Friday, September 6, 2013

Top from a remaining doubleton exceptions?

We had an interesting semi-final match on the final day of the Charlotte regional against Wisdom-Rutledge, Helms-Marks, Joyce^2. I think we all agree that Sean and I were rather unlucky in that match which we wound up losing by only 5. We did our share of good things, but some random things and opening lead guesses screwed us a good bit. Our weak NT wrong-sided a 4S contract, enabling the defense to get their obvious heart ruff. I continually made unfortunate opening leads, allowing marginal games to make. Fortunately some of these were duplicated. One board I had to find a diamond against a 1C-1D (Montreal relay denying a 5 card major); 1NT-3NT auction holding xx, KJxx, Txx, Txxx (I picked a spade; the other table probably picked a heart for the same result). I had to find a heart from Jxxxx, Qx, Axx, xxx against I believe a 1D-3D (inv); 3NT auction. The other table played NT from the other side and p has an obvious heart lead to set. There were some other leads I made that didn't work out so well like when I led from Kx of clubs and found AQJxx in dummy but that was immaterial.

There is one trick 2 play that particularly interests me. I held AJ3, T9xxx, xx, xxx. After a 1NT-3NT auction, Sean led the S6 and dummy had something like T85, xx, Kxxx, AQJx. I took the ace at trick 1 and saw the 4 from declarer. Normally with an initial three card holding, you should lead back the top of 2 remaining and lead back original 4th best if you have three remaining. However, it seems pretty likely that Sean led from a 5 card suit. If it's Kxxxx, I need to lead low now to enable us to take all 5 spade tricks. If it's Qxxxx, it shouldn't matter, and if it's a 4 card suit, it also should matter as long as he continues spades at trick 3. In any case (except KQxxx), Sean will need a side entry to cash the last spade(s) and set the contract. I led back my 3, declarer played the 2 and Sean won the Q, then tanked awhile before deciding that I started with only a doubleton spade and shifting to something else. This is not a problem for partner that I anticipated coming up. I totally understand him thinking I may have only had a doubleton spade but with holding a high heart and diamond, there isn't much else I could have in the side suits so there isn't much to play for (I might have and be able to score the DQ for our 5th trick) besides pounding out the spade honors.

The J at trick 2 only gives up a trick when partner has Kxxxx, and even in that situation, we will still take 4 spade tricks plus whatever side entry partner has. That's enough to set, and partner can't really go wrong on defense that way once he knows I have the J. So, maybe I should lead back the J just to make sure partner knows the spade honor situation rather than trying to get -2 instead of -1 in a team game. I still think a low spade at trick 2 is right, going against the general high-from-doubleton principle.

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