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At the Buzzer
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This is the last board of the match (Moss vs Schwartz), and the match is obviously very, very close. Close enough that overtricks might well decide the outcome. With that in mind, how would you play two spades by South? Follow the play below to trick three.

Schermer
Fisher
54
KJ6532
10
K965
Chambers
Hamilton
KQ1032
7
KQJ7
A82
W
N
E
S
1
1
X
P
2
2
P
2
P
P
P
D
2 South
NS: 0 EW: 0
6
4
A
2
2
0
1
9
7
A
2
0
0
2
4
J
9
3

Think about that for a bit. We'll come back to the play later.

Here was the full hand:

Morse
J876
AQ1084
9843
Lev
54
KJ6532
10
K965
Wolf
A9
9
A652
QJ10743
Landen
KQ1032
7
KQJ7
A82
W
N
E
S
1
1
X
P
2
2
P
2
P
P
P
D
2 North
NS: 0 EW: 0

At one table, Lev guessed to bid 2H over 2D, not the right choice with hearts going 5-1. Wolff led the club queen, dummy put up the ace and Morse ruffed. He found a diamond back to partner, best. Now, if Wolff would lead another high club, the contract can be set three tricks so long as West discards spades at every opportunity. Is that the best defense? Not clear, since it risks the contract on some layouts (give North a 1-7-2-3 pattern). Still, at the buzzer, playing for those extra 100's might well be right.

In practice, Morse wasn't put to the test. Wolff returned the club seven, so all West could do was ruff, and collect the spade ace and another ruff. Down one.

After 89 boards, Schwartz was up by 6 IMPs, so the match hinged on the fate of the two spade contract at the other table, where Fisher, North, had chosen two spades, not two hearts. If Hamilton made only two, they would lose by an IMP. One overtrick would tie the match, and two extra tricks would win it for Moss.

Back to the play problem Hamilton faced. It seems clear that clubs are 0-6, so West is either 3-5-5-0 or 4-5-4-0. In the latter case, there is another trump to lose, and nine tricks are the limit. The way to ensure nine tricks is to overruff, and lead a diamond to the ten. East may win and lead a club, but you put up the ace and lose a ruff. The other club will go on the heart king eventually.

If trumps were originally 3-3, you can take ten tricks by overruffing, drawing trumps, and playing a diamond to the ten. Unfortunately, that line holds you to eight tricks if trumps were 4-2. East will let the diamond ten hold and you lack the entries to score three diamond tricks (or you could lead a high diamond from hand. Either way, you take only eight tricks).

So, what did you choose? If you play for ten winners, you end up with eight and go home. If you guaranteed nine winners, you are in OT! I love those buzzer shots!

What actually happened at the table is quite puzzling. Hamilton went for the gusto, and tried to draw trumps. When trumps didn't split, he led a diamond to the ten, which held, and cashed the heart king, discarding a club. According to the viewgraph commentators, there was some discussion at the table, and Hamilton conceded down one. Odd, since no reasonable line would lose four more tricks. So the match record has Schwartz winning by 6. In my book, they won by 1.

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