Monday, June 28, 2010

Are Redoubles Ever Worth It?

Watching a match between 4 International Players on BBO the other day, I saw a hand that had every type of thing a spectator could want, high level decisions, redoubled contracts, some great and some not so great bids, in other words lots of fun for us. Not quite as sure about the fun level for some of the participants, these kinds of things can make your hair go more grey.

Here is the hand in question.

After 2 passes, East started with a normal 1H, and South overcalled with a normal 2C. West got the excitement started with a nice 4H bid, and North had the first problem of the hand, do you bid with this hand and the bad Spade Suit or not. He finally decided to pass, as did East. And now South surprised North with an unexpected 4S bid. This ran around to East, who made a great defensive bid of 5C, which his partner converted back to 5H, so far so good.

This is where North started to lose his mind, in my opinion. You have heard the cue bid of your partners suit on your left, you have 5 card support for your partners second suit that he freely introduced at the 5 level, hos many black suit winners do you really expect on defense on this hand? I think the clear bid here is 5S, this is IMPS, take out the insurance. But our North doubled, based on his hopefully 2 defensive tricks, and whatever partner could contribute.

And now it was East's turn again. He had got to the position he had wanted to be in, and he is also not sure how many losers he has on this hand, but decided to force the issue with the Redouble. I am not sure if he was not happy here and was hoping to pressure the opps into running, or he really thought he had them. If the latter, why the redouble, how much real defence does he have on this auction, and partner promised negative values on defence with the 4H bid.

Anyways, it appears poor South and East are along for the ride at this point, as it swings back to North, now starting to doubt the soundness of that earlier double. So deciding to finally believe West, he retreats to his undisclosed 5 card support finally. Now West, pleased with his earlier 5C call, setting the defence for the only hope to beat this, doubles, hoping he can get a third trick from somewhere. Perhaps 5H doubled was not so bad after all?

And finally, we come back to North. Having voted for defence, then ran, he now decides that maybe he had a superb hand on offence after all, and he Redoubles this, ending the auction. So a simple hand that should have quickly wound up in 5S doubled, where West gathered a bunch of IMPS based on a great 5C call, got pretty convoluted on the way there.

There was nothing to the play, West ruffed the automatic Club lead, cashed the A of Hearts, and waited for the A of trumps.

But earlier, he had options for a nice easy +650, assuming he picks up the Hearts, which he upgraded and downgraded to +200 (instead of -850 if he bids 5D), and finally was gifted with a free extra +200, to almost break even with anyone allowed to play 4H :)

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Blind Spots

Playing on BBO with a pick up partner in a team game, this interesting hand came up. I held 52 K865 AKQT8 Q7 and opened 1D in first seat. Partner bid 2C over this, and I decided not to get him too excited by bidding 2H and having him interpret this as a reverse, so contented myself with 2D to start. Partner bid 2N over this, and I bid 3N to end the auction. The opening lead was the Q of Hearts, not what I really wanted to see, and these are the 2 hands.



Not that nice spot cards in the Heart suit, but partner decided to duck the Heart lead, and the 10 appeared on his right. RHO now played a small Heart to LHO's A, and the 7 of Spades came back. And here is where partner had his blind spot.

You currently have 8 top tricks, and only have to develop 1 more to make this, at IMPS. So you need to take the safest line. Partner looked that the chance of 1 of 2 hooks working was 75%, and that gave him chances for overtricks (sigh), so put in the Q of Spades here, butchering a nice hand and play. This lost to the K, and the J of Spades came back. The hand played out for a while, and eventually partner played the Q of Clubs off board, making when the K was onside. And not even realizing the problem with the hand.

When the Spade came back, you now have a 100% line of play. Win the A of Spades, play a Diamond to board, and run the Q of Clubs. Even if it loses, they can not attack the Q of Spades, and you have an easy 9 or 10 tricks, with no down side.

It is plays like this that need to be punished with both black K's offside, to teach people about real percentages in bridge. I would rate that if played in a club game, over 90% of the people playing this hand would put in the Q of Spades, and complain about luck if both K's were offside. Then they would ask the lone +400 how they made it when everything was offside, or assume a different lead.

