Seven Notrump

In which some people who play bridge blog about it.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Another slam attempt

I don't much like to play online, but once in a while, when the bridge urge is strong and I can't find real-life players, it comes in handy. You can always find a game on Yahoo; the problem is, you have no idea who you might be playing with.

partner When I was dealt the fantastic hand below (I'm South again) on Yahoo Bridge, I didn't know a thing about my partner's system, and I didn't want to risk being passed or winding up in some freaky contract, so I opened with 3NT. But, as I guess can be expected in such situations, my mysterious partner raised, and we landed in 6NT. Take a look:

Contract: 6 NT
Lead: ♠ 4
♠ Q 10 6
♥ 9 6
♦ 9 8 5
♣ 10 9 7 5 2
♠ J 9 8 4 3 2
♥ J 2
♦ 7 4
♣ 8 6 4
♠ A
♥ 10 8 7 3
♦ Q J 10 6 3 2
♣ K 3
♠ K 7 5
♥ A K Q 5 4
♦ A K
♣ A Q J

West led the 4 of spades to East's ace. I went down at the time, but the small slam is possible. Can you see a way to win all the remaining tricks and make the contract? Assume that East isn't self-sacrificing enough to lead a club on the second round.


  At Tuesday, August 08, 2006 7:55:00 PM, Anonymous Bryan said:

Hey Paul and Michelangelo! If you assume that West is leading his 4th high, you can count how many missing cards there are above the 4 and assume that after playing the A of spades East could at best have the 2 and 3 remaining. Therefore, throw the K of spades on the ace to allow two finesses. It still requires a lucky guess, but go to the 10 of spades and finesse a club. Here's the chancy part... cash the ace of clubs. When the king falls, cash the Q of clubs, go to the queen of spades, run the clubs to throw off your heart losers and claim. If there is some other way, I can't figure it out. The K* doubleton is only like 33% likely or sumthin, but I don't see a sure-fire win.

  At Tuesday, August 08, 2006 8:21:00 PM, Blogger Paul said:

Very nice! That's the only solution I can see. I didn't even think about how low the odds were.

  At Tuesday, August 08, 2006 9:03:00 PM, Blogger Paul said:

I think half the time the club finesse will work; and then if it does, it leaves the king unguarded a third (?) of the time; so with that line of play you have a 17% (?) chance of making the slam.

You could hope for a 3-3 split in hearts, which would allow you to take two club finesses, increasing your chances in that suit significantly. The odds that hearts'll fall 3-3 are 35.5% (I'm looking this stuff up here). Take with that the 50% odds of East having the king, and then the odds that it's not Kxxx or Kxxxx -- my math isn't good enough to figure which line of play is likelier to succeed, looking for the doubleton king or hoping for the heart break; needless to say, Bryan's is the one that works when the cards are as shown.

  At Tuesday, August 08, 2006 9:08:00 PM, Blogger Paul said:

(Now I have "Bringin' on the Heartbreak" running through my head.)

  At Tuesday, August 08, 2006 9:18:00 PM, Blogger Bryan said:

I'm thinking that an assumption about the king doubleton is a little more foreseeable (maybe by, say, 4% or something) b/c you would figure East would try to flush out the A of clubs if he/she could and would have led a club at trick 2. That, combined with the successful finesse that placed East with the king...

  At Wednesday, August 09, 2006 4:07:00 PM, Blogger Paul said:

Actually, my thinking was off -- you don't need to choose one line of play over the other, since you can test the hearts before attempting the club finesse.

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