Thursday, November 11, 2010

Mother Love

A couple of weeks ago, I got to play with my Mother in the Erin Berry Rookie Master game. This is a game sponsored by the CBF and Erin Berry’s parents to promote bridge. Rookies (less than 50 MPs) sign up, and are paired up with a Master for the game, everyone plays the same yellow card, and it is mainly for fun. Hand analysis sheets are given out, and the overall winners are recognized on the CBF site. Erin Berry was a young lady from Saskatchewan that loved bridge, but was killed at a young age in a car accident. My mother has been playing for quite some time, but only recently with the ACBL. We got to go out for Dinner before the game, then have a good time playing for the evening.

Early on in the game, my Mother had to wonder what kind of ‘Master’ she had been stuck playing with, when I was the only declarer in the room to go down in 4H. I picked up AT8 AJT43 874 A6 and opened 1H in first seat. This went P, 2C by partner, and I rebid 2N. Mom now jumped to 4H, ending the auction, and the opening lead was the 8 of Clubs. This hand came down in dummy J62 KQ98 QT KQ93, a very nice pull indeed. The rookies always sit W and S, so the rookie at this table had led the 8 of Clubs, not much sense asking if they have any agreements. I finally decided it was not from length and strength, since there were only 2 cards higher than the 8, so played low from dummy, winning the A when RHO also played low. I played a Heart to the K and another back to the J, hoping to keep some communication open, and both opps followed as Hearts were 22. I now played a Club towards dummy, and LHO played the 10, sigh. When I won and cashed the 2nd high honour, RHO showed out, meaning the 9 would have held in dummy if I had played it.

But now came the problem, I had a complete blind spot on the hand, and pitched a Diamond on the good Club, before playing the J of Spades, losing to the Q on my left. LHO led the Club J back, which I ruffed, and eventually took another losing Spade hook, for down 1. Somehow, no one else forgot to pitch a Spade on the Club, and all made, some making 5, some 4. A couple did not bid game, but that always happens in these games. If I had found some way to put in the 9 of Clubs, and remembered to pitch Spades, I had a top waiting for me to claim.

One other hand that also did not work out for us involved a very nice sequence by one of the Rookies. Holding KT43 AKQ4 K5 AT4 he opened 1C, and over partners 1S bid, reversed into 2H. His partner bid 2S, and he now leaped to 4S, showing the full monster. His partner jumped to 6S, and had the perfect hand with A98762 T98 A 963, claiming 7 when the Hearts went 33. Unfortunately for us, less than half the room made it to 6S, and a few in that contract managed to hold themselves to 12 tricks. There were also 2 that did not get to game, so –1460 was a bad score for us.

This is a fun game that I strongly recommend that all players in Canada should try to support. It was sad to see 2 or 3 rookies that came out to play and not enough masters showed up to pair them up. The great committee that organized the event phoned people at the last minute to come out and got everyone paired up, but when Bridge is dropping in attendance, anything that gets new people out should be strongly encouraged and supported.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

CNTC Qualifying

Playing in a CNTC qualifying game this week, had a few interesting hands come up. On the first, with opps Vul, you pick up J973 8 AQ975 AQ6 and open 1D in first seat. This goes P on your left, 1S by pard, Double on your right. I thought my choices here were mainly between 2S, 3S, and Redouble. The problem I had with 2S and 3S is they are both flawed, you are too good for 2S and may not be strong enough for 3S, with the bad Spades and weak Diamond suit, so I finally decided on Redouble, showing a good hand, since I will be able to show the Spade support later.

This now went 2C on my left (interesting, where is the Heart suit), 3C by partner, and pass on my right. I needed to set trumps now, so I bid 3S, and partner raised this to 4. The problem I have now is that partner has shown a good hand with 3C, and I have a lot of controls. I assumed 3C was shortness, since there was no sense in cue-bidding the K of Clubs when you are not sure it is any good. The only bad part on my hand is with the double on my right, if partner does not have the K of Diamonds, it is likely to be offside and make any slam almost impossible. But I thought passing now was a little too unilateral, so I raised to 5S, hoping partner could work this out. M now bid 6S, and the hand was not that much of a play problem. Partners hand was AKQTx xxxx Kxx x. Even without the third top Spade, she has a lot of play in 6S, but may have a Spade guess. At the other table, my hand bid 3S on the same start to the auction, but the other hand made a very lazy 4S bid to give us 11 IMPS.

