Thursday, January 28, 2010

4th Seat Pre-Empts

So what does it mean to you when you or your partner open a weak 2 bid in 4th seat after 3 passes? Does it really mean you have less than an opening bid, and if you do, why not pass the hand out? Who are you pre-empting in pass out seat.

I have always thought that a 2 bid in 4th seat, assuming you are playing normal weak 2’s, is something along the lines of an ACOL 2 bid, an intermediate hand with a good 6-7 card suit, and no other 4 card suit.

Playing on BBO last night with an inexperienced player, I held, All Vul, K9 AKJT873 J QT7 and heard it go 3 passes to me. Thinking this was the perfect way to describe my hand, I opened 2H and it went all Pass.

Partner put down Axx xxx KTxx Axx and on a Club lead, there were an easy 11 tricks available when the K was on my right. Partner stated he thought I would still have a weak hand, even though it was IMPS scoring, so passed to try and get a plus.

I thought afterwards that perhaps I should have opened 1H, but I assumed this treatment was fairly standard. Guess I was wrong, and need to talk about it with a partner more before I throw it out. But it kind of follows the philosophy of all balancing situations, where a jump in a suit shows a good suit within the confines of previous bidding.

What would you and your regular partner assume a 2H call was after 3 passes?

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Comments - Yea

OK, a new feature looks like it was added where people can post anonymous comments. That has been a complaint I have received for a while.

So hopefully it works and people can leave comments. Would be nice to get feedback :)


NAOP Part 2 - The Grand that Wasn’t

Couple more hands from the NAOP playoffs this past weekend. The first is a bidding problem, playing MP’s with no one vul, the 2 hands are:

AJ73 KQ4
Q95 AK76
AKT3 85

As you can see, there are 13 Aces in 7N on the hand. The play is the easy part. How do you construct a realistic auction to get to 7N. The key to the hand is actually the J’s of Spades and Diamonds, which are each worth a full trick. You can probably find out 1 of them is worth it, but finding out about the second is hard. Checking partner has the correct Q’s instead of the somewhat useless Q of Clubs, in time to stop if you need to, is beyond most bidding systems.

Now I am sure we will have some relay precision players that will state they can get there, but even with those systems, checking on J’s is a little difficult. How many differentiate between Kx and KJ in the Diamond suit, and yet it is totally crucial to the hand.

I will leave it to the total theorists to devise a clean auction to 7N, without a guess or hope built in. We got to 6N, along with most of the room. 1 pair did get to 7N, but I did not ask their auction, or if it was real or not.

- - - - - -

The next hand needs to be offered up as an apology to the pair I perpetrated it against. Sometimes bad bidding gets rewarded, but it still leaves kind of a sour taste in your mouth, when you know you did something utterly stupid, and got a good result out of it.

Early in the first session, Vul vs Not, I held AJT6 AJ972 --- J974 and heard the auction go P – 2D (10-14 Roman with Diamonds) to me. This pair used to play Flannery 2D, so maybe it was the unexpected answer when I asked what the alert was (at least I asked!), but I decided I was going to bid (MP’s!) on this hand. Now the simple easy bid, that nicely describes your hand is double, but then there would be no story. Instead I wandered in with 2H, hiding 2 out of my 3 places to play from partner. This now went double on my left, P, P back to me, sigh.

Just for curiosity, to see what I got myself into, I asked, and was informed that the double was pure penalty, as expected. Now normally, I will not jerk around partner here, I dug the hole, I get to shovel it in after myself. But since RHO had Diamonds, I was sure that would be the lead. And being tapped at trick 1, with a known bad split behind me, was not my idea of heaven, so I tried to get partner involved (why do it earlier when I can now) and redoubled. This went P on my left, 2S by partner, double on my right. At least I have real Spades over the doubler, so I passed, and apologized to partner as I put the dummy down.

The opening lead was the 6 of Hearts and partner had an interesting hand, 9752 K8 JT84 832, probably better than I deserved, but since I made him play it, less than could hope for. He let the Heart ride around to the 10 and his K, then led the Heart back. His LHO pitched a small Diamond on this while RHO followed low. He now played the J of Hearts off board, and when it was covered with the Q, pitched a Club, as LHO pitched another Diamond. It now went A of Clubs on his right, and a small Club to the Q. LHO now returned the 3 of Spades. At this point, due to the 2D opener, partner has a complete count on the hand, knowing that his RHO has a stiff Spade. But is it small or an honour? He finally decided that with both honours in Spades, LHO had 2 heavy of a hand, and played the A, dropping the Q.

