Saturday, December 31, 2011

Interesting Jump Shift

Playing in a pick up game on BBO, I picked up the following hand with everyone Vul, at IMPS. T54 QT74 KJT K75, and heard it go P, 1C, P to me. I bid the normal 1H, and with the opps silent, pard now jumped to 3D.

I thought my hand was suddenly quite good, with all the values in the minors, where it looked like they were working. I thought 4C did not do justice (and might get passed), and 5C did not state my values, so I decided to make up a cue bid and bid 3S, 4SF. Over this, partner made a quite unexpected, but nice bid, 5H. Now it looked like my hand was really working, I expected partner to have some kind of good 1345 type hand, so it looked like everything was fitting well. I bid 6C ending the auction. The opening lead was the K of Spades, and this was the hand I saw partner playing.

Partner started immediately asking what 3S was and why I would make such an insane bid! At least he guessed the J of Hearts to hold it to down 1. For some reason, no one else found this auction and most stopped in 4H, making 4 or 5, depending on if they found the J of Hearts or not. We lost 9 IMPS on the board, which seemed fairly generous, but BBO results can be quite random at times.

Oh well, such are the fun parts of playing on BBO, at least it generates stories to tell :)

Happy New Year to All

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Playing High Stakes Poker at Bridge

I was playing some bridge on BBO in a pick up team game on Christmas Day after breakfast and opening some presents. Our partners at the other table showed they were into the Christmas Spirit, or that could be said Spirit's. Someone on this board was going to get a great result.

Here is the hand at our partners table

As can be seen, there are a lot of IMPS available both directions on this. The opening lead was the J of Hearts, and after thinking about this a min, W played low. N now proceeded to take all 13 tricks in 3N XX, for +2600. If W goes up with the A of Hearts and plays the Q of Spades, then the result is -2200, so a swing of 4800 on the play to the first 2 tricks.

This did not totally decide the match, there were lots of other fun swings, but this was the largest :)

Happy holidays to all

Friday, December 16, 2011

Crazy Opps

Playing MP’s in a local game, you run into some opps that decide high level tough decisions will work in their favour. You pick up AKJ8764  K4  A  AKJ with no one Vul, playing MP’s. Your RHO deals and Passes, and you open 2C. Your LHO bids 3H (Pre-Emptive), partner bids 4D, natural positive, and RHO bids 5H. What now?

There are several options and problems on this hand. First, a Pass should be forcing, since you are in a completely Game Forcing auction and partner showed values, but you do not have Diamonds. 5S is quite an underbid, but might be the last place you can make if partner only has Diamonds. 6D might be right, but your K Hearts will be led through, and it is MP’s, not IMPS, giving up on Spades is quite a position to take. Perhaps the best effort to get the strength of your hand across, is to Pass, and then over whatever partner bids, trot out a Spade bid, on the theory that a Pass and Pull is the strongest action you can take. But will partner bid 7 of something expecting you to have all the first round controls later? Don’t you just hate when the pre-emptors pick the right time to play with your auction.

At the table, the person holding this hand bid 5S, and their partner raised that to 6S. I really think that their partner should have bid 6H, looking for 7, which this hand would accept, since the other hand was Q9532  ---  KQJ8752  6.

I was the person that bid 5H, and I guess that 6H would have been more effective, since that makes it really difficult to get to 7S. I think over 5H, they should have gotten there at our table. Although the pass and pull strategy over 6H might get you to 7S, it is tough for the 4D hand to want to bid 7 as a guess at this point, and what do you do if partner bids 6S, which they might do on this hand? Finally, 6H only goes for sticks and wheels (-1100) if they decide to stop and double it, so we would get to find out who was able to get to the grand.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

A Slip of the Wrist

Playing in the A/X Swiss on the last day of the Seattle NABC, you pick up this nice assortment with All Vul. AQ63 Q854 6 AK62. You are actually playing an 11-15 HCP Roman 2D, so this hand, while at the top end, does qualify.

Partner bids 2N asking for your shortness, and you bid 3C, showing Diamond shortness. Partner now bids 4D over that, not something you have talked about. You bid 4H, and partner now bids 4N, RKC. You bid 5S, 2 with the Q, and partner signs off in 6H, which you pass. The opening lead is the 5 of Clubs (3rd and 5th) and you see this hand.

K854  AKJT  A73  Q8

AQ63  Q854  6  AK62

Looks like a pretty nice Grand to be in, oh well. Not paying a lot of attention to the board, you win the Q of Clubs in dummy, and lead the A and K of Hearts out. Everyone follows to the first round, and RHO pitches a high Diamond on the 2nd. You cash the third Heart on Dummy, cross to the A of Clubs, and ruff a Club on dummy, while LHO sheds a small Spade. Now you cross to the A of Spades to pull the last trump and claim, except that LHO goes and ruffs the A of Spades with the last trump, and you realize too late that there is a real problem. You still have a Spade loser to go with the ruff, and you are going down in 6, when you were cold for 7 Spades if you ruffed Diamonds.

This happened to our opponent on Sunday, he had to apologize to his partner for the hand. When our partners bid 7H on the hand, and played for the 2 Diamond ruffs, we wound up getting to the 20 IMP area of the scale, something you do not see too often.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Some Seattle Hands

Have some interesting and sometimes amusing hands to report from Seattle and the Wonderful NABC’s there. It was my first time in Seattle, and the city, hospitality, and bridge were absolutely great.

My partners favorite hand did not really start out that way, in fact, it started out looking like the biggest disaster of the week. Playing IMPS, Vul vs Not, in the A/X Swiss on the final day, she picked up 63 875 8642 Q983 and decided to pass in first seat for some reason. Her LHO, one of the higher MP holders in the ACBL, opened 1D and of course I was in there with a Double, just what she wanted to hear. Her RHO came to the rescue with 1S, so she passed again and LHO went 1N. Not being done, I Doubled again, and over RHO’s Pass, she admitted to her Clubs with 2C. This now went P, P to a Double on her right, and that ended the auction. The opening lead was the K of Clubs, not something she wanted to see with her balanced nothing, until dummy came down with A42 AKT6 A3 AT54. Her LHO had made a good lead based on the auction and the expected trump holding in his partners hand, but his partner had made a very speculative Double based on expecting my hand to be far weaker. The hand now played out very well and partner made 4 for a nice +580. Since we are not shy on bidding, and partner had passed over the first Double, I think I need a really good hand to take the unilateral action of a second Double like I did. Perhaps not quite this nice, but pretty close.

The next hand was another high level blink first auction. Vul vs Not, I held Q98 KJ873 A62 J8 and heard the auction go Pass by me, 3N (65 in the minors) on my left, Double (Cards, not majors) by partner, and 5D on my right. We have a method of showing 1 or both majors of varying lengths over a 3N bid like this, so the Double was just values, but it still left me with a problem. I finally decided to bid 5H here, and that ended the auction.

