. 3c by RHO. Reluctant pass by LHO. Pass by pard. Oh, time to stop thinking about lunch.... Looks like I have a winner here with that CQ. What to lead? Any ideas? Kevin: I'm doing this one from the hip... My first thought is that partner must have some high cards over there since they didn't bid game. I am confident that he doesn't have four hearts and four diamonds since he didn't double over 1S. Probably he doesn't have five of either red suit either since it appears he has enough to overcall at the two level or bid 1NT (sandwich). It looks like at most he could have is three spades so he certainly has clubs. From this I would guess that he is very flat maybe 2-3-4-4 or 3-3-4-3. That makes me think the diamond suit has the most possibilities. Declarer has to lose a trump to me and he may try to finesse and that should give me a chance to get a diamond ruff. Spades and clubs are definitely wrong. A low heart is my second choice but I think the jack of diamonds is fairly clear. I don't like any of my leads. I'm guessing that LHO has a nice spade suit that could provide quick discards for RHO, so a spade seems idiotic. I want to take my CQ and I certainly don't think LHO will be ruffing anything, so a club also seems idiotic. The diamond seems kind of hopeless too -- I don't want to ruff with my CQ, and I don't want to help declarer establish a suit. That leaves a heart. And what heart do you lead from that holding? I decided that the HT is an honor, so I led the H3, and disaster ensued. Here were the hands: S AKT983 H J94 D Q763 C S J754 S Q62 H T753 H A2 D J2 D AK85 C Q82 C J643 S H KQ86 D T94 C AKT975 Looks like down one off the top, no? Table talk on the opening lead confirmed that declarer was void in spades, but we were all pretty sure of that. Partner cashed the DA and led the H2, and punishment was swift -- two diamonds went on the spades and they chalked up 110 instead of -100. Yes, a disaster (1.5 matchpoints out of 8), but I think partner's play is sound -- she assumed that my H3 promised a real heart honor, which means that declarer is never getting to dummy to cash those spades, and if I have, say the HQ and the JT of diamonds, this may well give us some extras. Kevin: NO! Partner should have led the diamond king and got count instead of the ace for attitude. Could declarer really have a stiff diamond? I don't think so. He never raised spades or bid hearts and meekly bid 1,2,and 3 clubs... That doesn't sound like someone who has 11 cards in clubs and hearts. You may lose one club trick but you still have 5 tricks coming. The moral? Well, don't lead the H3. Perhaps the HT, or the H7 as a junk lead. Given the bidding, partner is going to have a hard time assuming that this is a doubleton. We don't have an agreement to lead second highest from four dead. Perhaps we should... Kevin? Kevin: Leading the diamond jack would have allowed you to score an uppercut with the club queen for two down but your lead wasn't the end for your side. Definitely share the blame on this one.