Saturday, January 2, 2010

"Simple" suit combination problem

You hold:




in trumps, and you need to hold it to no losers. How do you play it?

That's a relatively simple one, you say. Cash the A. If the nine drops on your right on the first round, after cashing one round, come down to the queen and push the ten through LHO's probable J654. If RHO played the 9 from J965, he deserves his trick. (Be on the lookout for this suit combination as defender. You'll earn massive props from expert opponents and lots of imps if you learn to drop the nine smoothly from J9xx.) If no jack or nine drops on the first round, take the second top trump. You'll be able to find out if J9xx is on your right - you finesse the ten. If it turns out that J9xx is on your left, too bad - you gave it your best shot.

Is it ever right to do something different? Here's the whole hand:

West started with the ace of hearts against 4S, low all around, then the ace of diamonds, low all around again, then a diamond to East's king. East led back the queen of hearts! This ran around to the king on the board. Are you still satisfied with the suit combination solution from above?

My partner thought for quite a while (which is more than most would) about the problem, but decided that any other play would be too anti-percentage. It turned out, though, that the reason that West went with the "granny-defense" of cashing his aces and the king of diamonds was that he had a sure trump trick - J965. Was pard right in going with the odds, or was the ace-cashing enough to tip him off to the winning play (low to the queen, then push the ten through planning on later finessing against the nine)?

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