Wednesday, September 2, 2015

4 or 7 Hand but I was in 5

I faced a brutal play problem last night at the club. It was a 4 or 7 hand and I was in the worst possible level – 5!
AQ  AK9xxx  Qxxx
KJTxxx  J8x  AK  Jx
First let's start with the auction. That was pretty interesting too. My RHO opened 3Din first seat, both vul. I overcalled 3, what do you do with the north hand? He bid 4, in theory a slam try in spades but not necessarily a diamond control. I tried 4, my only semi-cooperating bid available even though I don't have a heart control. I didn't think the hand was strong enough to commit to the five-level by cuebidding 5 - it probably isn't good enough to cooperate at all. I figured partner might cue 5 and then I could cue 5.
The auction took a strange turn when partner bid 5 over my 4. Is he now trying to suggest hearts or is he making another slam move with no minor suit control? Regardless, no club cue so I sign off and play 5.
LHO leads the 10 and I basically have to get hearts right to make the contract, and getting hearts right likely means taking all of the tricks because if I get hearts wrong (or if the preemptor had Qxx and there is no right play), they will surely cash their two club tricks.
The non-high club lead suggests the club honors are split because he likely would have led a big club from AK so RHO has a club honor and QJ. LHO rates to have three hearts so if I go with that, I have a couple of options on how to play.
A)      Draw trumps, then cash the A, taking all the tricks when RHO has stiff Q and making 5 when RHO has stiff ten, and going down when he has one of the two small singletons.
B)      Draw trumps and lead the J, planning to double finesse. This makes 7 when RHO has stiff ten and 5 in all other cases (only way back to hand to lead hearts a second time is by losing two clubs and ruffing a club).
C)      Lead the J now, then draw trumps and take a second heart finesse. This makes 7 when LHO has QT(x) but goes down when LHO has QTxx.
Given that I was in 5 (not 4), I probably should take the safest line to make 5, which is definitely B. However, table feel and just the desire to take all the tricks led me to the slightly inferior line that risks a 4-0 heart split.
So the J was covered with the Q and no ten appeared. Then LHO showed up with four spades so the count no longer is much in favor of a 3-1 heart split – LHO has 7 pointed cards, RHO 8. So do I go back to playing for hearts to be 2-2 or continue with the double finesse. Is the good club player on my right equally likely to preempt with x, Qx, QJxxxxx, Hxx and x, x, QJxxxxx, Hxxx? I don't know but the latter is certainly a more attractive 1st seat vulnerable preempt.
So I tanked and played a heart to the nine, won all the tricks, and all the matchpoints.

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