Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Letting a doubled contract through

Playing in the strongest game in town, partner and I started out shaky, but stabilized to finish with a 60% game, which was good enough to win in both directions. This was the "unit championship", so we got a whopping 3.5 master-points for this.

We had our worst boards against the pair who went on to win North/South. I'm not sure which direction the causality runs -- do we tend to play badly against pairs who are in fine form, or does the pair we don't get good boards against tend to win?

See if you can spot the misdefense on this board against the pair who would go on to win in the North/South direction. We were sitting East/West, and after partner opens a weak NT, I know that we have the majority of the points. On principle, we do not let them play a 2-level contract undoubled. Also, partner will not bid again unless he has a 5-card suit. So, the final contract was 2C doubled. We had two chances to set them, and we muffed both chances.  Can you do better?

I was sitting West, so click on West to hide the other hands and then click "Next":

-180 was a bottom, of course.  +100 would have been a top.


  1. The two chances that we muffed:

    (1) When he is in with the queen of hearts, partner should return a low spade. The heart ruff simply compressed declarer's spade and club losers. With this defense, 2C is down 2. Not as good, but tolerable is to cash the Ace of spades and exit a spade. Now, partner is guaranteed one club trick for down 1.

    (2) When I am in with the club ruff, I can return a spade, although this loses if partner has the king instead of the Ace of spades. I should be able to figure this out, since if declarer had Ace-King of clubs, he will probably pull one round of trumps. Ergo, it is clubs that I should not break. Had I figured this out at the table, 2C would be down 1.

  2. There's a third chance. East needs to ruff the DK with his CK. If south overruffs, west gets 2 trump tricks.

  3. OK, this is just a quick read, but I "get" very little about this hand. Assuming that West's redouble is of the "we got 'em" variety, I think he is too weak (three jacks in a 9 count?) for that opposite a 12-15 (awfully wide range, eh?). What I most do not care for is the apparent penalty double of 2C. I think West should pass 2C, and that East should then reopen with a double, having only a doubleton club and the double being negative/cooperative. (See Phillip Martin's website for a great discussion of this treatment. I highly recommend.) I admit to probably landing in 2D after that start, which is no bargain, but if they raise the stakes, we might find our 4-4 spade fit, where they are quite unlikely to double. I also do not get why South is running from 1NXX.

    Wrt the defense, why isn't West following normal strategy of leading a trump against the auction at the table? And why isn't South, having avoided a trump lead, not playing normal strategy of trying for a spade ruff in dummy? As declarer I would be hoping for four trumps in hand, two red aces, one spade and one spade ruff for my eight tricks.

    In the at the table defense, all of these taps of declarer are giving declarer tricks. And yet the sight of dummy counters the expectation produced by the auction that West has four clubs, and so tapping does not seem an attractive strategy to me. If I were East, I would be leading the CK when I am first in, again focusing on the spade shortage in dummy. But it might be too late by then, given that partner West fails to hold the CQ.