Thursday, December 31, 2009

A Defensive Problem

Playing IMPS, you hold 4 Q93 Q74 AQT865 with no one Vul in first seat. You decide to open 3C and this goes P P to your RHO who bids 3N, ending the auction.

You decide to lead your singleton Spade and this dummy appears, Q975 J874 K65 J2. Declarer plays the 5 on the first Spade and captures your partners 8 with the 10. Declarer then plays the 3 of Clubs towards dummy, your play.

What is declarer doing, you are looking at stoppers in both red suits, so where are the tricks coming from. Does he really only need 1 Club trick for 9 tricks, or what is he doing.

I think there are 3 main options here, and still not sure what is the best. Option #1 involves ducking this completely, and hoping your partner can get in to lead a (hopeful) 2nd Club through declarers supposed K. Option #2 involves clearing the Club suit with Q, A, and another, and hoping you can win a trick with a red suit Q to set this (if declarer needs another trick and you can survive the Spade discards), and option #3 involves winning this trick with the Q and playing on a red suit.

I have some sympathy with option #3, but that means something strange is going on. Even if we give declarer 5 Spade tricks, an outside AK in a red suit leads to only 8 winners. And if declarer has the other red A, then he has 9 winners in that case and will likely not go down. For that reason, I also think option #1 is out. Once you duck the Club and the J holds, any competent declarer is going to have to go out of his way to allow your partner to win a trick now, really unlikely. And even if you win a Red Q and the A of Clubs, you are essentially back to option #3.

For that reason, as bad as it might prove to be, I like option #2 on the hand. Declarer may guess you to have 1 of the red Q’s on this hand for the play, but may not guess you have both, and may not have anything they can do about it anyways. The biggest option is what discards you are going to have to make on the Spades that are coming next. I am not sure I have an answer for that, will have to depend on what partner signals, but I think it is the least of all evils. And who knows, a nice declarer might not run the Spades before trying to guess what red Q to play you for on the hand. Not perfect, but not sure there is a perfect answer on this hand.

On the actual hand, the person defending with this hand did choose option #3, winning the Q of Clubs and switching to the Q of Diamonds. This was not a success, since Declarer held AKT3 A62 AJ8 K73. On the Spade lead, declarer had 7 tricks, and the Club gave 8, so instead of trying to make an early guess on a red suit to play, started by trying to set up a Club trick (and cutting communications) and got a bonus when the Q of Diamonds came back. This was now 9 easy tricks, on a hand that any other defense would probably beat. The hand was beat in 3N at the other table, for a double digit swing.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Where are we Going?

Had a very interesting hand today in our weekly team game. With no one vul, you pick up a nice hand in 3rd seat K AKJ5 AQ86 AK83 and open 2C after 2 passes to you. This now goes 3S on your left, and 2 more passes back to you. We had briefly discussed that the pass over the interference showed some valus and nothing to bid. So now what?

I had a few choices, but I finally decided that 3N was not one of them. So that left Double, 4C, and the wild 4S. I think double is the most flexible, since you can play in any suit partner bids, but it does not get the strength of your hand across. And I think your hand is strong, since partner should now have a 4 card fit with you, you have a lot of playing strength. So for that reason, I decided to bid 4S, and get most of my hand off my chest.

Partner now bid 4N over that. I assumed this was not to play, or at least I hoped not, but if not, what was it, more values, or 2 places to play. I finally decided that it should be 2 places to play, so I bid 5C. Partner now bid 5D over this. At this point, my hand got better, if partner has Diamonds and Hearts and a few values, my hand is very good. any time partner is 3442, or 2452, with as little as Q of Hearts and K of Diamonds, slam should have some play. So wanting to find out if we were on the same wavelength here, since this had kinda never come up before, I raised to 6D. The opening lead was the 8 of Spades, and the A and Q of Spades were played by my LHO. Partner ruffed this on board, cashed the A of Diamonds, and went into the tank when the 9 appeared from the 3S bidder. His hand was xxx Q9xx KJ8x xx. He finally decided he probably could not make it if his RHO had 2 singletons, so played a low Diamond back to his hand, and his RHO contributed the 10, making the contract a simple claim.