Later in the same match, I picked up 7 A6 AKQ983 AKJ4, Vul vs Not. I do not like opening 2C on 2 suited hands, especially the minors, but this was a little to good, so I did open 2C. Partner bid 2H, which we play as a full double negative, No A, at most 1 K, and if a K, nothing with it. I bid 3D over this, and partner bid 3N. I finally decided I probably had 9 tricks if partner could stop Spades, which I hope it sounded like she could, so left it there. The opening lead was the K of Spades, and RHO made a good play with KQxx, playing the Q and another when partner encouraged, hoping for a 5th Spade from his partner. He was also looking at JTx of Diamonds, so knew they needed 5 tricks on the run to set it. Partner had Jxxx of Spades and the Q of Clubs, so we made 4. The problem on the hand is that partner had Qxxx of Clubs, so 6C makes on the hand. But with Jxxx Qxx xx Qxxx, it is hard for her not to bid 3N over 3D. This illustrates why I hate bidding 2C on 2 suiters, but I guess 3N is better than playing in 1D. At the other table, the auction went 2C – 2D (waiting) – 4D and they got to 6D, which has no place to put the Heart and Spade loser. I do not like the 4D bid, if my hand bids 3D, and then decides to brave out 4C over 3N, they have a chance to play it in Clubs. If you are going past 3N on this hand, then I like that auction a lot more than 4D. I am really not sure if the hand is worth 4C, since you have a lot of possible losers on the hand. And once partner showed the bust, you need the 4th Club to the Q to have much chance. It is a tough hand to judge, play partner for Qxxx in Clubs and try for 6C, or a Spade stopper and Diamonds running so pass 3N. I know there are some people that play certain bids at the 3 level on this start revolve around having a second minor suit with the first bid suit, but that can get pretty complicated, and we do not play it.

I felt sorry for 1 pair we played against in the 2nd round. I do not know if it was the light, my glasses and eyes, or whatever, but I picked up 82 QT83 KQT983 9 and heard it go P, 1H to me at equal vulnerability. My tendency is to try and jam an auction like this, so I jumped to 3D. This went 3S on my left, 3N on my right, all pass. I went to lead the Q of Diamonds, since I had Heart entries, when I realized that my K of Diamonds was the K of Hearts!! My 3D pre-empt had just been made with 82 KQT83 QT983 9, bet the opps were not going to figure this hand out at least. I didn’t want to lead a Diamond now into what might be pretty good Diamonds on my right, so I led the 9 of Clubs. Dummy tracked with KQT73 J4 A54 K64. Declarer put the K of Clubs up, partner won the A, and returned the J of Clubs to declarers Q. Eventually, when partner got in again, she led the J of Diamonds, and declarer wound up a trick short when nothing worked and he could not read my hand for some reason. It turns out nothing is right on the hand and there is no hope, but everyone still got a good laugh in at my expense.

The final round, we had 2 interesting boards, on the first, I picked up AK3 Q8 AK8763 32 and after 2 passes, opened 1D. This went double on my left, 1H by partner (which we play as natural but limited to 9 HCP), pass on my right. I did not want to get to carried away to start on this hand, so just bid 2D. This went P on my left, 2H by partner, P on my right. The fact partner probably has 6 OK Hearts makes my hand better, but I was torn between inviting and bidding game. But partner is not shy, so I just bid 3H, which seems more like the value of the hand, and partner passed. Partner had KJTxxx in Hearts and out on this hand, with a Diamond void, so we made exactly 3H on the hand, picking up 6 IMPS when they bid 4H down 1 at the other table.

The last interesting hand was not one of my finer bidding moments, only the result wound up being positive. I picked up JT93 K975 AQJ2 A with both side vul, and opened 1D after 3 passes to me. This went 2C on my left, 3C by partner, double on my right, everyone has come alive. Instead of bidding an easy 3H, looking for a major suit fit, I bid 4C, hoping partner would bid a 4 card major here. Partner decided I had a good hand in Diamonds for 4C (gee, you think) and leaped off to 6D on the hand (oops). The opening lead was the K of Clubs and partner put down a real nice dummy, K8 AJ62 KT875 93. Pretty much the most she can have and not open, I can see where the 6D bid came from, now I just have to try and make it.

I needed to guess the Spades and Hearts, and I had a couple of ways to play each. I perforce won the A of Clubs, and not wanting the opps to decide how to play the hand or get comfortable, played a small Spade at trick 2. LHO played low on this without thinking, so now I had to think. I finally decided that with the A, he would have at least stopped to think a sec (I Hope), so gave partner a heart attack when I called for the low Spade. This forced the A, and now I had to only pick up the Hearts. A Spade came back to the K, LHO playing low, and I pulled 2 rounds of trumps ending in my hand when they were 22. I now played the J of Spades, covered with the Q, and ruffed as RHO followed. I ruffed a Club back to hand, and cashed the 10 of Spades, LHO pitching a Club. So LHO was either 3226 or 3325 on the hand with the Q of Spades and presumably the KQ of Clubs for the lead.

I finally played for the 2nd hand, and played the K of Hearts and a Heart, claiming when he had the first hand, but the Qx of Hearts. Glad I didn’t know about the doubleton Heart, not sure what the odds are of playing for the Tx as opposed to the Qx, since I can make with either, as long as I guess right.

Thinking about the hand after, I really believe that I played for the wrong hand at the time. Since with 5 Clubs and almost no values on my right, she should have bid 4C instead of just doubling 3C. She is vul, but still, with 5 card support for partners overcalled suit and a side A, you have to take some action.

But as my Dad used to say, sometimes it is better to be lucky than good :)