Which is More Likely?
Playing in the fourth quarter of a tight Spingold match,
K63 1097 KQ108 432
LHO deals and bids 1. The bidding proceeds
with our side silent.
Upon request, we are informed that 2 was forcing
and 3 was not. It's obvious to lead the K,
and I do. This dummy hits
Partner encourages and my K holds.
Obviously, I'm going to continue diamonds, but which one?
In order to beat this, partner needs either the A
or J and five of them. In addition, he'll probably
need to have the K. It looks promising, but if he
has the A, I need to continue with the 8, and
if he has jack-fifth, I need to play any diamond except the
Which holding for declarer is more likely, Jxxx or
Axx? Would he be more likely to try 3 with
either of those, maybe getting to a 5-2 spade fit instead
of 3NT if partner has no diamond help? I think just maybe
he's more likely to try 3 with the weaker holding.
Hmmm...plus, I need partner to have the K; it's far
more likely he has that if declarer has the A, since
partner rates only to have one useful card. He could have
two, but if he has both, declarer has at most a soft 8-count,
including three jacks. No one is red, so maybe he'd either
pass 3 or soft-pedal to 3NT without a sure entry or
a club card.
OK, I've convinced myself that declarer probably has the A,
so I continue with the Q. It holds. I continue with the
10; maybe declarer has only Jxx and we can take the
first five tricks, but partner stares at this card as if it were
an adder. He scowls, and after a minute's reflection, wins his
A and continues with the 9 to declarer's jack. The
club finesse loses, but declarer has nine tricks.
How could I tell which case to play for? A few hands later,
declarer (a great player), says, "did you have the 9
on that 3NT?" I answer that I didn't, but I did have the
eight. He says, "how about playing the ten at trick two? You
win if partner has the jack or if he has the ace and the
nine." That's a clear improvement, so the Q is
clearly an error, since the 10 is 50% better.
More importantly, it would have worked
Maybe there's a better solution. If partner has both the
K and the A, what's his rush to cash diamonds?
If he discourages, I can shift to a heart, and when he's in
with the K, he can run diamonds himself. On the other
hand, what if my diamonds are KQJ tight or declarer has five
spades tricks, three heart tricks, and the A, and I had
five diamonds that were cashing? Of course, that'd give declarer a very
strange 3NT bid with KQxxx Kx Jxx Jxx. We've all seen
Is there a better way?
Copyright © 2009 Jeff Goldsmith