Monday, February 22, 2010

What does a 4S bid look like?

Playing IMPS on BBO last night, I had a bizarre reaction from one of my opps to a bid I made. I still think I would do the same thing next time it comes up, but I was essentially told I was crazy. But then some of the people I play with know that, so perhaps they are right after all.

Anyways, NV vs Vul, I held QT9xxxx --- A8xxx x in first seat. Some people like to pass with these hands, and back into the auction later, but I have never been a member of that camp. I truly hate allowing the opps to exchange any information at a level they are comfortable with, when I can prevent that. I believe most decent or good opps will not commit unforced errors very often, you have to remove them from their comfort zones as quickly as possible, to cause more interesting things to happen, some good, some not so good. So enough soap box standing. I did not think 3S was much of a pre-empt with this hand and this vulnerability, I really did not want to defend 4H, and I was not going to bid again if I opened 3S, so decided to take the full monty route and open 4S on the hand. This went all pass and the opening lead was a small Diamond.

Dummy hit with a VERY nice hand for me, KJxx xx J9x AJxx, nice offense and not too much defense, unless something weird happened, I should have some play for this (Diamond lead is unexpected but certainly helpful) and not much could hurt 4H. But when dummy came down with the KJxx in Spades, my LHO piped up with a quick comment about what kind of 4S bid did I have when dummy had those Spades, and what kind of person was I. I played low on the first Diamond, and won RHO’s welcome K of Diamonds with the A, looking very good now. So not being able to resist temptation, I sent back a message about ‘You have not seen anything yet’, as I played a Spade to the K and RHO’s A, LHO showing out. This sent LHO into a frenzy, calling me an crazy and not knowing what I was doing at all.

I ruffed the Heart return, pulled the last trump, led a Diamond towards board, and claimed 5 when LHO won the Q of Diamonds. LHO did not say much after that. It turns out that 5H is easy to make, since I can not ruff the Club, so it looked like this must be a decent board, wrong! At the other table, my hand believed in the pass and get back in later philosophy. So it now went P, 2H, DBL(!), 4H back to him (nice double opposite a passed hand). He easily went to 4S, which his RHO now bid 5H over, this was passed to his partner who bid again with 5S(!), and this was doubled to end the auction. Since that K of Diamonds was singleton, it is virtually impossible to go down in 5S with any reasonable Diamond play, and this was not an unreasonable day. So we would up losing 5 IMPS on the board because our opps were forced to sack at the 5 level when we were not, usually a good thing, but not today, sigh.

Incidentally, I would probably not pass with my RHO's hand in balancing seat, even if I might go for a number Vul vs Not, too much chance you are being taken. He held Ax KQxxx K KTxxx. I would have bid 4N, trying to indicate I have 2 places to play the hand. Not sure it would have mattered, I assume my partner would have bid 5S over 5H, and we may have then pushed the board. But I do not like Pass with that hand.

There was also a funny thing that happened later in the match. I picked up xx JTxx Qx A9xxx all Vul and heard the auction go 1N on my right, 3N on my left, P P back to me. I was moving the mouse to the P icon, but passed over the double icon on the way there. My laptop sometimes has phantom mouse clicks when over a hyperlink, and this proved to be one of those time, I doubled 3N with this hand. Since the game had no undo’s, I was now stuck, sigh. So I led a small Club, and dummy hit with Qxx in Clubs and a Good 3NT. To make a long story short, declarer put up the Q, partner won the K, cashed the J of Clubs (I ducked since I still needed him to have another), and led the 10 of Clubs back, down 1. I actually apologized to the opps for this, saying what had happened and that it did not deserve to be rewarded. This got a chuckle out of both opps, who were good about it, apparently they had had it happen before as well, perhaps not being as lucky. The double turned out not to matter, contract did, our partners wound up in 4S making, when my LHO’s hand, with 4333, decided to Stayman, found the 44 Spade fit, and bid 4S instead of the normal 3N.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Weak NT Theory

Had 2 hands at the team game yesterday that brought up a question on when to and when not to open a Weak NT if you are playing them. Both hands had virtually duplicate distribution and HCP, but I opened 1 of them 1N and the other 1C, my opponent at the other table opened both 1N. Just for my own piece of mind and to see if anyone agrees with my reasoning, I was going to present my arguments for the 2 points of view with the 2 hands.

