Tuesday, January 26, 2010

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.

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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.

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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.

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