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

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

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

S J754          S Q62
H T753          H A2
D J2            D AK85
C Q82           C J643

         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: 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.