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0023 - Last Train (part 2)

Remember from from the auction (part 1) North-South are in a 6♠ contract with South as declarer.  East-West were silent throughout the auction.

This play analysis (part 2) is by Gary Donner playing South on this deal as gdonnersc1 on BBO. (see Pages: Authors)

North-South at the other table ended up in a 4  contract.  So if the slam is made, it would be a big pick-up.  What does it take to make the slam?

Play: North-South are virtually certain of 10 tricks: 6 spades, 2 hearts 1 diamond and 1 club. Declarer (South) can pick up 1 additional diamond trick by finessing East for the J, but 1 diamond trick does not help. The best source of additional tricks is hearts.The opening lead is the  4. So the question becomes how to set up the hearts.

There are 6 hearts outstanding and declarer knows almost nothing about the shape of the opponent’s hands. The probability of different distributions of the heart suit are as follows:

3-3 split: 35.5%
4-2 split: 48.4%
5-1 split: 14.5%
6-0 split: 1.5%

There are two ways to set up the heart suit: take a ruffing finesse against East for the  Q or drop the  Q. Since it is equally likely that either opponent has the  Q, the ruffing finesse has a 50% probability of succeeding. But for it to work, declarer needs transportation back to dummy to run the hearts.

Here is how the ruffing finesse of the  Q could work:
Trick 1 – win  4 opening lead in hand
Trick 2 – cash  K
Trick 3 – spade to the  K
Trick 4 – lead  J if East doesn’t cover, pitch a club, if east covers ruff, pull trump and claim
Trick 5 – assuming East doesn’t cover and West doesn’t win, low heart and ruff high
Trick 6 – pull trump
Trick 7 – club to the  A
Trick 8 –  A dropping the  Q and claim

Scenarios where this works:
East has the  Q and West has at least two hearts approximately 42% of the time
West has the stiff  Q approximately 2% of the time

This is the line I took, a 44% line of play.

The alternative approach is to drop the  Q. But for it to work, declarer still needs transportation back to dummy to run the hearts.

Here is how dropping the  Q could work:
Trick 1, 2 and 3 – the same
Trick 4 – small heart, ruff high
Trick 5 – pull trump
Trick 6 – club to the  A
Trick 7 –  A the Q falls, now claim

Scenarios where this works:
Hearts are 3-3 – 35.5% of the time
Hearts are 4-2 and the  Q drops – 48.4% of the time they are 4-2 and 1/3rd of those times, the  Q will be with the doubleton so – 16.1% of the time
Hearts are 5-1 and the  Q drops – 14.5% of the time they are 5-1 and 1/6th of those times the  Q will be stiff so 2.4% of the time
In total, this line of play works 54% of the time.

I obviously did not take the time (or have the ability) to think this all the way through. It is a good example that it is important to slow the game down and think through the entire problem. There are no shortcuts.

Instead of winning 13 imps we lost 13. Bridge is a tough game. But if it was easy it would not be as much fun!

The HHI Bridge blog is dedicated to a better understanding of the game of bridge. There is not just one way to bid or play a hand of bridge, there will be differences of opinion and that is OK ... feel free to make a comment on a post. 

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