APBF Captains Log 10 June

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APBF Captains Log 10 June

Monday 10 June

After a few days of warming up the Chinese open team put the pedal to the floor yesterday.  Their three wins left them first at the end of the first round robin.  The first of their opponents was Australia.  Things were looking good for us after the first few boards when the Chinese got overboard at the five level in search of slam and missed a game: do you think responder can pass after the uncontested auction 1S-1N-2C-2N-3S?  Would it make any difference if you were playing Precision?  But then we failed to solve some problems and they were aggressive.  The match ended in a 22 IMP loss, the smallest losing margin against the Chinese yesterday.

The open team’s other two matches against Chinese Taipei and Hong Kong – it was greater China day for us! – were equally frustrating.  Both were losses, so the team slipped to seventh at the end of the day.  That means we play teams one to six in our next six matches, so the next two days are critical if the team is to do well.

The women’s team had another match on vugraph to start the day, this time against Indonesia.  The match went swimmingly well for the first 15 boards, including because the Indonesian declarer failed this problem:

KJ2 654 AKJT T92

AQT94 AK9 8 AK84

She was in 7S on a trump lead.  How would you play?  (Answer below.)

But the margin was cut significantly on the last board.  Can you reach slam with these hands?  If so, which slam?  And can you tell in the auction which slam will be better and why?

Opener             Responder

KQ97               A8
A2                   97
Q542               AJT3
AKJ                 QT654

Much of the time it’s better to play in a 4-4 fit rather than a 5-3 fit so that discards will be available on the five-card suit.  But here you don’t need those discards, and the danger is that the third spade might be ruffed before you can pitch your second heart.  I think this is tough problem to diagnose, even at tables where South bids hearts.  Alas, Liz Havas and Nevena Djurovic chose 6D while the Indonesian pair chose the cold 6C.  (Interestingly, most of the pairs that reached 6C were playing Precision, many of which never found the diamond fit after a 2C response to a strong 1C; and the women were better at recognising the slam potential of this deal than the seniors who were better than the open.)  The 16 IMP loss reduced the winning margin to 15 IMPs.

After that the women lost by one IMP to China and then played New Zealand.  Things went badly from the start and got progressively worse.  Scoring 1.45 VPs dropped us down to fifth place, but at least we are still ahead of our trans-Tasman rivals!

The seniors continue on their merry way, still leading the field.  Lusk has slipped back further.  The draw for the second round robin means the seniors play their two closest rivals on the final day.  So scoring well in the matches against the other teams will be important.

Back to the play problem.  This isn’t the best contract and you almost certainly need the DQ onside.  But that’s only your twelfth trick.  The Indonesian declarer decided to play for queen-third onside.  That wasn’t successful, as the suit broke 4-4.  The alternative, which would have worked, was to play for a double squeeze.  Your RHO had five hearts so only she could guard that suit.  LHO had the DQ.  If RHO kept her heart guard and LHO kept her diamond guard then neither opponent could guard clubs and declarer would make four tricks in the suit.  If RHO pitched her long heart then declarer could cash a heart for the twelfth trick and take the diamond finesse for the thirteenth trick.  And if LHO pitched a diamond then you could take the finesse and make four diamond tricks.  I’ll leave it up to the mathematicians to determine whether that layout is better odds than queen-third onside.  I know many players would rather have tried for the double squeeze anyway: queen-third onside is not very likely and if the double squeeze succeeds they would have a great story to tell!

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