Friday, March 5, 2010

3NT Woes

Playing in a pickup team game on BBO last night, I had 2 very interesting 3N hands that I would really to have done better on. I guess I was very much in Zia’s heat 3 mode, since I worked out what the opponents had to hold, what the probability of them holding that was, how I had to make it, did not do that, and managed to butcher both of the hands, somewhat to my partners dismay.

First hand, Vul vs Not, you hold this nice collection AQ2 AKQ9 KT7 AJ4 and open 2C in second seat after a Pass, planning to rebid 2N on the hand. Your LHO kind of gets involved with a pre-emptive 3D, which gets passed back to you. The 2 options here look like double and 3N, and I finally decided on the latter due to the vulnerability and flatness of my hand, and not wanting partner to have to play 3N, if that is the final resting place, on a Diamond lead through my hand.

The opening lead was the J of Diamonds and this hand hit from partner T987 Jxxx xxx Tx, not the world’s fair, but a couple of useful spot cards, just have to figure out how to use them. If I win this, I have 7 winners, and if the Spade hook is on, up to 8. I figured that I needed 1 of the KJ of Spades on my right, or the KQ of Clubs there, or a Diamond Ax or Qx there, to have a chance. But when RHO played a low Diamond on the first trick, the option of his having honor doubleton, as remote as it was with the 3D bid, went out the window, I was going to have to rely on 1 of the other scenarios. Problem was, in blissful ignorance, loving the smoothness of my deceptive play, I decided to duck the Diamond lead, whereupon LHO switched to a Heart, making the full punishment play. When RHO played low, at least I won the A, not the 9, and ran 4 rounds of Hearts ending on board, LHO starting with 2 and making 2 Diamond pitches, RHO pitching a Spade. I now led the 7 of Spades off board, and when RHO played low, made the silly play of the Q of Spades, hoping he started with 3-4 Spades. This held, but LHO pitched a Diamond on the A of Spades, and when the smoke cleared. I was down 2 on a hand it is hard to work out a way to go down on. Everything was as I hoped, RHO had KJxxx xxx x KQxx, so almost any reasonable line makes 9 tricks, mine took 7.

So with that over, I picked this up on the next hand, NV vs Vul, AKT73 A2 AQ73 A4 and opened 2N in first seat. The opps were silent and partner transferred to Hearts with 3D and then bid 3N over my 3H bid. I finally decided to leave this in 3N on the hand, and got the Q of Spades opening lead. Partner put down xx KTxxx Jxx Qxx and RHO followed with the 4 of Spades to the first trick. They were playing UDAC signals, so I played the 3 of Spades on that, too let LHO know his partner did like Spades. Sure enough, a small Spade came back and RHO pitched a small Club, while I won the 10 of Spades.

I now had lots of options for some more tricks, setting up Hearts, setting up Diamonds, the 1 thing I did not want to try was the Club suit, I decided the small Club was an honest card and I was going to play RHO for the K of Clubs for the time being. As I said, I was not doing while on the thinking department, so instead of playing the Q of Diamonds out of my hand to try and set up Diamonds, and to keep options open for later by possibly setting up a late Heart entry, I played a Diamond to the J, losing to the K on my right, and back came another Diamond. I won the A of Diamonds, cashed the Q of Diamonds, and LHO threw a Club, so no 3-3 Diamond break.

At this point, I am up to 8 tricks, with an endplay leading to a Club winner the best chance for 9, with a possibility of a third Heart trick also in the mix. I think that at this point, cashing the 2 winning Hearts, and then throwing RHO in with a Diamond gave me the most options, but instead I immediately threw RHO in with that Diamond, and since I had not done any stripping in Hearts, he led 1, threatening my communications. So I won the A of Hearts, and cashed the AK of Spades, RHO throwing a Club and a Heart, as did Dummy. At this point, I convinced myself that RHO was down to Kxx of Clubs and a Heart honor, so I should throw him in by ducking a Heart and let the forced Club return run to the Q. But I finally convinced myself this was wrong again, played a Heart to the K, dropping the Q, and a Heart to LHO’s J, who cashed the Spade, and led a Club finally, with RHO having the K, so down 1, sigh. I was right at each stage, and did not play accordingly, that is really annoying. Like I said, when you are in Heat 3, just go with the flow, do not try to think, because every thing you think of will be wrong.

Turns out we won the stupid match in spite of me. We only lost 7 IMPS on those 2 boards, instead of winning 20, and then won the match on the last 3 boards. First, the opps with our cards at the other table doubled 3H holding Kx in Hearts and some scattered values, and it made, then did not push to a bad but makeable 4H, and my partner made an inspired trump guess in 3H on the last board to make it for the final 1 IMP pickup.

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