A couple of interesting Grands

Playing with RH, had a couple of very interesting hands come up, increasing the number of times that I have bid a Grand.

The first, from the recent World Wide Bridge Contest, I thought RH made a couple of truly great bids. I will give his hand as it is the most complicated in the auction. He held --- AKT3 K97 KQT642, and heard the auction start 1H from me, 3S (V vs Not) on his right. His hand is really good at this point, but how to find out about the minors and Hearts sanely? He started with 4C, showing the suit, and forcing, and I raised this to 5C. He now bid 5S, showing the first round control, and I bid 6C. He now bid 6H, which I think shows his hand very well. In fact, this is the auction that Eric Kokish put in his write up about the hand, except for the problem that I contributed.

Back over to my hand, I held Q976 QJ962 A A98, and was trying to figure out what RH could have for this sequence. He had to be looking for a grand here, else why the interesting route to 6H. I did not think that 6H was not a place to play this, we have talked about direct vs indirect auctions before, and I thought he was showing the hand he had. Incidently, I was annoyed with myself when I bid 6C and read the Eric Kokish write up later. He suggested 5N over 5S, hopefully showing the A of Diamonds as a good card. I had thought of that, but decided that playing partner for AK of Hearts, Spade void, and good Clubs was a little too rose coloured glasses, and bid 6C. But now when partner bid 6H, could he have anything less than what he had? If he did, we were going to have to have a discussion about this hand, since not wanting to insult partner here, I raised to 7H. There was nothing to the play, even Clubs split, so claimed very quickly.

Of the 2110 times this hand was played, the grand was bid 198 times, or 9% of the pairs. The worst part is there were 565 pairs that only bid game, and several that did not even bid game on this hand.

The second hand was from our weekly IMPS League game, playing against a good pair. I held AK865 --- AQ983 A95 and heard partner open 1C. I bid 1S over this, and partner bid 2H, the full reverse. Even with no real fit, this was starting to look interesting. I bid 3D (4SF) over 2H, looking for more info, and my LHO doubled this. Partner now bid 3H freely, and I bid 4C, setting trumps. Partner bid 4D over this, and after the double, I assumed this was the void, so I bid 5N, asking about Clubs. Not sure where all 13 tricks are coming from here, but that won't be my problem. Partner thought for a sec and bid 7C over that. The opening lead was the 2 of Clubs, and here are the 2 hands as a play problem.



Partner allowed the Club to go to the 8 in his hand, and thought about options. Without the Club lead, there were 3 Heart ruffs in Dummy, but transportation is a problem. Partner did not look at the hand long enough, and decided to try to set up Spades, playing AK, when the second Spade got ruffed and another Club came back, the hand got ugly quick, and partner eventually drifted off 3 tricks.

I really think this is a neat hand, that has a couple of chances for making, primarily on a squeeze and partial strip. If you plan to ruff 2 Hearts in dummy, you come to 12 tricks, with threats in Spades, Diamonds, and Hearts for the opps to cover in the end position. But you need to ensure that you cash the A of Diamonds early as well, or you will squeeze dummy. It also looks like since the double of 3D, the squeeze might have to operate on your RHO only. There is also 1 other chance that I talked about with partner after.

I think the correct line of play is ruff a Heart, ruff a low Diamond, ruff another Heart, A of Diamonds, and the Q of Diamonds, making RHO cover this with the K. And now the extra chance comes in, RHO started with 10xx of Diamonds, so the 10 drops under the Q and K, making it easy to set up the 98 of Diamonds for trick 13.

It turns out the squeeze does not operate on this hand, so you have to take in the extra chance to make it. At the other table, they stopped in 6C, and also got a Club lead. But something went wrong and they also went down in 6C, cutting the loss on the board to 2 IMPS.

Back from Vacation

Hey to anyone that was reading this for a while. Sorry for no posts recently, but just got back from 3 glorious weeks cruising and wandering around the Med.

That is an amazing and fantastic part of the world we had never seen before, and totally loved it.

But now I am back, playing bridge again, and will start posting neat stuff again.