The hand is now an open book, and easy to make 2, but an interesting thing occurred. Partner played a Club off board, ruffing it low, then played a Diamond and ruffed it low. Instead of playing another Club and ruffing it back to hand, he played another Diamond out of his hand. LHO thought about this a sec, then played his last Diamond on it, allowing him to take 2 ruffs on board on back to back tricks. He now ruffed the Club back to hand, and led the Diamond to claim the 8th trick with the J of Spades on board.

As I said, there is no justice, to make as bad of bids as I did and get rewarded. But it turns out the only way to get doubled in 2S is this way, since if I make a standard TO double, my LHO has an easy 3D bid on the known fit, and that will pretty much end the auction, since even I am not crazy enough to bid again at the 3 level there.

- - - - - - - - -

The final hand is another play problem that my partner faced. All Vul, you hold KJ9432 AJ983 97 --- in 3rd seat. It goes P – 1C to you, and you decide to avoid Michaels and start with 1S. This goes double (Values) on your left, 2S by partner, 3C on your right. You have heard of the old 6-5 come alive saying, so you now wander in with the full 4H (!). This goes double on your left, 4S by partner, P, P, Double, ending the auction.

The opening lead is the 5 of Spades, and partner puts down QT6 542 KQ42 T64, an awfully nice bad hand, with what values there are where you want them. Problem is, you still have a lot of work to do. When you play low on the Spade, it goes 8 on your right, K by you. You now place a small Diamond on the table, and it goes A on your left. LHO now plays the 10 of Hearts, on which RHO places the Q, solving your Heart problems. Now what?

At the table, partner won this with the A, and played a small Spade, too late. LHO won the A while RHO pitched a Club. And a Heart went to the K and back for a ruff, for down 1.

Turns out the hand was cold all along, with the A of Diamonds on your left, and the KQ of Hearts on your right. You have the 2 entries you need to play Hearts up to your hand twice.

Monday, January 25, 2010

NAOP Pairs

Played in the NAOP pairs playdowns this past weekend with RH. We wound up third overall, not bad considering the number of self inflicted problems we gave ourselves. RH played really good overall, especially on defense. Have a couple of hands that turned out well, although at least on the 1, luck had at least as much to do with it as anything else.

First hand, All Vul, MP’s, you hold Q95 9753 KT5 AK2 and hear the auction go as follows.

P P 1H P
4H P P P

Leaving you on lead. I decided to make a bit of an attacking lead, since I expected N to have a short suit somewhere, so I selected the 3 of Hearts, fully expecting partner to show out, and give the suit away to declarer, but threaten ruffs, if dummy had a short suit as I expected. Dummy came down with AT63 J842 AQ94 7, kind of what I expected, although better than I had hoped. Anyways, this went low on dummy 10(!) from partner, Q from declarer. So declarer had opened 1H with 4, that was interesting. Declarer now played a Diamond to the Q, holding, the A of Diamonds, partner showed 3, and a Diamond to partners J, declarers small 1, and my K, leaving a good Diamond on board.

At this point, I did not see any point in letting declarer know the Heart position any more, and getting a cheap winner with their 6 of Hearts. I did not want to lead a Club for the same reason I did not lead 1 to start, I hate leading this holding, so that left a Spade. I decided to cater to partner having the J8x or something like that, and led the 9 of Spades back. Declarer ducked this and partner won the K, declarer following low, and tabled the J of Clubs, covered by declarers Q and my A. At this point, it looks like declarer can do OK left to his own devices. My Spade return did not work as hoped, and I have set up a good part of the board. So time to do something about it. At least the 9 of Spades left me with a bit of an illusion, I now returned the 5 and declarer went into a hitch, finally winning the A on board as partner and declarer followed low.

