Wednesday, July 1, 2009

The Ghalib Crown

At the end of any bridge tournament, its easy to find almost every non-winner partaking in something along the lines of
"At least we beat the winners."
"We were leading going into the last day ..."
"If it wasnt for that match versus..."
"If that trump queen was in the other hand..."
"At least we managed to beat our seeding"
"Our bidding and defence was top notch. Just a few sloppies in the declarer play..."
am sure you can add a few others.

The reality however is that we are the losers and they are the champions.

Reminds of a Ghalib couplet
Humko Maloom hai Jannat ki haqeeqat lekin,
Dil kay bahlaney ko Ghalib yah khayal achcha hai

Which translates to
I know about the truth of heaven
Its illusion nonetheless gives the heart some comfort

At the 2009 PABF in Macau, our little claim to fame was that Tony and I were topping the datums for the second round robin going into the last match. Until this happened versus the eventual winners of the Ghalib Crown.

After N/S bid 1C - 1H; 2C - 3H; 4H this was our defence
1. SK - 3- 7 - 8
2. SJ - 4- 10 - A
3. HQ - K - A - 2
4. CQ - K - H7- C5
5. HJ - 3 - 4- 6
6. H9 - D9 - C3- H10
7. DA - D3- D4- D8
8. D7 - D5- D6 - Claim.

Other than that spade accident, what other points could the defence have prevailed at ?


  1. Chances to do something different:
    don't cover the HQ: Declarer runs it, plays a small heart next then CQ (as before). And has to exit from hand. Plays a low diamond to the DJ to force an entry to dummy. Declarer knows that East has CK, DAQ from West's failure to open (DQ is in doubt but there doesn't seem to be any other chance).

    unblocking the HT on 1st or 2nd round of trumps: this has the same effect as above - leaving declarer in their hand, and is similarily uneffective)

    playing a club rather than a diamond when in with the HT: declar wins in dummy and plays the DJ. We can cover and exit with another club. Partner needs to have kept their D9 as now the Diamond suit is frozen. This (as far as I can see) is the only defence.

    The club is "easy" to find if one is counting declarer's tricks: 5 Hearts, 1 Spade and 2 clubs. They need 2 diamond tricks for the game (they can't set up a diamond and a spade as that will be 4 losers). So the passive club exit is best. But without the crucial D9 declarer can always get home (and should).

    I suspect that Sartaj thought he could beat it by returning a club and having declarer cash both Ace and Jack before playing a diamond. But they won't be that kind.

  2. Some of that analysis is spot on and some isnt.
    anyone else want to take a shot ?

  3. Yeah nice hand man.

    Once H9 is led, West can count the South hand (if he has 7 trumps we're playing for practice), so D9 doesn't look right. And if you'd overcall here with KQJxx, Kx, xx, 109xx then you can't need to give partner any count. So West throws a club (since he knows partner will guard the 4th round) or a spade (he'll win a spade from south immediately anyway).

    When East is in with the lead, I think it's possible at the table (for someone-not-me) to work out South's hand (he must hold DK for the 3H call, and in addition to the possibility of an overcall from partner, with Kxxx in diamonds he will hold his losers to 1: if he's missing the 9 it will fall on 2nd round).

    From here, someone-not-me can play double dummy: Any diamond will help declarer get 2 tricks there so you play a club. If South discards diamonds you grab the DA and wait for partner to win his spade.

    If South discards spades, you can later take the DA on a DJ or D10 lead and play a 3rd/4th club (depending on what South did) & declarer has to lose another diamond.

  4. As an aside, I'm not sure that H10 under HJ on second round of trumps is a possible play to find (is it even right?): I'd be worried about a low diamond from South forcing an entry to dummy anyway, although maybe only a double-dummy South would do that. Don't know.

  5. East should exit a club when he wins H10.
    East can count declarer to have 1 spade, 5 heart, 2 club and 1 diamond tricks - so East can figure out that whatever declarer pitches on the clubs, the defence comes to 4 tricks, unless declarer has 5-6 in the majors, unlikely on the bidding. West could have made the club exit 100% by pitching S2 on the third heart, but D9 was OK, given the bidding.

    Peter Gill

  6. I disagree with Peter Gill. I think the diamond 9 was technically a disaster. Of course, it ain't easy for West to see that.

    After diamond 9, club exit, diamond jack - East has no winning play.

    With diamond 9 retained, club exit, diamond jack won by the ace, club.