Gryphon's Bridge Writeup: January 5, 2004

Jim Plank & Kevin Wilson

Discarding on a opponent's slam

A quick hand from Maryville's Monday game. I'm changing a card to make it a little more challenging. The fundamental question is: how should you and partner discard on slam hands where you don't really know where declarer's final tricks are coming from? You're looking at:

   S T43
   H 72
   D T63
   C KT964
And the bidding goes:

    LHO  You  RHO  Pard
    	      2C   P
    2H   P    2S   P
    4N   P    5D   X
    6S   P    P    P
Partner's double has made your lead easy -- you lead a low diamond (you don't have an honor, but you are showing count). Dummy tables:

   S 2
   H AT984
   D 872
   C QJ75

          S T43
          H 72
          D T63
          C KT964
Low, ace, low. Partner returns the DQ, king, six, seven. Now declarer leads three high spades, and on the second spade, partner plays the three of clubs. Dummy sheds a heart. On the third spade, partner discards the eight of clubs, and dummy a club.

So declarer started with eight spades, and is now going to continue running them. You have to figure out:

What do you know so far? Declarer started with eight spades, either the stiff ace of clubs or ace little (with partner's pitches, there are only two clubs unseesn), and at least two diamonds to the king. Partner has the jack. If declarer has Kx of hearts, the hand is over (8 spades, 1 club, 1 diamond, 2 hearts), so for you to set this hand, either partner must have the king, or declarer has the stiff king, and doesn't have an entry to the board to cash his ace.

In either case, are there any dangers? You have clubs under control, and partner has diamonds, and (hopefully) hearts under control. Can he squeeze either one of you? Yes! He can squeeze partner in hearts and diamonds. Look at a potential starting position:

          S 8
	  H KQJ65
	  D AQJx
	  C 832

   S 2            S AKQJ9765
   H AT984        H 3
   D 872          D K9x
   C QJ75         C A

          S T43
          H 72
          D T63
          C KT964
If declarer runs spades and cashes the ace of clubs, partner will have to pitch all of his diamonds to guard the king of hearts. That will make declarer's nine of diamonds good.

Therefore, you need to:

So -- we're currently here:

   S -         
   H AT98-    
   D 8--     
   C QJ7-   

          S ---
          H 72
          D T--
          C KT964
Declarer runs five more spades, and your pitches should be:

Perhaps so -- frankly, I like to keep it attitude / count / suit-preference in that order, only skipping one when it's unnecessary. Perhaps the attitude card in clubs is unnecessary (if declarer has the CK, he should be claiming). So the club discards could be count, then suit-preference. Whatever, you and your partner should have agreements about these things, and it probably doesn't pay to get too creative, since a slip-up on a hand like this can be a 13-imp swing in a team game.

Here's the position now:

          S -
	  H J5---
	  D --J8
	  C ---

   S -            S -------5
   H AT---        H K
   D ---          D 9
   C QJ--         C A

          S ---
          H --
          D T--
          C KT--4
Declarer now cashes the CA, and partner pitches the D8. Finally, declarer cashes the S5. You play the CT, dummy the CQ, and now it's time for partner's crucial play. Fortunately, partner knows that you've held onto a diamond for some reason, so now partner should shed the DJ, and the hand is over. Declarer will overtake the HK with the ace and it's down one.

Note, although you didn't take a trick, your play was crucial to setting this hand, because you:

Amazingly, if you didn't have the DT, declarer will make it. Maybe in that case, partner will find the brilliant heart switch at trick two......

In the Maryville game, the cards were easier for the defense (you held the QJx of diamonds, and partner ATxx), but still two declarers out of thirteen made six.