Three hands from Gryphons II -- April 28, 2001
               Jim Plank, with commentary by Kevin Wilson

Here are a few hands that were relayed to me as interesting
from last saturday's game.

I liked board 26.  First, it's an opening lead question.

You are north:

Board: 26   Dealer: E    Vul: Both

         S JT83
         H 9
         D JT765
         C JT3

Bidding goes:

    E     S     W    N
    P     P     2N   P
    3C    P     3H   P

What is your opening lead?  Decide before going on, because it
is crucial.  I'm hoping Kevin will make a choice and some
comments before going on.  It would be self-serving for me,
since I know all four hands.

   Kevin: OK. I don't think there is a huge inference here.  My
          first choice is the H9. I am a firm believer in
          leading trump and certainly against 4-4 fits this is
          good.  I know partner has practically all of our side's
          high card points, so hopefully he will be able to lead
          trump 2 more times.  If I do happen to finesse
          partner, then hopefully we will make the trick back by
          throwing off declarer's timing or communication.  The
          goal is to not allow two ruffs in the same hand
          (either dummy's or declarer's).  The only lead I think
          is clearly wrong is the CJ. This is the suit that
          declarer is going to have to play himself because I
          know that neither spades nor diamonds are breaking and
          setting up for club discards.  Since I didn't look, I
          hope I'm not too far off.

Ok, on this hand, here are the scores:

       SJ: -620
       CJ: -620 / -650
       H9: -620 / -650
       DJ: -650

Now, let's look at the fun lead, and switch hands.  Now you are
south, and partner has led the CJ. Here is dummy and your hand:

         CJ led

                S Q52
                H KJ42
                D 94
                C Q542

         S K976
         H QT87
         D K832
         C 8

Declarer wins the club in hand with the ace and plays the ace
and king of hearts, partner discarding an ambiguous D7 on the
KH.  Now a club, which you ruff with the HT.  What is your play?

Your best play is to cash the HQ and lead a low diamond.  Look
at all four hands to see why:

         S JT83
         H 9
         D JT765
         C JT3

S A4            S Q52
H A653          H KJ42
D AQ            D 94
C AK976         C Q542

         S K976
         H QT87
         D K832
         C 8

If you play a spade, declarer scores the SQ for free.  If
you play a diamond, declarer has to finesse, since there's
no way to pitch a diamond from dummy on a club before south
ruffs in again.  Once the finesse wins, declarer can cash
the AD and the position is:

         S JT83
         D JT
         C J

S A4            S Q52
H 65            H J4
D               D
C K97           C Q5

         S K976
         H Q
         D K8

Declarer can now lead a heart, and you are endplayed.  The
only way to take yourself off the endplay is to cash your
HQ and then lead a diamond when you are in with the HT.

Note that if partner leads the DJ on the opening lead, you
cannot avoid the endplay.

As usual, results were all over the place.  It appears some
east/wests got slam happy, maybe after a 2C opening.

         1: +300
         1: +200
         2: -600 -- I'm guessing these are 3n+3, no one willing
                    to risk the diamond finesse after a spade lead.
                    That's a good reason to be in 4H rather than 3N.
         2: -620
         1: -650    Kudos to Glenn or Brad for playing the hand well.

   Kevin: After the CJ lead, declarer should always make 5. HA and
          then low to the HK will reveal the news.  Declarer should
          take the diamond finesse now because he knows he is never
          going to get to play 5 rounds of clubs to pitch a diamond
          out of dummy and since diamonds are 2-2 he should be able
          to visualize the endplay.  Even if the diamond finesse
          loses, not every north finds a shift to a spade and the
          same endplay probably brings the contract home whenever it
          can be made.

Next is board 27.

This hand involves just bidding and play. (note to Jim: just bidding 
and play huh?) You are north:

Board: 27   Dealer: S    Vul: None

         S 4
         H AK92
         D KQJ53
         C KJ5

Two passes to you and you open 1D.  Pass and 1H by partner.
Now what?  I think 3S is the good bid if your partnership
plays that as a splinter.  Otherwise, 4H is the right call.
We'll talk more about the bidding later.

   Kevin: Agreed.  If I played splinters, that would be my bid.
          Otherwise 4H.

Onto the play:

Now you are south and you are in some number of hearts.
The ST is led, and here is your hand:

         S 4
         H AK92
         D KQJ53
         C KJ5

         S AJ62
         H QT76
         D T82
         C A7

How to play it?

There are two routes to 12 tricks if trumps work out ok:
Ruff two spades and pitch a spade on a diamond, or ruff a
spade, draw trumps, and bring home 4 diamond tricks.  At
the table, would you work out how to best make 4 diamond
tricks?  The answer is to cash a high diamond in dummy.  If
both opponents follow, then you have no problems.  If east
shows out, then you should have ruffed two spades, but at
least now you can take the club finesse to park your last
spade.  If west shows out of diamonds on the first diamond,
then you can finesse south's D8 on the second round and get
12 tricks.

