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Planning the play in 7NT

#1 User is offline   thepossum 

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Posted 2020-September-09, 00:25

Hi all

Here was a reasonably solid 7NT (maybe 1pt shy although I knew I had all the aces) which sadly I missed (I will explain why later). I actually thought I had a simple 13 tricks. I made an error on assuming distributions and playing suits in the wrong order really but the obvious 13 tricks are not there :) I actually want concetrating and discarded one of my 13 obvious tricks. But that did not cost the contract :)

Can you give some tips for me and any others who don't play that many 7NT hands how you would plan the play please



2 of hearts lead, E played 10 H won by King in South etc

Free massive matchpoints tourney in case anyone wonders. It wasnt the worst result I have had on a matchpoints hand but very disaappointed to miss it
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#2 User is offline   apollo1201 

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Posted 2020-September-09, 00:53

First you need to see that it will be necessary sooner or later to test the D to be sure they run for 5 tricks. Small to K of course. To see if you need to finesse against E.

If you banged down the A, Q or J, too bad.

If E discarded, some counting of the hands would be required so cashing the high H before testing the D probably doesn抰 hurt.

Lots of variations?thereafter (finesse, drop, squeeze) for the black Q...and some table sense (<mode joke on> or peek in opp抯 hand🤣🤣🤣, un bon regard vaut mieux qu抲ne mauvaise impasse as we say <end>) too. Beyond my level of a novice probably as well...

Eventually, E would be more likely to have the black Q.

Just wandering, though, leading a H from a short suit rather a low diamond from 5 small is riskier against 7NT. Blame W for not leading a S.

So what happened on this deal???
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#3 User is offline   thepossum 

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Posted 2020-September-09, 01:12

Hi Apollo

I think you covered all the considerations :)

My error (that kind of wasnt an error) was playing hearts first, crossing to the King of spades, then stupidly discarding a small diamond on the Queen

However, if I had played diamonds I would soon have found out that the 5 diamonds was not a winner anyway with 10xxxx diamodns in West

My heart sank immediately after realising what I had discarded but I kept playing hoping for a drop and not having to finesse to make the contract.

I just made an error setting up the suits to delay the finesse to the very end. Both black queens were in East and the 10xxxx in West.

EDIT I just checked. The mistake was to use Spades for crossing between hands. I needed the small Spade later

I was just incredibly diappointed that I scored only 19% rather thatn 90%, despite having bid the 7NT :)
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#4 User is offline   DavidKok 

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Posted 2020-September-09, 03:04

I think this hand is quite difficult, especially considering the subforum this was posted in. On general principles it is good to avoid touching the black suits early - both offer (risky) chances to finesse or play for the drop for a 13th trick, a decision which you should postpone until you have more information. Also be aware that you might need the entries in those particular suits (for example if you want to play for a squeeze).
So on general principles I would start with a small diamond to the king to test that suit. apollo suggested above that banging down A, Q or J would fail if east holds 5 diamonds, but there is no way of knowing this on the second round (and it is heavily against the odds). Small to the king does pick up the 0-6 split, for what it's worth. Then follow with 3 more rounds of diamonds and cash the two high hearts, noting the 5-1 break and pitching clubs in dummy.



Now is the right moment for some contemplation (or perhaps I am already too late?). If the hearts broke 5-1 there are all sorts of interesting inferences (in particular about black suit lengths, and thus probabilities for locating the missing queens). If west has heart length I would play on a black suit squeeze (cash AK and Q pitching a diamond).

I would like to cash the last heart, but west is sitting over my diamond threat (9) so that will squeeze me instead of the opponent. I tried looking at this position for a while and saw some passable lines (play AK, if the queen doesn't drop cash K, Q pitching a diamond and finesse the spade. Or cash the AK, Q pitching a spade squeezing the opponents whenever east holds the queen). If west holds the Q and east holds the Q, both sufficiently guarded, the only way to make the contract is a first-round spade finesse (which I dare not take). So I like the line of cashing two top clubs - assuming the contract can be made at all, it only fails if west came down to exactly Qx, -, T, Qxx. It is probably smart to count the discards with the hope of drawing some inferences about distribution, allowing a better declarer than me to pick up even this exact scenario.

