Stay Awake and Plan the Play

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Author: Roman L. Weil
Date: October 18, 2021

By BBOer roman99 (Roman L. Weil)

This deal presents both bidding and declarer challenges. I’ll start with the declarer challenge so by the time you face the bidding issues, they won’t be single-blind.

Five of the fifteen BBO declarers played 5 clubs and all West opening leaders led a low spade.

Four of the five declarers played the Ace; East followed with the ten and declarer, South, played the Queen. Your North rose with the Ace. Then he led a low spade from dummy and ruffed East’s 4 with the club 8. Next, a low club to the Jack and spade 5 back to hand ruffed with the 3, East playing a low diamond. I give you this start because I want to cut down on the complexities of describing possibilities that arise if you began differently. If you want to pursue a different path, do so, but then you keep track of what happens to you.

We think East holds six diamonds, because West didn’t lead one, four/three clubs, two spades, and one/two hearts. This gives West five spades to the King, six/five hearts headed by the Jack or Ten, no diamonds and two/three clubs.

Think about your play; you have lost no tricks. Have you a Sure Tricks play for eleven? Or, does your path to eleven depend on opponents’ play? If the former, what is it?

I think you have a Sure Tricks play for the contract, first pointed out to me by BBOer Vocaljazz with hints from BBOer Miamijd. After North plays three rounds of clubs, drawing West’s remaining trumps, the position will be:

After the play of the last club, if West retains Kx and Jxxx, then declarer will cash three hearts, and throw West in with the fourth heart. West will cash the spade King, but give up the last trick to the spade Jack in dummy. Had West blanked the spade King retaining a fifth heart, North would enter dummy in hearts, throw West in with the last spade, regain the lead in hearts and cash out. BBOer Miamijd pointed out to me that Declarer has used the East hand as a steppingstone to the winning spade in dummy. This is not a classic steppingstone squeeze, but the name “steppingstone” seems apt nevertheless.

Results.

Only one of the 5 club declarers, not including me, played this well—a BBOer named Strategyst. Kudos to him. The one declarer who finessed the spade King at the first trick made five, but didn’t see the play here, which would have resulted in his making six. Making 5 earned 11 IMPs; down 1 earned 0.5 IMPS.

Bidding.

Now, put yourself in the South seat, to bid holding ♠Q Q9 8764 ♣AKQ873, V vs. NV. West passes, North opens 1♠, East overcalls 2, you, South, bid 3♣; North responds 3, East passes; to you?

5 ♣ , as we’ve seen, makes, as does 3NT.

Humans have questioned the GiB robot’s overcall in third seat of a mere 2. Opposite a passed partner, NV vs. V, they think it wimpy [Moyse used to write pusillanimous] to call only 2.

What would you [or I, for that matter] have bid had East overcalled with 3?

Questions/Problems posed here:

  • How to bid as East over North’s opening 1♠ opener?
  • How to bid as South over East’s wimpy 2 sequence or more difficult 3? (Should we report to GiB programmers a fault that the robots bid 2, not 3 as East?)
  • How to play 5♣ after spade lead and play of space Ace from dummy?

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