District 25
NEBridge - buzz0910


Buzz for September 2010

District 25 held its 2010 Fiesta Regional in Nashua NH during the first six days of September, ending Labor Day. Attendance was good, helped by the excellent Radisson venue despite a slight difficulty with the air conditioning during the first few days. Many interesting deals were reported to me, but I'll only pass along a few from knockout teams.


Deal #1, Final, Wednesday-Thursday KO, both vul, South deals.
 West        D-AJ64      East
 S-Q6        C-108       S-9842
 H-                      H-KQ63
 D-K10987    South       D-3
 C-A97642    S-KJ10      C-QJ53
 South  West   North  East
 1H     2NT    3H     P
 4H     P      P      P


This deal decided a close final in the first Flight A KO event, held Wednesday-Thursday. At one table, North-South bought the hand for a heart partial and made it. At our featured table, one can only speculate as to what result a 5C save by East would earn. Probably, South would lead a spade and beat this a trick, but were South to err and lead the heart ace, declarer could make the hand, perhaps even with an overtrick. At any rate, in South's real life 4H, the D9 opening lead, zero or two higher, ran to declarer's DQ.

Looking at the full deal, we know declarer can make the contract by crossing to the SA and putting the H10 through. East could then get a diamond ruff, leaving declarer with a spade guess for his game. However, single dummy, that winning line doesn't appeal because losing to LHO's hypothetical singleton HK or HQ subjects the contract to defeat by means of two diamond ruffs. So South tried the HA, West discarding a club, and continued with a heart to East.

At this point, East's is a situation where misleading partner can pay off. Had East returned, say, the CJ, West would have little choice but to give him a diamond ruff and set the hand. But East returned an honest CQ. West took the CK with his CA and blithely continued the suit. Declarer ruffed and played yet another trump to East. For no good reason, a somewhat rattled East now broke the spade suit - game, set, and match.


Deal #2, early round, Friday-Sunday KO, neither vul.
 West        D-J93       East
 S-          C-KJ1085    S-KJ92
 H-                      H-K975
 D-          South       D-K108
 C-          S-          C-Q6
 South         West   North  East
 1NT(15-17)    P      3NT    P
 P             P


Say your partner leads the H3, fourth best only from honors - from four or five bad cards, your partnership leads second highest. The play goes: H3-HQ-HK-HA; C9-C4-C5-CQ. What do you return?

Declarer is marked with the SQ,HA,DAQ,CA, for 16 points. The book card to lead when returning partner's suit is fourth highest, here the H5. If declarer started with H-A6 or H-A4, you will quickly run four heart tricks. The trouble with returning the H5 is that if declarer started with H-A8, giving partner an original H-J6432, you'll block the suit. This isn't immediately fatal, as declarer has only eight tricks, but on the run of the clubs, you'll be squeezed for a ninth. Nor will it avail not to cash your hearts - you'll get endplayed.

But if you return the H9 or H7 instead of the H5, you risk misleading partner. That is exactly what would happen on the actual deal. Declarer started with H-A6. Partner, who started with H-J8432, has no idea that declarer has cleverly concealed the CA. If you return the H9, partner will win the HJ, but then continue with the H8, blocking the suit. And if you try to avoid that difficulty by returning the H7, partner, who has no outside entry, will duck to dummy's H10, playing declarer for something like S-Kxx H-A96 D-AKQ C-9xxx. Yes, declarer might have ducked twice in hearts, but his play would be reasonable, since from his point of view, the hearts might be 4-4, making the double duck the way to go down.

It isn't fair to hesitate too long over your choice of heart to return, alerting partner that you have a problem holding. On the other hand, it's ethical for partner to read your card due to declarer's possibly gloomy reaction to the first trick. I do not know if this problem has a solution, but I've convinced myself that returning the H5, paying off to declarer's H-A8, is the practical answer.

A declarer play problem:

Deal #3, Semifinals, Friday-Sunday knockouts.
 West        D-A5        East
 S-          C-74        S-
 H-                      H-
 D-          South       D-
 C-          S-QJ87      C-


Both Souths opened their piece of cheese, and were soon declaring 6S against silent opposition. One received the lead of the S2, the other the H8. Plan the play either way.

Surely, against either lead, you win, cash HA, ruff H, DA, H ruff (LHO discards a diamond), and draw trumps, LHO having four. East discards three clubs on the trumps. At this point, the play diverged. One declarer discarded diamonds on the trumps, and played for a club guess. The other threw two clubs on the trumps, and the CK on the HK, then tried for diamonds to break. Neither succeeded, as the full deal was:

 West        D-A5        East
 S-6532      C-74        S-4
 H-83                    H-Q10952
 D-92        South       D-J1087
 C-AQ1086    S-QJ87      C-953

East was strip-squeezed on the trumps. Had the second declarer not cashed that HK before trying his diamonds, a fourth diamond would have endplayed East into giving dummy two heart tricks to make the slam.


Here's a deal that helped the winners in the KO final:

Deal #4, Finals, Friday-Sunday KO, neither vul.
 West        D-A9863     East
 S-A87       C-KQ6       S-QJ93
 H-KJ4                   H-9753
 D-KJ1042    South       D-Q7
 C-J5        S-2         C-1094
 South  West   North  East
 1H     P      1S     P
 2C     P      2D     P
 2H     P      2NT    P
 3C     P      4C     P
 4H     P      5C     P
 P      P


Although lacking the high cards for game, both North and South have impressive distributions and most Flight A imp-oriented pairs could not stop in a partial with their hands, although that is the percentage thing to do. I would expect final contracts of 3NT, 4H, or 5C at most tables. All three of these contracts have points of interest.

North should be held to eight tricks at notrump, but the defense could err by taking too many of their spade or diamond tricks, setting up declarer's ninth.

Surprisingly, 4H can be made, although I'm not sure it should be. Win the DJ lead in dummy, and just play out the three top clubs ending in South. Whether West ruffs or not, he'll be held to two trump tricks and the SA. That's less than a 10% line, requiring the H-KJx in either hand along with exactly two clubs. An alternative that doesn't work on the actual deal is to try to elope with all six of South's trumps, to go with two clubs, DA, and SK. Ruff a diamond at trick two and play a spade up. Say LHO wins SA and plays a club. Cash SK pitching C, ruff a card, back to a club, ruff a card, coming down to H-AQ10 and two clubs. Exit a club, score H10, exit a club, score HQ. Since East will get in to play a trump through, this line requires SA and H-KJ all onside, clubs 3-2 and no foul splits, making it also under 10%. I'm not sure which is better. In practice, declarer at one table went down.

The 5C contract at the other table should be defeated one trick if everybody does his best, but the defense isn't easy and wasn't found. The play started DA, D ruff, HA, H ruff, D. It is fatal for East to ruff, but he correctly discarded a heart. Declarer ruffed to lead a spade up. West won the SA, and could defeat the hand by returning a trump. Instead, he played a fourth diamond. It was now imperative for East to ruff with the C9 or C10, but he failed to do so. Declarer ruffed, ruffed a heart to dummy, played SK, S ruff, and crossruffed the CA and CK, scoring a trick in each side suit plus all eight of his trumps, a well-earned swing.

Earn swings of your own at the North American Pairs at Cromwell CT, or at our Masters Regional in Waterbury CT, both scheduled for November. Click to our calendar page for details.