Friday, December 14, 2012

What Does That Mean?

Playing with a pick up partner on BBO, you hold this hand with no one Vul.

84  A85  K62  AJT98

And respond 2D to partners strong 2C opener. Partner now bids 2N and you decide to invite the Grand with 5N. Except partner makes an unexpected response, he bids 6H. What does 6H mean and what do you do over it?

You finally decide to bid 6N, ending the auction. The opening lead is the Q of Spades and

The whole hand is

I was the person that bid 6H and intended it to show 5 Hearts, and unsure about going on. As stated after, the option was to play in 6 or 7NT, not Hearts or any other suit. So 6H was intended to allow partner to evaluate hand, and bid on with Good Heart Cards.

How would everyone else treat the 6H bid?

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Couple of Fun Hands

Had a couple of very interesting hands at our weekly IMPS Game this week. So will have a longer article than have put in for a while. Sit back and enjoy some weird and sometimes wonderful things with me.

On the first, with no one Vul, you pick up this nice hand, AKQT83  ---  843  AKQ4 in first seat. There are a few questions right off the bat, how strong is the hand, and what is the correct (or best) way to open it. In terms of high card points, it is good but not great, an 18 Count, but in terms of losers, it is very strong, only 3 losers, and since they are concentrated, it actually tends to work out even better than that in a lot of cases. I thought the 2 main considerations for opening were 1S and then try to show the strength of the hand with some jump in Clubs, or 2C to show a GF hand to start. With the partner I was playing with, I was going to get either a 2D or 2H response to 2C, so I was going to be able to get in an easy 2S over either. Since I intended to play this hand in at least 4S, that is the course I decided on.

I opened 2C, partner responded 2D, showing values, and I now bid 2S. I was hoping partner would now show support or bid a suit, allowing me to show Clubs and start to get the hand across, but partner made a bid I did not want to hear, 4N, RKC. There was now almost no way for me to get the power of this hand across, and the void. I responded 5D showing 3 Key Cards, and partner leaped to 6S. Not having anything else to say, I passed. I had considered how best to show 3 Key Cards with a void for a sec, but there were 2 big problems with that, first, what void did I have, partner needed to know, and second, I was not going to come up with some 6 level bid with this partner, and play in some contract I could not make when he failed to read it. We were not an established partnership, and I was not going to put stupid pressure on partner. Finally, the pair at the other table were unlikely to get to a Grand based on a perfecto fit, so just play the contract in a makeable spot and live with the result.

The opening lead was a small Club, and partner put down the perfecto, so 7S was cold.

J9  K532  AKQ6  J95

AKQT83  ---  843  AKQ4

I have given this hand as a bidding problem to a couple of partnerships now, and  no one has gotten to 7S. Although I think that was an aberration in at least 1 case, as I liked the auction, and it should have worked. The best auction I have seen on it so far has gone:

N                  S
1S                2D
3C                3N
4D                4S
5C                5D
6H(!)             7D(?)

The auction was very nice, and the 6H bid I think had to describe about the exact hand North held. First, he did not hold primary (4 card) Diamond support, since did not splinter over 2D or directly raise Diamonds. Second, he could only hold 4 Clubs on this auction, or would have bid 4C over 3N, not 4D. Third, he must hold a Void in Hearts, ergo, the hand must hold 6 Spades. I thought 6H was a very nicely thought out bid, and deserved better than 7D from partner, who was not on the same wavelength. They got to the 7 level, but in about the only contract that can go down, and would, Diamonds were 4-2.

So how would you bid this to 7S?


The next interesting hand, I held A763  J42  4  98643 with No one Vul, and heard it go a weak 2S on my left, 3D by partner, and 4S on my right. I wanted partner to play Diamonds for a Ruff, so decided to double 4S, which ended the auction.