Edit: I have a nagging suspicion that this hand can be played as a compound squeeze, to combine even more chances (with both the J and J as ambiguous threats), but I can't for the life of me figure out how to play it. Most likely I squandered the entries by cashing the K early.
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#5 User is offline   Stephen Tu 

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Posted 2020-September-09, 03:12

View Postthepossum, on 2020-September-09, 01:12, said:

My error (that kind of wasnt an error) was playing hearts first, crossing to the King of spades, then stupidly discarding a small diamond on the Queen


Your real error was not making a plan for the tricks at trick one, before playing from dummy, or at least at the end of trick one since there's no real decision to be made on this hand at trick 1 other than to win the A or K. If you make a plan, which is what one should always do, you would never have pitched a diamond. Discarding a diamond early in the play is just about the most horrendously bad play available, it's giving up an 87% primary chance for maybe 58% chances in the black suits. Crossing to the K of spades is kind of silly, but it wasn't truly fatal either. An early spade king play only removes option to finesse west for the Q of spades which is an unlikely line, but it's not something a good player is going to do since you would do other stuff first. But SK didn't kill you unless you played SA first, or squandered your CK entry for the last chance to hook the spades after testing diamonds.

You have to count your 100% sure tricks, then start thinking about what the most probable ways to get the extra one(s) you need, this should be done on every single hand you declare. Have a plan for how to make all your tricks.

Here you have 12 obvious top cashers, 2 spade 2 club 4 hearts, 4 diamonds, as long as you make the obvious unblock in hearts and maintain transport. So you start to think about how to make the 13th. 13th can be made by dropping black Qs or the DT, or hooks against these, or squeezes, and your job is to calculate which is the best chance, and if it is possible to combine multiple possibilities for an even greater chance. Individually in a single suit, a hook is 50% (unless subsequent play reveals an opponent to have an excess of cards in a different suit, which will tilt the odds). Dropping stuff, it depends on how many cards you have total in the suit and how many top honors. The most obvious easy way to drop stuff on this hand is to drop the DT, which will come in if DT is stiff, they split 3-3, or 4-2, or if west shows out on the first diamond which gives you a marked finesse (more than 87%). So after unblocking the hearts, clearly you want to just play DK and a 2nd diamond (NOT playing 4th heart yet, you don't know what you want to pitch on it yet! If diamonds split you definitely don't want to pitch a diamond, you will pitch a spade later; if diamonds don't split you will eventually pitch a diamond, but in some cases only late in the game retaining the 5th diamond as a threat card), if they both follow the hand is already done.

If East shows up with 5 diamonds, then you have to choose between hooking west for a black Q, or combining the chances with a drop, or a squeeze. If East has the diamonds West is the favorite to hold either black Q. But this hand also gives you extra chances, because you can set up a double squeeze using spades as a threat against both opponents. If you cash all the diamonds (pitching clubs from dummy), you can now play two top clubs, then the final heart. East has to hold the good diamond, so you pitch a diamond, East can't hold on to more than 2 spades. West, if holding CQ still, also can't hold on to more than 2 spades. So playing the spades from the top will now win. This line wins if West has the CQ, East has the CQ stiff or doubleton, or if East has the SQ. It will fail if West guards spades only.

If West has the diamond length, then the double squeeze with spades as the dual threat will no longer work. Then I would probably try to drop CQ and fall back on finessing East for SQ (East being more likely to hold any particular non diamond card, since West's 5 diamonds are taking up more of his card slots). (In all cases you are cashing the top diamonds and pitching clubs, preserving options and giving opponent chance to make a bad discard).

Maybe someone out there can figure out something better.

When you get better, you start planning what to do if diamonds are 5-1 at trick one, before doing anything, to be sure that cashing 2 diamonds first is indeed what you actually want to do first after unblocking the hearts (on other hands it might be better to do other suits first and maybe squeeze someone out of potential long diamonds).