The opening lead was the 6 of Diamonds, and this dummy came down, creating an interesting play problem, KT43  AQT  ---  AT9765. So of course the minors are now known to a card, but the majors are still up in the air. At least LHO did not lead a black card, which probably kills this before it starts. It looks like I need the AJ of Spades on my right, with the 5/6 card holding, and Hearts no worse than 4-1. And actually, the 4-1 is better than the 3-2, since that would leave LHO 0265, something I am not sure I can handle. So playing LHO for the 1165 hand, I ruffed the Diamond with the 10 of Hearts, cashed the A of Hearts, all following low, and led a little Spade off board, putting in the 9 when RHO played low. When LHO played a low Spade on this, the hand was counted out. I now ruffed a small Diamond with the Q of Hearts, and led another Spade off board, RHO winning with the A as LHO pitched a Diamond. RHO now led a Diamond to my A and I was in. RHO is known to be 5440, and has a Heart trick coming.

I now have to admit to a complete blind spot on the hand. I had done all the heavy lifting already and the hand had gotten easy, so I decided to outthink it. The easy play that I decided to miss at the table for some reason, is to cash the Q of Spades, play 3 rounds of Hearts, throwing RHO in with her Heart winner, then claim, as the A of Clubs and K of Spades take care of my Club loser. I decided to fixate on the Club suit, and that I had to sneak a Club by LHO for some reason, so I led a little Club right now, planning to play low if LHO did. This was of course punished with the Q of Clubs, like it should be, and I wound up 1 down on a hand that I had gotten right, sigh. Fortunately, we had done a lot right on this round, so it only cost 1 VP in the match, but it was extremely annoying to get an ending like that wrong by watching cows drift by in the air.

The next hand was from the final day of the Mini-Blue Ribbons. Playing in Western Canada, it is easy to not have many MP’s, so we can sneak into these restricted events for quite a while. My partner picked up T3 A2 Q654 AKQ86 and bid 2C over a 1H bid on her right. This bought the auction, since LHO had been looking for a TO Double that he could pass. The opening lead was a Heart, cutting losses in that suit to 0 when I held QJxx in an entry less dummy, the defense slipped another couple of tricks, and partner wound up making 2C even though there were 5 to the JT behind her. This was against the eventual event winners, and at the time, we chalked it up as a good score, since 2C goes down all the time on any reasonable defense. When we looked after the round, it was one of the results that changed what we thought had been a good round into something below average, we scored 8 on a 25 top. Turns out that opener did reopen with a Double at most tables, and my hand ran to 2S. We had not looked at that, and how well 2S plays with the Club pitches (I had a Club Void and 6 little Spades), so most people were scoring +110 or +140 against our +90.

The last hand to report on is more because of an ethical dilemma I wound up with. All Vul, IMPS, I held 86 AK4 AK987 J63 and overcalled a 1C opener by RHO with 1D. This went Pass on my left, and partner bid 2D. We play transfers at the 2 level in a competitive auction, so this should show Hearts, which I alerted and explained to the opps. RHO now went 2H TO, and I Doubled this to show Hearts. This went around to partner who bid 3D, showing a relatively weak hand. It also worried me that she had forgotten the transfer, and made an automatic Diamond raise. When 3D was passed to me, I was not sure I could pass, so I wound up bidding 3H. When partner had forgotten the transfer, we were down 2 in 3H, where 3D would have made. Talking about it with 2 directors after, 1 said I should bid 3H, the other thought it was OK to Pass. I was not sure if my Double of 2H showed enough or not, and if I can Pass 3D or not? I was pretty sure that 3D was where we should play this, but it did not take that much from partner to have play for game in Hearts, xxx Qxxxx Qxxx x for example, and that is sub-min for the 2D bid, since it is above my suit.

A Tough Couple of Play Problems From Seattle

Have a couple of very nasty play problems from Seattle. Both are IMPS and both occurred on the 2nd day of the NA Swiss.

The first, everyone is Vul, You are South, the 2 hands are

4  ---  AQJ865  J98643

AKT53  J65  4  KQT7

The Auction:

N         E         S         W
-           1H       1S       2D(1)
DBL    4H       P         P
4N       P         5C       P
P         5H       P         P
6C       DBL    P         P        

1 – Constructive or better raise of Hearts

The opening lead is the 10 of Hearts, plan the play

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

The second hand, No One VUL, You are South, the 2 hands are

KT73  AQT  ---  AT9842

Q98  KJ873  A62  J6

The Auction:

N         E         S         W
-           -           P         3N(1)
DBL(2) 5D     5H       P
P         P

1 – 65 in Minors, 5-8 HCP
2 – Values, not majors, more penalty oriented

The opening lead is the Q of Diamonds, plan the play

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

Hand 1


Q87                             J962
T742                           AKQ983
KT973                         2
5                                  A2


This hand is fairly complex on a Heart lead, tapping dummy. There are 2 major lines, the first is to ruff out the Diamonds from board, and the 2nd is to come to hand, and start with the Diamond hook. A third variation on this is to plan to ruff 3 Hearts and 2 Spades on Dummy, but hand entries are a little thin for this.

The first line is clearly better, since it works anytime the Diamonds are no worse than 4-2, or if the Diamond K is on your right. It just happens to fail on this hand, since the 12th trick is hard to come to.

Declarer at the table took line 1, but got some help when the East hand tried to ruff the 2nd Diamond, and the hand became simple. If East pitches on the 2nd Diamond, it is hard to imagine where trick 12 can come from, due to the small Club in Easts hand.

Hand 2


6                                  AJ542
4                                  9652
QJ9854                       KT73
KQ753                         ---


This hand revolves around getting the majors in the 2 hands correct. The opening lead was friendly, as on a Black suit lead, the hand can not be made, it sets up a 3rd loser immediately. On the actual Diamond lead, you need to ruff on dummy, cash 1 Heart, then lead a Spade to the 9. When this holds, you can now ruff a 2nd small Diamond with the Q of Hearts, and lead a 2nd small Spade off board. This allows you to set up the K of Spades for the discard for the small Club. The last part that you have to watch for, is to protect the A of Clubs by giving up the Heart trick to East after winning you’re A of Diamonds.

On this hand, with AKQJT of Hearts, the best way to make the hand is to set up a Heart Loser.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Won’t be Back at Nashville to Defend our District 2 NAP Spot

I usually avoid anything to do with politics in Bridge and the ACBL with as much space as I can, and this blog also reflects that, so far, it has been all Bridge. Not because I do not help out our unit and district, I do, but because it always tends to become vocal and unpleasant in a hurry. And this is no exception.

I live in District 2 of the ACBL, an extremely large district comprising most of Ontario, Canada and Manitoba, Canada. For as long as I can remember, due to the large size of the district (over 3000 KMS from end to end, not counting Bermuda, also part of District 2), the NAP (formerly GNP) district final has been held as a split site event with duplicated boards and scores matchpointed across the district. When I started playing in it, there would be 4 - 5 sites that held games, but in the last few years, this has dropped to 2 sites, Toronto and Winnipeg.

Last year, my partner and I played very well in the district final, and won the event. This awarded us right to play in Louisville and a small subsidy from the ACBL, nothing from the district. We went, played, had fun, but did not play well in Louisville, as our scores testified. But that was our fault, with no complaints.

However, there was discontent in the District seat of power in Toronto. They felt that the game played in Winnipeg was not up to the standards of the game in Toronto, and that the top pairs in Winnipeg were able to inflate their scores against ‘lesser’ pairs, thus ensuring higher scores. I heard this complaint from more than 1 person that played in the Toronto area while we were in Louisville.

