Two from a Club Game/Answers

  1. matchpoints, you hold

     S:J10764 H:J9 D:1042 C:AK6

    1S:1NT (forcing)
    What do you lead?

    Consensus was the H:J, which is what I led at the table. Not best as the cards lay; partner had C:QJxxxx and not much else. Instead of down 2, declarer made 7. That jass-menel is pretty seductive; I think declarer rates to have club length far more than partner. I'd do it again.

    ...just the time to have a kibitzer sit down...

  2. S: KQ
    H: J7x
    D: AKx
    C: AKJ7x
    S: Axx
    H: AK9x
    D: QJxx
    C: 9x

    After a fairly hopeless auction to 6NT, LHO leads a nondescript spade. Plan the play

    b) at IMPs.

    The IMP line is pretty clear, I think. Cross to the H:A and play a small heart to the Jack. That produces 3 heart tricks 84% of the time. In reserve is the club finesse and a showup squeeze. It's right to cash the C:A first, since RHO cannot profitably play a second round, and if an honor drops, you are gin.

    84% for hearts
    50% club hook
    6% club stiff honor
    ?% for the showup

    All told, this line is about 94%.

    a) at matchpoints

    This one is hard. With 35 HCP, it's a decent bet that the field will be in 6NT. There'll be a few outliers in grands and maybe someone will have an accident, but one has to think about the overtrick.

    The best line for the overtrick, I think, is to cross to the H:A and take a club hook. If that works, we are playing for seven. If it fails, we still have 3-3 clubs (35.5%), the H:Q's dropping doubleton (16%) or a squeeze (?% since a good RHO can continue clubs blowing up the entry to dummy).

    50% club hook
    35.5% clubs 3-3
    16% H:Q drops
    ?% squeeze

    I'd guess that makes this line 80% to make. Seven needs the club hook AND one of the other things (the squeeze is better now, since there's no question of misdefense)

    35.5% clubs 3-3
    16% H:Q drops
    about 40% squeeze

    Of the 50% that the club hook works, 65-70% will make seven. Call it 33%. That means that this line is about

    20% down
    47% makes six
    33% makes seven

    I think that makes it a clear favorite at matchpoints.

    Guess what? In reality, the IMP line scores up six, and the matchpoint line goes down one. I was playing in a club game with a weak partner, and he patronized me after this hand, saying, "it was just a guess," thinking, "my partner is an idiot!"

    The bottom line: "Matchpoints is a both_of(hard, dumb) game."

Jeff Goldsmith,, Jan. 31, 1996