Declarer now played a Heart to his K, partner throwing a small Club. If declarer now pulls trump ending on board and cashes the Diamond, I can score the last 2 tricks with the Spade and Club for down 1. So declarer tried exiting the Spade to my partners supposed Q, but I was able to win, and now play the K of Clubs, tapping dummy. This meant I had to still score another Heart since declarer was board locked for down 2 and +200. Declarers hand was 874 AKQ6 872 Q93, a lead directional 1H call in 3rd seat that his partner had no sense of humour about.

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

The next hand, you hold Vul vs Not, MP’s, J974 AQJ8 AQ86 J and decide to open 1H in 2nd seat after a pass on your right. We mostly play 5 card majors, but I did not want to have rebid problems after 1D, and decided to have fun. This now went 1S by partner, which I raised to 2S (a little heavy, but at MP’s, if partner does not bid again, this is where I want to be). Partner now jumped to 4H, offering me a choice of places to play. Looking at the Diamonds, I decided that this was as good a spot as any, since I assumed we were in parallel 4-4’s here. The opening lead was the K of Clubs, and dummy was a bit of a surprise, AKQ8 K95 J9 T654. Not sure what partner was doing here, I would have assumed that the Spades had to play at least as well as a supposed 5-3 in Hearts. Maybe he was worried I might pass 3H, and would correct to Spades with 4 of them, whatever.

Anyways, it certainly looks like Spades is going to make 5 or 6, depending on the Diamond K, so I am going to need some luck here to come back to near equity, if I can. The K of Clubs held, RHO signaling encouragement, and another Club came back to the A on my right. Since there was little point in holding up, I was being tapped sometime, I ruffed this, and took stock. In Spades, you can ruff a bunch of Clubs safely, and pull trump with the other hand. It looked like the only way to duplicate this, was the same line and hope. So back to the board with a Spade, on which RHO dropped an alarming 10, and ruff another Club to my hand. Now I cashed the 2 high Hearts left in my hand, on which all followed, and another Spade to board, hoping. Thankfully, RHO played a low one now, and when I played the K of Hearts off board, everyone followed as I pitched a Diamond. So far so good. Now I ran all the Spades ending in dummy, RHO wound up having 3 (that was a nasty 10) and LHO pitched a Diamond and a Club, while RHO pitched a Diamond. Hoping I had read it all correctly, I now exited the last Club off board, while LHO won and was endplayed into leading from the K of Diamonds into my AQ in the 2 card ending. Making 5 for a slightly above average board.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

What Does This Mean?

Playing IMPS in the weekly IMPS game, you hold the following nice hand VUL vs NV, AQ75 A83 K4 AK95 and open 2N after it went Pass on your right. This goes Pass on your left, and partner bids 3C (Puppet Stayman). You are all set to bid 3D showing 1 or more 4 card major, when RHO, who had passed initially, chimes in with that same 3D call. Now what?

First things first, you check the opps card, and see that they play a weak 2D, so why did RHO not open that to start, but is willing to wander into a live auction now. Assuming not complete suicidal tendencies, which is possible given who it is, the probable answer is they had some feature in the hand preventing a normal weak 2 in Diamonds, probably a 4 card major or similar. A 2nd minor would not stop them from opening 2D, so you can probably rule out Clubs as a 2nd suit. So if you give RHO some kind of 6-4 or 7-4, that makes a little more sense.

Second question, does an immediate bid now work the same as it would directly over 3C, does it show a 5 card major or a 4 card major? What would your partnership meaning be of a free 3S bid here be, showing 4 or 5, or ambiguous, if you play Puppet Stayman. And if it shows 5, how do you indicate you do have a 4 card major, or can you. Simple things first, assume a double would be penalty oriented, and 3N would show at least 1.5 stoppers and probably deny anything like a major. So since you have neither of those, options look like they are between 3S and Pass.

The person holding this hand finally opted to Pass and see what partner did, opting for flexibility, and not muddying the waters with an ambiguous 3S call. This now went 4D on your left, Double by partner, Pass back to you. Again, now what?

I think I would have passed here, you have a lot of defense, and assume if partner has anything to help, this will go down a few, maybe even a lot (think +800 or +1100). And bidding now risks turning a plus into a minus if you and partner are not on the same wavelength, especially with the warning that suits are probably not breaking the best.

