Sunday, August 1, 2010

Down Again

This hand presents a real test of your knowledge of suit split odds and ability to set up squeezes but in actuality, the best line may be to simply draw trumps and take a straight up club finesse. I haven't worked through the exact odds of which line is superior and given a heart overcall, those odds are surely different and favor playing for one of the squeeze possibilities.

♠ Qx
♥ AJxxx
♦ AKxx
♣ Ax
♠ AJ9xxxx
♥ x
♦ Qx
♣ KJxx

A 3-2 trump split is almost required to make this contract, although it can probably be made if there's a stiff honor. Anyway, on the heart king lead, how would you play?

There are a few options: 1) ruff a club in dummy, which probably requires you to cash 3 diamonds, then place AK-ruff in clubs. 2) club finesse. Less than 50% given the overcall by west, but maybe not much less than 50% snce east surely has more clubs and west is a junior so may have overcalled on an 8 count. 3) Play to squeeze west in hearts and diamonds - needs west to have started with 5-4 in hearts and diamonds. 4) Play to endplay west early by cashing diamonds then throwing him in with A and another spade. He then would have to give you the J of hearts or a 3rd club trick if he started with Kx of spades and no more than 3 diamonds. If that fails, you can fall back on a club finesse. You can actually combine 2 and 3 into one line because the heart-diamond squeeze will still be in tact if the endplay fails. 5) play for a double squeeze. Ruff a couple of hearts, run trumps, west has to hold the Q, east has to hold the big diamond and then the club queen will fall doubleton from either hand. That requires east to have 4 diamonds, which probably is the most likely scenario and is the line the better players - david berkowitz and kevin collins, specifically, have suggested. But, alas, on the actual hand, the club finesse or the simple squeeze against west would work. But, really, this is one where table feel might be worth a lot since the percentage of these lines are pretty close. Watching how much east squirms on particular discards might help. A quick club discard first might indicate he started with 5 clubs while a slow club discard first might be from a 4 card suit, and a diamond discard by either opponent would surely indicate he started with 3 or fewer.

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