   Kevin: You can't pick up this suit for 4 winners if 
          West has all 5.

So is it better to ruff two spades, or bank on diamonds?
My opinion is to bank on diamonds.  If trumps are 4-1 or
worse, you are going to have some entry issues drawing
trumps if you ruff spades.  Here are all four hands:

         S 4
         H AK92
         D KQJ53
         C KJ5

S T853          S KQ97
H 843           H J5
D               D A9764
C Q96432        C T8

         S AJ62
         H QT76
         D T82
         C A7

After a club lead, making 12 tricks is easy.  After a
spade, either line mentioned above works, and you can even
take the club finesse if you mess up the diamonds.  The

      3: +480
      2: +460 (3n+5)
      1: +450
      1:  -50 (I'm guessing 6H or 6N down one)

Kevin: I would win the S and play the HA and the HK. If trumps are
       5-0 then I switch to diamonds right away or if they are 4-1,
       I'd knock out the ace of diamonds after 2 rounds.  Anytime
       hearts split 3-2 you have 12 top tricks (assuming diamonds
       aren't 5-0 with west having the 5).  So I wouldn't highly
       consider the ruffing S line until I saw trumps weren't

Back to the bidding -- any way to find 6H?  I'm not sure --
if north bids 3S over 1H, then south can show the AC and a
maximal hand by bidding 4C.  If north starts visualizing
tricks, certainly if south has two aces and the queen of
hearts, 6H should have an excellent play.  Here's an
auction that might get you to your 28-point cold slam.  I'm
not saying anyone would find it, but it's possible:

     S         N
     P         1D
     1H        3S (splinter)
     4C        4N (Roman Key Card for hearts)
     5S        6H (5S shows two key cards plus the QH).

Kevin: A very reasonable auction if you play splinters & RKC since
       you can pass 5H.

The last hand is a quickie:

You are west:

Board: 2   Dealer: E    Vul: N-S

H Q9
C AK98

Partner opens 1d!  If I'm sitting west, I have two
questions: What slam are we going to be in, and how can I
get to be declarer!

   Kevin:  Bid notrump NOW! or 1st!

You bid 2c and now partner bids 2h.  This is not a reverse,
since depending on your methods, you are showing at least
10 or 12 points.  If you are playing standard, I think 2s
(fourth suit forcing) is the right call to get partner to
describe his/her hand more.  If partner has shape,
especially extra diamonds then you should be thinking about
7D.  Otherwise, settle for six.  If you are playing that 2c
is a game force, then 2N does the same thing.  Partner will
bid 2n over 2s, or 3n over 2n, so I think blasting to 6N is
the right action.

If you have ace-asking bids over these sequences, then you
can be safe and check that you're not off two aces.  However,
when you bid 4N or 4C, can you be sure that partner is going
to know what you mean?

The two auctions:

         Standard                          Two over one

        E       W                          E         W
        1D      2C                         1D        2C
        2H      2S                         2H        2N
        2N      6N                         3N        6N

Note that 2/1 has the extra advantage of having west declare,
which is important since the auction seems to ask for a spade
lead, and west is very well situated for that lead.

Here are the hands:

Board: 2   Dealer: E    Vul: N-S

         S T9854
         H T8542
         C JT4

S KJ6           S A7
H Q9            H AK76
D AKT7          D J863
C AK98          C Q53

         S Q32
         H J3
         D Q9542
         C 762

Cold for 7 as it turns out, and 6d should make too.
However, 7D should not make.

As a curiosity, you can make 7D if south is playing by rote
and not thinking clearly: East must lead the DJ and south
covers by rote (``cover an honor with an honor'').  Bad
play #1 by south.  Back to east's hand and east leads the D8
which south covers again.  Bad play #2. East can finesse the SJ
and cash his winners, leaving the following position:

         S T9854
         H T8542
         C JT4

S               S
H               H K
D K7            D 63
C 8             C

         D 542

East/west can now cross-ruff high  and the hand is over!


         1: +1520   7N +7 -- Give it to Mark Harris and H. Dekirmenjian
         2: +1020   6N making 7
         1:  +920   6D making 6
         1   +420   5D making 6
         1    -50   6D down 1
         1   -100   6D doubled, down 1

   Kevin: Shame on whoever doubled 6D. They told declarer how to
          play the hand and they should have been punished.
          6D-X making would then score higher then the 6N+7
          people.  It also gave EW a chance to run (because they
          think trumps aren't breaking in their 4-4 fit) to 6nt
          and score that up.