At the table, the person with this hand thought for a while and wound up bidding 4S, hoping if partner did not have Spades, they would pull it to 5C, which hopefully would have some play. That is a lot of ‘Hopefully’s’ in there, which is why I come back to the pass and take the plus philosophy, but hard to argue with success. In this case, the opening lead was the A of Diamonds and partner put down JTxx 98 JT QJTxx, a min, but a perfect fit. 4S made with an overtrick when the Spade hook was onside and they split 3-2 (perhaps against the odds). Switch the majors and it will be a tough call for this hand to bid 5C, but it maybe/should reason it out.

The 3D bid was made on Kx KJTx Q98xxx x, a bit of a stretch, and not happy if it goes a quick double on your left, but without it there is no story. And you never win if you do not force the opps out of their comfort zone.


The next hand in the same match was also really interesting, but from our point of view this time. All Vul, you hold KJ2 AKJ7 A KQJ98 and hear it go 2S on your right, alerted as showing a 2 suiter (5-5+) with Spades and any other suit and less than an opening bid.

The first thing to decide is how to approach this from your hand. You can start with the assumption that RHO has Spades and Diamonds, until proven different. The normal course of action here would likely be to bid 3N, since on a Spade lead, you should have time to knock out the A of Clubs and scramble home. And if partner has anything, they can check how good your hand is over the 3N. The problem with that logic is LHO also knows about openers second suit. And if they decide that a Spade lead is not called for and ever find a Diamond lead, you may not have many tricks in NT. For that reason, and my hand is so good if a fit is found, I decided to start with a TO double, treating the 2S opener as a standard pre-empt to start (in our methods)

This went Pass on my left, 2N (Lebensohl) by Pard, and Pass on my right. We play pretty standard Lebensohl here, but bidding 3C has a good chance of my playing there if pard is broke. I thought I wanted to do something to indicate general strength here, but was not sure what. Just because I think RHO has Diamonds, does not mean pard is in on the joke. And I did not want to play 3D on some kind of 2-1 or 3-1 fit. So the options I thought I had were 3S and 4C. 3S has the advantage of leaving 3N open as a possible contract, but since it will be played by pard, the now more probable Diamond lead from opener will kill my stopper at trick 1, forcing pard to have an actual second stopper, plus another card, to make 3N from his side. And if pard ever bids 4D over 3S, I am not sure what I am going to do, everything will be a distortion now. So for these reasons, and to show where I lived, I finally decided to jump to 4C.

This now went P, 4H, P back to me. See how easy it is to create problems for yourself without really trying, it is a natural gift for me it seems. OK, what do I need for a slam from partner. I need one of the 2 missing Aces, and either the Q of Hearts 4/5th or 5-6 Hearts and a good break. That is a lot for a 2N bid to hold, couple that with the announced fact there are nasty distributions walking around (from the 2 suited 2S bid), and I decided that taking the plus here was the best course, and passed.

Pard did have the good version of a poor hand, holding 6 Hearts to the nothing, and the nice Q of Spades. 4H made an easy overtrick on the Diamond lead (that was openers second suit), losing to the 2 Black Aces when Hearts were 2-1. Not sure what they played in at the other table, we were not told, but we did win 13 IMPS on the board, so either they got to 3N down on a Diamond lead, or they bid the slam off 2 cashing Aces. It is a tough hand, that I think I got right more on luck than perfect judgment, but I did have a reason for what I did each time, and it did work as I expected from the start of the hand, so will take it.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

New Bridge

I remember back when the concept of ‘New Math’ was introduced into schools in Canada. It was not revolutionary, just trying to show some new concepts. Now it looks like we have the concept of ‘New Bridge’.

Bob Hamman came up with the Bridge Maxim that if 3NT was a viable option, then you should always bid it. 1 opponent in last nights IMPS match on BBO obviously heard that and has certainly taken it to heart. On the first 3 boards, either he would open 1 of a suit, have his partner make a 1 level response, and jump to 3N, or have his partner open 1 of a suit, and also jump to 3N, with his hand being largely irrelevant to the decision. 1 of the 3 was successful on mis-defence, then this hand came up.