The district came up with a new plan for the NAP event. Unknown even to the district coordinator (A Volunteer from Winnipeg), the district executive came up with a motion to change the conditions of contest for the NAP event starting in 2012. This was presented at the spring board meeting in Toronto, and voted in at that point. The consequences were not discussed or explained, so the 2 representatives from Winnipeg did not realize what this meant until much later. They were actually caught by surprise when it was announced. Not that it would have mattered, they were out-numbered by a full quorum, 14-2, this was a slam dunk.

The NAP district final would now be held as a single site event, permanently in Toronto. Any pairs from any of the remote units that qualified and wanted to play in the district final, would be able to travel to Toronto at their own expense to compete. Since this would be held as a 2 day event, for most of us in the district, it meant a 4 day trip to Toronto to play. Since I live most of the 3000 KMS from Toronto, flying there for the 4 days would be the only conceivable method.

As a unit, we found out about the new conditions of contest while we were gathering for the first qualifying game of the year. Needless to say, it caused quite a controversy among our members, including the immediate resignation of the then District Coordinator, citing irreconcilable differences with the Board. Since the game had been scheduled and the sanction awarded, the members there were forced to hold and play in the game that day. But the unit immediately cancelled all future NAP games, cancelled all Unit Finals, and sent several strongly worded protests to the District and ACBL Headquarters. If we could have found a method, we wanted to withhold all sanction fees from the district for the event as well. These measures were all done with the unanimous support of the Unit executive and all players that were at the game that day.

We heard back from the ACBL that the district is in charge of setting conditions, take it up with them. And the district responded that it had been voted on and was set, enjoy it.

For this reason, I will most definitely not be representing District 2 in the upcoming spring nationals in the NAP’s. At least I got 1 in before any future wins from members of our unit were stopped and legislated out of existence. The real tragedy is the newer players in our Unit, and other remote Units in the district, that will never have the chance to play in this event, represent their district at an NABC, and everything else involved in the NAP’s. So much for a grassroots competition.

There is 1 good point to this from our Unit’s point of view. We are learning what we are thought of by other districts around, and what is involved in changing districts. It is not like we will be missed by District 2 if it does happen.

But enough of that, I am leaving tomorrow for Seattle to play in the Blue Ribbon and the NA Swiss, and whatever else depending on how long we are in the main events. And that will be my NABC time for the next year. So I promise no more politics and back with some interesting hands from Seattle next week.

Monday, November 21, 2011

How to get booted from a game for getting a good result

Had a funny hand occur last week in a pickup game on BBO. Logged into BBO with no plans, and saw a message someone needed one for a game, so went to the table, and was accepted to play. My partner was a BBO Expert, and there was an ‘Actual’ World Class player on my left (as opposed to the normal BBO WC players) and a pretty decent player on my right, based on how I observed him play. We played along for a while, things going back and forth, before the hand came up.

With everyone Vul, playing IMPS, I picked up J  A96  A973  AKJT7 in last chair, and heard it go 3S by Mr. WC, P, P to me. Now I know the proper bid here is probably (almost certainly) double, but for some reason at the time, I did not like that, so I bid 4C and that bought the hand. The opening lead was the K of Spades, and when dummy came down, it became apparent partner might not be too happy with me.

T4   KJ732   KT6  983

J  A96  A973  AKJT7

LHO led the K of Spades against my 4C contract and continued the Q of Spades when his partner encouraged. 4H looks like a pretty decent game here, so I need RHO to have good Hearts to give some hope it is going to fail. I thought about pitching my (hoped) Heart loser on the Q of Spades, but decided that might be too much of a position. So I ruffed the Spade, cashed the A of Clubs, both following low, and led the A of Hearts, hoping if I later led up to the K of Hearts, LHO might wind up ruffing air.

This kind of went out the window when LHO ruffed the A of Hearts. Oh well, at least 4H had little chance now, that was the good news, the bad news was I might be down just as far in 4C as anyone in 4H. LHO now exited the 8 of Diamonds, to the 6, J, and my A. But now the question becomes, is LHO 7033, 7042, or 7024, or something else. If he is any of the 7024 hands, I think I am going down, but if he is the 7033, there is a nice ending coming up. I didnt want to think about 7015, so ignored it, I would take my lumps later if that was the hand.

So playing for the hoped for distribution, I cashed the K of Clubs, dropping the Q on my left while RHO also followed, played a Diamond to the K, and exited the last Diamond to RHO. When they were the expected 3-3, I could then claim on the forced endplay with the Hobson’s choice of a ruff/sluff or a lead into the KJ of Hearts. Making 4C when all the 4H contracts were going down 1-2 and 3S was mostly making was worth +5 IMPS for us.

However, I was promptly removed from the table by my partner, with no explanation or comment. Gotta love BBO at times J

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

How High to Bid

Playing IMPS, Vul vs Not, you pick up 97 63 JT842 A763 and Pass in first seat. It goes Pass on your left, and Partner opens 2C, semi-std. This goes 2D on your right (alerted as showing the majors), so you pass, showing some values and no clear bid, and it goes 2H on your left. Partner now bids 3H, P to you. 4D seems about right on the hand, and partner now bids 4S. Hoping the opps know what they are doing, you bid 5C, and now LHO comes in with 5H. This goes P, P so you double. It finally goes P, 6D by partner, P back to you.

N   E   S   W
-    -     P    P
2C 2D P   2H
3H P   4D P
4S  P   5C 5H
P    P   DBL P
6D P    ?

Do you bid again on this hand?

Not sure what the right bid is, with the probable wierd distribution walking around the table. Partners hand is AK8  A  AK653  KQ82. It looks like a pretty good grand until Clubs go 4-1 with the unavoidable loser. No squeeze works. We played in 6D when the S hand passed the 6D bid, but it is a very tough hand to bid.

And I have no idea why E-W did not bid more Hearts early and jam the auction. Seeing the hand after, would have expected that.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Back from the Summer

Well, after taking the summer (plus a little bit) off from blogging about bridge, figured with the snow starting to show up, it was time to talk about some of the interesting hands I have had lately, starting with our recent sectional.

First hand is more of a funny-tragic story. I picked up perhaps the strongest hand I have had in a very long time, A653 AKQJ74 A AK, IMPS, Vul vs Not in last chair. Of course it went 4D on my left, P, P to me. I finally decided I did not want to start with a double, since I did not want partner to pass it and even if partner showed Spades, was not sure that would really play any better than Hearts. So decided to make the ‘practical’ bid of 6H. This went all Pass and the opening lead of a Club allowed me to see dummy in all it’s glory, 8742 --- 75 JT97642. I perforce won the opening lead in hand, and led out the AK of Hearts, it got even better when LHO pitched a Diamond on the K of Hearts. Such a nice hand to go down 3 Vul on a freely bid slam. Turns out you can make 6C if you get there, due to the spots in dummy, but it is a thoughtfull play problem, win any lead, cash 1 round of Clubs, run the top Hearts pitching Spades, ruff something to hand, ruff the last Diamond, ruff back to hand, and play the J of Clubs to RHO’s Qxx. It was a push board, since the auction at the other table was essentially duplicated, (Our partner opened 5D instead of 4D). And the person holding my hand at the other table felt the same way about the result.

The next hand is more of a philosophy question. You hold J4 A9753 AKQ KJ2 IMPS, No one VUL. The opening bid on your left is 2S, and this goes P, P to you. You start with a TO Double, and partner jumps to 3N, opps passing. 2N by partner would have been a Lebensohl treatment. Do you bid over 3N and if so, what?

