Friday, October 23, 2009

Tale of 2 Slams

Had a couple of tough slam hands at the weekly IMPS game this week. On the first, you hold KQ752 AKQ4 AK98 void in 3rd seat with no one vul. It starts with P – P to you, and the first decision is what do you open. I am a firm believer in 2 suiters should almost never be opened 2C, since you will almost always have difficulty describing the hand, especially major/minor 2 suiters. But what about 3 suiters and especially this strong of 1. If you open 1S and over anyone else’s bid, jump to 3H (or reverse if jump to 3D), 1 of the red suits is almost certain to be lost, and it is hard to justify only bidding 2H/2D at your second turn on this hand. So better or worse, I decided to show strength first with 2C. This went 2H by partner (negative), 2S by me, and 3D by partner. The 3D bid intrigued me, since it should be natural, but I decided to see what partner would say over 3H first, and got a 4S bid from partner. This seems to indicate partner has a bad hand with a bunch of Diamonds, probably 2 Spades since did not get an immediate Spade raise, and less than 4 Hearts. So since we have no more than 1 quick loser in the majors, and a 9-10 card fit in Diamonds (if I read pard correctly), I bid what I wanted to play in, 6D.

Pard had about a perfect hand, 109 7 Q76532 8753, and even with the 3-0 Diamonds split, was able to make 6D on the hand, when Spades went 4-3. At the other table, 1S was passed all around and the hand made 3. Still not sure what is the best auction, but I like our result of +920 better than the +140 at the other table.

The next hand was A98 QT74 J AK963, NV vs VUL. Partner opened 2N in 1st seat (20-21/22) and it went pass on my right. 3C was puppet stayman and partner bid 3N, no 4 or 5 card major. I now made a very lazy bid, I bid 6C, figuring since partner had 7+ cards in the minors, I should get some support. Partner put down the proper hand for lazy bids like this, KQ6 AK2 AKQT7 74. Since Clubs were not 3-3, I had found the only slam that managed to have 0 play.

As I said later, there is no rush on this hand, if I just bid 4C over 3N, I will find out if partner has support or not. If he does, I continue on to 6C as before, but if he does not, and bids 4N as here, then I can raise that to 6N and play in a reasonable contract. When not sure of the strain and/or level, involve partner in the discussion, got to always remember that. Here I ‘Assumed’ I knew the strain and level, when there was a possibility I was wrong, and I had a method of finding out. And it is good to see lazy bids punished on occasion, it is the only thing that teaches you lessons. If partner put down a 4333 hand I would have been overjoyed at my brilliance, and gone away happy. Probably would not stop and think about what could have gone wrong, since I obviously did not at the time.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Hand Analysis Fun

A few months ago, I did a hand analysis for a local game to see how it would work. Generated 32 hands, looked at them and did an analysis page for each, then worked with a local club to set up a game and see how it went. Everyone seemed to have fun and enjoy the analysis, and the people responsible for the newcomers at the games thanked me and said the newcomers enjoyed it.

So I decided to do it again and it will run this weekend. It is actually fun, to try and guess what is going to happen on a board for the various times it is played. What will be a common score, what pitfalls are in the hand, and perhaps what funny things can happen. If you get a chance, I do recommend it for your local games, it does add something different to the event and helps out new players. Besides, your ego can take the hit when an expert comes up and tells you what they did different to destroy your analysis :)

Will post next week how far off I was in some of the boards once the game is complete.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Ya Gotta be Flexible

Had a hand a couple of days ago that has bugged me since then, mainly because I mostly got the hand right, but when the crucial moment came, I did not change my original game plan to accomodate the extra chance I got, and thus turned a potential large swing my way into a small loss.

Playing IMPS, I picked up K32 KQ765 Q6 A54, ALL VUL and heard it go Pass, Pass to me. We play weak NT's and though I usually do not like to open 1N with a decent 5 card major, I decided to break my own rule and do it this time, primarily due to the values outside and the flatness of the hand. This went Double on my left (mainly penalties), Pass by partner (forcing a redouble if RHO passes, either to play or starting a 1 suited run-out) and Pass on my right. This is why I do not like to open 1N on these hands, I now have a guess coming, where is it right to play this hand. Anyways, right or wrong, I decided that since I broke rules once by opening 1N, let's go all out and I now bid 2H, rather than redouble like I was asked. Decided that 1N redoubled might be a silly place to play this, and if partner bid a suit that got doubled, A I had set him up to play a hand in what might be a silly place, and B I would not know if Hearts or his suit would be correct. At least this way, all partner had to do was watch me butcher the hand, not get beat up himself :)

