Jan 25th session 1 board 23

Discussion of hands from past BSkA tournaments (or other events) and how they were bid and played. Skat problems. General discussion of strategy and tactics.

Jan 25th session 1 board 23

Postby John McLeod » Fri Feb 07, 2014 1:25 pm

As Hinterhand you win the bidding for 18 and after picking up the Skat you hold:
J: C
C: 10 K 9
S: A Q
H: 10 K Q 8 7
D: A
What do you do? Clearly the heart contract is pretty secure. Beth (who requested a discussion of this hand) and Patrick both played hearts and made it. Nick on the other hand played Grand and made that too.
At first sight the Grand looks quite risky. Normally you need five controls (jacks and aces) and this hand only has three. On the other hand you are playing last to the first trick and you do have stops in all four suits so whatever (non-trump) suit they play you will be able to get the lead without spending your jack. But then after drawing a round of trumps you would like to knock out the ace of hearts and get the lead back to enjoy the rest of your hearts, and by this time you having already used up the control in one of your suits and there is still a trump out.
So the first question is, would you play Grand with this, and if so what would you put in the skat? Does your decision depend on who your opponents are?
I will post my analysis of the play, if you want it, after I have seen some responses to this.
John McLeod
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Re: Jan 25th session 1 board 23

Postby Patrick Phair » Fri Feb 07, 2014 10:19 pm

I don't see any reason to change what I did at the table -- play in hearts. To enjoy the hearts after knocking out the ace you not only need to get back in, with possibly a suit unstopped by the opening lead, but also to remove the fourth jack (assuming they break 2-1).
If forced to go Grand I would probably discard CT and SQ. This gets CT home while still keeping a stop in the suit.
The Grand is better against players who lead an ace on principle even from a short suit. The lead of the ace of hearts would be very welcome!

Patrick Phair
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Re: Jan 25th session 1 board 23

Postby Mike Tobias » Sat Feb 08, 2014 12:17 pm

Before looking at the hands: I wouldn't want to play Grand. I'm wary of Grands like this with a singleton Ace. If Diamonds or Spades are led to you, the defence can run the rest of the suit.

Looking from the defence's point of view, they've a very good chance of cashing both their Aces and 10s - you need to capture a singleton 10, you can't trump them - and also trump one of your 10s. That alone is 54pts, so DK and DQ will be enough, not even counting smears. For that reason, if forced to play Grand, I'd be inclined to discard H10 rather than C10, or more likely, discard both 10s,

Another risk is 3 Js in one hand: 3Js and one or two 10s with no Aces, could easily account for two passes or just a bid of 18, worst case 3Js and 10,x,x in Diamonds against you.

After looking at the hand: Very good splits, 2-2 clubs and 3-3 diamonds, and the defence can't trump the H10, Fortune favoured the brave, but I'd play Hearts every time.
Mike Tobias
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Location: Kent, UK

Re: Jan 25th session 1 board 23

Postby nswedd » Sat Feb 08, 2014 12:19 pm

I felt that a stop in each suit, and the top trump, was worth a grand. It was made easy for me when Vorhand started by cashing his two aces.

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Re: Jan 25th session 1 board 23

Postby John McLeod » Sun Feb 09, 2014 11:04 pm

At the table I would not have played Grand but on reflection I think it is certainly worth a shot. The fact that both the other players have passed (you won the bidding for 18 as Hinterhand), it is reasonable to hope that the Jacks split and the suits break fairly evenly. This is not certain but likely, unless your opponents are rather cautious bidders. I agree with Patrick that it is defintitely worth making a careful assessment of the player in Vorhand. If he or she seems like the type of player who knows the (usually correct) maxim that you should lead Aces against a Grand, and who sticks rigidly to it, that improves your prospects considerably.

If I had played Grand I would certainly have got the discard wrong. It is tempting to 'tidy up' this hand by throwing the Queen of spades, because it looks as though it reduces the number of losers you have. But on reflection I am convinced that this is wrong. You have no chance to set up your hearts unless your opponents help you, for example by leading the Ace of hearts themselves, and with that kind of help you will make whatever you so. Therefore in my opinion you should throw away the 10 and King of hearts. Keeping the 10-K-9 of clubs gives you two tricks if they lead the ace of clubs, and keeping the A-Q of spades improves your chance of catching the Ten: you won't be able to trump it because you are going to use your only trump to draw two of theirs, so you can only catch it with the Ace of spades.

In the hand as dealt, if Hinterhand plays Grand and throws the H:10-K in the skat it is very hard for the defenders to defeat the contract - virtually impossible without knowing what the declarer's cards are (or a series of lucky guesses). Even if the defenders find the best opening lead - a small diamond - you can win with your Ace, draw a round of trumps with the Jack of clubs, and lead your King of clubs, after which the opponents have to play with super-human precision to defeat you.
John McLeod
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