All Vul, you hold AKQ75 T743 --- T832 and hear the auction go 1C by partner, 1D on your right , 1S by you, P on your left, 3N (again) by partner , P to you. Now what? Unfortunately, almost anything can be right here, from passing, to 4S, 4H, 4/5/6 Clubs, dictated by what partner holds in Diamonds. Assuming partner does not have 3 Spades, then I personally like 4C on this hand, as I think it has the best chance of getting you to the most reasonable contract. Partner should have real Clubs on this auction, and the chances of finding 4 Hearts if partner has length (likely) in Diamonds, is a lot lower.

The actual holder of this hand bid 4S, thinking that the 5-2 had to play OK if partner had any values in Clubs, probably not an unreasonable point of view. Unfortunately, partner put down 63 AQJ9 K8 AKJ54 after a small Diamond was led. 4H certainly looks like a good spot, and even 6C is nice looking. It would be nice if partner would get over that 3N concept and bid rationally. Would 2H here show extra values in your system (?). And does partner have enough for that, I sort of think so, and it still right sides the contract.

Anyways, in 4S, declarer put up the K of Diamonds, and it lost to the A, which was ruffed low. Declarer now played a Heart to the Q, losing to the K, and the 9 of Spades came back (nicer for declarer than another Diamond), declarer winning the A. Declarer cashed the K of Spades, hoping to be able to pull most of the trumps and run winners, but RHO pitched a Diamond on this (ouch). Declarer now played a Club to the A and cashed the K of Clubs, but this was ruffed on his left and now another Diamond was returned. When it was all over, declarer was down 3 in 4 Spades, for -300. It turns out, with both the K of Hearts and Q of Clubs offside, 6C can not make, but it is still not a bad contract.

At the other table, they found their Heart fit, but stopped in 4, making for +650, and a big swing our way.

I wish when some people learned something, that they would apply it with some common sense, instead of blindness. This person kept on always bidding 3N at his first or second turn, and it kept turning out badly for them. And it had to be annoying to his partner, who was now being cast as incompetent since his partner never trusted him to play a hand, or to know how to get to the right contract. Made a note to never ever play with this person, and just took our win.

Monday, January 11, 2010

How to Screw up a Hand in 1 Easy Lesson

Had the following hand in the weekly Sat Aft Team Game. With No one Vul, you hold QT8632 5 KT3 AKT and open 1S in first seat. The opps are silent throughout and partner bids 2C (Nat but not 2/1). You rebid 2S (time to raise Clubs later), and partner bids 3S. 3S is a special bid, showing a Slam Try in Spades (2N would have started an auction showing a lesser hand). You bid 4H (in your limited discussions on this new convention partner threw at you, 4 level bids now were shortness), and partner jumps to 6H. You decide to bid 6S thinking it will play better, and you have arrived.

The opening lead is the 6 of Diamonds, and you see this dummy, A2 AK87 A52 Q964. Just a side note, I do not like to make a 2/1 in any suit that I do not want to have as trump, so I would probably have bid 2H over 1S here. The real problem occurs when it goes 1S-2C-3C, now you are not sure if the agreed trump suit is going to be good enough to play in. If it were to go 1S-2H-3C, you are a lot happier supporting Clubs, the only problem on 1S-2H, is if partner rebids 2S, you are not always sure of a 6 card suit.

Anyways, on to the play problem. At the time, it looked like I had to pick up the Spade Suit for 1 loser, since the Heart K would take care of the Diamond problem. I won the A of Diamonds on dummy (BAD PLAY) and played A and out a Spade, playing for some 3-2 break and either an honour appearing on my right, or a good guess. RHO played the 4 and 9 of Spades, and LHO contributed the 5. So now I had a guess. After some thought, I paid my RHO a compliment and put up the Q of Spades, of course losing to the K, down 1. I thought about it for a while, trying to decide if this was a guess or not, and had come to the conclusion that it was.

Then I thought about the hand overnight, and came to the complete conclusion that I had totally blew the hand, and it should not be a guess at all. I believe (well after the fact), that the correct way to play the hand is as follows. Win the Diamond in my hand (need that Diamond entry later), and play A and out a Spade again. But this time, I cover whatever RHO plays, since I have a chance if LHO shows out for a trump coup on a 4-1 Spade break, something I thought I could not handle at the time.

