Gryphons II -- Hand writeup -- April 6, 2002
                     Jim Plank & Kevin Wilson

Two hands, suggested by Kevin.

The first is board #5 from saturday's game.  You are south, red on
white, holding:

         S A9
         H JT7
         D 9864
         C QJ96

Partner opens 1C and righty bids 4S.  Pass, pass, pass.

You start with the queen of clubs, which holds.  Dummy is (initially):

S Q6
H K96432
D 732
C 54

Now the question is -- what should your next lead be?  Think about
it before going on.

Kevin gave this to me over the phone, and my two gut choices were
continuing a club or switching to a spade.  My reason for switching
to a spade is twofold -- first, you don't want the opponents to
get any club ruffs.  Second, if the heart suit is important, you
want to get rid of declarer's entries, and the SQ may be his only

The reasons for continuing clubs are... none, really.  Declarer
is only handling losers from the dummy by ruffing clubs or using
the KH.  Continuing clubs only helps him ruff clubs, and there
are only really three ways he can use the heart suit:

  #1 -- He has the stiff ace.  If so, then he needs to hold the SK
        and can use the SQ as an entry to pitch a loser on the HK
        if he gets in before the SQ is taken away.

  #2 -- He has the stiff Q.  Similarly, if he gets in before trumps
        are touched, he can lose the HQ to the ace, and if partner
        does not think to return a trump, he'll get a pitch on the

  #3 -- He has the AQx of hearts -- now if he gets in, he will try
        to draw trump so he can run the heart suit.

I think you can pretty safely discard possibility #3 -- if partner has
a stiff heart and the AK of clubs, he'll likely overtake your CQ and
switch to a heart.

Kevin: Even if partner plays trumps after winning the ace of hearts, it
       will be too late to prevent a discard.  You've done an
       excellent analysis here, so there's not much more for me to

All these factors point to leading spades.  Now the question is which
spade to lead?  Ace and another has the benefit that it most
definitely kills dummy's entry and ruffing potential.  It does have
one problem -- what if righty overcalled on eight spades to the jack?
Then you have performed a magic honor-reduction play, felling
partner's stiff king.  And if you don't think it can happen, pretty
much that exact play cost us 11 IMPS and a victory against the #1
team in the Oak Ridge sectional when I cleverly felled Suzy's stiff
king by leading the ace of trumps (causing Joe Rickman to go
into a giggling fit as he chalked up an overtrick instead of going
down one).

What about a low spade?  I see one potential problem.  What if
declarer has Axx of clubs?  Certainly, he will duck the first
club -- if he takes the ace and leads another club, even the
most lobotomous of defenders should find the trump switch.
That's it though.

Thinking about it, what is the likelihood that declarer has three
clubs?  Pretty low.  He would have to have exactly 7-0-3-3
distribution (if declarer has fewer diamonds, partner would open
a diamond instead of a club).

So it's a question of probabilities -- a low spade caters to partner
having the stiff king.  Ace and another caters to declarer having
Axx of clubs (and exactly 7-0-3-3 distribution).  I have no
gut feeling, so I'll simulate.

Kevin: I have no idea either, but I know a 4-4-3-2 distribution is
       fairly common (in this case exactly 2-4-3-4) so I'll bet on
       the Ace of spades.  This is where I get to learn a lot from
       your simulations.

Ok, given 100,000 random deals where the south and west hands are
fixed, 1361 hands have north opening 1C, and east with seven or
more spades.  Of those, east had Axx of clubs 44 times (3.2%), and
north had the stiff king 16 times (1.2%).  So leading ace and out
a spade is correct. (Kevin got it).

All four hands:

Board: 5   Dealer: N    Vul: N-S

         S 74
         H Q85
         D KQ
         C AKT873

S Q6            S KJT8532
H K96432        H A
D 732           D AJT5
C 54            C 2

         S A9
         H JT7
         D 9864
         C QJ96

As you can see, either approach (low spade, or ace and out) works
here, while any other return allows east to make the contract, by
cashing the AH and then crossing to dummy with the SQ to pitch
a diamond.  Of course, double-dummy, east can make it by leading
ace and a low diamond, or perhaps starting with a low diamond
and then the ace, but it takes some good fortune to figure that
one out.

The scores:

     6: +420
     2: +170
     1:  -50 (Gloria and Gene defending).

A second hand from Kevin -- I'm not sure which game it came from --
I'm guessing, though, that it's board 13 from last thursday's

I'll give both hands for bidding purposes:

      S ATx
      H KQJT9x
      D AKxx
      C -

      S KJxx
      A Ax
      D Jx
      C AKxxx

North opens 1H.  That is probably where consensus ends.   Here's
one auction:

      N       S
      1H      1S
      3D      3N
      4H      4N -- and off we go.

I don't like that one, myself.  I think south should bid 2c
over 1h.  Then south can rebid spades, and has given a nice
description of his shape.  I'll assume that 2C is a
game-force.  Now north has a big decision -- two hearts or
two diamonds?  Thinking about south's rebids, I think 2h is
better than 2d.  Why?  Because you are much better
positioned to rebid over south's 2s, 2n or 3c.  Think about

      N      S                    N      S
      1H     2C                   1H     2C
      2D     2S/2N/3C             2H     2S/2N/3C
      3H                          3D

I think that the second one is much more flexible.  Here's
a possible sequence.  Yes, 5c over 3H as exclusion key
card may work too -- that will get you to 6H.