This now went Double on my left (unsure what that was, had my own ideas), all Pass. The opening lead was the A of Diamonds (Even number, usually with the K) and this dummy hit. T65 JT8 J985 K86, probably better than I deserved. I played low on the Diamond, a discouraging Diamond came from RHO, and LHO shifted to a small Club, small, Q, A by me. So what is going on, LHO has to have almost everything left on the hand, so I have to assume that the double of 2H was TO and RHO converted it. Since this is largely unexplored, I did not ask the opps since I was not sure I would get a decent answer, and I might alert them to each other's problems by asking. (Maybe I should ask more, but some of the answers tend to stop me asking questions) So if RHO made a penalty pass with almost no values, I can tentatively assign hm 4-5 hearts and likely not much more than the Q of Clubs and 1 of the missing Spade honours, probably not the A. That leaves LHO with something like AQxx - AKTx JTxxx or something close to that, not what I want to see as this hand may not play too well.

Anyways, make sure the carnage is not too large, I exited with the Q of Diamonds to the K on my left, won the J of Clubs return with the K, and cashed the J of Diamonds pitching my loosing Club as all followed. Now I started a strip play (always good practice) by ruffing the Club to my hand, both following (there goes hand type 1, RHO had 3 Clubs, so what is going on) and decided to exit a Heart. LHO won the A of Hearts and now played the 10 of Diamonds, RHO pitching a Space.

My original plan had been to strip the minors, pull 2 trumps, and try to end play LHO in Spades, assuming he had short Hearts and the AQJ of Spades, a little far-fetched, but at least it got me to 8 tricks on this hand. The problem now was that did not make a lot of sense. Would RHO have really passed with 3433 and only the Q of Clubs?

The point of this whole hand came now. I was so stuck to my original plan that I didn't ping to the fact that I had actually succeeded in end-playing LHO. I ruffed the Diamond, played a Heart to Board on which LHO pitched a Spade as expected, and played a Spade, but RHO put up an intermediate Spade, and I wound up loosing the 3 Spade tricks for down 1. Flexibility and making the hand was simple, pitch a small Spade on the 10 of Diamonds, and LHO is forced into leading away from the A of Spades or giving me a ruff and sluff, same difference. That was just a very sloppy play that wound up sitting in the back of my head for a couple of days now until I wrote this. And those are the kind of hands that just haunt you, where you had done most things right, and were on the verge of a triumph, before falling into the mud on your face at the crucial moment.

I guess last point is the pass of 2H doubled. I do think that is too close when playing IMPS. Rho turned out to have Jxx 9xxx xxx Qxx. You are not beating this hand a lot, and 2S is not going to get doubled on this hand, especially after 2H. And if I had woken up in time, this hand is not that hard to make with any kind of reasonable technique. It turns out that LHO is going to be in a lot of trouble on this hand if you make any kind of attempt at keeping RHO off lead. But when you let the opponents off the hook with bad plays like I made here, you never learn lessons, either way.

Addendum: Thinking again about the hand I realized that on the actual defence I could have and think I should have, made it, RHO had the opportunity for a very nice defensive play that gives me no chance to make it. If RHO ruffs the 10 of Diamonds when it is played rather than pitching a Spade, I have no counter. Over ruffing lands me where I was on the actual hand when I ruffed it, and pitching a Spade allows RHO to return a Spade for the 2 Spade tricks required to beat me.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Are you not supposed to be Aggressive Playing Board a Match?

Playing BAM with a pickup partner last night, had a couple of hands that just confused me. BAM is MP's on steroids, you do everything for that ultimate score, and +200 on defence is the ultimate. So these hands really confused me.

First hand, you pick up KT A64 QJ2 QT984 Vul vs Not, and hear it go 1C (Roman, 11-15 unbalanced or 16+) on your right. You decide to pass, not something I personally like, always strive to bid over a 2 way 1C opener, they have no clue what is happening yet. It now goes 1D neg on your left, 2H by partner, 3S on your right. I am not sure what is going on here, but you have an opening bid and support, I think you have to make some move. It turns out any move by you will work, double and 3S goes down 3, 4H makes, anything. But passing is 1 way to lose the board. Partner had Q982 KQJ83 A973 void. A good 2H bid, but partner is a passed hand and came into a live auction Vul vs Not. You lose the board when they doubled 3S at the other table and only beat it 2 tricks, but +300 beats +150.