Partner led the A of Diamonds, and this nice dummy tracked,

T8  AKQ753  K3  KQ7

When the A of Diamonds won the first trick, partner continued with the Q of Diamonds, which I ruffed. I finally decided that a void in Hearts with partner was too much against the odds, and if not, I did not want declarer pitching Clubs on Hearts, so led back an intermediate Club. Declarer won this with the A (oops), and continued another Club to the K on board. So looks like declare is some 6322 or 6232 variant (don’t think declarer can have 3 Clubs for this play), and we are going to need 2 Spade tricks to beat this. Partner is known to have a singleton Spade on the hand, so when declarer played the 10 of Spades off board, I ducked as smoothly as I could. Declarer now went into a big tank, not happy with the situation, which in turn made me happy since it meant partner had a Spade honor of some type. Declarer finally played low, and partner won the trick with his stiff Q. My A of Spades meant down 1 and a fairly unhappy declarer, since the only way to beat 4S was a Diamond Ruff.

But thinking about it after, it seems pretty automatic for the hand to go down. Even if partner starts the A of Diamonds and then shifts to a Club, declarer is probably going to lose a Spade hook to that hand, and it should be pretty obvious to play for the Diamond ruff now. So not sure how our partners wound up with a +420 on the hand, but it was a nice batch of IMPS anyways.


The third hand was more about luck and aggressive overcalls. Not Vul vs Vul opps, I picked up AJ T9752  83  AQT2 and had my RHO open a 12-14 HCP 1NT in 1st seat. We happened to be playing Capalleti over this, so I was able to bid 2H showing Hearts and a Minor. I would prefer a 6th Heart when they are this weak, or a singleton somewhere, but I didn’t have it, and like getting into these auctions. One thing to watch for here is if an opponent that is playing weak NT’s (sometimes even strong ones) is playing negative doubles at the 2 level. If they are, I hate to say it, but you are almost invulnerable, and can get in a lot more auctions.

The auction now speeded way up. LHO jumped to 4S (they had the option to transfer to 4S or play it direct, decided to protect something and play it from that side), and partner waded in with 5H, which got doubled by RHO, ending the auction, although LHO did squirm some.

The opening lead was a 5th best small Spade, and this dummy tracked:

5  A864  KJ65  J9876

AJ T9752  83  AQT2

The only problem on the hand looked like they might not make 4S, which would make this a fairly expensive phantom sacrifice. Oh well, hope our partners are doing something good on the hand.

RHO played the Q of Spades on the trick and I won it with the A. I now made a mistake on the hand, I ruffed the Spade to board before cashing the A of Hearts. The reason this was an error will show up in a minute. Both followed to the A of Hearts, and I assumed both Hearts were now on my right. The first reason for the Spade ruff being an error is if I now play a Heart, I will be in the wrong hand later for playing on Clubs. Sigh, too late now.

I played the 6 of Clubs off board, and when RHO played the 3, dropped the 2 under it. And was pleasantly surprised when LHO pitched a Spade on this, as 4S was almost certainly making now, and I had picked up the whole Club suit. I could now run the J of Clubs, and play a third Club off board, clearing the Club suit. This is when the second reason ruffing the Spade at trick 2 came up as an error, that was my quick entry back to the 5th Club for a Diamond discard.

So I was now forced to play a Diamond to the J, which fortunately lost to the A, so I was down 1 in 5H. This was a 13 IMP pickup as our partners were allowed to play in 4S and made it. But shows why you have to plan out the hand to the end before playing early. I was lucky that the silly play of the Spade ruff at trick 2 did not cost anything. I will also have to decide, if I do it the other way with a Heart to the A at trick 2, whether I play for Hearts 22 and try to make, or play for Hearts 31, and play a Club off board. If I play a Heart and they are 31, RHO can win and tap dummy with the Spade, bringing me back to the same ending where I need a Diamond onside.

I am also not sure why LHO decided to bid 4S, unless it was to prevent my partner from getting in an easy 4H call over the transfer bid of 4D. The hand was 7105, so if it was to prevent 4H, which makes a lot of sense, then nice try. It was not as if the hand had much, the K of Spades and Q of Diamonds.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Interesting Slam Play Problem

Picked up a very interesting play problem the other night during our regular weekly Team Game. I held AQ53  AK8  AKT  J74  and opened 2N in 1st seat. Partner transferred to Hearts with 3D and then bid 3N. Even with the 4333 hand, I liked my Hearts and bid 4H, partly in case partner had a short suit somewhere, and partly to see if partner could make a move knowing I had real Hearts.
Partner bid 5C over 4H, and I bid 5D. Partner retreated to 5H, but now expecting a Spade Lead, which would improve my hand, I tried the pushy 6H. This went all pass and I got the 4 of Spades lead. Partner put down this hand for me.