              N      S
              1H     2C
              2H     2S
              3D     3H
              4C     4N
              5D     5H
              6D     6H/7H (6N)

5D shows three or zero key cards.  5H is a sign-off in case
opener has zero.  North is expected to go on with three.
We play that if north has three, he is to bid 5S without
the QH. Other bids show the queen of hearts and specific
kings (6H shows none, 5N shows the king of spades).  So 6D
promises three key cards, the queen of hearts, and the king
of diamonds.

Kevin: Let me interrupt right here.  This is an important
       keycard agreement and it makes perfect sense.  This
       is where good partnership understandings make all of
       the effort pay off.  I didn't allow for partner to
       work out what 6D meant and bid 6 only hearts.  I
       missed a chance for an excellent grand slam.

South can now decide how brave or foolish he is.  If hearts
are splitting 3-2, you are a good bet for 7H (six hearts,
the three sets of aces and kings, and a diamond ruff).  But
that's only a 65% chance.  I think it's a gamble, but you
never know.  6N was Suzy's choice at matchpoints -- you can
pretty much count 12 tricks, so she'd go for the matchpoint top.
I was a 7H bidder, acknowledging that it's quite a gamble,
especially because I already know 16 of opener's points.  

Now the play of the hand.  East leads the two of clubs, and
what's your line?  My choice was to get trick #13 from a
diamond ruff.  Toss a diamond on a club, heart to the king,
ace of diamonds, king of diamonds, diamond ruff with the
ace, spade to the ace, draw trump and toss your last spade
on the CK. This works whenever diamonds are 5-2 or 4-3. It
does not even lose to a 5-0 heart split.  If diamonds are
6-1 or 7-0, it will still make if the hand with short
diamonds also has a heart stiff or void.  Not likely,
given the lack of bidding, but I thought I'd mention it.

Both Kevin and Suzy said that the two of clubs made them
lean towards playing clubs to be 4-4 -- ruff the club,
heart king, heart to the ace, ruff a club, draw trump,
cross to the SK, and play clubs.  If they break, fine.
Otherwise, rely on the spade finesse.  If hearts are 5-0,
you still have time to revert to line 1. So, this loses
when hearts are 5-0 and line 1 loses, or when clubs are not
4-4 and the SQ is in east's hand (ok, if east has the stiff
Q, it will win too).

Kevin: As I was only in 6, ducking the first club also
       guaranteed 12 tricks.  What if the ace gets ruffed?
       I know its incredibly slim, but I wasn't in 7, and
       in fact I knew I would score better if 7 was going
       down on a fluke distribution.  I ruffed the first
       club in my hand and then played a trump to the ace.
       If the trumps are 5-0, I just draw them and guess
       the Q of spades for my thirteenth trick.  I still
       have stoppers in clubs and diamonds, so the finesse
       is safe.  I agree that if I was in 7 I would try to
       ruff a diamond with the A of trump.

My gut feeling is that line 1 will outperform line 2 by a
large margin, but as always, we'll simulate.

Details of the simulation:  I'm going to simulate hands
where east has the two of clubs, and it is either a
stiff, or part of a three or four card suit.  Otherwise,
east wouldn't lead it.

Given that, line 1 works whenever:

    - Diamonds are 5-2 or 4-3.
    - Diamonds are 6-1 or 7-0 and the hand with the
      stiff/void started with zero or one heart.

Line 2 works whenever:

    - Hearts are 5-0 and line 1 would work.
    - Clubs are 4-4.
    - Clubs are not 4-4, and either the QS is held by west,
      or is stiff in east's hand.

Ok, of 100,000 hands opposite the N/S hands, in 25,444 of
them, east had the proper holding from which to lead.  Of
those, line 1 worked 24,051 times -- %94.5. Line 2 worked
20,430 times -- 80.2%, which is significant, I'd say.

For the interested -- here are the percentage breakdowns:

    Line 1 works:                        94.5%
    Line 2 works:                        80.2%
    Clubs 4-4:                           62.5%
    Clubs 5-3 and the QS is on:          14.7%
    Hearts 5-0 and it makes:              3.0%
    Hearts 5-0 and it doesn't make:       0.16% (42 hands out of 25444)
    Stiff Queen of spades in east's hand: 0.13% (34 hands out of 25444)
    Stiff diamond and stiff heart:        0.07% (19 hands out of 25444)

Ok, I've beaten this one to death.

Kevin:  Yes, but good points are proven true.

Since I found last thursday's results, I'll put them here:

1 pair was in 7N making 7 for a top
2 pairs were in 7H making 7 for 79%.
2 pairs were in 6H making 7 for 50%
1 pair was in 6N making 6 (guessed the spade wrong) for 29%
1 pair was in 4H making 7 for 14%
1 pair was -100, which I can only assume was 7N down one.

Kevin said some pairs got a spade lead which made life rather easy
in any contract.....