Saturday, March 1, 2014

Play to make

At a club game, I picked up a nice hand as South and opened 2NT (20-21).  Partner bid Stayman and we were in 4H.  What's your plan?


Looks like I have three top losers: 2 spades and 1 club.  And one slow diamond loser with no place to park it.  Looks like 4H is down 1.

With partner's 4-3-3-3 hand, many in the room will bid 3NT, and not go through Stayman.  How would that contract fare? Assume that they lead spades.  We have it stopped, but even with the Jack of spades, it comes to only 8 tricks. So, South would have to play a club, and 3NT will go down.  It's going to be a flat board with both contracts down 1.  So, I played out the hand quickly.

But I should have thought harder and considered all the ways 3NT can make: spades could be 4-4.  Or, if spades are 5-3, the person with the Ace of clubs may have no spade left to lead.   3NT is actually an odds-on contract.  I really did need to make 4H.  

The only chance of making 4H is to hope West has the Ace of clubs (so that the King of clubs is the second entry to dummy) and to hope that East has QJ of diamonds (so that I can finesse the 10 of diamonds).  Pretty slim chances, but I should have played for it.

And wouldn't you know it, West did have the Ace of clubs and East did have QJ of diamonds. 4H making would have been a top (420), beating out all the 3NTs (spades were 4-4, so 400).  Instead, 4H down 1 was a bottom.  We ended up third with 57% when we could have been first with 61% ...

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