Second hand, you hold A32 JT5 85 KQT98 NV vs Vul and pass in first seat. It goes 1D (can be short) on your left, pass, 1H Neg on your right. You now bid 2C (I like that bid) and it goes P, P, 2D on your right. This goes to partner who doubles it, P back to you, now what? What does partner have, he passed 1D, passed your 2C, and now doubled 2D. I think that has to be penalty, since partner could have bid 3C if wanted to play there. But this hand bid 3C which went double on his left, ending the auction. This dummy came down KJ96 K643 KQ96 5, about what partner should probably have. The opening lead is the 5 of Spades, J, Q, A. It now goes 5 Diamonds, 2, Q, 4. Then 5 of Clubs, 4, 8, 2. Declarer plays the Q of Clubs, 3, 3 Hearts, J Clubs. So it looks like Clubs are 5521 around the table, probably not good. Declarer now played 9 Clubs, 6 6 Diamonds, 4 of Spades, confirming the Clubs. I think he should now play a Diamond, but instead played the 2 of Spades and was overjoyed to see this get ruffed with the 7 of Clubs. It now went 3 Diamonds to the K, 7, 8 (?), so declarer played the K of spades from dummy, ruffed by the A of Clubs. Back came the A of Diamonds in this comedy of errors, which RHO followed to and declarer ruffed with the 10 of Clubs. The position is now the 9 Spades and K64 of Hearts on board and the K Clubs and JT5 of Hearts in hand, and declarer has lost 2 tricks. So declarer now played the J of Hearts out of hand and when LHO played low, let it ride(?), playing the opener for a full 9 or 10 count. This got punished as it should, win the Q on his right, 10 of Spades ruffed with last trump while LHO pitched a Heart, and claim down 1 for the defence with the A of Hearts and J of Diamonds. 2D doubled was down several, and on this defence, 3C was going to make, instead we lost the board again.

Last 1 you hold A6 AJ JT864 K982 and hear it go P, P, 1H (4 card major) by RHO. You decide to overcall 2D and this goes P, 2S by partner, P on your right. To me this looks like a good place to play this, but you decide to show a real hand and now bid 2N :) Partner raises this to 3N and it goes all pass. The opening lead is the 7 of Hearts which goes 5, 10, J. You play a Diamond to the Q and it surprisingly goes A on your right. RHO now returns the 3 of Clubs (?). You are missing 16 points on this hand, and LHO never took a call. You need 1 Club trick to go with the other tricks to get to 9, so I believe the correct play here is the K, assuming RHO has a real opener, since LHO looks to have some Hearts and did not raise. You also do now want LHO to switch back to Hearts, since you have gotten a reprieve. If you rise on the K of Clubs, it holds, and with the Spade hook on, 3N makes in an ugly fashion. Declarer actually played low, LHO won the Q, switched back to a Heart to clear that suit. Now declarer ran all the Diamonds, cashed A and out a Spade, and watched the opps claim down 2 for another lost board.

The only hand we won was another error by this hand on another tough declarer play problem. You hold A6 void K872 AKQJ982, all vul and open 1C in first seat. This goes pass, 1H by partner, pass on your right, so you decide to bid 2D to set up a force. This goes 2H by partner, so you end the auction with 3N. The opening lead is the 2 of Spades and this dummy tracks. T954 AQ843 JT9 4. You decide to play low from dummy (agree, put max pressure on the opps to make the correct play, playing low on these holdings works an amazing amount of the time) and RHO plays the K of Spades, which you win with the A. Personally, I think a second Spade is now the correct play, since playing Clubs will squeeze dummy. But the declarer here led a low Diamond from his hand, setting up what looked like 4 tricks for the defence. But not to be outdone, LHO won the A of Diamonds (?), another strange looking play by this person, and switched to the 2 of Hearts, yet 1 more strange play. So declarer won the A pitching a Spade, and remembering that he was playing BAM, played the J of Diamonds with his unexpected board entry and let it ride, LHO showing out. Another Diamond and it was easy to wrap up 12 tricks for an easy win on the board when the declarer at the other table did not find that play.

All in all it was a tough day, since admittedly, the hands were very tough and all players were being aggresive. But I believe it was yet another example of not paying attention to the opponents bids and plays and reconstructing their hands while declaring the hand.

Just wanted to add after that I think I was too negative with this post. I really was impressed with how GOOD the other players on the other team played. I think it was our team not playing that well and not thinking clear. I would not want to play those guys too often with a regular group that I play with.