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

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

    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

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

    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

    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

           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

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.