If LHO shows out, you need RHO to hold at least 3 Clubs and 2 Hearts, and play in the right order. Decide which RHO is longer in, Clubs or Hearts, and play that suit off first, ruffing the 3rd or 4th round. Then play the other, pitching the Diamond loser along the way, and another ruff. If all goes well, the Diamond to the A, provides the entry for the trump coup now (hence the reason for winning the first Diamond in hand). The biggest difficulty on the hand is deciding at trick 4 what order to play the rounded suits in. If RHO has 4 Clubs, they have to go first, if only 3, Hearts have to go first (so that you are able to cash everything without RHO ruffing early, or getting a bad pitch). Based on the lead, I would likely play RHO for 3 Hearts and play AK and ruff a Heart first, then the 3 rounds of Clubs ending on board, and decide what else to ruff to hand at that point. This works any time LHO did not lead a 3 card Diamond suit, but in that case, you probably had no hope.

Back to reality, at the other table, they also got to 6S, and made the prosaic play of A of Spades and a Spade to the 10, for an 11 IMP win on the board. My RHO might have ducked the K of Spades if he had it, but since he did not, will never know.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Major or Minor

Another interesting hand from a BBO Team match, this one with a philisophical point. On the auction, P P 2N P 3N P P P do you lead a Diamond or Heart from this hand, KT AT43 96542 86.

The Diamond is the longer suit, but does require more from partner, and will pickle any Diamond honours in partners hand. The Heart lead requires partner to have a Heart card, and another trick, since even with 3 Hearts and a Spade, you need 1 more for the magic 5. And it is not a requirement that the opps do not have a major suit fit, RHO could have almost anything in the majors for his 2N bid, and even LHO could have a major in a 4333 hand and have decided to go for 9 tricks.

Anyways, on this hand, it turns out the Major is the right lead, partner has KJ762 in Hearts, with Qx in dummy, declarer had 2 small. The Diamond lead pickles partners Qx in Diamonds, and the opps have 8 winners in the minors with the A of Spades.

Not sure what the correct answer is, both could be right on any given hand. It is perhaps unlucky on this hand that the Diamond lead not only does not set up your suit, but gives up the 9th trick on the go.

SAYC now has a forcing 1N!

Playing in a pick up match on BBO with a 'World Class' partner, I held the following hand NV vs Vul. KQ954 AT3 742 KQ in 1st seat. I opened the hand 1S, and it went (P) 1N (P) back to me. My partner had stated we were playing SAYC, which meant 1N was limited and non-forcing. I could not see many games available, and this seemed as good a spot as any, so I passed.

My partner proceeded to make 4N on the hand, and then started in on me for passing. According to him, the correct auction was for me to bid 2C (!) over his 1N, then raise his 2H to 3H, so he could then bid 4H. This seemed pretty far-fetched to me, since even if he had bid 2H over a 2C bid by me, I doubt I would have raised. Any hand that could not bid a natural (not 2/1) 2H over my 1S was not going to get a non-vul raise from me.

My partners hand was --- K98642 QT98 A62, just about a perfect fit, with everything co-operating, including the J of Diamonds doubleton onside. I believe I would have bid 2H on this hand, and got to 4H the sane and easy way. As a matter of fact, that is how they got to 4H at the other table, by bidding 2H over the same 1S opener.

Sigh, guess that is why I can never make that 'World Class' level.

That is OK though, I was given a lesson a couple of hands later on how to get to close games by him. He held J942 7 A542 Q852 and over 1H (P), he bid 1S. This now went (P) 2C (P) back to him. I think most people would have chosen a Pass, or an aggressive 3C, but he now made the master bid of 2N. This was raised to 3N by me on 83 AKQ93 J8 AJT6. I thought I had a source of tricks, good Clubs, and help in Diamonds. He got a Diamond lead, so he put up the J and won the K with the A. He now hooked a Club, losing to the K, and a Diamond came back. Due to the spots he had, the opps had no problem cashing 3 more Diamonds. His LHO now cashed the A of Spades, led a Spade to his partners K, and won the next 2 Spades with the 10 and Q, for a quick and merciless down 4, vul, -400. Fortunately, they got to 5C down 2 at the other table, so we only lost 5 IMPS.