At the table, the person holding this hand bid 4N, quantitative, and the 3N bidder accepted, bidding 6N to end the auction. The problem was, due to the poor Hearts, there is no chance for a 12th trick, and 6N went down 1. The other hand that accepted the invite is K4 J84 75 AQT953. Looking at the 6th Club and second round Spade stopper, it seemed a reasonable try by this hand, just has no play at all on A and back a Spade. The discussion after centered around inviting with the 18 HCP hand, is it strong enough with the wasted J of Spades, all the values in the short suits, and no good source of tricks. We thought the Club hand should accept, with its 7 probable tricks. So wondering what people thought of that?

Next hand is at MP’s, with you holding KQ75 AJ3 6 AKJT74, all Vul. You open 1C and partner responds 1H, you reverse with 2S, and partner bids 3S, showing values. Over your 4H, partner bids 5D, and over 6C, bids 6D. Now over your 6H bid, partner bids 7H, and you place the final contract in 7S. What do you think of the auction?

You     Partner
1C       1H
2S       3S
4H       5D
6C       6D
6H       7H
7S       P

The opening lead is a Diamond, and partner puts this dummy down, A864  K975  AK94  8. So you have a parking place for your Heart loser, and just have to have the Clubs and Spades behave. Unfortunately Spades are 4-1, and even though you can pick up the Clubs with 1 ruff, you have a Spade loser for down 1. Since no one else got to the grand, this is a cold 0. Turns out both 7H and 7NT can make, since the Q of Clubs comes down doubleton, and the Qxx of Hearts is also onside, the only grand that fails is 7S, sigh.

Finally, we have AKT4 6 KJT743 97, None Vul at MP’s. You open 1D in first seat, and it goes 2H (weak) on your left, P, P back to you. This is one of those hands you can feel partner wants you to reopen with the double, but with a weak distributional hand, you decide to reopen with 2S. Partner has little sense of humour here, and 2 rounds later, you are waiting for the lead in 6S. The opening lead is a middle Club, and partner puts down J873 AJT75 A AK3. So now it is a play problem, but you do have lots of chances, what is your line of play?

Contract 6S, opening lead 6 Clubs, LHO preempted 2H on auction

J873 AJT75 A AK3
AKT4 6 KJT743 97

I think the best line is win the Club, cash the A Diamonds, play a Spade to the A to see if anything good happens, then ruff a Diamond. When this lives, you can decide if you are going to hook the 10 of Spades on the way back, which you probably should do since this is MP’s. If that wins and Spades are 3-2, it is now easy to ruff another Diamond with the J of Spades, and get back to hand with a ruff to pull the last trump and claim. If Spades are 4-1, then you need the Q of Diamonds coming down, and can not afford to ruff anything else. Unfortunately, partner lost site of the play, and forgot to cash the A Diamonds early, then when did not take the Spade hook, actually lost control of the hand and went 1 down, instead of making 7. This was also not a good score for us.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

How to Blow off a Complex Squeeze

Had this hand come up in a practice match against a couple of teammates this week. There were a couple of interesting points in the bidding, namely is 6D a place to play or a cue-bid of some kind. I assumed it was a Cue-Bid and proceeded to the grand.

Here is the hand 7H Hand

The bigger problem was my play of the hand. I screwed up at trick 5 and pitched the wrong card from dummy and the squeeze did not operate. I have to throw the Spade from dummy, and keep the Diamond threat card there, rather than the way I did it with the Diamond in my hand and Spade on dummy. Then when I cash the 2 Clubs, I can throw my Diamond, cash the 2 Diamond winners in my hand, and on the last Heart, both LHO and RHO are squeezed down to 2 Spades to protect their suits. In the actual end position I set up, the squeeze did not operate and I went down 1. And I should get it right, since it appears from the lead and then Heart shortness, that LHO is now more likely to have the Diamond length.

Of other interest to note, is that if LHO pitches 2 Spades instead of 2 Clubs, no squeeze appears to operate, since that person can always protect Clubs and Diamonds, while RHO protects Spades. Or at least I could not see one that worked, maybe the audience can find one.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

How Good is Good - Part 2

Here is the first part of the post from the other day.

Have a tough hand for people to decide what to do on, will post what the other hand is tomorrow.

Playing IMPS Vul vs Not, you pick up this collection 542 86 KQ95 KT74 and hear it go 1H on your left, 2H (std Michaels) by Pard, Pass on your right. You elect to bid 2S with this hand, and it now goes 3H on your left, 4S (!) by Pard, P on your right.

Your hand has suddenly grown up a lot, but do you take another bid, and if so, what?


The other hand was KQT86 --- AT8 AQ965. When the A of Spades was doubleton onside and no suits broke bad, 12 tricks were available in Spades and Clubs. At our table, the above hand passed 4S, not sure what the best bid is, since the Michaels hand should be good, but does it have to be a 1 loser hand.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

How Good is Good

Have a tough hand for people to decide what to do on, will post what the other hand is tomorrow.

Playing IMPS Vul vs Not, you pick up this collection 542 86 KQ95 KT74 and hear it go 1H on your left, 2H (std Michaels) by Pard, Pass on your right. You elect to bid 2S with this hand, and it now goes 3H on your left, 4S (!) by Pard, P on your right.

Your hand has suddenly grown up a lot, but do you take another bid, and if so, what?

Thursday, May 26, 2011

The Trouble with Pre-Empts

Playing IMPS at our weekly game, you pick up the following hand that would go well in a Master Solver's problem. Vul vs Not at IMPS, you hold A75 QJT7 J53 A83 and hear it go 3D on your left, Double by partner, 5D on your right, so now what?

I would love to make some kind of invitational bid, but partner is not going to interpret 5H as forward going, I think this is all up to you. Are you going on to slam, or are you bidding 5H. I do not think too much else other than perhaps Double enter the picture.

 On the plus side for the 6 level, partner made a Vul Double at the 3 level, so should have a decent hand, and there is a good possibility that partner is void in Diamonds, the opps have shown a lot of them. On the minus side, any tenaces that you need to pick up through partners hand are not likely to be working, and partner may have stretched a little for the double, since he is short if not void in Diamonds.

I think it is around 50-50 whether you go on, and partnership style probably plays a lot to do with it, along with perhaps state of the match. In a grinding match, you want to take your probable plus and go for 5H or Double, in a swingy match, or if you feel you are down, lean a little more towards the 6 level.

At the table, I opted for 6H, which was not a success when partner put down the wrong good hand, KQxx Kxxx x KQJx. I like the TO double, but RHO put the pressure on when she bid 5D with a balanced hand and the KQ tight of Diamonds. But that is what Bridge is all about, pressure, and it worked this time. Have to see about next time :)

Monday, May 16, 2011

Diamond Madness

Helping some friends practice for the CNTC Playdowns at the end of the month, had 2 very interesting slam hands come up involving Diamonds as the central theme. You are playing IMPS on both hands.

On the first, you pick up 4 AQ74 KJ87 T853 with everyone Vul and Pass in first seat. The opps are silent throughout and you bid a forcing NT over partners 3rd seat 1S opener. Partner now makes your hand better by jump shifting to 3D. So how do you plan to catch up in the auction now?