I am not as sure about the problem if RHO has 2 red singletons, since there are some squeeze chances, but it is probably right. On the other hand, it was nice to see that 6H has serious problems on the 4-1 Heart break with the 10 behind the Q9xx. I am not sure that 6H can make since you have to ruff the Spades high. It turns out that 6D can only make since partner has the nice J of Diamonds.

I am not sure how this hand should go after 3S, but it is always tough after the opps pre-empt at a high level. I am glad that we got to this, at the other table they stopped in 5H after the Spade hand only bid 2S.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

BBO at it's Best (?)

Playing in a pick up team game on BBO with the host, she picked up this hand Q3 AK764 QJT5 76 All Vul and heard the auction P by her, 1D on her left, Double by pard, P back to her. Now at this time, I think there are a few things available. I personally like 4H with this hand, anytime pard has anything resembling a double, this should have play. But I guess you can test the waters with 2H or something. I kinda think 2D is dangerous, since if partner bids Spades somewhere, you will have a tough time showing your hand.

But almost anything showing a good hand here will work. What really does not work is 1H with this hand. At the table, it now went all pass, and when dummy comes down, guess what, you are claimers for 4H on this hand. Partners hand is KT7 Q853 76 AK85. This is supposed to take another call after making a TO double and hearing partner only bid 1H, sorry, not today.

Anyways, when the hand showed, the host immediately typed in a long series of ?????, perhaps asking about her bid, but I assume asking why I passed. Perhaps because if I really bid 2H on this hand and it ever now goes double on my left, it is going to be bloody. I was then ejected from the game by the host, since I obviously did not know how to play. This is not the first time I have run into this from some US players, I can only guess that the TO doubles have become so bad, that you do not dare bid more than 1H on those hands, and expect partner to do something again with a real TO double. And you write off those occasional -1100's to plain bad luck when the doubler bids again and someone doubles.

So I put another bit of wording beside someone else's name and will politely refrain from playing in a game that person is involved in. And try to get some sanity back into the bidding world :)

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Danger, Will Robinson :)

Had a hand on BBO with a pickup partner last night, that I am not sure how you are supposed to handle it, other than hopefully to survive. We did not.

Vul vs Not in first seat, you pick up AQJ542 95 4 AK85 and open 1S. You are playing SAYC and partner bids 2H, which is not GF, but standard. This now goes 3D on your right, and you bid 3S, 4D on your left, P P back to you. You do have a fairly good hand, with shortness in the opponents suit, but partner not bidding 4S here is a bit of a problem, since it means you should not get 3 card support.

It looks like the options are double, 4H, 4S, and Pass. I do not think Pass is a valid option at IMPS, so you can discard that. Double might be right, but you do not have a lot of defense and are you going to get this more than 1 down, if you even beat it. So would rule that out as well, leaving a tough choice between 4H and 4S. Since you have already rebid your 6 card suit, which is not that solid, I think 4H has to be right here, and let partner decide. Anytime he has 2 decent Spades, you will probably get returned to 4S, and with good Hearts, partner will leave it in 4H.

Now for the surviving part, this is not your hand. The idea on this hand is to get out with the least damage, since this is a true nightmare hand. Here is the full hand, in all it’s gory details.

In either major, the taps start right away, and with 5 good cards behind each major, there are a bunch of losers. I had the Heart hand, and decided to bid 2H over 1S, even though slightly under strength, but what else are you supposed to bid, playing SAYC, and not having the agreement that 1S-3H shows this kind of hand (A very good thing to play, in my opinion, since these hands are designed to give you nightmares, and this one in particular). Anyways, at our table, the N hand decided that he should show his Spades again, and this went double behind him, and a Diamond was led and returned. This now got messy, and when the smoke had cleared, we were –800. I think 4H is always destined for down 1, perhaps down 2, but reading the position will allow you to do better, and taking the first Diamond tap in the short Heart hand really helps.