Now, beginners (and most intermediates also) will probably not be able to visualize the double squeeze position when East is holding the diamonds to give some extra chances (vs trying something like simply hooking West for the CQ when East shows up with diamond length). That's perfectly fine at that level of play. But they should at least be able to get the concept of making a plan and testing the diamonds early, and not pitching a potential (extremely likely!) winner on a heart winner.
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#6 User is offline   apollo1201 

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Posted 2020-September-09, 14:34

David, Stephen, seems I miscounted opp抯 D (thought there were 5 out rather than 6), so you don抰 really want to finesse the D9 on the way back when all follow suit.
And as always, your comments are very valuable.
The funny thing is that 5th D is the key in the 7NT bid (3NT is 25-27 for the bots, the hand has 24 but a good 5-cd suit, a 10 working with a J which is now the key in the play of 7NT).
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#7 User is offline   thepossum 

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Posted 2020-September-09, 15:52

Thanks for the comments and how difficult it is for this forum. I was hoping for a dummies' guide to planning the thing, notwithstanding the difficulty

And special thx to Stephen for pointing out the most obvious and serious error of all��

I should clarify in defence of the limited skill I do have that after I discarded my 5 diamonds and had a small panic at that stage I realised I had to plan for one of the finesses or hopefully a drop. Sadly as has been mentioned by several people it was best to avoid the black suits too early. I successfully avoided touching my clubs but rather stupidly destroyed my spade situation.

In fact just looking at my hand at the instant of that stage of the error there was a still a point when crossing back to my hand I could have finessed the Jack :)

I need to check again and see if there was a later stage I could have recovered the situation (maybe the other finesse but I continued hoping for a drop) but I'm sitting here now looking at a sad MP score :)
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#8 User is offline   nige1 

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Posted 2020-September-10, 10:34

thePossum "Here was a reasonably solid 7NT (maybe 1pt shy although I knew I had all the aces) which sadly I missed (I will explain why later). I actually thought I had a simple 13 tricks. I made an error on assuming distributions and playing suits in the wrong order really but the obvious 13 tricks are not there I actually want concentrating and discarded one of my 13 obvious tricks. But that did not cost the contract.
Can you give some tips for me and any others who don't play that many 7NT hands how you would plan the play please"
++++++++++++++++++++


A useful tip "While planning the play, run your solid suit"
Because unless they are on skype or are self-kibitzing, defenders don't know your hand.
Here, your solid suit is and you can capitalise on the fact that you concealed your diamond suit, during the auction. You have 12 top tricks. Hence a practical line is ...
AKJ, K, Q chucking 2. AQJ. If don't break, then A, K,

In this 3 card ending, cash K. If Q doesn't drop, and T doesn't appear. then you can
-- Finesse T or
-- Cash A, if you believe that a squeeze has worked. For example, If RHO had the s, then you have a show-up squeeze, i.e. you can drop Q offside.

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#9 User is offline   wuudturner 

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Posted 2020-September-10, 15:22

Stephen Tu and nige1 have both given good lines of play. There truly is no solution for "dummies" to playing out a complex hand where there are multiple choices to be made.

The important point is to ALWAYS stop at trick 1. I have one student who desperately needs that. If not, they go full steam ahead, without a plan, and then look back and wonder what went wrong. With this student, my mentoring is usually to sit at a table as their partner. We bid the hand out. If I end up as declarer, we swap seats. (We always use bot opponents in this.) So partner plays EVERY hand we declare. Then before any play is more to trick 1, I try to ask a whole slew of questions.

Is this a reasonable contract? Would you expect the field to be in this contract? Or is this an unusual contract? How you would play a hand will often be impacted by the answers to those questions. Even knowing if the hand is scored at IMPs versus match points should sometimes impact your play.

What do you know about their distribution and points from the bidding?

What does the opening lead tell you?

Can you infer the location of any specific (important) cards?

How many winners do you have?

How many losers?