This hand bid 3H, planning on a delayed raise in Diamonds, but partner KO’d that idea by bidding 4H. This hand now bid 5D, and over partners 6C cue-bid, settled in 6D, the final contract. In the discussion afterward, it mainly centered around should this hand start with a Diamond raise to 4D, or show where the values are to start, and if so, how to catch up, since 5D can be a lot weaker hand. My suggestion that the person holding this hand liked, was to start with 3H, but then over 4H, show the strength and primary Diamond support by jumping to 6D, not 5D. After all, your hand has gotten awfully good on this auction, with partner virtually guaranteeing short Clubs.

This would have made it relatively easy for the other hand to raise to 7D on AKQ75 KT3 AQT64 ---. Since hearing that partner has a good hand with Diamonds and cards in Hearts is exactly what it needs.

The next hand, with everyone Vul, you pick up A943 K7 KQT8752 --- and hear it go Pass on your left, 1S by partner, Pass on your right. You make a 2/1 2D bid, and it goes 3C on your left, 4C by partner, 5C on your right, what now?

At the table, my partner bid 6C with this hand, showing the first round control and seeing where partner was going. I bid 6D, confirming that my 4C cue-bid was for Diamonds, and partner decided that I pretty well had to have the required cards on this hand to carry on to 7. Not sure if the interference propelled us to the grand, since there was a pretty good chance we were going there anyways on this hand when I showed a good hand in support of Diamonds.

This was not a play problem as I put down KQJ75 AT94 A43 T. I also liked the fact that partner played the grand in Diamonds instead of Spades. We have at least a 10 card Diamond fit, so the chances of a ruff on the opening lead are higher in Diamonds than in Spades, our probable 9 card fit.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Couple of Failures at Slam Bidding

Have not posted for a while as I have been travelling and busy a lot the last month, but home and playing again. And coming up with some not so good examples of slam bidding.

On the first, you pick up AQT74 2 --- AKJ8753 and hear partner open 4C (Namyats) in first seat. Oh well, so much for playing in a Black suit. At least you have 1 Heart and a good void, not the other way around. You bid 4D, which asks for partner to describe their hand, and partner makes a bid you have not talked about, 5S, which gets doubled on your right.

Over 4D, you have agreed to play 4H showing a suit with 1+ losers, 4N shows no suit with 2 quick losers, and 4S/5C/5D show a suit with 2 quick losers, and imply no other suit with quick losers. You have not talked about much else in the basic discussion over these bids. So you are on your own with what partner decided 5S would mean.

You eventually decide to redouble this, and partner now bids 6H. You are assuming that 5S was a void, with no suit having 2 quick losers. The question is, does partner have solid Hearts for this auction. You decide that he should, and raise to 7H. This is not a success when partner holds
--- AJT87432 AKQT 9.

I held this hand and decided with the lack of defense coupled with a 2 loser hand, I did not want to start with 1H and lose control of the hand (what if one of the opps help partners hand). But over 4D, I decided if partner was asking about my hand, I was going to slam. The problem is I kind of got too cute, and decided to try to describe my hand now, with disastrous consequences, sigh.

On the second hand, you hold AQ T843 J3 KQ852 and over partners 1D opener, decide to bid 1H. Partner bids 3S over this, showing a splinter in Spades and a game forcing Heart raise. Is this enough to move over 4H with?

I figured that when I worked on the splinter values principle, I had 10 working points to add to partners supposed 18-19 min, giving us well over the 24 required to look for a slam opposite a splinter, so moved forward. I should probably go slow and bid 4C over 3S, letting partner asses their hand, but I think we will wind up in the same spot in 6H. Partners hand is 4 AKJ7 AT854 AJ3, right at the bottom end of the splinter and with poor Diamonds, so when the Heart Q is third offside, there is no way to avoid 2 losers. On the hand, I actually just jumped to 6H over the 3S bid, getting there quicker.

At the other table, the strong hand jumped to 4H over 1D-1H, which I think should make my hand even more interested in slam, since they think the Q of Spades is working and the Spades are protected on the opening lead. But they passed 4H and were right, winning 12 IMPS :(

Will try to get back to keeping this up to date, and stay home a little more.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

What Does He Mean Now?

Playing in a playdown for a team game this week, I gave my partner a tough bidding problem, yet again. Happy to say that he passed the little test with a perfect score.

No one vul at IMPS, he picked up K863 AKJ862 --- JT3 and over my 1S opener, he bid 2H, which we do not play as GF. I now bid 2N, showing a strong NT+ (and setting up a GF), and he bid 3S, which is a slam try in Spades. I bid 4D, and he correctly signed off in 4S with no Club control. Except that I now bid 5S, what does that mean and what to do?

After thinking about it a while, he bid 6H, trying for the Grand. I signed off in 6S, and even with a 4-1 Spade break, it easily made. His reasoning for going on, he had already denied a Club control, but I went on anyways, so I must not be looking for minor cards, but for how good his major suits were. Since he had great holdings in both majors, he went on to 6S.

My hand to produce this problem for partner was AJ95 Q7 KQT5 AK6. Spades were 4-1 on my right, so an opening Diamond lead might have given me some concerns, but the Club lead meant I could safety play the Spades. And yes, we do play 4 card Majors, so this is not an auction that the world would duplicate.

Next week is off to Louisville for the first part of the NABC and the NAOP pairs. Will post some of the interesting things that happen when I get back.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Do You Take a 2nd Call?

Playing IMPS in a pick-up teams game on BBO, you enter the last board down some to a tough team, and pick up this hand with no one vul, 7 --- KJ9543 AJ8763. It goes 1S on your right, so you overcall 2N (anyone for 4N and get it over?). This now goes 4S on your left, P, P back to you. So do you or don't you?

At our table, this hand decided to bid 4N, figuring he had to have a good place to play it. This now went 5H on his left, P by partner, 6S on his right, oops. So not what, do you try 6N, or let them play on their bad splits.

This hand now passed, and on the A of Clubs lead, dummy put down J932 AQJT976 T 4, might have been worth some kind of Heart call over 2N, but whatever. The A of Clubs holds, and when you lead a Diamond and partner follows, declarer claims with the A of Diamonds, solid Spades, and the K of Hearts.

Fun hand, turns out any major suit slam from the solid Spade side makes, and Hearts also makes since there is no ruff. At the other table, the 2 hands bid to 7 Clubs, and got their Diamond ruff for +800 after a Spade lead, and A and out a Diamond.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

How Abuse Works on BBO

Played in a pickup team game on BBO today and got lucky to have a super nice, very competent partner to play with. Unfortunately, the same can not be said about the person playing to my left, his partner was incredibly abusive and resulting every board, with what he had done wrong.

On the first board, the opps got to 3D in a competitive auction. My partner found a truly inspired lead of a trump, and when the smoke cleared, declarer was down 2. Turns out any lead but a Diamond sets up at least 1 trick for declarer, and gives him time to work on a ruff in dummy. With the trump lead, declarer was left to set up suits himself, and with most suits being frozen, his breaking them meant we got the extra trick, and were able to exit trumps each time. As soon as the hand was over, my RHO piped up with a truly supportive comment, with any kind of reasonable play, 3D should make. This was total fantasy, on a trump lead and continuation from us, looking at all 4 hands, you might hold it to down 1, but are never making it, but since there was a lead of one of our suits at the other table and it made, 3D had to be makeable, so it was his partners poor play.

