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July 22, 2001
Depth Perception

The Scorecard is the publication for ACBL District 16. I was asked and consented to write a regular column aimed at the 0-299 masterpoint player. I will post my columns here as they may be of benefit to the same readers that benefit from my newsletter.

Scorecard, Volume 33, No 4 - July/August 2001

Experience at play of the hand tends to be a matter of depth perception. How perceptive are you? Look at each of the following slam hands and develop a line of play. Pick what you think is the best line of play to make twelve tricks. You can assume that you are playing IMPs. Trust me, these are not hands where overtricks will be of any importance anyway. After each look at the answers and you will see what I mean when I say depth perception.

#1

North
spade.gif (842 bytes)A10
heart.gif (841 bytes)QJ87
diamond.gif (837 bytes)7532
club.gif (841 bytes)AQ2
South (you)
spade.gif (842 bytes)2
heart.gif (841 bytes)AK9532
diamond.gif (837 bytes)AQ8
club.gif (841 bytes)KJ10
West North East South
Pass 1diamond.gif (837 bytes) Pass 1heart.gif (841 bytes)
Pass 2heart.gif (841 bytes) Pass 4NT
Pass 5heart.gif (841 bytes) Pass 6heart.gif (841 bytes)
Pass Pass Pass

Opening lead is the spade.gif (842 bytes)K. Hearts are 1-2. Plan the play.

#2

North
spade.gif (842 bytes)KQJ3
heart.gif (841 bytes)AQ52
diamond.gif (837 bytes)654
club.gif (841 bytes)32
South (you)
spade.gif (842 bytes)A9876
heart.gif (841 bytes)643
diamond.gif (837 bytes)AKQ
club.gif (841 bytes)AK
West North East South
2NT
Pass 3club.gif (841 bytes) Pass 3spade.gif (842 bytes)
Pass 4club.gif (841 bytes) Pass 4NT
Pass 6spade.gif (842 bytes) Pass Pass
Pass

Opening lead is the club.gif (841 bytes)Q. Spades are 1-3. Plan the play.

#3

North
spade.gif (842 bytes)52
heart.gif (841 bytes)AJ5
diamond.gif (837 bytes)AQ943
club.gif (841 bytes)A42
South (you)
spade.gif (842 bytes)AQ
heart.gif (841 bytes)K92
diamond.gif (837 bytes)KJ10872
club.gif (841 bytes)K3
West North East South
1NT Pass 4club.gif (841 bytes)
Pass 4NT Pass 6diamond.gif (837 bytes)
Pass Pass Pass

Opening lead is the club.gif (841 bytes)Q. Diamonds are 1-1. Plan the play.

Answers:

Hand #1

You have eleven top tricks with an opportunity to develop an additional diamond trick. Whether you are successful or not depends upon your perception. The lowest perception (I will call it Level 1) simply wins the opening lead and takes diamond finesse. You have approximately a 50% chance of success. Level 2 perception realizes the power of getting the opponents to help whenever possible. Level 2 players win the opening lead, trump the spade.gif (842 bytes)10, pull trump, and then cash all three clubs ending in the dummy. This effectively eliminates all the suits except diamonds and hearts from the two hands. Now a small diamond is played from dummy. If East is unable or unwilling to play a diamond higher than the diamond.gif (837 bytes)8 then West is allowed to win this trick and finds herself in the unfortunate position of being forced to choose between leading a diamond into the diamond.gif (837 bytes)AQ or giving you a ruff-sluff. Either way, twelve tricks are yours. This line is lightly better than 50%. The true visionaries (Level 3) give themselves TWO chances to pull off this position. Level 3 players win the opening lead, pull trump, and then cash three rounds of clubs ending in the dummy. Now they lead the spade.gif (842 bytes)10. If East is unable or unwilling to cover it with a higher spade, then the diamond.gif (837 bytes)8 is discarded and West is allowed to win and present you with the contract with her return. If East covers the spade.gif (842 bytes)10, then it is trumped and dummy is entered with a trump and diamond is played to see if East can find a diamond higher than the diamond.gif (837 bytes)8. This gives the Level 3 players TWO chances to endplay West.