To start, the 2 hands were

AQx Qx Qx A97xxx
Kx KJx Jx AJ9xxx

As can be seen, both have the flaw of having a 6 card minor, usually something that stops the 1N consideration.

On the first hand, I considered the Q’s a major feature of the hand. They provided effective tenaces in 3 suits, and favoured playing the hand from my side, to allow them to be led into. This swayed me into opening 1N on the hand, which made the auction simple when partner bid 3N. I will talk about the actual hands later, since they are not the main part of the discussion.

The second hand, I think anyways, is quite a bit different. The better Club suit, and the K’s instead of Q’s, lend themselves more to a suit contract, and although you may want to protect your K’s on opening lead, there seemed more chances for other contracts. And since I do not like violating the no 6 card suit for 1NT rule that often, I decided to open this hand 1C.

I think one of the things you should look for when deciding what side to play NT contacts from is the presence of Q’s in the hand, especially doubleton Q’s. This 1 is very close, and could be as much personal style as anything, but I try to apply certain rules to when I will violate any agreements, such as opening an offshape 1N like these 2 hands.

The first hand was funny more in the play and comments at the table. I got a small Heart lead (3rd and 5th), and the 2 hands were.

Kxx Kxx Kxx KQ8x
AQx Qx Qx A97xxx

I let the Heart ride around to my Q, which won the trick, and played a Club to the K, both following. When my RHO showed out on the Q of Clubs, my LHO joked that this hand was proof against even my declarer abilities, prompting a rude comment from my RHO on opening 1N with a 6 card minor. The hand basically plays itself, run the 9 black suit winners, coming down to Kx of Hearts and K of Diamonds on board, and x Qx in my hand, and exit a Diamond to the K, then wait for the 11th trick from 1 of the opps. Even my RHO at the time agreed that my hand should probably open 1N, not much else looks right. This turned out to be a push board, mostly as expected.

On the second hand, a lot more fireworks ensued. After opening 1C, my LHO jumped to 2S, and partner bid 3S, essentially asking for a Spade stopper. RHO now bid 4D, lead directional with Spade support, so I passed, as did LHO, and partner bid 4H. Rho now showed really good Spade support with 4S, and since I was now sure my partner had Clubs and I did not like the prospects against 4S on this auction, I bid 5C. This went 5D by LHO, double by partner, 5S on my right. And now I tried to have a senior moment, sigh. Looking at the multitude of bidding cards on the table, I went and forgot that my partner had doubled 5D, not the 5S bid, and I passed, instead of doubling, thinking that we were already in 5S doubled. Partner thought about this for a while, and bid 6C, ending the auction. The opening lead was a small Diamond and this dummy came down.

x Axxx Kx KQTxxx
Kx KJx Jx AJ9xxx

We have Clubs sewn up, but no def tricks available there, and it actually looks like on some hands we would need to take 3 Heart tricks to even beat 5S. So I played low on the Diamond at trick 1, thinking even my current LHO, known to underlead A’s a lot, would not do so on this hand, and RHO won the A of Diamonds, and cashed the A of Spades, oh well, so much for 5S. Switch the A of Spades and Q of Diamonds, and we can never beat 4S, and have to be lucky to beat 5, with the opps announced double fit.

When RHO showed up with the Club, I decided the Hearts were probably 3-3, the only thing that made much sense, so played the straight up finesse, which worked, so only down 1.

There are a bunch of points on this hand, first, after 1C (2S), partner and I both agreed, after the fact, that 4S is probably a better bid to describe the companion hand. You do not want to allow your LHO to be able to announce the fit they have or any defensive bids such as happened. Second, although I should have doubled 5S, we were not sure that the other hand should go on. You need good Clubs, very good Heart support, and first round control in Diamonds to go with the announced (by the pass of 5S), duplicated second round control of Spades.

That does not forgive the dumb pass of 5S though, that is a good part of what started the last part of the problem. At the other table, my hand decided to open a weak NT, and our partners hand, with 6-4 in Spades and Diamonds, decided not to make an overcall. So the companion hand jumped to 3N, and it made comfortably after the Spade lead.

