Hand of the Day for March 17, 2001
          Jim Plank, with commentary by Kevin Wilson

In the absence of anything better to write, here are two bad boards
from saturday, together with nurturing commentary from my mentor....

First was board 20.  West dealer, both vul.  You are north, and hold:

         S AQ73
         H 98
         D AT9
         C J865

West opens 1H and you decide to chance a double so partner knows
to compete.  2d by east and partner bids 3c.  3h by west and
having already overbid your hand, you pass.  

Question 1 -- what do you lead?

Well, worried about ruffs in the dummy, and figuring that declarer
isn't going to get club pitches on diamonds or spades, I led a
heart.  I'm sure Kevin will tell me why that's a poor choice.

    Kevin: I worry about declarer ruffing in dummy after he has shown
           2 suits and there has been a preference.  Since (in your
           auction at least) dummy didn't raise hearts, I think that
           it is likely that they don't have 3 hearts.  Also, what
           suit are you worried about the declarer ruffing?  If it is
           spades then you clearly have 2 spade winners and will be
           able to play tumps as you win them.  It isn't reasonable
           to think that dummy could have a singleton spade.  (Dummy
           never raised hearts and partner bid clubs instead of
           spades.) If it is clubs that you think declarer will be
           ruffing then again dummy will have to have a singleton
           because partner probably has 5 clubs to be bidding them
           freely in an auction where each hand has shown some
           strength.  (There was not one pass when partner bid 3
           clubs.) I think the hand argues for a club lead.  Anytime
           partner has 4 trumps then you will be starting the tap and
           you may be finding an entry to partners hand.  While Jim
           knows I am a strong advocate for leading trumps against
           part scores, this auction makes me think it does not
           appear right.

Here's the dummy.  Bad lead....

         S AQ73
         H 98
         D AT9
         C J865

West            S 42
                H 76
                D KQJ8764
                C 92


Declarer takes partner's jack with the queen and after a little
thought, leads a diamond.  Your move.  

Unfortunately, while looking at the dummy, I figured declarer would
probably draw trump and then lead diamonds, and I'd hold up a round
to get partner's count.  Not wise, since partner will have a hard
time giving me count with her stiff or doubleton.  Anyway, I
convinced myself to duck, which not only took away declarer's diamond
loser, but gave him the second entry needed to hook another heart.
+3 for 140 and 3.5 out of 6 matchpoints for E/W.  

Here's the hand:

         S AQ73
         H 98
         D AT9
         C J865

S J986          S 42
H AQT532        H 76
D 3             D KQJ8764
C AK            C 92

         S KT5
         H KJ4
         D 52
         C QT743

The clue available to me is that declarer played diamonds
before drawing trump, which should mean that 90% of the
time, he's leading a stiff (the other 10% he's got a
doubleton and is hoping to sucker me into covering before
drawing trump and running diamonds.....).  Wish I had
led a club.....

Kevin: This was very weak Jim.  When dummy hits the first thing I am
       thinking about is who has the stiff diamond.  I sure wish I
       could get partner in because I think she may very well lead
       one if she has the stiff and no way she will lead one with a
       small doubleton looking at that dummy.  Oh well... wasted 
       thought here.  But back to the task... should I win the A of
       Diamonds???  There are some pretty easy clues from the auction
       that winning the first diamond is right.  Where are the
       spades?  Partner doesn't have 4 of them... NO WAY her hand was
       strong enough to bid 3c but not strong enough to back in with
       3s if he had 4 of the suit.  So declarer absolutely has 4+
       spades and 6+ hearts.  If declarer wanted me to lead more
       trump he would just play spades, knowing that I would continue
       to play trumps so that he couldn't ruff any.  He is clearly
       trying to sneak a diamond by.

       I think a good lesson from the hand is the analysis of the D
       suit.  Once declarer leads the 3 spot then I know there are
       only two remaining spots left, the 2 and the 5. If partner has
       the singleton then 50% of the time I will KNOW that and can
       lead one for him to ruff (50% of the time he will have a
       singleton 2 spot and 50% the singleton 5 spot)... How will I
       know it you ask?  Because of the spot card he plays... Imagine
       playing standard carding... If partner plays the 2 spot then I
       know there is zero chance he has the 5. If he has the 5 and
       the 2 then he will always play the 5! So if I get the 5 it is
       50/50 whether or not partner has a singleton and if I get the
       2 it is guaranteed.

Top scores on the board (N/S) were Louise and Mildred, collecting
500 (perhaps defeating 4h two tricks), and Dave (Jerviss) and
Brian (Sims), getting 200 (perhaps defeating 4c two tricks, or
doubling and beating three clubs).


Vexing board number 2 was board 23.  South dealer, both vulnerable.
Here's your hand (you're north again).

         S 874
         H AJ
         D QT6
         C AJ854

Partner passes, as does west, and you open 1c.  East doubles and
partner bids 2c.  Hmmmm.  2h by west and you certainly have enough to
compete to 3c.  3h by east and and partner tanks a bit before pulling
out 4c.  4d by west, and now you're in the decision seat.  

Kevin: Decision seat???  What decision... how quickly to pass?  Think
       about this for a second... Partner did not make a limit
       raise.(or a preemptive raise!  ).. so no magic hands are
       likely to come down.  You are not making 5 clubs... Also,
       partner raised so I expect scattered values of 6-9 HCP.. say
       one or maybe 2 defensive tricks or so.  Also, if they have
       only 8 trumps between then my holding the J of hearts is a
       huge defensive card.

If it makes any difference, east/west are Paul Bienkowski and Ben
Brabson, so you suspect overly aggressive bidding, but you wouldn't
be surprised to have them make the 4h correction.  I was playing west
to be 5/4 in hearts/diamonds, and for one of them perhaps to be
void in clubs. 

Here's where the Law of Total Tricks would have come in handy, had I
thought about it.  Assume they have an 8 card heart fit and that we
have a 10 card club fit.  Then there are 18 total tricks available in
hearts/clubs, meaning if they are making 4h, we're down three in 5c,
which is clearly wrong.  Worse, if they are down one in 4h, we're
down two.  If they have a nine-card fit, then 5c is a good sacrifice,
so long as they are making 4h.  If they're down 1, so are we, which
is not a good sacrifice.  So pass looks right, but I still have a

Are there any other clues?  Well, west didn't open, and east has not
been overly aggressive in the bidding, besides showing 4 hearts (I'm
guessing if Ben had a club void, he'd be very tempted to bid 4h
himself over my 3c).  Probably, we have three defensive tricks in my
hand (the two aces and likely the queen of diamonds).  Looks like
pass is the right call.  If Kevin sees anything that I'm missing, I
assume he'll let me know.  

Kevin: Don't break the LAW! And don't forget the vulnerbility when
       decidng to save.  Does everyone out there understand the Law?
       By the way, I now have a topic for a future lesson.

       Of course I have another LAW - I leave the saving to Jesus.  
       I defend.

Of course, I didn't pass and went for a nice 500 opposite their
nine tricks in hearts.  Chalk up another data point for the Law
of Total Tricks:

         S 874
         H AJ
         D QT6
         C AJ854

S QJ92          S AKT5
H QT54          H K632
D K973          D J42
C Q             C 63

         S 63
         H 987
         D A85
         C KT972

+500 was a top for Ben and Paul (kindly aiding them to their first
place finish) -- Otherwise, there were a bunch of 140's and a 170
(perhaps north led away from the DQ at some point) for E/W, and 110
for Sally and Nick as N/S, presumably playing and making three clubs.