Hand 2

Once again you find yourself in slam with eleven top tricks and chances for a twelfth. The Level 1 players simply win the opening lead, pull trump and take the heart finesse by playing low to the heart.gif (841 bytes)Q. This equates to about a 50% chance. I guess you figured out by now that you can do better. Having learned from Hand 1, the Level 2 players win the opening lead, pull trump, cash the remaining diamond and club winners before taking the heart finesse. This is ever so slightly better, but they too miss the point. They make the hand if West holds the heart.gif (841 bytes)K or if East has the heart.gif (841 bytes)K singleton. The Level 3 player remembers the definition of a finesse, and realizes that even if the heart finesse is successful that a heart loser still exists. Level 3 players give themselves ever opportunity. Win the opening lead, pull trump, cash the heart.gif (841 bytes)A, cash the diamond and club winners, and then lead a heart towards the heart.gif (841 bytes)Q. Level 3 players win if the heart.gif (841 bytes)Q is in the West hand (the finesse works) OR if the heart.gif (841 bytes)K is in the East hand singleton (it falls under the heart.gif (841 bytes)A) OR if the heart.gif (841 bytes)K is in the East hand doubleton (when East captures the heart.gif (841 bytes)Q she must give you a ruff-sluff on the return).

Hand 3

Surprise, another hand with eleven top tricks. This time several choices are available for the desperately needed extra trick. The Level 1 players can see far enough to combine chances. Level 1 players win the opening lead, pull trump, and take both the spade finesse (small to the spade.gif (842 bytes)Q) AND the heart finesse (cash the heart.gif (841 bytes)K, then small to the heart.gif (841 bytes)J). Good chance coming out slightly better than 75% needing only one of two finesses plus a small boost from the possibility that the heart.gif (841 bytes)Q is singleton. Can you do better? Without question you can. The Level 2 players by now realize that soliciting the opponents help with finesses is good work if you can get it. Level 2 players win the opening lead, pull trump, cash the club.gif (841 bytes)A, trump the last club, cash the heart.gif (841 bytes)A and heart.gif (841 bytes)K, and then play the heart.gif (841 bytes)J. Level 2 players will come home with twelve tricks whenever the heart.gif (841 bytes)Q is doubleton or singleton OR whenever West holds the heart.gif (841 bytes)Q (when West wins the heart.gif (841 bytes)Q she must either return a spade into the spade.gif (842 bytes)AQ or give you a ruff-sluff) OR whenever East holds the heart.gif (841 bytes)Q and spade.gif (842 bytes)K (when East wins the heart.gif (841 bytes)Q she will lead a spade and force the spade finesse). This better than then the Level 1 approach by taking the additional advantage of a doubleton heart.gif (841 bytes)Q, but still not the best. Neither the Level 1 or Level 2 players used the power of the heart.gif (841 bytes)9! Level 3 players win the opening lead, pull trump, cash the club.gif (841 bytes)A, trump the third club, and then play the spade.gif (842 bytes)A and the spade.gif (842 bytes)Q. Level 3 players will come to twelve tricks whenever East holds the spade.gif (842 bytes)K (upon winning the heart.gif (841 bytes)K East must lead into the heart heart.gif (841 bytes)AJ or give you a ruff-sluff) OR when West holds the spade.gif (842 bytes)K and the heart.gif (841 bytes)Q OR when West holds the spade.gif (842 bytes)K and the heart.gif (841 bytes)10. This combination should be familiar to you. If West returns a low heart you play low from dummy. If East holds the heart.gif (841 bytes)Q without the heart.gif (841 bytes)10 then you will take three heart tricks. If East plays the heart.gif (841 bytes)10, then you win the heart.gif (841 bytes)K and try a heart to the heart.gif (841 bytes)J. The only arrangement that does not allow you to take three heart tricks is the heart.gif (841 bytes)Q and heart.gif (841 bytes)10 both with East. The total for Level 3 players is close to 88%, considerably better than the Level 1 chance of 75%.

How did you do? Are you a Level 1, 2 or 3? The next time you start to complain about your bad luck, take another look at the hand. Did you miss something? Let me hear from you.

Thanks!
Gary King

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