At this point, my partner started in on me for the 2H bid, since that was obviously the source of our disaster, according to him. I did not think I needed to get into the discussion about what constitutes a suit you can bid, and then rebid freely at the 3 and 4 level with no support, since it was obviously irrelevant to the discussion. But I should give some cudo’s to our opps for laying the trap for us. The 3D and 4D bids were well judged, and the opps did not make any mistakes once we had wandered into the danger zone.

Just as an FYI, at the other table, my hand also started the same way, with 2H, but the opps did not find the 3D bid. So N now rebid 3C, and over 3H, bid 4H, which got doubled. This did go down 2, but that is only 500, vs our 800.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Weekly Imps, Back at it

Had a pair of back to back interesting hands yesterday at the Weekly IMPS League. On the first, you hold AK764 KT3 5 AQ84 All Vul and hear partner open a 12-14 HCP NT in 2nd seat. You transfer to Spades and partner accepts with 2 Spades, which has many negative connotations, no 4th Spade from partner (Weak or Strong), no 3 card holdings with good hands. So this is simple, you bid 3C, which we play as a 1 round force, possibly game forcing as well. Partner now bids 3D, saying he likes 1 of your suits, and setting up a full game force. So you bid 3H, and partner now jumps to 4S. Now what?

At the time, I thought partner had a minimum or near minimum 3 card Spade holding with help in Clubs on the hand, hence the jump to 4S. I would need a minimum of xxx AJx Axx Kxx to have any play for slam (it is now on a Heart guess), but even with that minimum, would partner jump to 4S with all primes? I finally decided that partner had too much room to do something between 3H and 4S, especially 3S, if he had anything that would work towards slam, so decided to pass. That was the wrong decision, as partner actually had xxx Axx AKxxx Kx and slam was a claim when Spades went 3-2. Turns out partner was worried that 2N over 2H would promise a Spade honour or 2 (something I disagree with, would rather know partner has a good 3 card raise with a max, this hand, then honours). And then over 3H, was worried that 3S might not be forcing, which I disagree with since 2 cue-bids can not now stop below game. And even if it was non-forcing, 4 of a red-suit would have gotten us there.

At the other table, they had a variant of the same problem to also miss this slam. After a 12-14 HCP NT as well, my hand bid 2D (GF Stayman, not playing transfers) and his partner bid 3D. This now went 3S by my hand and 4S by his partner. Talking to the person that bid 4S after, I said she should have cue-bid 1 or the other of the red suits, since at this point, that must indicate a good hand for Spades. Again, not knowing how good the fit really was, my hand passed for a push board.

On the next hand, you pick up a nice collection with None Vul. AK42 5 AKT73 AKT. This gets even better when partner opens 1S in front of you. I was really tempted here to actually just bid 7S, like c’mon, how often to you really get the possibility of that auction? I actually bid 4N, since there is little I can learn on this hand by bidding 2D first. Partner showed 1 KC with 5C, and I bid 5D asking about the Spade Q. Partner now bid 5H showing the Q of Spades and the K of Hearts, so no Club loser, now what.

At the table, I fell asleep here and made a non-bid, 5N, knowing what partner had to bid over that before he bid 6S, since I am looking at every other card missing. I eventually now hoped for something other than 3 small Diamonds from partner and raised to 7, but I had put myself to a guess for no reason. I really think, after the fact of course, that 6D here has to be taken correctly. I do not think you can want to play in Diamonds on this kind of auction, so it should be asking for 3rd round Diamond control. Partner was nice and had Qx, so this is not a problem hand. But it would be a nice one to stay out of when partner has xxx, even though there are still chances as long as partner is not 3 small in each of the minors.

At the other table, it went 1S-2D and then after KC BW, my hand decided to be pessimistic and settled in 6S, also not thinking of the 6D bid. Although in his case, there would be a lot more ambiguity now, since after 2D, 6D actually could be a place to play.