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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Len said...

If declarer leads up to the ace, it's correct to drop the nine, for props or whatever.

If declarer CASHES the ace, and you drop the 9 and see pard's ten hit the table, you'll earn massive something elses from experts, opps, teammates, etc.

Max said...

If they see the 9 from your hand and then cross to the queen, won't they notice that you showed up with another one?

Jonathan Weinstein said...

Len -- when he cashes ace, partner is 3 times as likely to have stiff small as stiff T, so maybe the 9 is the percentage play, although embarrassment is a factor in bridge.

Max -- good point, when you follow they could recover heroically with a 2nd-round finesse against your J9xx. But now they are really covered in egg if you had 9x or 9xx! Makes you a true believer in Rosenberg's "always play the 9" rule.

Mack's original question about picking up lefty's J9xx: Interesting question. I guess Joe Grue would do it (or others with massive confidence in their table feel.). The rest of us aren't good enough to trust our table feel vs. overwhelming odds. And why can't lefty have stiff trump and be hoping for a trump trick in partner's hand?

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