I still think that 1C is the correct bid, and in theory it should have worked out here. We should have been defending 5S doubled while our partners got to play it in 4S doubled, since without the knowledge of the Club fit, it will be hard now for either hand to bid 5C. But instead, we managed to lose 13 IMPS on the board :)

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Bridge is a Spectator Sport

I got to watch 4 hands that decided a team match last night, all controlled by 1 person on the team.

First hand, NV vs Vul, you hold 3 AKJT2 Q9753 Q2 and open 1H after a pass on your right. It goes 1S on your left, P by partner, 2H (good Spade raise) on your right. You decide to double this instead of bidding 3D, and it goes 2S on your left, P, 4S back to you. Guess it is time to introduce Diamonds, so you wander back in with 5D, which goes P, 5H by partner, double on your right, ending the auction. The opening lead is the A of Spades, and partner tables J542 984 T64 863. The defence is pretty nasty, but at then end, you are down to A of Hearts and the 975 of Diamonds, with only the 8 out (they screwed up taking a Diamond with the J) and 2 Hearts and 1 Diamond on board. You decide to try to cash the A of Hearts instead of starting with the 9 of Diamonds, and then find out Hearts were 4-1, allowing you to go for the full -1400 on the hand.

Second hand, All Vul, you hold J9742 Q73 K5 K63 and hear partner open 1C, RHO overcalling 1NT. You decide to double this, since your side should have half the deck, and it goes 2C on your left, double by partner, 2H on your right. In the spirit of the hand, you double this as well, ending the auction. You lead the 3rd best Club, and dummy tracks with T53 JT86 Q8742 8. Partner wins the A of Clubs and shifts to the K of Spades, which declarer wins with the A while you encourage with the 7. Declarer now plays the J of Clubs, ruffs it on board when you play low, and plays the J of Hearts off board. Partner wins this with the A of Hearts, and plays a second Spade, but declarer wins that with the Q, ruffs the Q of Clubs, and gives you a Heart, Diamond and a Spade, making 2 Hearts doubled for -670.

Third hand, all Vul, you hold AJ2 Q9753 A974 3 and open 1H in first seat. This goes 1S overcall on your left, 2C by partner, P back to you, so you bid 2D, your second suit. This goes P on your left, 4H by partner, double on your right. You pass, LHO passes after a long thought, and partner passes, ending the auction. The opening lead is the K of Spades, and partner lays down 873 AK842 QT8 A6. You decide to duck the opening lead, and the J of Clubs is returned. You win the A, cash the A of Hearts (all following) and can pretty much claim 5 now, by playing Diamonds into the danger hand, as long as 1 of the Diamond honors are onside. If both are on your left, then you will at least guarantee making 4 in all hands. Not our intrepid hero, he ruffed the Club back to his hand, clearing the Clubs, then cashed the Q of hearts to remain in hand, before leading a Diamond to the Q and K. A small Spade came back, and you can still make it by going A and out a Spade, end playing your LHO, but it is perhaps better to play low, letting the Q win, and then winning the A of Spades for a return. Now go to board with a Heart, take a losing Diamond finesse, and you have manufactured 4 losers out of 2, down 1 for -200, instead of making 5 for +990.

Fourth hand, you are not quite done yet. No one vul, you pick up AK87652 A KJ2 84 and hear it go 2H by partner, P to you. You bid 2S, partner raises to 3S, and you continue on to 4S. The opening lead is the 5 of Hearts and partner puts down QJ QJT974 T753 5, a perfecto match for a nice 4S. This looks like an easy hand, win the A of Hearts, give up a Club, win the probable Spade return, and ruff a Club, eventually giving up 2 Diamond tricks to make a nice 4S. So what can our intrepid hero do to this hand we ask. How about the Q of Hearts on the first trick, not covered and then won by the A, a small Spade to the J on board, and the J of Hearts, planning to pitch those Clubs away. Except that RHO pitches an encouraging Club on the J of Hearts, so when you play the Club on it, Rho wins the K of Hearts, and plays a Club to RHO, who plays another Spade on the table, and worse, ruffs the 10 of Hearts when you play it off board. Now when you play Diamonds out of your hand, you do lose the expected 2 Diamonds tricks for down 1, and a sum of 45 IMPS punted on 4 boards.