As I said, guess I have to study more.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Wild Sets

Just played a set on BBO in an 8 board team match that had a game swing on every hand, and I wasn't even the cause of all of them :) (Much as some of my pards will question that)

First hand you hold AJ74 2 KQ83 AQ92 with no 1 vul and hear pard open 1H P to you. You bid 1S and pard bids 2S. You finally decide to BW, and pard bids 5S. So you sign off in 6S, and get the lead of the K of Hearts to see this dummy. 9853 At765 A64 K. Not sure what the 5S bid was, but you play it out and the 10 of Spades is offside, so down 1 for an 11 IMP loss. This was the first contribution from the opps to the cause.

Second hand you hold KQ953 AK85 AK76 --- and decide to open 1S playing SAYC. Pard bids 2S, so hoping pard has anything actually usefull, you bid the scientific 6S. The opening lead is the 4 of Spades, and dummy appears with T87 J74 J3 AKT93, not the dummy you were praying for, but some hope. The opening lead goes to the A on your right, and the 8 of Diamonds comes back. Since there are no entries for setting up Clubs in time, it looks like you need the J of Spades with the 4th Diamond, so embark on that path, planning to pitch the 2 loosing Hearts on the AK of Clubs, and cross-ruff the hand. There is a little care required to score everything, cashing the AK of Hearts early, but it does not matter, the 4th Diamonds is over-ruffed with the J of Spades on your right. At least this is a push board.

Third hand you hold AJ K95 K76 A5432 Vul vs Not and hear it go P 1H P to you. Even though this is not poker, you decide to bid 2C on your bicycle, and hear it go 3S on your left, 4D by pard, P back to you. Not sure what was going on, but pard should have an OK hand for this, so I jumped to 6H. I think anything much less is an insult to partner. Pard held Q AQ762 AJ83 K86, and when Hearts and Clubs went 3-2, claimed 12 tricks for a 13 IMP win, the opps played in 3N at the other table on the auction (3S) DBL (P) 3N. Think you have a pretty nice hand to bid 3N when partner makes a Vul TO double of 3S, but it would have worked if any rounded suit did not behave.

4th hand you pick up KQJ982 QJ4 T943 ---, all Vul, and hear it go 1C by pard, 1H on your right. You bid 1S and it now goes P on your left, 2D by pard, P on your right. Not sure what is best on this hand, finally decided to bid 3S, trying to show good Spades, since was betting pard was short on this hand. This now went (P) 4C (P) back to me. Sigh, problem is almost anything could be right here, but finally decided to just bid 4D and hope pard could work out what to do, this went all pass. The opening lead was the A of Hearts followed by the K of Hearts which partner ruffed. Partners hand was 6 3 AKQJ7 A96543, I think I would have bid 5D here, and would have been happy not to lose 2 major suit tricks, but whatever. Pard now ruffed a low Club, pitched the Spade on the good Heart, and played a Diamond back to hand, all following. Think a full cross-ruff would have been better, since it turned out Diamonds were 3-1 and Clubs were 5-2 behind you. But the kind person with the Clubs cashed the final Club winner before playing a Heart, and let 4D make. At the other table, they got to 5D, but only got the 2 Major suit Aces, the Clubs going on the Spades and Ruffs. So we lost 10 IMPS on this board, up 24-10.

5th Board, you hold J7 4 AKJ9852 A85 NV vs Vul and hear it go 1C on your right. There are many ideas on what to bid on these hands, anywhere from going very slow to bid lots, to 3N. I have to call it a hunch, but I thought the opps were not happy, so decided to go for the push, and if I missed a slam our way, I could apologize to our pards, so I bid 4D on the hand. This went 4S on my left, 4N on my right, 5D on my left, 6S on my right. Not sure what kind of BW these guys are playing, but this is getting interesting. The opening lead is the 3 of Diamonds, and this dummy hits, AT92 AKQ986 QT Q (HUH!?), precision and no alerts, gotta love it. I would have bid 4D almost for sure if I knew that is what they were playing. Anyways, covered the Q of Diamonds with the K which held, so cashed the A of Clubs, then the A of Diamonds, and declarer claimed the last 10 tricks for down 2 (?). Not sure what the guy on myright is up to, but that is another 11 IMP loss for him, we are up 35-10 now.