On the second board, my LHO had to lead from AK8642 of Spades after a 1C-1H-1N auction. He selected the A of Spades, then shifted to a Heart. When the smoke cleared, I had made 9 tricks and his partner started in on him, “you must lead a small Spade from that holding”, right on this hand since his partner had JT tight. A small Spade lead turns out to hold me to 1, so it cost a couple of overtricks, but that was not our hero's point.

On the third board, my RHO arrived in 3H after showing 55 in the majors. So now he could shine. Except that he managed to short ruff his hand, lost control, and wound up down 2, not much was mentioned about that hand. The 4th hand, my partner played very well in 3S on a competitive auction to make 4, picking off a J and Q from the non-openers hand to wrap up the overtrick. Since my LHO had been the person on lead the whole hand, nothing much was said. 5th Board, RHO overcalled 2S over a strong NT on his right, buying the contract, and making 4 when his partner layed down a very nice dummy for him. 6th Board, my RHO opened 1S light in 3rd seat, and I overcalled 1N, buying the contract. LHO led his stiff Q of Spades, which I won, and eventually made 7 tricks when RHO ducked the K of Spades later.

The 7th hand, RHO held K862 AK853 KT 95 and opened 1H with all vul. His partner bid 3H, limit, and it went 5D on his right. He decided to double this, and with the Clubs wrong, my partner had to go for -800, for a 4 IMP loss. Then the true fun started.

My RHO heard this auction, 1H-1S-2S-4S with his side silent. He held K7 T962 AQ86 T63 and decided to lead the 10 of Clubs. His partner, holding AJ2, won the A on the first trick and returned a Club, assuming his partner would ruff this or the next one, since he had a later entry in the K of Hearts behind dummy. This proved to be fatal, and my partner wound up with an overtrick. This is where the fun started, he started accusing his partner of not knowing bridge, being an idiot, and generally making life nasty for his partner. He had wanted him to read that the 10 of Clubs was a top of nothing lead from length, and that he should have known to switch when in with the A of Clubs. When in actuality, it was the lead of the 10 of Clubs that gave away the entire suit and the contract.

On the next hand, my RHO showed the other side of his sportsmanship. My partner wound up in 3N, and with AT8 of Spades opposite KQ752, ducked a Spade early to make sure of the 4 tricks in the suit he needed. This proved to be fortunate, since Spades were 4-1 on the hand. When my partner next got in, he played the 8 of Spades before the A, an obvious misclick, and tried to get an undo before the next player had played a card. This was of course refused. He asked again, and my LHO stated he had no objection, but it was again refused. So my partner played on. Fortunately, my RHO did not really understand bridge either, he had started with the lead of the J of Clubs from JT842 and when his partner dropped the Q under dummy's K from K5, he promptly returned the 8 of Clubs the next time he was in, losing to the 9 as his partner showed out. So now, in the fullness of time, my partner was able to strip him of exits, throw him in with a little Club and claim 3N on the forced Club return anyways. He did not even prosper on the nice sportsmanship play.

The final hand. My LHO holds 92 A JT2 Q987652 and all Vul hears the auction go 2H on his left, 2S by his partner, 5H on his right. The opening lead is the 8 of Diamonds, and the dummy tracks with K865 T8765 AKQ9 ---. The A of Diamonds wins the first trick, declarer following with the 4, and a small Heart is led off board. This hand won the A perforce, and after some thought, returned a Spade. Declarer soon claimed, and my RHO started screaming at his partner, calling him every name he could think of, telling him not to pollute IMPS games by joining them anymore. It turns out that he had led a singleton Diamond this time, and had 2 Hearts, since declarer was 55 in the reds for the 2H bid. And a Diamond return would have beaten 5H. This may be the only possible holding to beat this contract, but it is not necessary to berate your partner that much for not playing it.

During the round, when the abuse was the worst, I had sent my LHO a couple of private messages telling him to ignore the idiot and just try to have fun. He had responded that was all he was trying to do. I sent a message to the abusive one after the end, telling him that kind of abuse on partner was not called for, and tone it down. Got back a lot of swearing, and a couple of derogatory names, so added this guy to my enemies list, and a big note for him, saying do not play in any game he is part of again.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Am I Crazy

Had a hand over the weekend that generated a lot of discussion / controversy. Actually, several people called me a little crazy over it. Playing IMPS in a reasonable strength team game, you pick up K6 QT6 KJ76 KJ98 NV vs Vul in 1st seat. Since you are playing 12-14 NT’s, this is an easy 1NT opener, which goes Pass on your left, 2C by partner, Pass on your right. You bid 2D, Pass on your left, and 2H by partner, which is not forward going, rather pass or correct for a major at the 2 level. You are planning to Pass this, when it goes Double on your right. You pass, and after some thought, LHO bids 2NT, which is Passed back to you.

I doubled. My thoughts ran along the lines of RHO has a borderline hand with both minors, since he did not act directly over 2C, but wants to compete now. This hand will not play well for the opps in anything if I have the minors so well placed over RHO. I like the fact I will be getting a Heart lead, and even if partner is virtually broke, the majors should not run. No one ran from 2N doubled, although I think my partner thought about it, and there we were.

The opening lead was the 5 of Hearts and this dummy tracked, Q742 A2 AT5 AQT4, more Spades and perhaps a little better hand than expected, but not that far off. Declarer ducked the Heart and my Q held the trick, so tentatively that gives partner the K. The next question is what Heart to return. I made an error here, since I never want to be in my hand, I returned the 6 of Hearts instead of the 10. If partner has the 9, I want to unblock, and if not, it likely doesn’t matter. So I should unblock for all the cases where it matters.

Declarer now played a Spade off board, winning the J in hand, and pinpointing pretty much the whole Spade suit, and led a Club to the 10 and my J. I returned the 10 of Hearts on which declarer played low and partner dropped the 9, sigh. So I exited with the K of Spades, declarer winning with the A. Declarer now tried a Club to the Q and my K.

I decided to play partner for 2 cards, and played on Diamonds myself, rather than exit a safe Club and delay the play. When partner had the Q of Diamonds, we were soon scoring up +500 on the board for down 2.

After the hand was over, my partner was surprised that I would double this contract, whereas I thought the double was odds on because of the auction and it’s implications. Giving the hand to several local experts, they all said they would pass and expressed surprise at the double. So not sure how far out in my reasoning I was, but seems I was not in the same mindspace as everyone else.

On another note, had a tough bidding decision to make later in the same game. With no one vul, I picked up this nice hand in 1st seat, AQ75 65 AQ AKT83. I opened 1C and with the opps silent throughout, partner responded 1H. I reversed into 2S and partner bid 3H, showing values since we play 2N as the start of a poor hand sequence. So now what?

I have extra values (some) for the reverse, but not particularly robust suits. I like my tenaces, and wanted to make sure NT was played from my side, but still wanted to show some interest in Hearts. I finally decided to bid 4D on the hand, and partner bid 5N over this. Completely forgetting the auction, I raised to 6N, thinking I would be playing it, after all, isn’t intent to bid something the same as bidding it? Unfortunately, neither opponent bought that argument at the table when I brought it up.

