Saturday, March 12, 2016

Unblocking on defense

With many of the good players in Reno for the nationals, the field at a monthly Swiss club game was rather weak.  We lost imps on only two boards the entire night and since these were in separate matches, it didn't hurt our cakewalk.

See if you would get the defense right on this hand.  North deals and opens:

N    E    S     W
1D  P   1S     P
2H  P   2NT  P

I was sitting West, and held:

West (me)
♠ Q954
♥ AJ82
♦ AQ
♣ J75

Do you agree with  my bidding?  I debated doubling 1S (negative, showing hearts and clubs), but my flat hand was not very appealing and so I decided to sit out the auction.  After North reversed with 2H, I was glad I hadn't gotten involved.

So, now it's my lead.  What would you lead?  The choices (in my mind) were between a low heart and a club.  The problem with a heart is that it could blow a trick if their heart honors are split -- declarer can run it to the honor in his hand, and then finesse towards the honor in dummy.  So, I lead the five of clubs.

Dummy came down, and this what I saw:
Initially, I thought partner would have nothing, but it appears that they may have overbid this thing. Partner might have a king somewhere.

On the 5 of clubs, declarer played the 9 of clubs from dummy and partner contributed the 8 of clubs. Because neither attitude nor count is useful in clubs, I took that as suit preference.  So, when declarer led a diamond to the board, I hopped up with the Ace of diamonds and led a spade.  Declarer now took four club tricks, with both partner and me discarding an encouraging heart on the fourth club.

King of diamond, felling my queen and then a diamond to partner's Jack on which I discarded a low (encouraging) spade.  I was down to:

West (me)
♠ Q9
♥ AJ8

Partner now led the Jack of spades through declarer.  Declarer played the King.  What do you do?

I played the 9 of spades and was promptly endplayed when declarer exited to my queen after cashing a diamond (on which I threw the 8 of hearts).  He got his heart King to make 3NT.  I needed to unblock the Queen (the Jack should promise the 10 of spades) or discard it on the fourth diamond, and then I get partner to push a heart through.

Partner did well to lead the Jack of spades -- it would be required if I held the King and declarer the Queen in that suit.  Because I had the unblock available if I held the Queen instead (as here), the hearts could wait.

This was the full hand:

Dealer: N
Vul: EW
North (dummy)
♠ A
♥ T964
♦ K942
♣ AKQ9
West (me)
♠ Q954
♥ AJ82
♦ AQ
♣ J75
♠ JT87
♥ Q53
♦ JT5
♣ 864
♠ K632
♥ K7
♦ 8763
♣ T32

 N    E    S     W
1D  P   1S     P
2H  P   2NT  P
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