Friday, May 7, 2010

Lazy Bridge

Playing with a pick up partner in an IMPS game on BBO a couple of nights ago, I had a very strong demonstration of the variance in the term ‘Expert’. The person I was playing with counted themselves an expert, and for the most part, did quite well. But unfortunately, we had a hand come up that I would describe as beautiful because of it’s grace and timing, but my partner would describe as horrible as he went down in the game we bid.

All vul, with the opps silent throughout, my partner picked up QJ987 AKJ Q83 A9 and opened 1S in first seat. I raised this to 2S and he blasted to 4S, a bid I like since any random 8 count should give you some play. The opening lead was the 10 of Clubs, and dummy appeared with T64 Q A42 QJ8432.

The Club lead removes the possibility of a Club loser, but sets up the worry about a Club ruff. The Club was covered by the J, and after some thought, RHO played low, allowing the J to hold. For now, the main problem is the possibility of 2 Spade and 2 Diamond losers on the hand. The Hearts give a parking spot for the Diamond losers, but with the Club lead, entries are a bit of an issue. The line I like is cash the A of Diamonds, then overtake the Q of Hearts and pitch both Diamonds on the Hearts. Next, ruff a Diamond with the 10 of Spades, and lead a Club to you’re A. If this holds, ruff the last Diamond with the 6 of Spades and claim 5. (Hide the Spade spots as long as possible) If the Club gets ruffed, and they can and do pull trump, you still have 4 losers, but that is unlucky.

At the table, after the J of Clubs held, partner immediately played a trump, which RHO won with the A to play a Diamond through. He went up with the Q (premature) and this was covered with the K and A. Now he played another trump(?), guaranteeing down 1 when they cashed the K of Spades and 2 Diamonds. Even at this point, playing Hearts would have collected 11 tricks when Clubs were 3-2. But playing the 2nd Spade when the Diamonds were open for 2 losers is just being lazy.

The reason I like the hand is the beauty of the timing, you play every side suit card without touching trumps, then wind up with 5 Spades that always play for only 2 losers, whatever you do. The hand becomes so simple and elegant, that you can claim fairly quickly. Watching it get beaten up with a bludgeon was very painful.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Another Forcing Pass

Had another hand with a difficult forcing pass situation last night in the IMPS Game. Vul vs Not, you hold the following hand, xx AKQxxxx Ax xx and open 1H in first seat. This goes 2D by partner (you are playing 2/1 and this is a full forcing 2D, 3D would be a limited hand with Diamonds). This now goes 2S on your right, and you jump to 4H to (hopefully) show solid Hearts. This now goes 4S on your left, P, P back to you.

First, I think this is clearly a forcing pass situation. You were in a game forcing auction where the opps interfered and then bid on over a game bid. Partner then passed the bid over your game, so I think it is a forcing auction. Now, what is your hand worth. Personally, I think you have an absolute maximum with great cards for your previous bidding. You have the 7th Heart, and the A of Diamonds. For this reason, I would bid 5D with this hand. The 2 losers in each black suit are a worry, but what does partner have to make a forcing pass if you have solid Hearts and that A of Diamonds?

At the table, partner doubled with this hand, stating he had a lot of defense. Not sure I agree with that, and I think we had a disagreement mostly about what the forcing pass meant and entailed. I think it strongly suggests bidding on with a hand that is suitable, basically a hand that probably would have bid again without the opponent’s interference. Partner thought it was a hand that was unsure what to do over the opponents bid. The problem with that interpretation is that there is no way to intelligently bid if that is what you have. If you have the agreement that it always shows a willingness to bid on, but requires a fitting hand, then partner can feel free to safely bid whenever these situations come up. With the other agreement, you are basically going to double on every hand, so what is the purpose.

The actual hand is kind of funny, partner held AT T KT98xxx AKJ, a good hand with bad Diamonds and unsure what to do. I passed the 4S doubled, but we lost 1 trick and only got the hand for +500, not the +800 we can get. Declarer was void in Diamonds, so all slams have the 4-0 Diamond break to content with. Turns out the best place to play the hand is 7NT, since my RHO has the Diamonds and the Club Q, so there is an automatic squeeze for trick 13. At the other table, my RHO did not bid 4S, so my hand was able to bid that, and over the 5D cue-bid, raised to 6D. a contract sort of doomed to failure on the 4-0 trump break, except a funny thing happened to the defense. After a Spade lead and 2 rounds of Hearts pitching the Spade loser, declarer cashed the A of Diamonds to find out the bad news, then instead of trying a legitimate line to make the contract ,either the Q of Hearts to pitch the Club loser, or such, played 3 rounds of Clubs ruffing on board, and played the Q of Hearts now. Our partners, fearing a pitch of a Diamond on this, ruffed it, allowing the slam to make when the second trump trick now vanished. Counting can not be overstated!

Back to the main part of the discussion, what does a forcing pass mean to your partnership, and what do you expect when partner bids on vs doubles?