Anyways, we managed to now wrong side 6N, the best contract, but fortunately the K of Diamonds was onside when Hearts went 5-0, providing the 12th trick. My question was, should I bid 3N, does it give full value to my hand, even if it sets up the right side for the contract. 4N sounds like key card in Hearts, something I do not really want to do, so not sure what the best action is. Partners hand was always going to force to a slam, but that is not a requirement on all hands we want to get to slam on. Partner had KJ3 AKT743 42 Q7. My only suggestion to partner on the hand was to avoid bidding NT, the most likely contract, while making a forward going move, I thought 5D might be best for that, since it is unlikely to be a possible spot to play on this auction, but I have played in 2-2 or worse fits before.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Both Minors over a Weak NT

Had a hand that somewhat fell outside our discussions over 1N in a team game this week. We play 1N shows 12-14 HCP and may include a 5 card major or minor. So when partner opened 1N with no one vul and I held Q2 9 KQJ97 AJT98, I had to decide on an approach that made sense.

We play 3 of a major as a fragment with both minors, at least game interest, so a 3S bid is fairly close on my hand, but tends to imply only 5-4 in the minors, will have to talk to partner later if it can include this hand pattern. Part of the reason for having that is to be able to play in a 4-3 or 5-3 major suit game if it looks right from the 1N opener side, so doing it with only 2 may get me 4 of the major, something I would not be happy with.

We also play 4 suit transfers, so I felt the best way to start was to transfer into Clubs and then bid Diamonds, which is forcing for at least 1 round and should imply something like this in the minors, since I did not start with a fragment. So I started with 2S (Clubs) and partner bid 2N, denying honour third in Clubs. Wanting to continue on with the description, I now bid 3D, and partner bid 3S over that. In the discussions we had on these auctions, we agreed that a bid of a major over a minor and a forward going bid pinpointed values, to start towards notrump, but also perhaps leading to a minor game/slam, so partner is showing stuff in Spades, and basically denying much in Hearts. This actually makes my hand better.

I now bid 4H to show a control in Hearts, and deny a balanced hand since I bypassed 3N. Partner bid 4N over this. I really thought this had to be forward going in Diamonds, since partner could have just bid 5D. It should not show Heart cards, since with both majors, partner would have bid 3N over 3D. All of the news that I had gotten to this point had been good, so I decided to just jump to 6D on the hand, ending the auction. I was asked what the meaning of the auction was, and I actually explained my reasoning of the 4N bid. The opps, a good experienced pair, thought that 4N should be weak, but I do not agree with that assessment.

LHO led the 9 of Spades, and dummy tracked with what I had expected, almost a perfect hand, AK83 JT42 AT4 Q6. With the Spade lead, the slam became a laydown, pulling trump and pitching the Heart on the third Spade, before taking the Club hook for an overtrick. On a Heart lead, I need the Club to make. Turned out the Club was onside, so the contract was always making.

I realize that it might be pushy to go after the slam opposite a weak NT with my hand, but the bidding kept indicating good things from partner. The big question is, would partner bid 4N the same way without the Q of Clubs, in which case it is a very bad slam. She still has A AK for me, and a ruffing value in my second suit. Have not had a chance to ask that question yet, but it should be informative for future bidding. And we will have to decide if we want to or can add something in for a decent minor 2 suiter over a 1N opener.

Monday, January 31, 2011

Nasty Lead Part 2

In the previous post, I gave a play problem in 6H after a Spade Lead. Here is the whole hand for any interested to see how their choices worked out.

N   E   S   W

1C P  1H  P
1S P  2D  P
3C P  3H  P
3N P  6H  P
P   P

KJ84                                     T962
8                                            J52
KJ97                                      864
9852                                      A73

Of course, the only way to make the hand on a Spade Lead is to take the round 1 finesse, but that is something that most people hate to do. At the table, declarer after some thought, played the A of Spades and took the Diamond finesse, losing to the K, and a Club came back to the A for down 1.

The interesting part was the same boards were in play in both semi-finals, and at both tables where 6H was reached (I am not sure of the other auction), the lead was the same card, the 8 of Spades, with the same result.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Nasty Lead

Playing in our local Sectional this weekend, you are playing in the first half of a KO match. With everyone Vul, you pick up 5 AKQ9743 AQT2 6 and hear partner open 1C in first seat. You bid 1H, partner bids 1S, and then bids 3C over your 2D 4SF. You bid 3H and partner now bids 3N. Hearing about a probable Diamond card encourages you to jump to 6H, ending the auction. For ease of viewing, here is the auction again.

N   E   S   W
1C P  1H  P
1S P  2D  P
3C P  3H  P
3N P  6H  P
P   P

LHO thinks for a minute and then leads the 8 of Spades and this dummy appears



What do you play at trick 1, and how do you plan for the play. And besides the fact that partner should have bid 4H over 3H, not 3N, any other problems with the bidding. Finally, does it make any difference as to the style of the person on lead, whether they listen to an auction before leading, or just lead 4th best all the time? And of course, the leader found the only lead available to present a problem on the hand, don’t they always.
Think about the hand and I will post the whole hand in a day.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

An Unfortunate Tale

Playing IMPS on BBO, you pick up this hand with All VUL, 7 KQT9753 J KJT4 in first seat. First question, is this an opener. I think it is, this hand is going to play very well in Hearts, but not very well anywhere else, so let your partner know that early. But the person that held this hand thought it would be easier to show it later, so started with a Pass.

The auction now went 1D on his left, 3S by partner, Double (Neg) on his right. Oops, looks like you have trapped yourself. Do you really want to bid 4H Vul opposite a partner that pre-empted in your short major, with RHO showing Hearts? Again, this hand passed, and LHO now bid 3N, which was passed back to this hand. It does not feel right to never take a call with this hand, but there is no real way to describe it now, so this hand passed for the third time. See why it is right to open.

The opening lead was the 9 of Spades from partner, and this dummy tracks, Q82 J6 A84 QT853. A truly interesting negative double, what it was going to do over 4H by their partner is unknown, but the 3N was a welcome bid. Declarer puts up the Q of Spades which holds at trick 1, and quickly claims 10 tricks with 7 solid Diamonds in his hand and the 2 Black Aces. Turns out your partners hand was KJT9643 A8 72 62. You had the first 7 tricks in Hearts if they were led, and excellent play for 4H. At the other table, the opponents sacked in 5D, down 2, over 4H, meaning your team lost 13 IMPS.

This is why I believe you have to open a hand like that when you have the chance. With Spades, you can consider waiting since you can always bid at the level of current bid, even though that may be uncomfortable. With Hearts, you are subject to the whim of who has Spades, and may have to come in at a level higher, as in this case. By passing, it turns out that a hand that had play for game in their suit, never took a bid and allowed the opponents to steal a double game swing back the other way.

