Monday, January 30, 2012

Interesting Play Problem

Playing in the Swiss Teams at our recent local Sectional, had this hand come up. No one Vul, you hold JT7 4 K9643 J973 and hear it go 2H on your right, you Pass, 4H on your left, Double by partner, and then Pass on your right. I finally decided that this was not a double to leave in, and since partner did not bid 4S himself, I was not that interested in the bad Moysian, even with the stiff Heart in my hand, so I bid 5D, ending the auction.

The opening lead was the A of Hearts, and this is the dummy I got, AK97 6 AJT8 AT62. All I had to do was bring Diamonds in for no losers and compress 3 possible black suit losers into 1, nothing to it. LHO won the Heart while RHO contributed the 8 of Hearts (std count and attitude), and then switched to the 8 of Spades. How do you plan the play?

AK97 6 AJT8 AT62

JT8 4 K9643 J973

First thing to decide is how the Spades are sitting such that you can bring that suit in for no losers. Since you must lose at least 1 Club, you can not afford any Spade losers. If the 8 of Spades is to be believed, then the Q is on your right with the 2H bid, but a little local knowledge tells you that LHO is quite willing to play a dishonest card to try and get to you. And since a Spade was almost a required shift, the actual card means little.

What do we know about the hand so far, Hearts are probably 5-6, as indicated by the bidding and play to trick 1. If Diamonds are 3-1, then you can pick them up, but that might leave RHO too many Black cards to be safe. 1 nice thing about the spot cards in Spades, if you can pick up the Q, you can pitch a Club on the 4th Spade, then split honours in Clubs will allow you to get a forced ruff and sluff to make the hand.

Due to the Spade spots, I think the best line of play is to take the Spade hook at trick 2, and assuming it wins, plan to pull trumps, and run the Spades pitching a Club, before going A and out a Club. This will work any time the Spade Q is onside, and the Clubs are 3-2 with split honours. There are also a few variations available as the play develops, or if Clubs go 4-1 with a stiff honour.

The problem is I decided to delay my Spade decision on the hand, and won the first round with the A. I now played a Diamond to the K and a Diamond back to the A, with the Q appearing on my left on the 2nd round, Diamonds being 2-2. But that left me on board with only 1 hand entry in Diamonds. If I was playing Clubs off board, I now needed Hx on my right, and that coupled with the 6 Hearts and 2 Diamonds he was (mostly) known to hold, meant he held 3 Spades, and I needed the Spade hook now. So hoping for the best, I led a little Club off board, losing to the K on my left. A Spade came back, and I played low, getting some good and bad news. The good news was that the Q was not on my right, the bad news was that RHO showed out on the Spade, meaning he held 4 Clubs to the Q to start, and I was going down on the hand, whereas my first line of play would have worked if I had hooked the Spade at trick 2. So much for delaying decisions, but it was a nice return of the 8 of Spades by LHO that made me think the hand out too deeply. Here is the full hand, turns out with all the singletons, we can beat 4H 1 trick, only because 2 Diamonds cash, but we have to get to them early.


At the other table, they started with the same auction, except my hand decided to pull to 4S with the singleton Heart. The bad Spade split meant they could not pull trump and retain control, so wound up down 2 on the hand, we won 1 IMP, but had a chance for a lot more.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Nice Hand

Playing in a practice match on BBO with a regular partner, you pick up the following nice hand with everyone Vul, K42 AKQJ632 --- AQ7. The auction also gets very exciting before it gets near you, LHO opens 1D, partner chimes in with 3S, and RHO passes. So now what?

First off, I think you have to bid a slam on this hand, you are not sure of anything, but your hand is way too powerful to only bid game. The biggest question is, how do you get there, and what is the right slam? 6S allows your Clubs to possibly be led through, but 6H relies on not having a Heart loser with a possible Spade loser. And you do not want to write off a grand on this hand. 7 Spades to the A and out with partner gives very good play for that.

If you play exclusion key card with something like 5D, you could bid that, but that will really increase the possibility of a Club lead on the hand in Spades. You can still play in Hearts then, but will partner be able to pass that, when 5D should imply Spade support. And what will bidding 4D do for you, you pretty well know partner is going to bid 4S over that.

At the first table, this hand bid 6S over 3S, ending the auction. The hand on lead held the A of Diamonds and tried that, enabling 12 tricks to be taken when partners hand was QJT9653 4 QJ J43. An opening Club lead will defeat 6S, since Hearts are 4-1, so there are not enough quick pitches of Clubs. At the other table, the auction started the same, except the good hand only bid 4H, also ending the auction. This made 6 fairly quickly, but for a 12 IMP loss. I just strongly feel the other hand is too strong in playing strength not too insist on some kind of slam.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

How to Complete a Match

Playing in our weekly IMPS League, against the best team there, had these 3 interesting hands come up to end the match. We did not know it till later, but going into the last 3 boards, the match was deadlocked at 0-0.

