Do You Want To Be In This Slam- Read At Own Risk
Don’t read on unless you are into rather dull analysis but here goes…
I came on to watch the last board or two of an Icelandic match on BBO. This rather interesting hand came up. I have rotated the deal.
Both tables reached 6 and I can tell you right now it is not a “Bob Hamman” slam. On the lie of the cards it doesn’t make. So as declarer struggled we had an abstract discussion about whether it was or was not a 50% slam. My argument was that it makes almost all the time the K is onside and some times if it is offside. Having played with the hand in Deep Finesse I can tell you that if I put the K onside it makes every time double dummy. That doesn’t mean you will make it all the time. The trouble with that sort of analysis is that declarer gets to pick one line and he may not always find the one that works. If declarer had the 9 he would be better off but if he plays to basically draw trump and take a ruffing finesse in clubs as he line of choice lets see how that works out.
So let’s pick a line and then see how it works on the various breaks.
You win a diamond lead in dummy and you play a high spade. East wins and returns a heart. You try the ruffing finesse twice (you can’t stand a 6-1 break most of the time), nobody covers but it works. You lead a small club and ruff high. If East follows the K is coming down so you can just draw trump and claim. If East shows out then you do have a guess. You cross to hand on a red suit ruff and ruff the last club high. Now you lead a spade from dummy and have to decide whether to play for spades 2-2 or for East to have the 9. You have a reasonable amount of information about the hand by this time having played quite a few cards. Generally the finesse is probably right.
This line requires the K onside and works when the clubs are 4-3 and the spades are 3-1 or 2-2 with almost no exceptions. It works if clubs are 5-2 and spades are 3-1 or 2-2 and the ruffing finesse works except if the 9 is doubleton or tripleton with the clubs.
This line is obviously less than 50% but it does exclude the chance that the defenders will help out a bit. A trump lead would help (and a club but that seems very unlikely to impossible). A heart lead might be a bit helpful as it does allow some play in the heart suit which might work on some distributions.
Can we improve this line? It might be better to try for some cases where the club king is short offside even if that gives up on some of the hands where the trump break 3-1 in the offside hand. Is it wise to bring hearts into the mix? I don’t think so after the diamond lead.
If we change the line so we start with a trump and play a small club when in hand with a heart and then cash a high trump in dummy we have some decent changes when the trump are 2-2 and the K is offside doubleton or even in some cases where trumps are 3-1. Does this bring it back to 50%? I don’t think so.
With due consideration this contract is less than 50% but close enough that considering the choice of opening lead and possibly less than accurate defense its within spitting distance of that number.
I admit this type of analysis is tricky but it was sort of fun to do. If anybody wants to take it the next step. Enjoy!