6th board I held T52 85 Q8 KJ5432 Vul vs Not. This is a brutal pre-empt even for me, so I passed, and it went 3 Passes to 1C on my right. Now that I know they are playing precision, I have an easy 2C bid over that, and it goes 2S on my left, 4D (cue bid) on my right, 4S on my left, 5H on my right, 5S on my left, all pass. The opening lead is the 9 of Clubs, and this truly amazing dummy tracks. AQ AKQT9742 --- QT6, that is right, a solid 8 card major hit in dummy :) Declarer covers the 10 of Clubs with my Jack and his A, and plays a Spade to the Q, which holds. He now plays the A of Hearts, pitching a Club, and the KQ of Hearts, pitching a Diamond, and now it is my turn, ruff or not? First, I do not like the spot cards in Clubs, that stupid 6 in dummy is setting up, thanks to my wonderfull suit, and if declarer has 6 Spades, overruffs my Spade here, and plays a Spade to board, it will be good. So I pitched a little Club as declarer pitched another Diamond and pard dropped the J of Hearts. Now came the good T of Hearts, I pitched a Club, declarer another Diamond, and pard ruffed with the J of Spades. Pard now played the A of Diamonds, and declarer pitched (!) from board. So partner now played the 8 of Clubs, covered all around, and ruffed by declarer. The 9 of Spades went to partners K and dummies A, but I now had the good 10 of Spades for down 1. Declarers hand was 98643 --- KJ9765 A7. It turns out with the amazing spot cards in Clubs, I think 6H is cold on any lead, since you can lead out the Q of Clubs covered winning the A, Spade hook, and play the 10 of Clubs, pinning everything, with that damn 6 becoming the 12th trick again. Dare anyone to find that line at the table :) Anyways, the Hearts were not put down in dummy at the other table, so we won another 11 IMPS for a 46-10 lead.

The 7th board was about the only one I could have anything but great things to say for my partner. She listed herself as Advanced, but based on her declarer play and defence, she was a lot ahead of most experts on BBO :) I held QJ7 76 AJT93 A94 All vul, and with the opps silent throughout, bid 1D over my pards 1C opener. Pard now bid 1S and I was at the first crossroads. We were playing SAYC, and I sorta had to decide now if this was a game forcing hand, or what. I rejected 2S, since pard will pass on most hands where I would want to be in game. 3S sets the trump suit, perhaps wrongly, and almost always should show 4. 2H sets a GF, one of the times where I would be happy if it set a 1 round force, perfect for this hand. Since all my values were in partners suits and I had good spot cards, I decided to treat it like a GF hand and bid 2H, this also had the advantage of letting partner tell me more about her hand. She now bid 2N and I bid 3S, hoping with only 4 Spades and a good Heart stopper, she might prefer 3N if it looked right. This went all P, and the opening lead was the 2 of Spades. Sigh, so much for forcing. When I saw pards hand, I was not sure I wanted to be in any games, she held AT86 KQ3 K75 765, something even I might have passed unless playing a weak NT. But it turned out almost every card was friendly, with Spades 33 and the K onside, so she made 5 in 3S, losing 10 IMPS to the opps in 3N at the other table, we were now up 46-20.

The last board was a sorta decision, do you open a Strong NT holding J9 KJ5 AQJ96 KQ4 or decide to upgrade it and open 1D, planning to rebid 2N. I finally decided to open 1N, which proved wrong on this hand when it went all P and pard put down K873 984 T83 A32. Everything was friendly, and the opps set up my Spade and Heart tricks right away, so I made 3N on the hand. Fortunately, they played in 3D at the other table, so the final score wound up 46-20 our way.

Still not sure what game my RHO was playing, but he was flying high on a few of the boards. Plus I guess when to jam their auctions correctly, and gave them problems instead of us a minus. The same calls I made here could cost almost the same next time if the hands are a little different. But I will still follow the philosophy that the opps will not make as many mistakes in an uncontested auction as in a lively one. So keep on bidding and let the cards fall as they may.

Happy New Year to all, and may 2010 be a fun time to play bridge :)