The Spade lead took care of the pointed suit loser, now I had to bring in Hearts and Clubs for only 1 loser. Wanting to keep some flexibility for later, I played low in the Spade, and the K appeared on my right. That now left some interesting possibilities in Spades for later.

I cashed the A of Hearts, and both opps followed low, now I went across to the A of Clubs, with RHO dropping the 8 of Clubs. RHO was not a person to make a false discard too often, so the 8 could be treated as an honest card, giving even more interesting options. I now played a Heart off table, and when RHO played low, I inserted the 8, on which LHO pitched a small Diamond. So now I had a Heart loser and had to bring the Clubs in for no losers to make this. There looked like 2 basic options to do this, play RHO for Q8 or T8, but then I would have to guess which. Or play LHO for the 10 of Spades for the small Spade lead.

I finally decided that I did not want to guess what magic holding to play RHO for in Clubs, so played a small Spade to the 9, which held the trick. I now cashed the J of Spades, which RHO ruffed, but I could now claim, pulling the last trump when I got in next trick, and pitching the 2 Club losers on the good Spade and Diamond. Turns out RHO had T8 of Clubs, so playing the J of Clubs out of my hand also would have worked.

This was not bid at the other table, they played in 4 Hearts, so we were able to win 11 IMPS on the hand, which was the margin of victory. The other team, although relative newcomers to the IMPS League, played very well and will be heard from.

Friday, November 2, 2012

Nasty Play Problem

Playing in a CNTC Team Qualifying game the other day, I had this interesting play problem come up. I held KQJT98  6  KQT32  J, everyone Vul. Partner opened 1C and RHO overcalled 1H. I bid 1S, which thankfully we play as forcing, and partner bid 2C. I know bid 3D and partner caved to some Spades with 3S. We now got to 4S and the opening lead was the 7 of Hearts, with this hand appearing.

63  AT95  5  AQ9874

KQJT98  6  KQT32  J

Not the most appealing opener or hand, but will see what we can do.

I won the A of Hearts at trick 1, and led the Diamond off board. RHO thought for a moment, then won the A of Diamonds before playing A and another Spade, both following. I perforce won in my hand, and played a third Spade, LHO following while RHO pitched a Heart. Just to see what was going on, I played 1 more Spade, and LHO pitched a small Heart while RHO pitched an interesting small Diamond.

Basically at this point I am cold if both opps follow to another Diamond, so I cashed the K of Diamonds. Sure enough, RHO pitched a small Heart, giving me a fairly good count on the hand, but a problem. We were now at this point in the hand.

---  T9  ---  AQ98

---  ?  J9x  ??                                        Basically irrelevant

                    98  ---  QT3  J

There are 2 problems on the hand, to figure out what the last 3 cards in LHO’s hand are, and find a way to strip him down to only Diamonds for the endplay. There are a couple of possibilities here, I could play A and ruff a Club or Heart, then the last Spade, but LHO could then pitch a Diamond on the last Spade and keep a winner. I could rely on the Club hook, but based on the overcall and defense, that looked unlikely. Or I could try squeezing LHO now with a Spade.

The last option looked best, so I played out another Spade. LHO thought for a moment and threw another Heart, which I did not think was best, and RHO threw a Club. I was pretty sure LHO now had 2 Clubs and 3 Diamonds, and it was irrelevant where the K of Clubs was. I played a Club to the A, ruffed a Club while RHO played the K and LHO followed, then exited the low Diamond and claimed.

Kind of a nice strip/squeeze/endplay, but I really thought the opps did not give me best / toughest defense here. First, RHO should NEVER have thrown the Diamond early, that gave away the whole hand and set me on a winning course. Keep the Diamond and when I cash the K of Diamonds, I almost need mirrors to decide to play for this. And on the final squeeze Spade I played, LHO should pitch the small Club, not the Heart. Now when I play the Club to the A and ruff something off board, I have to decide what the last card in LHO’s hand is, a Heart or a Club, and play the correct card off dummy. If I get it wrong, LHO can pitch the small Diamond and easily beat the hand.


- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -


Had another fun hand, more from my side anyways, in the same match. I picked up JT  AQ853  T742  T8 at what we call terrorist vulnerability (NV vs VUL) and opened 2H in 3rd seat. LHO bid 2S, and partner bid 3C, more lead directional with usually Heart tolerance. RHO doubled this, passed back to partner who ran to 3H. RHO now bid 3S, and LHO raised to 4, ending the auction.

Partner led a small (3rd best) Heart, and this dummy appeared.

K2  964  K5  K97632

Declarer played low on the Heart, I won the A, and played back a low Heart, LHO winning the K. Declarer played a Spade to the K, under which I dropped the J. Declarer jokingly asked if that was good or bad, and for who. Declarer thought for a while and played a second Spade off dummy, smiling when I dropped the 10, winning with the Q. Declarer now pulled 2 more rounds of Spades, with the A and 9, partner following low. I pitched a low Heart and the 8 of Clubs. We play upside down Count and Attitude, so I was hoping partner was getting closer to working this out. Declarer now played a Diamond to the K, and I dropped the 4. When he played the small Diamond off board, I followed with the 2, supposedly showing 3 of them.

Declarer thought for a minute and played the J, and the roof fell in. Partner won the Q, cashed the A of Clubs, and exited with that precious third Heart, declarer ruffing. Declarer now cashed the A of Diamonds, and when partner showed out, I could claim for down 2.

Pretty sure declarer had a lot better line of play, but this hand was going to be rough to make. But setting up a Club and ruffing 1 Diamond turns out would have worked better, although it gets pretty complicated whether it makes or not. But it was fun to bug declarer, a friend, with an ‘I Lied’ comment when he cashed the A of Diamonds and got an annoyed look on his face.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Not Missing This

Playing online on BBO in a pick-up Team Game, I picked up this nice hand Vul vs Not, 2  AKQT75  KJ752  T and heard the auction go 2 passes to me. This is something I do that is very different and strange to most people, I hate the opps exchanging information, and finding a sack on hands like this. So in 3rd Seat, I opened 4H. First, I wanted to play in game if partner had virtually anything, and I was willing to trade the chance that partner had a fit with 2 Aces to make a slam, against the possibility that the opps could find a Black Suit Fit and a profitable sack.

This now went all Pass, and the opening lead was the 9 of Spades, with partner putting this hand down. I see he had the Black Suit Sacks well covered, sigh.

With the Diamond Q onside and going 43, it was fairly easy to score up +620 in the hand. In the other room, my hand opened 1H, and over 1S, bid only 2D. The other hand now made one of those 'I am a better player than you' bids of 2S, over which my hand bid 3H. East now passed, and the hand made the same 10 tricks on the same lead for an easy 10 IMP Pickup.

I just do not like opening 1H or not getting to game on hands like this. Almost anything in partners hand, 2 small Hearts and Qx of Diamonds gives you play, but you might get passed out in 1H. And partner does not have to have the Black Suits covered like that, Change E and N hands around, and we can make slam if you find the Q of Diamonds, but have to be allowed to get there and play there when they are bidding super agressive in Spades.

So I guess I will continue to open 4H in 3rd seat on these hands and continue to get lectured why it is wrong.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Not Something I would do

Had a neat hand this weekend in a qualifying game against a good team. With no one Vul, I picked up K KQ9753  KJT752 ---, your standard 6-6 hand at Imps. In 3rd seat, I opened 1H, LHO overcalled 1S, partner bid 2C, and RHO bid 2S. I now bid 3D, LHO bid 3S, P, P to me. Decided to hope for something, and bid 4H, sorta what I was intending to do when I picked up the hand.

The opening lead was the 9 of Diamonds (Gee, think that is a singleton?) and a pretty sad dummy hit.

QJ97  J6  6  KJT653

Not what I really wanted to see, lots of defense and virtually no help on offense. And about the worst hand pard could have for 2C.

Turns out the Diamond was a singleton as I suspected, but when RHO won the A and exited A and a Heart, there was not much hope on the hand, and I pretty quickly drifted off 2.

