World Team Championships - Bali 2013
While we were driving toward Juan Les Pins in order to play the French Cup, Claudio turned the radio off and said: "Do you remember about the 3NT I played in Bali versus Levin-Weinstein?"
He was speaking about a very nice board played during the Semifinal match of Bermuda Bowl. This is a very interesting hand from a technical point of view.
2 = weak
West leads the Q. Claudio counts his tricks and finds out they surely are at least 8 (1 in Spades, 1 in Hearts, 3 in Diamonds and 3 in Clubs).
If Clubs and Diamonds are well divided there are 11 tricks;
if only Clubs are well divided there are 9 tricks;
if only Diamonds are well divided there are 10 tricks.
Lead: do you duck?
The first problem that declarer has to face is whether he should duck the lead or not.
West surely has at least six cards in Hearts (he opened 2), and his partner should have two Hearts. South has an only Hearts stopper, and this seems a classic situation where declarer has to duck.
Anyway things are not so authomatic: as declarer is facing the same one-only-stopper-situation in Spades, ducking the lead is perfectly unuseful, because opponents can return a Spade instead of an Heart.
Claudio, thus, immediately takes. We will see that, hadn't he taken, he would not have been able to respect the contract.
Continuation of play
Claudio with self-confidence starts to probe the minor suits. From Clubs and/or Diamonds he will probabily obtain the ninth and maybe the tenth trick. Anyway lately he is particularly lucky in love, so in game he suffers the following conditions:
he plays a small Diamond to dummy and discovers that they are 4-0 (East discards a Spade).
He cashes the A and discovers that Clubs are 5-0 (West discards a Spade).
Now Claudio knows that West at the beginning was holiding 6 cards in Hearts, 4 cards in Diamonds and 3 cards in Spades.
When time gets tough...
Claudio has an only chance left, that's to say finessing Diamonds twice, but he does not have enough entries (only one, the A). So the only possibility is forcing the opponent to play Diamonds himself... But how?
Declarer also cashes the K, West discarding Hearts, then the Q, and West is now squeezed in three suits:
- if he discards a Diamond, Claudio's Diamonds become good (so Claudio can cash 5 tricks in Diamonds, 3 in Clubs, 1 in Hearts and 1 in Spades);
- if he discards an Heart, Claudio can lose a Diamond because he knows that his opponent can only cash 3 tricks in Hearts and 1 trick in Diamonds (while he can cash 4 tricks in Diamonds, 3 tricks in Clubs, 1 trick in Hearts and 1 trick in Spades);
- if he discards a Spade Claudio can force him to play Diamonds.
West discards a Spade, for the following situation:
Now Claudio plays Spades from dummy toward the Ace and K drops (but any card would be the same, the key element is that West now has an only Spade left).
Small Diamond covered by the 10 and taken by Dummy's King (East discarding Spades) and 7, hoping that East does not have higher cards (otherwise he can take and cash his good tricks).
Weinstein, resigned, shows his cards.
Had Claudio ducked the lead, the opponent could have played a Spade back and this situation would not have been possible, because East and West's commnications in Spades and Hearts would have been intact.
Bravo Claudio! :)