I did really watch this happen at the table last night. I will not disclose who was where for fear of being hunted down, but the person who sat in that chair was not feeling to happy after the match. Sometimes you are not playing well, but then that is the time to play down the middle, not try to be the hero of the match and make up for what you have done before. As Zia said, when you are playing in heat 3, do not try to do anything outside your abilities that day, play straight up, and hope partner is in heat 1 and can supply the magic. Because anything you try to do is not going to turn out great, rather it usually turns out as in these hands, a little not so great.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Sat Aft Fun

Playing in our regular Sat Aft team game, had a couple of really wild and interesting hands come up. First a question, what is the most tricks you have gone down in a freely bid contract without being doubled? I may be trying for the record here with my partner from this week, cause the answer this week is 8 tricks (!).

My partner held Jxxxxxx T9xx x x with no one vul and heard me open 1D in first seat, pass on his right. He now bid 2S (WJS) and it went 3N (after some thought) on his left, P, P back to him. Not being satisfied with the status quo, and thinking if they did not try for Hearts (where might they try this?), I must have them, he fearlessly ventured out with 4H (!). This went slow pass on his left (!), P by partner, and another slow pass on his right (!). The opening lead was the A of Spades, and partner (me) put this gem down, x K KQxxx KT98xx, not the world's greatest opener, and not a happy camper on this auction, but no double, not too much trouble :) After the opps pulled trump, I think they made a mistake letting 1 card score on dummy to go with the long Heart in declarers hand. Turns out the 3N bidder had a balanced 21 count with AT of Spades and Ax of Hearts, while his partner had QJxxxx of Hearts. She did not double since she thought the run out to Spades would be cheap, but she had KQx of Spades opposite a partner that jumped to 3N, and 6 good cards in declarers second suit. 4S was not cheap, more like Sticks and Wheels (1100) non-vul. So -400 looked now like an odd push opposite the expected 3N from the other table, except the other table also got into the bidding our way with the distribution, not sure what the whole auction was, but they apparently pulled 4 of a major doubled to 5D doubled, that then went for the whole 1700.

And as for why I passed 4H in our auction, when a disaster is unfolding, and you are not yet doubled, you NEVER pull before you hear a double. Sometimes wierd and wonderful things like this happens.

Next we have this hand, again with no one vul, you hold Kxxx Axx Axx xxx and Pass in 2nd seat after a Pass on your Right. It now goes 3D on your Left, 4D by partner, Pass on your Right. First, what should 4D be on this auction, the normal interpretation is a distributional TO of the pre-empt that did not want a TO double to be left in, usually more distribution or less HCP/Defence. So the question is, do you have enough to try for a slam. You have length and 2 good cards in partners supposed majors, and an outside A to control the pre-empt suit.

My answer is that yes, if partner has anything close to his 4D bid, I think you have enough to try for the slam. But the next question is how, you need to be able to show good support, with a control in Diamonds, and let partner know he needs good control of Clubs to go on. I think the first option of 5S should ask about Diamond control and Spades, not about Clubs. So that leaves the direct leap to 6S or a 5D cue-bid. Personally, I think the 6S bid is putting too much stain on partner, who could be punished for getting you to a game after a pre-empt, when you may have 0 play for a slam, so I think the 5D cue bid is about right, and hope partner works it out.

It actually turns out anything over 4S will get you to a slam on this hand, partner held AQxxxx KT9xx --- AQ, so 6S is an easy make, giving up 1 Heart trick. I also think this is the kind of hand that the 4D bid should show, a distributional good TO, without an incredible amount of defence or willingness to defend 3D doubled if left in.

Last hand is more of a decision I had based on the game being played. NV vs Vul, I held KJ AK4 AQ AKJTxx and decided to open 2C in first seat (just too much stuff for anything else). This went 2S on left, double by partner, P back to me. We do not play together regular, so I was not sure what the double is, although the standard in our area is it shows values and is not for penalty, so I hoped this was what it showed. In addition, I know the my LHO is a very aggressive bidder that will be in with any reason, so 2S does not have to show any kind of a good hand. For this reason, and since it is a fun, not serious game, I decided to go for it all and jumped to 6N (!), ending the auction. The opening lead was the J of Hearts, and although partner stated his hand was based on what I had hoped it was, it was not the dummy of my dreams. Qxx 9xxx KTxx xx, not that many values, and certainly not much usefull, and worst, short Clubs.

