Hand of the Week, Vol. 2 No. 3

The Cabin Fever Sectional is held in Anchorage every January, a great chance to thaw out a little bit from the Fairbanks cold and win some silver points. This year's tournament ran from the 21st to the 25th. This hand came from the Saturday afternoon session:

Dealer North
NS vul
S J T 8
H J 8
D K Q J 7
C Q T 6 3
S Q 7 6 4
H A 9 7 6 5
D T 8 6
C 2
[table marker] S A 2
H K Q 3 2
D A 4
C J 9 8 5 4
S K 9 5 3
H T 4
D 9 5 3 2
C A K 7

At most tables, the contract was some number of hearts by West. After 1C-1H, East can add a couple extra points for his doubletons and jump to 3H. West might decide he likes his 8-loser hand and try 4H, or he might stop because his singleton is in his partner's first-bid suit. Either way, at matchpoints overtricks count, so even if you're only in 3H, you need to take 10 tricks if you can. North's opening lead is the DK.

At first glance, it looks like you are due to lose one spade, one diamond, and one club. But it's going to be hard for you to trump two spades and a diamond in the dummy, especially as you might not want to burn a big heart in case trumps are 3-1.

Most novices' thoughts automatically turn to the crossruff on hands where there is shortness in more than one suit. But against good defenders, that won't work either: you're going to have to let the defense in twice, once with a club and again with a spade, and if they lead trumps both times, your crossruff may fizzle out with two aces and seven trump tricks.

The best plan is a somewhat less common one, the dummy reversal. Rather than trumping losers in the dummy so all but 3 cards in your hand are good, you can trump losers in your hand so all but 3 cards in the dummy are good. I was able to trump clubs in my hand 3 times, then pull trump finishing on the table to enjoy my now-established long club: win the opening lead, exit a club, let them cash their diamond, win whatever they return; ruff a club, ruff a diamond or cash the to return to the table, ruff another club, play a heart to the king and ruff yet another club.

This line doesn't produce 10 tricks all the time (it needs clubs to break 4-3) but that's better than a line that never works at all or one that requires finessing the 3Q.

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This page last updated 01.02.09
©2009 Gordon Bower