Answer 1. My monkey said to lead a second spade so
I do. Could he have a "problem" with ATx or ATxx and try
to give me a ruff by flying A? No, because declarer would
have likely covered the Q holding the J (a Grovesner but I
guess there are hands where it would work; not thought about
it before.) Anyway, I don't see any other switch being all
Answer 2. Low . It looks like declarer has at least 4 diamonds
and we need to get our club trick in before partner's card
is dislodged. If partner has a second spade trick coming,
it won't go away. And from ATx, partner couldn't
very well play the T.
Answer 3. . Partner has AK and you need to get
your ruff right now to beat it. Partner couldn't know you
need a ruff so signalled low, again possibly from ATx.
Answer 4. T. The entire hand comes down to taking two trump
tricks with QT opposite A2. If left to his own devices, declarer
can't go wrong. Playing the T gives declarer a chance to
play partner for AQ2.
And the winner is (da-da-da-dut-da-da; fanfare of trumpets)
"Answer 2." Seems most likely.
I'm with Joel. At the table, I didn't
analyze the hand beyond "partner encouraged spades, so he
can't have the AK or he'd want a shift real bad." Problem
is, I couldn't find a construction on which a club shift
was necessary to beat it. Fortunately, Mike and Joel found
some, albeit unlikely ones.
I'm a little surprised that so few of the panel even
mentioned partner's carding. It mattered a lot to me
at the table, convincing me to play a club rather than
a diamond. As a matter of fact, I think this problem
is all about partner's carding. I wonder why so few
What ought partner play at T1? One might think that it
depends on the partnership signalling style (note that
Mike and I disagree about the meaning of the 6). Nope.
Partner should play the 10! That's not an upside-down
signal. It's not a right-side-up signal. It's not attitude,
not count, not suit preference. It's a pure signal. If
partner can afford to blow up the spade suit (if I have only
QJx, he's given declarer a trick) he must have fast winners
outside of spades. Where can they be? Diamonds. Therefore,
I logically have no choice but to shift to diamonds. He
also cannot have any combinable honors in clubs or we might
be getting them too slowly. Therefore, he has roughly
the exact hand he has and my defense becomes clear.
Those things never work at the table, though. Partner
usually says, "that's a very clever play. Perhaps I ought
to have worked it out." What they really mean is, "that
so-and-so keeps giving me goofy problems like this and
he's complaining because I don't solve them all??? He
can just ... "
Ignoring the issue of the 10, what ought partner's card
at T1 be? Attitude? When the Q holds, his attitude is
known. Count? We'd be pretty surprised if he didn't have
exactly four spades. And even if he didn't, do we care
much how many spades he has? It's not directly going to
influence our action. What we need to know right away is
to what to shift. If the hand were played the other way
around, with dummy's having the singleton spade, most would
play partner's card as suit preference. Here, everyone has
a good idea that declarer has a singleton, so I think the
T1 signal should be suit preference. If you play "Obvious
Shift," it comes to the same thingencourage spades if you
want a club, discourage if you want the obvious shift, diamonds.
More simply, 3rd hand knows opening leader's problem. Opening
leader knows his partner knows his problem. Therefore, 3rd
hand's card should be an attempt to solve that problem. If
one has strict partnership rules about signals (sometimes a
good thing), one might have to find the 10 signal. If your
partnership is more flexible, then I think this should be a
suit preference case.
What about later defense? Let's say partner plays the 10
like a good boy. What should we do? I don't see how the 8
will help; I think it'd deny a doubleton diamond when we follow
with the 9 later. That sequence would suggest a spade is
cashing. On the other hand, since we know partner's diamonds are
fast winners, we can do better. If we have only three spades,
we can continue spades to cash partner's second spade when we are
3-3 in the pointed suits. Then partner cashes his diamonds for
down one. How does he know we have a third spade, not a doubleton?
We continue with the small one, not the J, keeping the card
we are known to hold. With QJ tight, we continue the honor
and partner gives us a ruff, gets back with a diamond, and judges
from the hand count and our diamond spot whether to try for a
trump promotion or to cash another diamond for down two. What
if declarer drops the Q under the first diamond winner?
Partner has to cash another. We aren't beating this if only
one diamond cashes. OK, that's the complicated partnership
defense. Here's the simple logical defense. After one
spade and two diamonds cash, partner is free to continue
diamonds no matter whether he trusts us or not. Why? Because
the spade trick isn't going anywhere. The trump promotion
might disappear, but if declarer has two spades, partner
will take trick thirteen anyway.
All in all, it's a fascinating hand. And the panel blew
it just as badly as I did at the table!