How many tricks do you need?

What sources of tricks do you see available?

Are there any blocked suits that need to be carefully dealt with?

Can you combine plays to offer an increased probability of success?

What is your plan to play the hand?

Do you have an alternate plans in case of bad breaks, thus an alternative line of play when something unpleasant happens?

As you can see, this discussion can become a long one, but it builds habits. It is even something you can do yourself. Only when all questions have been discussed is it ok to now play the hand.

If we are defending, I'll ask questions about what partner knows about my hand based on the bidding, lead etc. I'll ask what declarer has in hand. On defense, I might ask how I would expect declarer to play the hand.

I'm sure I could offer a few more things to consider, but these form the obvious list off the top of my head.

And of course, after tha hand is over, we try to have a gentle but complete postmortem of the hand. What could we have done better? Was there a better line than that chosen? Is it truly better, other than that it has a better result? What was the probability of success of the line chosen for the contract?

The point is, stop at trick 1. Think about what is where. Visualize their hands. Only then do you go onwards.
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#10 User is offline   helene_t 

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Posted 2020-September-10, 18:01

Maybe a B/I could think about hands like this in the following way:
- I have 12 top tricks. Maybe a black queen drops or maybe the diamonds split or maybe opps make a wrong discard. Otherwise there may be an automatic squeeze but that's just automatic so I don't need to worry. As a last resort I will have to guess for a finesse or a drop.
- I don't want to mess up my communication so I leave the black suits in peace as long as possible.
- I want to postpone my own discard dilemmas as long as possible. I don't know what to discard on the last heart so I will leave that for now. But I can painlessly discard two clubs on the diamonds.
- If I have finesse/drop decisions in the black suits, I have to try a drop in one suit first since I am in 7 so I can't afford to lose a finesse. The clubs are longer so Q is more likely to drop. Besides, when I play Q I will be in dummy which means I can finesse towards my hand at the end. Both arguments speak for finishing with this layout:

8 Q J
AJ 9

At this point Q and A are good so I need one more trick. I play Q. I probably haven't counted but if Q or Q or T has gone I will have noticed. Assuming all of those three cards are still at large, I discard 9.

Now I play 8 and East follows low. If East is marked with T my only chance is the drop, so I might as well have the policy of always playing for the drop in that kind of situations. Can't be much worse than a coin flip anyway.
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#11 User is offline   thepossum 

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Posted 2020-September-10, 18:52

View Postnige1, on 2020-September-10, 10:34, said:

thePossum "Here was a reasonably solid 7NT (maybe 1pt shy although I knew I had all the aces) which sadly I missed (I will explain why later). I actually thought I had a simple 13 tricks. I made an error on assuming distributions and playing suits in the wrong order really but the obvious 13 tricks are not there I actually want concentrating and discarded one of my 13 obvious tricks. But that did not cost the contract.
Can you give some tips for me and any others who don't play that many 7NT hands how you would plan the play please"
++++++++++++++++++++


A useful tip "While planning the play, run your solid suit"
Because unless they are on skype or are self-kibitzing, defenders don't know your hand.
Here, your solid suit is and you can capitalise on the fact that you concealed your diamond suit, during the auction. You have 12 top tricks. Hence a practical line is ...
AKJ, K, Q chucking 2. AQJ. If don't break, then A, K,

In this 3 card ending, cash K. If Q doesn't drop, and T doesn't appear. then you can
-- Finesse T or
-- Cash A, if you believe that a squeeze has worked. For example, If RHO had the s, then you have a show-up squeeze, i.e. you can drop Q offside.



Thx Nige. Usually I would run my solid suit. In this case I did run hearts first, but stupidly used spades instead of diamonds for crossing between hands.. The major error here was thinking I had 13 easy tricks and not planning anything at all :)

I even tried to claim after trick 1 :) and I have a horrible feeling if I had been playing serious bridge (other than GiB) that would have forced me to play for drops and not allow a finesse

My exact line was not dissimilar to your proposed line. Just a few small but very important differences
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