Friday, April 30, 2010

Chicken at the 5 Level

Had an extremely interesting hand this week at the Team Game, both from my point of view and my opponents. All Vul, I picked up 953 KQ98 KQT95 A. My RHO opened 2S (alerted) showing 5+ Spades, and a second 5+ card suit, with less than an opening bid. This presents a problem, since if I double, and bid Diamonds over a Club bid from partner, I have shown a lot better hand than I have. And overcalling Diamonds, may lose the Heart suit. At the table, I passed, hoping partner could balance, but after the fact, I feel that overcalling 3D is the lesser of all evils, since at least it gets me involved in the auction with less later guessing. Sigh, pre-empts are there for a reason.

LHO now jumped to 4S, which went P – P to me. This has raised the level of the problem, but actually given me some great information. What I know so far, I assume LHO has 4 Spades for the Vul 4S bid, and I assume he does not have a great hand, he did not ask about his partners second suit. So this leaves me with partner having a few values, and a highly probable stiff Spade. Since I have the KQ in each red suit, the values partner has are either Clubs, a little unlikely since RHO is almost certain to have them and thus (I hope) something in them, or Aces. Since a singleton Spade, 1 Red A, and a red suit fit leaves me with 2 losers on the hand, I bid 4N as TO with 2 suits. This went P, 5D by partner, P back to me, confirming that RHO’s second suit has to be Clubs as well as giving me a place to play. . Not wanting to do the full crazy man play, I passed and the problem reverted to my LHO.

His hand was A984 J2 74 KJ974. At this point in the auction, he is certain that the opps have a Diamond fit, and that his partner probably has Clubs to go with Spades, although that is not certain. But it does point to a probable 2 suited fit by both sides, and that the opps each have a probable singleton in a black suit, so are odds on to make 5D. Backing this judgment, he now bid 5S over 5D, passing the baton to the 5D bidder.

His hand was interesting, x Axxxx AJxxx xx, the question now becomes, should he bid, pass, or double over the 5S bid. Is a pass forcing in this auction, since who is sacrificing here? And what did partner have for the 4N bid. First, I think the pass should be forcing here, it follows standard rules. The opps pre-empted on the hand, and your side voluntarily bid a game, over which the opps bid again in their pre-empt suit. Even if the method of getting to the game was unusual, nonetheless, you did freely bid a game after a pre-empt. Now, do you have enough to pass is the next question. To answer that, what should partner expect from you on this hand. 1 A and the short Spade are probable’s, so is the presence of the second A and the 5-5 enough extras to pass? I think it is a judgment call and really tough in this kind of competitive auction. It turns out that our side can make 6 of either red suit, but after the 2S and 4S bids, that is going to be hard to get to. I would expect it would take superb judgment from a very experienced pair, and even then the final contract would be in doubt till dummy came down. As is, this hand doubled 5S, ending the auction, and beat it -2 for +500, and a 5 IMP loss on the hand.

All in all, a very interesting hand, with pretty good judgment all around. And the opps get full marks for playing a system that allowed them to generate a small swing in their favor with the close possibility of a large swing.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Swiss Fun

Just finished our local sectional tournament and there were a bunch of interesting hands that came up.

The first was during the KO's and is an exercise in adjusting the worth of a hand during an auction. You start with a very nice hand, AKQJ KQ95 AJ93 7 and open 1D in first seat (sometimes 5 card majors without a strong Roman bid can be interesting). This goes 1H on your left, P, P back to you. My hand has already started downhill, but still too strong to give up on. I thought the choices were an overstrength 1S and a flawed double. I decided to double, hoping I could survive the expected 2C call from partner with 2N. However, over the double, partner bid 1S, passed back to me.

