Friday, October 7, 2011

Hesitation Pseudo Squeeze

Hesitations are things to be avoided as much as possible. This is not only to keep from giving unauthorized information to your partner but also to keep giving authorized information to the opponent. Sometimes you do have a legitimate problem and need to think but being aware of this and possibly anticipating the problem can help minimize the damage.
This deal is an example of a defender hesitating so as to help declarer make a good guess. But there are several other factors to consider before you try to utilize such information. 
Dealer: W
Vul: none
West led her 4th best club, won with dummy's K. Next declarer played a spade to east's K, then a spade to west's ace, and another low club, won with dummy's Q. Declarer then cashed 2 spades, 1 heart, and 4 diamonds, ending in dummy. After the final diamond, at trick 11, dummy is left with a club and a heart, declarer with KJ, and east clearly comes down to 2 hearts. West, meanwhile, holding the A and Qx, can't help but to hesitate before pitching the heart. An expert player would blank the Q without thought but for a player who wasn't counting declarer's tricks and anticipating this ending, it would be hard to discard a heart at trick 11 in tempo.
Declarer can use this hesitation to help him decide whether to finesse or play to drop the now-stiff Q offside. A hesitation means west has the Q and no hesitation means she does not have it.
On the actual deal, there was no hesitation so I finessed and it was right. Against a good pair, you have to be wary of trying to take advantage of this lack of a hesitation because experts would be more likely to discard in tempo (although you could legitimately take advantage of an actual hesitation in this position).
Also, it is worth noting that on this particular deal to go for the finesse because you're already a trick ahead of the field because east did not return a club when in with the first spade. That defense would always hold it to 3. The defense has allowed you to make 4, which rates to be a very good matchpoint score – taking a winning finesse allows you to make 5 but taking a losing finesse would put you back at making 3. There is more to lose by making only 3 than to gain by making 5. However, there is another thing to consider – that north may be playing 3NT at many tables because north may respond with 2NT or 3NT or south may not rebid 2 or 3NT, and if north declares, east is unlikely to lead a club (from Jxx) so the contract should make 4 fairly easily. Overall, in a decent field, I would expect 600 to be worth 35%, +630 75%, +660 95%. When it was actually played at the club last night, there was one 600, two 630s, and one 660.

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