NEBridge - Frank Hacker: Eight Ever, Nine Never

Eight Ever, Nine Never

by Frank Hacker

Originally printed in the U175 Table Talk

The recent Burlington Sectional produced at least one interesting hand. As East, at favorable vulnerability, you hold ♠ K J 10 7 6   10 5   A 8 5 3   ♣ 8 2. Here is the auction:

       
South West North East
      P
P 1 2 2
3 4 P P
5 P P ??

What now? The opponents are vulnerable, you’re not. Maybe they are hoping to make this. What can partner have? You have the spades and diamonds. They appear to have the hearts and clubs. North bid 2 and never peeped again. South passed originally and did a lot of bidding afterward. There seem to be 3possible actions – pass, double and 5♠. Pass seems chicken. Maybe they’re stealing. Double seems optimistic. Maybe they’re not stealing. You finally bid 5♠. Everyone passes. South leads a low club and here’s the layout.

West
A 5 4 2
A 9 4
K Q J 9 7
9
           East
K J 10 7 6
10 5
A 8 5 3
 8 2

Partner has a very suitable hand. You actually have a chance to make 5♠ –  with an overtrick! North wins the ♣A and returns a heart to South’s jack and dummy’s ace. Guess the trumps correctly and you make six, guess wrong and you’re down one. Are trumps 2-2, 3-1, or even 4-0? If they are not 2-2, who has the length? South, with his 5♣ bid, could be short in spades, or he could be long and have deduced shortness in partner. You decide that South would not have bid 5♣ vulnerable, if he thought he might have two quick spade losers. You also decide to keep it simple, and play South for the shortness. Also, if trumps are actually 4-0, you can pick them up if North has the four, but not if South has the four. It turns out that North had Qxx of spades and your finesse wins – making six.

Here is the entire hand.  

East dealer
North-South vulnerable
  
  North
Q 8 3
Q 8 2
10 2
A Q J 10 6
 
West
A 5 4 2
A 9 4
K Q J 9 7
9
  East
K J 10 7 6
10 5
A 8 5 3
 8 2
  South
9
K J 7 6 3
6 4
K 7 5 4 3
 

Double was the winning action. They’re down two for 500.