At this time, my hand is decidedly overvalued with the Spade cards and positional Hearts. I actually thought about passing here, since partner having Spades on this auction and passing 1H was a strong warning. But after a little thought, pass was too pessimistic, and I bid 2S. I do not like anything stronger, and I think 2S in this auction should actually show a pretty good hand. Of course, partner was not getting away with any forward movement, she was going to be in game then  But knowing that, she passed 2S.

The play was not that interesting, the opps slipped 1 trick and let partner make 3, the limit of the hand is actually 2S. Partner had a balanced hand, xxxx xxx Qx xxxx, with no spot cards. The opening lead went to the Heart A and the Heart return got ruffed, but the opps erred by signaling for and receiving a Diamond return, allowing partner to win and pull trumps, then they ducked the K of Diamonds when partner led a low Diamond off board.

At the other table, on the same start to the hand, my hand decided they had to have a great hand and raised 1S directly to 4S. This was not doubled, but they found the defense to beat it 2 tricks, for a small pickup.

Next few hands occurred during the swiss teams.

In the first match, I picked up this interesting hand, K KQ953 A98653 7 and decided to open 1H in first seat, to avoid a lot of bidding problems later. The opps were silent and over partners 1S, I bid 2D. Partner now bid 3C (4SF) and I bid 3D, figuring the smallest lie was about shape, rather than start a Diamond and lie about strength. Partner bid 4D over this. We had agreed that over explicit fits, 4 of a minor was BW in the minor, and I thought it should apply here, but we had not talked about this type of auction as an explicit fit (we did later and agreed on it), so I jumped to 6D, hoping for K fourth of Diamonds and any 2 Aces (partner can not have 3 Hearts on this auction). Partner was a good partner, putting down that exact hand, without the 3rd A, so 6D made easily for an 11 Imp win, the opps stopped in 3N at the other table. I do like partners 3C and 4D bids, he had primary support and Aces.

The next hand is from the same match, my LHO held this hand. Jxx AKQ Qx AQJxx Vul vs Not, and opened 1C in second seat. This went 2H on her right, Pass by partner, 3H on her left. After some thought, she doubled 3H, and her partner went 4D, which she passed. Her partner lost 3 Spade tricks and 1 Diamond trick for down 1, but they were cold for a Vul 3N, since her partner had Kxx of Clubs and the A of Diamonds, and the opps can only take 4 Spade tricks, if they lead them. At the table, she stated after the hand she was worried about the Spade suit, so did not bid 3N over 3H. BTW, my partner stated he went into full panic mode after P 1C and he held a Q, so he bid 2H at terrorist vulnerability (white vs red), hoping to make it hard for them to bid a slam.

Next was a difficult problem our opponents had from another match. You hold the following hand with no one vul, A3 AQJT5 K4 AKJ3 and open 2C after a pass on your right. Partner responds 2D showing some values (but no good suit), and over your 2H bid, raises to 3H. At the table, this person now bid 4N and after finding 1 KC, settled in 6H. The opening lead was a small Spade, and dummy put down Jx xxx Ax Qxxxxx. When the K of Hearts was onside but 4th, it was not possible to make the hand in 6H, but as can be seen, 6C is makeable.

At the table after the match was over, we were discussing this hand and thought that if the strong hand bid 4C over 3H, then bid 4N over either 4D or 4H by the other hand, the weaker hand should bid 6C to offer a choice of contracts. The problem with this is that it gives up on 7, and requires partner to have the good Clubs and not solid Hearts, so there is a problem in Hearts. I think standard bidders will always have a problem with this hand, I am sure a relay system that finds out partner has 3 Hearts and 6 Clubs will be able to get to 6C, but most people do not play that sophisticated of a system. At the other table, they play control responses, so the weaker hand bid 2H (not something I like), which now went 3H – 4H – Pass.