On the first, you pick up, All Vul, J --- AT975 QJ98632 and hear partner open 1H in first seat, P to you. We play a 2/1 system, and the void in partners suit does not help, so I get to bid the wonderfully descriptive 1N forcing on my 7-5 hand. It now goes 4S on my left, and a very surprising but interesting 5D by partner! While I am thinking about what to do over that, RHO joins the action with 5S, sounds like everyone has some fun distribution. The general rule on IMPS is that you bid 1 more on distributional hands, since you are not sure who can make what. But then there is the other rule that the 5 level belongs to the opps, and I do have the wrong major suit holding. But I am almost always a bidder on these type of hands, so 6D, ended the auction. On a side note, RHO thought for quite some time before passing.

The opening lead was the 3 of Spades, and it turns out partner had made a very aggressive call, but now held the perfect hand for us. The 2 hands were

J --- AT975 QJ98632

6 QT975 KJ863 AK

Partner won the shift to Clubs at trick 2, and when he played the K of Diamonds, his RHO showed out, so it was a simple matter to pick up the Q of Diamonds and claim 6.

I had decided when I heard 4S that if partner had passed, I was bidding 4N, so we would have got to Diamonds anyways, but perhaps not to the slam. At the other table, they played in 5C making, so we picked up a somewhat lucky 13 IMPS.

On Hand 2, NV vs Vul, I held KJ AK853 752 J83 and opened a 12-14 HCP 1NT in 1st seat. We have a rule on opening 5 card majors in our weak NT system, if you would make a game try over a constructive raise, then you can not open 1N, you must open the major, since that was not the case on this hand, we open it 1N. The reason for this is that with a constructive raise of a major, partner is going to pass 1N, and you have the potential to miss a lot of major suit games.

Over 1N, LHO bid 2N, alerted and explained as showing 1 of Clubs or Diamonds. Partner now bid 3N, to play since we did not have 2N available for Lebensohl. To make the hand just a little more interesting, LHO doubled when it came back to him. I briefly regretted not opening 1H on this hand, but partner had not asked me about a suit here, so I sat the double, and LHO led the K of Diamonds. These were the 2 hands.

Q64 J76 QJ6 AQT2

KJ AK853 752 J83

Decide how you will play the hand before reading on. LHO plays the KA and 10 of Diamonds, RHO pitches 2 spades on the 2nd and 3rd Diamonds.

I perforce won the 3rd Diamond on board, and needed to find some tricks outside of Spades, since LHO was not being subtle about his probable entry. I decided there was 1 hope on the hand, since the Heart spots were very interesting. If I could find LHO with a stiff 9 or 10, the hand actually had some possibilities. Playing for this, I led the J of Hearts off dummy, covered by the Q and K, and was very happy to see the 9 of Hearts fall on my left. I now led the J of Clubs back, and LHO covered this (?) with the K, the A winning on board. So now I was at the moment of truth. Did I play LHO for a doubleton, either 10 9 or 9x protecting partners supposed 10, or play the 9 for an honest card. Deciding that it looked like a fun board, I played the 6 of Hearts off board, and both RHO and I played low as LHO pitched a small Spade. It was now a simple matter to claim 10 tricks with the Hearts and Clubs running (Clubs were 3-3), for a nice +650.

This was another 13 IMPS our way when the opponents at the other table played in 4H, down 2. The opening Diamond lead and ruff, followed by the A of Spades, meant that the person with my hand was down in 4H before they got in, and when they did not pick up the Hearts, went down 2.

The third hand of the 3, I picked up, Vul vs Not, 983 --- 9654 AQ9763 and passed in 1st seat. It then went P on my left, 2C (Strong) by partner, Double (Clubs) on my right. I redoubled this (too suggest a place to play) and it went 2H on my left, 2S by partner, 4H on my right. Sounds like RHO has an interesting hand. I bid the easy 4S, and LHO now went 5H. Partner thought for a minute over this, but did not give me a problem on what to do when he emerged with 6S, which ended the auction.

The opening lead was the 5 of Hearts, and these were the 2 hands.

983 --- 9654 AQ9763


Partner ruffed the opening lead, played a Diamond to the A, ruffed another Heart, and played the AK of Spades, LHO showing out and pitching a small Club. Partner then played the Q of Spades, went to board with the A of Clubs, and when RHO popped with the Q of Diamonds on the 2nd Diamond off board, claimed 6. Turns out 6D is a better contract, but the opps can counter that with 6H, which goes down 4 for +800.

I do not know the auction at the other table, but they stopped in 4S, making 6. so we had another 13 IMPS to the good, satisfying the laws of symmetry with +13 on each of the last 3 boards. Winning 36-0 was enough to propel us to the win for the week, since they had been a little in front of us going into the set.