For the first time in a very long time, my Spingold run ended on day one. We lost our match by 2 IMPs, the closest match I've had in a 64 board KO match. (I have lost by 3 before.)
Congratulations to Bob Heitzman, Jonathan Weinstein, Michael Prahin and Alex Perlin on a match well played. They fully deserved to win. I played Bob and Jonathan in the 3 quarters I played, and overall they played very well. They had a 6 IMP lead going into the final quarter, and managed to hold on for the victory.
There was one board in the 4th quarter that I thought might have won us a game swing (and the match), but it was a push at +620. I don't know how the play went at the other table, but here is what happened at mine.
After opening the South hand 1NT, my partner Dan Gerstman bid 4H Texas transfer. This was doubled by Bob (East), 4S by me to end the auction.
How do you play the hand on the ♥
4 lead, to the 2 and 7?
While I would love to be able to duck this trick safely, there seemed to be too much danger that the lead was a singleton. However, I was also concerned that if Jonathan (West) did have a doubleton heart, they may be able to take many heart tricks later unless I removed that card from their hand.
Based on this, I led my heart back at trick 2 to the 3, 5 and 9 by East. After some thought, East returned the ♥
Q (suit preference for clubs). I ruffed and was over ruffed by West, as expected.
After some thought, Jonathan returned a spade. At this point, I was able to take over. I cashed the 2 top spades, hoping that my 'tapping' of the West hand would be from 3 cards, and I would have no more spade losers. This in fact happened, with Bob starting with Qx of spades.
In this ending, I've already lost 2 tricks. It seems that I have one more sure loser in the ♥
J and one possible loser in the diamond finesse. If the diamond finesse works and clubs are 3-3, I might be able to make an overtrick, but at this form of scoring I'm primarily worried about making my contract. Also, both my table feel and the signals (suit preference for clubs) made me believe that the ♦
K is offside. So what options do I have?
There is one last possibility: an endplay. I need to lose a trick to West in such a way that he provides me an extra trick. Accordingly, I led the club from the board, and covered East's ♣7 with the 8. When West won the ♣Q, he had only minor suit cards left. A diamond return would immediately give me 10 tricks, so he played a club. This in effect gave me an extra entry to ruff out the clubs. I won in hand (shaking a diamond from the board) and ruffed the 3rd round of clubs. When clubs were 3-3, I no longer needed the diamond finesse for 10 tricks.
The full deal. Notice that other attempts to endplay West such as the ♦
10 from the dummy will fail, as East can cover. Here, East clubs were such that I can always force West to win the club trick. If that were not the case, I could win the ♣A, ruff a club and then try floating the ♦
10. If West has the J as well as the K, the endplay still works. All of these seem vastly superior to the immediate diamond finesse, since there is always an option to try that later if nothing else works.
Alas, +620 was a push rather than the game swing I hoped for that would have been much more than the margin of victory.
Once again, congrats to Bob, Jonathan, Alex and Michael. I wish them the best in the rest of the event.
Labels: bridge, nabc