Friday, October 24, 2014

A slam

I was pleased to make this slam. I haven't been playing well lately (too much stress at home). This was the first board of a round, and on the last board of the previous round I put a cold 6NT on the floor. So it showed a certain amount of faith for my partner to give me that final raise to slam.


 I mistrust my analysis somewhat these days. I spend far too much time on BridgeWinners, and the exposure to world-class players is a bit intimidating. But my thinking was that I would draw trumps and take a ruffing spade finesse to get rid of the 4th diamond, making 7 if the AS was onside. Once the bad trump break showed up, I decided to ruff spades in my hand, hoping to bring down the AS, at which point I could lead winning spades from the dummy until North decided to ruff in. That plan didn't quite work, since the AS is so well protected. But the actual result was prettier, with North's QH and South's JD both trying to win the last trick.

 Looking over the hand the next day, it was suddenly obvious to me that a far superior line of play was available. After the AH revealed the bad break, I don't need the KH to draw trumps: the J9H in hand are sufficient. So at trick 3, cross to the KC, ruff a diamond, ruff a spade, ruff the last small diamond with the KH. Now ruff a spade and lead the JH. North can't stop you getting back to hand to draw the last trump with the 9H.


 So if this is so clear now, why couldn't I see it at the table? There are a couple of factors that spring to mind. First and foremost, there is the fact that I had such a clear plan for the simple case. When the trumps didn't break, the natural tendency was to basically stick with the same plan, just modifying it enough to try and cope with the new circumstances. It is difficult to take a step back and recognize that there might be a completely different possibility. A second factor is speed. I played too quickly, not giving myself enough time to consider different possibilities. That is a bad habit I have to work on. Third is pressure. At the table, you have opponents and a partner watching you, and you are under at least some time pressure. At home, you can relax, sip your coffee, and let your mind roam through the field of ideas. Achieving that state at the table is harder than it sounds.

 All things to remember when the next hand goes pear-shaped.

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