I won the Heart in my hand as RHO contributed a middle Heart (normal signals) and layed down the A of Clubs, nothing exciting happening, before playing the K of Spades. I had wanted to find out what was happening on the hand a little, and needed Spades as options for transportation and tricks. LHO won the A of Spades as RHO followed low, and now played another Spade, RHO again following as I won my J. I would have much preferred LHO to play another Heart, as that left more options open, but I was now forced to win the Spade in hand, since the bad Diamond position left me with no other place to put the loser Heart.

I now had to decide how to play the Club suit, since I was down to the single entry to board. Options are to bang down the K of Clubs and hope the Q appears, or use my entry to go to board, pitch the Heart loser on the Q of Spades, and hook the Club. I kind of thought the 2nd option was better, since RHO had more positions for the Club Q in his hand, but that also meant going down a LOT more, even though that is not that big of a consideration at IMPS. The other consideration that comes in is when I can not make the hand due to a 4-1 break in Clubs. I still think the percentage line is to go to board, hook the Club, and hope for the best. But I decided against that at the table and banged down the K of Clubs, perhaps due to table feel or whatever, still not sure. Turns out it did not matter towards making the hand, LHO pitched a Spade on the K of Clubs. At least I was able to salvage down 1 on the hand as I gave up a Club. Turns out this was worth 2 IMPS on the board, as they went down 2 in something at the other table, I assume 6N as well on a Spade lead and used the Diamond entry to take the Club hook, and now lost the Club, Diamond, and A of Spades.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Slam Fun

Playing IMPS with an unfamiliar partner, you pick up the following hand with everyone Vul, AK73 J82 KQT75 K, hear partner open 1D and get a 1H overcall on your right. You start with a negative double, and it goes 3H (Preemptive) on your left, P, P back to you, now what?

Partner should be short in Hearts, you want to find out if he has 2 Aces and at most 1 Heart, whereupon you will likely try a slam, hoping the Spades sort themselves out for no losers. But how do you force partner to cue-bid Hearts if he can?

I think the best way to go about that is to bid 3S here, and over partners assumed (hopeful) 4C bid, bid 4D, which has to be forcing on this auction. If partner has anything including a shortness in Hearts, this should get a 4H cue-bid. In practice, this is exactly what will happen, partner will bid 4H over 4D, and when you check, you will find you are off 1 Ace, so will settle in the easy 6D contract.

At the table, this person cue-bid 4H with the 3 small. And then over partners 5C bid, bid 5D, which ended the auction and cost 12 IMPS. Partners hand was xx x AJxxx AQTxx. Looking at 2 small Spades, should this hand expect both major Aces, good Diamonds, and the K of Clubs (or the actual hand) for the 4H call and bid 6D?

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

Had another funny hand from a practice teams match we had SUN. With no one vul, you hold 973 --- Q8632 K7543. Partner of course opens 1H and it goes P on your left. You decide to get cute and bid 1S, hoping partner will bid 2 of a minor and you can pass. Of course, partner, not being in on the joke, responds with the response you did not want to hear, 4NT, KeyCard in Spades, sigh.

4N does not sound like a good place to play this, and partner will not have a sense of humor over a pass, so you bid 5D, showing not too many KC’s. Partner now settles you gracefully in 6S (!) and the opening lead is a small Spade, this just keeps getting better.

At least partner puts down an OK dummy for you, AKQ65 AKJ873 3 A. You win the first Spade with the A as RHO contributes a small Spade, and ruff a Heart to your hand, all following. Club to the A, followed by another Heart ruff, again all following. Pitch the Diamond on the K of Clubs, ruff a Diamond back to board, pull trumps with the KQ of Spades, they were 3-2, and give up 1 Heart, they were 5-2, making an easy 6 Spades. Turns out the only way to beat 6S was to take the Diamond winner then switch to a Spade, something made harder when you right sided the contract, placing the person with the AK of Diamonds NOT on lead, instead the person with 5 Hearts to the QT was on lead.

At the other table, they also got to 6 Spades, but from the normal side this time. They also got a small Spade lead (!, not the Diamond A), but tried to cash 1 Heart before trying to ruff 2. Now the 5-2 Heart split spelled doom when the third Heart got ruffed high and a Diamond cashed.