Friday, August 27, 2010

That unlucky 5

Playing in our weekly IMPS game the other day, I did one of my usual overly aggressive things and opened 3S (NV vs NV) on the following 2S hand KQJ643 JT Q653 8 in first seat. I felt the Spades were a little good and the 2 suited nature added to the offensive value, hence the bump to the 3 level.

The auction was quick after that, double by LHO, all Pass. So much for wanting to head for the 3 level I thought.

The opening lead was the 2 of Spades and pard put down a dummy I really probably did not deserve, 87 K9xx Kx Kxxxx, but was very appreciative of. Ok, so I am off 4 Aces, that does not mean I am down yet, but kind of cuts into the wiggle room a little. And with that hand, partner may question my bidding a little more than usual if I don’t come close or make this one.

So the first question is, what was the Pass of the Double on. I am assuming the rest of the Spades, so that means RHO has AT95 in his hand, making the Spade suit real interesting. Although a Spade lead is normal on these auctions, it looks like that might not have been the ripper here, with the interesting spot cards. The other question is, does RHO have much other than those Spades? I expect not much, since that leaves LHO with a probable 3 Aces and a couple of Queens for the double. I am sure there might be a stray Q in RHO’s hand, but I think on initial evaluation, I am going to play LHO for the majority of everything else, and RHO for only the Spades.

RHO covered the 8 of Spades with the 9 and I won my K (std philosophy here, always try to win with the highest of touching honors, as it tends to disguise your hand from at least 1 opp). I am really not happy with the line I took, as I think the opps could have beaten me if they thought about it a little more. I decided I needed to shorten my Spades for a probable trump coup, since I thought I needed to ruff a Diamond on board. I actually led a Diamond at trick 2, and LHO won the A and returned the 9 to boards K. I now led the K of Clubs off board, effectively requiring RHO to be 4243 to make the hand, and some help. I got it when RHO won the A of Clubs and returned a Club for me to ruff. When I led the J of Hearts and LHO played low, I won the K, ruffed another Club, cashed the Q of Diamonds, and led the 4th Diamond. When LHO pitched, I could claim by ruffing and leading another Club off board, scoring all my Spades minus the A.

The opps best chance to beat me is by killing my entries before I shortened my trumps. Win the A of Clubs, cash the A of Hearts, and lead another Heart. At this point, I would be forced to take the Heart hook, since I would not have the entries for a trump coup now. Turns out, everything was friendly, RHO had the distribution I needed, and the Q of Hearts was onside. So I think I was always destined to make the hand.

After the fact, I decided that leading a Club to the K at trick 2 was probably better. Assuming LHO wins the A and returns one, I can ruff, and lead the red suits up now, making on most distributions that RHO has. And if LHO ducks the A of Clubs, when the K holds, I can ruff a Club back to my hand and again lead red suits up, plus I have an extra trick to play with. Of course, if any of the A’s are offside, and RHO gets in to lead a second Spade, I have a lot more work to do, but it was a good day.

At the other table, the contract was the same, 3S doubled, but I do not know the auction to get there. Declarer lost his way though, and went down 1, so we wound up with a nice pickup.

The reason for the title is the small spot card RHO has vs the 6 in my hand. After the Spade lead, I can always pick up the Spade suit for 1 loser. But if you exchange my 6 and RHO’s 5, then on many lines, I require the trump coup to have any chance.

Sunday, August 22, 2010


Playing on BBO with a pick up partner last night, I had the kind of hand that always haunts for a while afterwards. My partner picked up this hand with us Vul and the opps NV, Q97 AQ74 J64 A54. I opened 1C in first seat and he bid 1H, I bid 2S, and I think I would bid 3C with this hand, trying to find out where to play it. Instead he bid 3S, which might work out and might not. I bid 4S. I think his hand calls for a move forward here, he has an opener opposite a reverse, but how, since he painted himself into a corner. And how do you even know the Spades are the right suit. I think at this point, I would bid 5C and hope for a 5D bid from partner, but he bid 4N, KC. I answered 5H (2 without the Q) and he jumped to 6S.

The opponents were not on our side and unsportingly cashed the AK of Diamonds for down 1 on the go. Fortunately Spades were 3-3, so AK84 opposite Q97 came in for no losers, for only down 1. My partner merely said unlucky, sigh.

Here is the full hand.

I still feel I have a reverse, it is just wether I should bid 2S or 2N over the 1H bid. I thought with the Qx of Diamonds, 2S was more descriptive of my hand. I looked later, and almost everyone bid 1S on the same auction with my hand, so I guess I was wrong.

The worst part was the scores on the board where it was played by other people. Of the 16 times it was played, 7 of them were in slams, 1 6S, 1 6C, 1 6H (!), and 4 6N. It was set twice of those 7 times. And of the 3 6N that made, they were all played by E, so South did not lead his 5 card Diamond suit. The other bad part was that 3N went down twice, both times by E. In each case a Diamond was led, and declarer put up the Q of Diamonds (!) at IMPS no less. At least in those cases, some justice was served.

I think the main part of this hand is the E hand has to tred carefully on this hand, even with an opener opposite the reverse. The 4333 distribution and effective 3 small in the unbid suit are not wonderful holdings. Even with a reverse, the hand may not play were anywhere, and you need partner to take a Diamond cue-bid to head for slam anywere. That is why I said I liked the 3C bid, trying to get partner to bid 3D. On this hand, you will probably hear 3H now, and you can bid 3S or 3N over that. At least that gets the core features of your hand across, and lets partner move on if they can.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

What Defines a Good Slam

Playing in our weekly IMPS game, you have this interesting hand come up. Vul vs Not, you hold KT93 T75 AKQ8 AT. Playing weak NT’s, you open 1D, and over partners 1H, you bid 1N showing a strong (15-17) NT. Partner bids 2D (GF Stayman) and you bid 2S, then over partners natural 3D, you show the 3 card Heart support with 3H. Partner bids 3S, now what?

It is starting to sound like partner has a near mirror image of your hand with 3442 (could be 3541, but will bid 4H later if that is so), presumably with a good hand, since he is taking the slow road to find out where we should play, but how good is his hand? Assuming a Spade card for 3S, along with good Hearts since he has nothing in Diamonds, and presumably not much in Clubs since did not hear 3N here. So can the Hearts be solid, which would be required to have any good play in a slam, something like Axx AKQJ xxxx xx, with this auction. Even Axx AKQx xxxx xx, would make 6D against the odds, with quite possibly 3 losers.

I think this is a very hard hand to get correct with any kind of reliability, since how do you find out what partners 4th round in a specific suit is like. At the table, I actually jumped to 5D at this point, hoping with the right hand, partner would go on. After the fact, I think that a bid of 4C at this point is better, since I do not have to have a control in that suit. And then over partners whatever bid, now bid 5D.

On to partners actual hand, and whether this counts as a good or bad slam. He held Qxx AKQJ xxxx xx, close to what I needed, but Q instead of A of Spades. So the slam depends on picking up either the J of Spades, or guessing an Ax with either opp once Diamonds are 3-2. So all in all, not a good slam, probably coming in around 26-27%. Turns out Diamonds were 3-2, and based on the lead and pitches, I played RHO for the length in Spades, and thus the J. All of this worked so we did make +620, and I am still happy I was not in the slam, since I would have had to think about that a lot more than it required in 5D. But the final definition that is sometimes hard to argue with is whether it makes, and since this one did, it is OK, not up to good, but not as hopeless as some I have got myself into.