15 July 1/13: defence again

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.
John McLeod
Posts: 136
Joined: Mon Apr 23, 2012 9:26 pm

15 July 1/13: defence again

Here is a deal from last Sunday's tournament. At both tables Mittelhand, having won the bidding at 18, looked at the skat and played in clubs. After the discard, the hands were:

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``````Vorhand      Mittelhand     Hinterhand     Skat
J: --        J: S           J: C S D
C: K 9       C: A 10 8 7    C: Q
S: 10 Q 7    S: A K 9       S: 8
H: A K 9     H: --          H: 10 7        H: Q 8
D: K 8       D: A 7         D: 10 Q 9``````
Declarer should lose, but in fact won at both tables. What do you think of the play? (My comments are below.)

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``````        Play at table 2            |             Play at table 1
V      M      H      V      M     |      V      M      H      V      M
S7[1]  SA     S8                   |     SQ[1]  SK[6]  S8
C7     CQ     CK            |            SJ[7]  CQ[8]  C9
S10[2] S9     H10                  |            C7     DJ     CK
SQ     SK     DJ[3]                |                   D9     DK     DA
D9     DK     DA[4]  |            SA     HJ     S7
SJ     CJ     C9            |                   D10    D8     D7
H7[5]  HK     D7     |                   CJ     HA     C8
D8     CA     DQ                   |                   H10    H9     CA
C8     HJ     HA            |            C10    H7     HK
D10    H9     C10    |            S9     DQ     S10
declarer wins with 63 points      |      declarer wins with 65 points ``````
1. Both Vorhands led a spade. My preference is the 7, since the queen is unlikely to hold the trick - but I would lead the king from 10-K-7. On this deal it makes little difference. A heart lead also works.
2. This is correct if M and H each started with two spades. On this distribution of cards it gives away a trick, but is not fatal for the defence.
3. This is a mistake. H's trumps are strong and will always win tricks. Trumping this trick improves declarer's trump control, gets the lead in the wrong place, and does not take enough points in compensation. On the other hand, V could have avoided this situation by switching to a heart rather than leading his last spade: it is very likely from V's point of view that M has the SK. After this trick, declarer is likely to win.
4. However, playing the ace of diamonds here rather than the king gives the defenders a second chance.
5. But H needed to cash the D10 on this trick to win. It's not quite obvious that this is right, because declarer might have started with a singleton DA and three little hearts, of which he could discard only two, in which case the heart lead is best.
6. This finesse looks extremely risky to me. V is unlikely to have led away from a doubleton 10, so if the king wins the ace is probably going to be trumped. However, it happens to work well on this deal, not by catching the 10, but because the spade ace can now be used to force out one of H's big trumps, which happens at trick 5.
7. I would have led a small trump, as at the other table, which works well if CJ is with the shorter trumps, and falls in the first two rounds.
8. However, the SJ lead gave H the opportunity for this extraordinary play, after which the contract is safe. The only case I can think of in which playing the queen can gain is if Vorhand has a singleton small trump. If V has any of the ace, 10 and king, as here, this simply presents declarer with an extra trick.

Mike Tobias
Posts: 320
Joined: Tue Apr 24, 2012 8:49 am
Location: Kent, UK

Re: 15 July 1/13: defence again

John McLeod wrote: 8. However, the SJ lead gave H the opportunity for this extraordinary play, after which the contract is safe. The only case I can think of in which playing the queen can gain is if Vorhand has a singleton small trump. If V has any of the ace, 10 and king, as here, this simply presents declarer with an extra trick.
I've told you before, you credit me with being a better player than I am, and are then surprised when I make these mistakes

1.7 Depending on my hormones, I'd have either led SQ (although I take your point about the 7) or the Heart A or K. If the Ace is led, a second heart lead trumped by the 10 gives declarer the game.

4. Do you mean 'rather than letting the K win'?

6. Finessing is certainly risky, but had M not held both big trumps, not finessing would have been equally risky.

8. OK! OK! :o)

It's one of those hands where both sides have plays that could turn out right or wrong, without there being any way of knowing. Although M should lose, he has the advantage that the defenders have twice as many opportunities to make the wrong call.

John McLeod
Posts: 136
Joined: Mon Apr 23, 2012 9:26 pm

Re: 15 July 1/13: defence again

Mike Tobias wrote:4. Do you mean 'rather than letting the K win'?
Yes, that's what I meant.
Mike Tobias wrote:6. Finessing is certainly risky, but had M not held both big trumps, not finessing would have been equally risky.
I don't understand this. How is it risky not to finesse? Why does M having both the A and 10 of trumps make a difference?

Mike Tobias
Posts: 320
Joined: Tue Apr 24, 2012 8:49 am
Location: Kent, UK

Re: 15 July 1/13: defence again

John McLeod wrote: I don't understand this. How is it risky not to finesse? Why does M having both the A and 10 of trumps make a difference?
As the spades are probably 3-1, not finessing could leave the enemy with future tricks of 10,7,smear, and Q,K,trump. Declarer having A,10 reduces potential pts for the latter to 11.

John McLeod
Posts: 136
Joined: Mon Apr 23, 2012 9:26 pm

Re: 15 July 1/13: defence again

Mike Tobias wrote: As the spades are probably 3-1, not finessing could leave the enemy with future tricks of 10,7,smear, and Q,K,trump.
This is what actually happened at our table, but
(a) it is better for the third player not to trump the K-Q (this was the losing play for the defence), and
(b) it is even better if the first defender (me) does not lead the the suit again, but waits to win two tricks with the 10-Q getting two smears. I thought of this immediately after I had led the 10 :(
Mike Tobias wrote: Declarer having A,10 reduces potential pts for the latter to 11.
With the jack of spades and no other jacks, declarer has zero chance of catching the A or 10 of trumps from an opponent, so he doesn't really care if they use them for trumping. Indeed, if the missing A or 10 is in the 4-trump hand, then trumping with it actually helps the declarer, in my view.