Next hand, you hold KJ9752 AQ K62 AT with no one vul, and hear partner open 1D. You bid 1S and partner bids 1N, showing a strong NT (15-17). You are now going to play in at least 6S on this hand, the question is, should you try for 7 with an upper limit of 34 on the hand. The 6th Spade and the fact partner opened 1D are plus factors, while the flat hand opposite flat hand with 6-8 HCP missing are negative factors. I eventually just bid 6S on the hand, since I was not sure how I can KC to find out about both the Q of Diamonds and Spades. In retrospect, I do not like my bid, since something like AQ Kxx AQxxx xxx, a minimum, gives me excellent play for the grand on almost any lead. The question is, how to find out about both Q’s without going past 6S. I don’t have any foolproof methods at this time. If I can force partner to KC in one of the suits, in theory he will be looking at the Q’s, and can decide. To do that, I will have to set Spades as trump (2D-?-2S) and then start cue-bidding. I suppose that has the best chance. On this hand, I was lucky, and it did not matter. Partner held AQ Kxx Axxxxx QJ. The 3rd Diamond was in the same hand as the K of Clubs, so the show up squeeze worked to make 7. At the other table, partners hand jumped to 3D over 1S, and they subsequently did bid the grand, but in Diamonds, where they had a trump loser, so we luckily won a bunch of IMPS.

The final slam decision I had was with J3 KQJ95 Q6 A942 all Vul. Partner opened 1S, and with the opps silent throughout, I bid 2H (GF). Partner now bid 3D, which we play does not show extras, but will not be a bad opener. I did not like the lack of fits, and bid 3N to slow the auction down and give a possible out. But partner bid 4D over that, showing the serious 2 suiter. I bid 4S over that, since my hand has been going downhill this entire auction, and partner made 1 more move with 5S (!) Now, A, what is that, and B, is my hand worth anything.

I finally decided that he was asking for stuff basically in his 2 suits, with maybe some consideration for A’s outside. The problem was, if he was going on because of my 2H call to start, say with 1 or 2 Hearts, I did not have the A in that suit. But I did have the A of the probable suit to be led, and I had a card in each of his suits, so this was presenting itself as a real problem. I finally decided that this looked a lot like a 4 or 6 hand, where it might be on a hook, and if so, I did not want to be in no-man’s land, so took the crazy push to 6S. As expected, the opening lead was a Club, allowing partner to pitch his singleton Heart on the A, and take the Diamond hook. When this was onside, he cashed the A of Spades, dropping the Q, and claimed. His hand was AKTxxxx x AJT98 ---. Not a slam of beauty, but it was a lucky day all around, and this was another in our favour.

All in all, we bid or defended 6 slams over the course of 54 boards, a fairly high percentage, and wound up with a slam swing in our favour on every one. Some of them were not that deserving, but they were interesting boards.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

How Good

This hand came up playing in a P/U team match this weekend. No one vul, you pick up A32 AQ7642 A K87 and open 1H in first seat. Partner bids 2C over this, and you decide to jump to 3H, over which partner bids 4H, now what?

First, I think I would have bid 2H over 2C, I want to see what partner is going to do, but over 4H, the question is, do you bid again. I think the answer has to be yes, you have every control in the deck, and partner made the 2/1 in the suit you wanted it in, Clubs. Any kind of decent Club suit, with the K of Hearts and 1 or 2 backers, has to give you good play for slam. Opposite a hand like xxx Kxx xx Axxxx, you will not have play on a Spade lead, but even opposite that, you would have play on a Diamond lead, and that is about worst case.

At our table, this hand passed over the 4H bid, and his partner put down Qxx Kxx QTx AQJx, for a claimer 6. Not sure what that hand was supposed to do different over 3H, since looking at 2 quick losers in each side suit with a flat hand, needs a very good hand from partner to make a slam. And with that good of a hand, the other hand should be going on.

At the other table, the auction was funny, but worked out for them, and they will consider themselves great bidders. On the same auction, the 2C hand bid 4N over the 3H bid, then bid 6H. Since it turned out everything worked, it made, but I think the 4N/6H bids are losing bids in the long run.