I was lucky enough to be on the plus side of this, having bid the 1D and 3N on the hand. I was very surprised with dummy when it came down, and could not figure out where the Heart suit went until I saw that hand after. I originally thought the 3S preemptor had a bunch of Hearts as well, never suspecting that kind of hand. And I am still not sure what partner intended if I ever bid 4H, did not really want to ask, it would not have been fun to play in 4H with Kxxx in Hearts in my hand opposite that.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

3 Hands

Had 3 very interesting hands this last week involving some tough decision making at the 6 level. For the first, you are playing IMPS and are Vul vs NV opps. You hold 3 J9753 K643 A87 and Pass in first seat. It goes P on your left, 1H by partner, and 3S on your right. You raise to 4H and over 4S on your left, partner bids 5C. It goes P on your right, you take the intermediate road with 5H, but now it goes 5S on your left, P, P back to you. So the auction has gone

N   E   S   W
P   P   1H  3S
4H 4S 5C  P
5H 5S  P   P

How good is partners hand for the 5 level second bid and pass of 5S. And is your singleton Spade a duplication of partners values in that suit? The main question is, assuming the Pass of 5S is forcing, which it should be, how many losers should partner have? Partner freely bid over 4S, so should have distribution, and you have good features in both suits, a 5th trump and the A of partners second suit. So give partner something like AKxxx of Hearts and KQxxx of Clubs, there should be no losers there, so what about the side suits, x Ax in the pointed’s makes a slam almost a laydown, so the problem is if partner has less. Is x AKxxx Qx KQxxx good enough for this auction, free 5C and a P opposite a passed hand?, how about x AKxxxx x KQxxx, which requires 2 Aces and trumps from partner?

The other consideration is if partner has a very distributional hand, can you even beat 5S? A lot of your ‘tricks’, may not score on defence. For those 2 reasons, I think this hand should go on, besides, if the opps take out insurance at IMPS against 6H, you will feel a lot better doubling 6S.

Turns out 6H is a maker and you may be allowed to play there, partner has an unusual hand, KQ AQKxxx --- KQxxx, so 6H only loses the A of Spades, their 2nd Ace does not cash, also making it hard for them to sack. At the table, the above hand doubled, and was able to beat 5S 1 trick when the Hearts were 1-1, somewhat luckily getting a plus.

The next hand is a little tougher, playing MP’s, with no one vul, you pick up K932 AQ75 AQ974 --- and hear partner open 1C in first seat. You bid 1D and partner bids 1N, showing a 15-17 HCP NT, since you play weak NT’s. You bid 2D, GF Stayman, and partner bids 3C, denying a 4333 hand, or either 4 card major, but showing 5+ Clubs, what now?

N    E    S    W
1C  P   1D   P
1N   P  2D  P
3C   P   ?

The big question here, I think, comes between 3D and 3N. Can partner have Diamond support, and does 3D here promise 6, or just 5? You are only on the borderline of the slam zone, and partners 3C call did not improve your hand at all.

I think at IMPS or in a very strong field, this is a lot tougher hand, since missing out on 6D when it is available can cost a lot, even if only in lost opportunities. At MP’s, it is a lot tougher if you should bid on, since partner needs a fitting hand for much play in 6. But the other consideration in a medium field, how many people are going to hear partner open a strong NT, and after checking for a major, blast to 6N with this hand? Not really sure what is the best idea here.

At the table, this hand bid 3N, ending the auction. 6D and even 7D are actually very good contracts, since of course partner has the perfect hand, A5 KJ K83 A97652. 3N also looks like it has a lot of tricks, and in the interest of self serving reporting, I will not go into my line of play, except to say that I took at least 9 and much less than 12 tricks on a Spade lead when Diamonds went 4-1. Who needs to preserve communication!

The last hand, again back to IMPS, All Vul, you pick up a nice hand, AKQ74 KQJ85 3 AK and open 2C in first seat. Partner responds 2D, showing at least 1 control and values. Over your 2S, partner bids 3D, and over 3H, bids 4S. What does that show and now what? First, with a 1 suited Diamond positive, partner did have a way to show that and did not, also, 2D placed you in a GF auction, so 4S is weaker than 3S on this hand. Either way, with a positive and some support you want to make a slam try, so over 4N, partner bids 5C, showing 1 or 3 KC’s.

At this point, you have 3 choices, bid 6S to play there, bid 6N, or bid 6H giving partner a choice of slams. I think 6H is the best bid here, since partner does not know you have 5 Hearts, it was not required on this auction. At the table, this hand bid 6S, and partner put down 85 973 AJT85 J96, about the minimum possible for a 2D bid. When Spades went 4-2, 6S was down 1, with 6H having a lot more play.

A bunch of discussion ensued later about what responder should bid over 3H. The available bids are:

3S – Slam try in Spades, has to have better Spades, out
3N – No Club stopper, out or at least should be a low option when partner is showing the majors
4C – Cue bid on Jxx, out, partner is really not going to be happy playing in 6S with AKQJxx AKQx x xx which is a possible holding
4D – Should show a 6th Diamond since Diamonds may be the best slam, out
4H – on a possible 4-3, out
4S – By process of elimination, about only bid left?

This brought up the problem with these sequences, is there a bid that indicates real support but a min hand, vs a bid that indicates a doubleton and wanting to really sign-off? And it must come from the list of 6 available bids listed above. The only bid that comes to mind is to have 4D as a kind of temporizing bid, but that really perverts it in my mind, and precludes most hands where that might be the only spot to play when you do have a 6+ card suit. Switch the K from Clubs to Diamonds in the other hand, and 6D becomes the place you want to play this hand if it is opposite a decent 6 card suit.

We did not come to any solid answer on the above, other than the other hand needs to be aware of the problem that responder may have, and bid 6H to give an option on these kind of auctions.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Fun (!) on BBO

Playing in a pickup team game on BBO with a new partner I got to see the following up close and personal. You pick up, NV vs Vul, QJ9 K97 65 KJT53 and hear it go 2D (Weak) from partner, double on your right. You pass, and it goes 2S on your left, P, P back to you. Since this is a part score hand, and you have no fit (or defence), you decide to compete with 3D, hoping they will get a little higher. Sure enough, they listen to your wishes, it goes 3H on your left, P by partner, 4H on your right. You now pass, and they proceed to wrap up 4H for -620, instead of the -140/-170 you had wrapped up for passing out 2S, and the 10 IMPS.

Next, you pick up this fine hand, Vul vs Not, T8765 8 KQJ7642 -- and hear it go 1C by partner, 3H on your right. Not wanting to get partner involved, or allow any decisions, you leap to 4S, ending the auction. Partner is a nice person and puts down a good hand, AK 43 T983 AKQ52, no problem except the 3H pre-empt meant it, he did not have Spades, they go 5-1, and you go down -300 in 4S, cold for 5D.

Finally, a play problem, you hold, All Vul, AKT8 Q73 A7 JT83, and with the opps silent throughout, you bid 1S over partners 2nd seat 1D opener, and raise his 2S bid to 4S. The opening lead is the 4 of Clubs, and partner puts down J952 KJ84 KT4 A2. You win the A, and decide to follow the old Zia rule by playing the J of Spades, to see if LHO has the Q or not. When he plays the 4 of Spades, you decide not and play the A, LHO following low. Now when you play the K of Spades (forget about those Club losers), LHO follows low again, and RHO pitches the 3 of Diamonds, oops. You play a Heart to the K and A, and LHO cashes the K of Clubs, before exiting a low Diamond. You cash the 2 Diamonds, ending in hand, and play the J of CLubs. It is kinda late, but you probably need the Q onside, but who cares, ruff the Club, Heart to the Q, ruff the Club, cash the K of Hearts, except RHO ruffs this, and nastily cashes the Q of Spades for down 1. The other table bid 3N, an easy contract, so they did not have to play carefully in 4S, but with any type of care, like starting with A and out a Club at tricks 1 and 2, it also has lots of play.
Sigh, have to think about deleting my account again, or perhaps not play on there for a while.