Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Lancaster Regional, Day Two

Dan left yesterday for the Lancaster regional with Jonathan Steinberg. So far, things are going well for them. They started in the knockouts yesterday evening, and won that match and their morning match. Unfortunately they were eliminated in the afternoon match and wound up in the Board A Match in the evening. They won the event with 17 out of 24, a respectable score.

Here are a couple of interesting slam hands from today:

Their auction went:

This hand illustrates how listening to the auction can help you visualize the hand around the table. East-West's strong preemption told Dan that his partner had a heart void and helped him picture that slam might be laydown. As the cards lie, it's as good as a diamond guess.

At the other table, their teammates were permitted to play in 4H (!) for a big pickup.

The second board is equally interesting.

The auction went:

Dan, sitting South, passed 6C since he realized that 6N usually wouldn't be able to make if 6C didn't. The upside to playing 6C was that since South is declarer the diamond tenace is protected from the opening lead, not to mention that in some scenarios playing in a trump suit allows declarer more flexibility in the play (e.g. ruffing things in dummy). On this lie of the cards, clubs were 5-1 but both diamonds and spades were favourable so the slam came home -- to lose 2 IMPs against 6NT at the other table, of course!

The most interesting feature of this deal: what is the correct line of play if trumps break? You win the trump opening lead and draw three more rounds. How do you play?

Although in isolation this doesn't seem like the right play, cashing 2 rounds of hearts in dummy, and playing the ace of spades and nine of spades toward the queen is clearly the best line. (Rich DeMartino, when Dan gave him this problem, worked it out in 30 seconds flat and called it a "textbook hand"). You are able to find out the spade position before East can get in to push diamonds through the AQ. If East rises king on the 9, you can fly ace of diamonds, unblock the SJ, play a heart to the ace and pitch dummy's remaining diamond on the SQ. If West wins the SQ with the king, you have time to test for 3-3 spades before falling back on the diamond finesse. And if the ST or SK falls, it's again easy.

Hopefully the tournament will continue to go well!

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