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Just a Little Extra Chance (5/6/02)


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Just a Little Extra Chance
Just this past Sunday I played in a sectional swiss teams in Worcestor, Massachussetts. Of the 19 teams that participated, about 6 teams were back and forth in the lead for most of the day, and we ended up tied for 3rd/4th. In the round against the team we tied, an interesting hand came up.
Both Vul
Dealer N

S  A8x
H  JT9xx
D  Kx
C  AQx

S  9x
H  KQ8x
D  J98xxx
C  x

S  QJxx
H  Ax
D  Qx
C  T98xx
S  KTxx
H  xx
D  ATx
C  KJxx
I was North declaring 3NT on the lead of the C10. I could have tried to fool around by playing the HJ and waiting to see what would develop, but I decided that in the end the key to the hand was making 3 tricks in the spade suit. I remembered that holding KTxx opposite Axx it is right to play off the two top honors then lead low to the ten, taking three tricks whenever the suit breaks 3-3 or when honor doubleton drops behind the ten.
There were no inferences as to the distribution, so I spent some time trying to work out whether having the S8 would have an effect on what play to make. I decided in the end to play a low spade towards the king, and if an honor showed up in East, I would finesse the S9 on the way back, gaining the little extra chance of East having a singleton spade honor. In the end, I led a spade to the king and a spade back to the ace. As can be seen from the actual lie of the cards, this was not successful and I subsequently went down one.
The declarer at the other table was a two-time national champion, so I assumed that he would find the same line I did and go down as well. However, instead of playing a spade towards the king for the extra little chance of a singleton honor, he cashed the SA and led towards the dummy. As it turns out, he was playing for a different little extra chance, and he got it: my teammate split his spade honors! I suspect that he would have played the SA and came back to his hand to lead towards the dummy again, but he played for the extra chance of a defensive slip and it happened.