The interesting thing was what happened at the other table. The auction started the same, with 1H - 1S, but this S kept silent, and it went 2S by RHO. This hand bid only 3D (I would have bid 4D here), and LHO now bid 3S. This went Double, P to N, who ran to 4H, what I would expect normally, On a lead other than the Diamond, our partners only beat this 1 trick, so not a serious loss, and we won the match by 6 Imps.

But after the hand, this N stated first, he did not see the Double (This is why the Double cards are RED), and if he had, he would have passed 3S Doubled in a second. With a 66 hand that makes game opposite the right Q. I have to admit, passing 3S Doubled would never really occur to me. You have no defense for your 2 bids, and the liklehood of missing a game is so high. Turns out you will beat 3S 1-2 tricks, and game does not make. But I do think this is playing the wrong end of the probability tree.

There was another interesting hand in the 3rd match we played. I picked up J75  AJ83  K74  JT9 with everyone Vul. Partner opened 2N (20-21) in first seat and I had to think a sec. But finally deciding that pushy slams are not a good idea with a 4333 hand, I started to sign off in 3N. Due to the way we play over 2N to look for minors, 3S is a relay to 3N, either to play or a 1 suited minor hand, 3N is both minors, so I started with 3S. This now got interesting as it went Double on my left, P, P to me.

What my partner and I had talked about was that Pass here said pard had some Spades, but not good enough to Redouble. I finally decided it was time to have some fun, and passed out 3S. The opening lead was a small Spade and partner tracked with

Q84  QT3  AQ  AKQ64

J75   AJ83   K74   JT9

So 3N was a little better spot than our 3-3 fit, but I knew I had passed for the fun aspect, and to keep LHO under control in the future. So that meant I needed to make this. Assuming LHO had AKxxx of Spades (I assume with 6 he would start an honor), that gave me some hope, even if the K Hearts was offside. Although I was likely going to need that card onside, unless the distribution was friendly.

I ducked the Spade on board, and RHO contributed the 10, which I won with the J. Starting by cashing the Diamond AQ, I came to my hand with a Club and led the K of Diamonds. LHO now made a strange play of ruffing this low, allowing me to over ruff. It was looking more like LHO was something like 5323 or possibly 4 cards in either rounded suit. Either way, I needed to prevent a Club ruff by his partner, so exited dummy with the Q of Spades. Sure enough, RHO followed with a small Spade, and LHO cleared the AK of Spades (a better lead) before exiting a small Heart. Looked like I now had him, so played the 10 of Hearts, holding the trick, and started running Clubs. RHO showed out on the third round, so LHO was the 5323 and I was now making an overtrick.

LHO eventually ruffed a Club, and I was able to claim on the Heart return, making 10 tricks and a lucky +930. RHO now complained that the explanation of 3S was not sufficient. My partner had actually stated it was a minor oriented try, had not said that it might be a sign off in 3N as well. She said she would have run to 4D if it was explained correctly. Although after deciding that -1100 was not a good thing to bring back either, we settled for the 930 score.

And now, next time this hand comes up and I want to bid a silly slam off an AK, LHO may not make that double to give away the good lead. Or we can always hope, since the bad slams will still be there.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Nice Hand

Playing on BBO the other night, I got to hold the strongest hand that I have ever held. Not sure if a loser count applies when it works out to 1/4 loser total.

Playing IMPS NV vs V in a fairly decent game, I picked up AKQT85432  ---  AKQ6  ---, a fairly nice holding. The auction got fairly simple, P, P, 1H to me. Since I know of no method of asking for specific J's, I just bid the (to me) normal 7S over this.

I like to fool around on a hand as much as anyone, but I did not want to be dropped anywhere when even Partner must be short in Spades with some Hearts. He might not get the joke.

7S went back to the opener, who doubled, guess we found those missing A's. Not knowing still about Diamonds, this was passed out. The opening lead was a small Heart, and partner put down 2 nice cards, a Spade, and the J of Diamonds. This meant the play did not take long.

I looked at the score later, 3 people bid 4S with this hand, 1 in 4th position after 3 passes and 2 others after a Heart opener on their right. I noted their names, planning to never double anything they play in. Out of 16 people that played it, only 5 bid 7S, 2 did not get doubled, and the other 2 redoubled, assuming the Diamonds would work out. Guess if you are going to bid it, the redouble is fun as well.

I don't assume I will see too many hands like that again, but will keep watch :)