Squeezing The Dummy

Monday, May 01, 2006

A Comedy of Errors

Bridge is often like a ping-pong match. Sometimes the declarer will make a play that will allow the contract to make... unless the defender finds the perfect counter... to which declarer counters... and back and fourth they go. More often, it's the opposite. A hand I played online against a couple of friends recently was exactly like this.

Vulnerable against not, I picked up QJ9642 KQ6 K 962. My partner opened 1, RHO bid 1 and I bid 1. LHO raised to 2 and partner raised to 2. I wasn't sure if he played support doubles here as he was a pick up partner, but I had an easy 4 bid either way. However, RHO butted in with 4 first. Obviously he had a shapely hand and was trying to bully us out of the hand. I bid 4, and LHO Xed. I suspected RHO had nothing and LHO didn't realize this, so I XXed. It figured to be down 1 at most which is good odds, plus the chance that RHO runs to 5. As it was everyone passed and I got the 3 of hearts lead (3/5th).

I was now playing 4XX with:

A53 7 A8732 KQJ4 opposite
QJ9642 KQ6 K 962.

Aside from dummy only having 3 spades, he had a very good hand. I was sure all the spades were on my left from the bidding though, so it looked like I had 2 trumps and 2 aces to lose. RHO won the ace of hearts and shifted to the queen of diamonds. I took it and led the queen of spades. LHO covered with the king and RHO not surprisingly showed out. Now I ruffed a diamond to shorten myself, and led a club. LHO won the ace and played another one. I was at the cross roads now. If LHO was 4342 I needed to play ace of diamonds pitching a club, ruff a diamond, cash my hearts and exit a low spade to endplay LHO. However, if LHO was 4333 I needed to cash a club, ruff a diamond, cash my hearts and exit a spade. From the carding I felt very confident that LHO was 4333, so I took the indicated line and LHO was endplayed into leading a trump into my J9.

Could the defense have done anything? Let's go back to when I led the spade queen. If LHO ducks I lose an entry to dummy. I can never ruff a heart or lead a spade to the ace or the endplay will automatically fail. So I must lead a club. Assuming LHO wins and continues clubs, I can only ruff two diamonds with my 2 club entries. In the end game I'm stuck in my hand J9x of spades opposite Ax and a diamond. Ducking a spade this time won't work as LHO can exit a spade into the stiff ace.

Now let's go back even further. My diamond king has suddenly transformed into a small one. How would I play then? I'm quite confident I would win the diamond ace and ruff a diamond immediately. Now if I lead the spade queen and it gets ducked, I lead a club again. LHO can win and lead a club, but I now ruff a diamond, cash 2 hearts and cross to dummy with a club. I've achieved the same endgame, J9x of spades opposite Ax of spades and a diamond but this time I'm in dummy. I now ruff a diamond and when LHO overruffs he is endplayed into leading away from his KT of spades. The diamond king was a mirage. Winning the ace and overtaking is actually an obvious play; hopefully I'd find it if I were playing in something more serious.

Does all this mean I was cold? Nope, if we go back even further to the point where RHO returned the diamond queen, we see that his best plan would be to attack our entries. If he plays a club and LHO continues I lose an entry. So long as LHO doesn't cover the queen of spades I am toast.

Overall just a comedy of errors.