Thursday, November 26, 2009

Pre-Empting Partners

Had an interesting discussion hand come up during last nights weekly IMPS League team game. You hold AJTx xx AKx Kxxx with none vul. You are not playing Namyats, and partner opens 4H in 1st seat. Do you bid, and if so, what?

The first question is, how good should partners hand be to bid 4H, and what range/type of hand can he have. With equal vul, partner should have in the neighborhood of 7 ½ (Maybe 7 in some cases) - 8 ½ tricks, without too much high card outside Hearts. You have 3 tricks, plus 2 - ½ tricks, so can state you have 3 ¾ - 4 tricks for part, plus 2 card Heart support. So if partner has the high end of trick count, with good Hearts, you want to be in slam, if partner is on the low end, you want to pass.

That sort of answers the question, you want to invite slam, but want to ensure partner has the good hand to get there. I think that sorta brings the answer to the question, I think the probable best answer is to raise to 5H. This should ask partner to go on with a solid Heart suit and not too bad a hand. Since you expect to be off the A of Clubs, you do not want partner bidding again with bad Hearts. The only problem with this, is how often will you be too high in 5H? This would happen any time partner has 2 Heart losers and the A of Clubs, or 1 Heart loser and 2 Club losers. So when is the risk worth the gain.

Partner is in 1st seat, so should not have a terrible pre-empt. And even if partner did it on some kind of shape hand like 7-5 with a minor, you have good cards for either minor, so should have some hope. So all in all, I would probably go the aggressive road and raise to 5H.

On this hand, that gets an easy 6H, which is always cold, and makes 7 on a Spade lead. So the next question is, is this hand too strong for a 1st seat 4H call? The opposite hand was K9x AKxxxxxx x x. There is very little defense, 8 ½ tricks, and a good suit, so the major question is, is the hand too good to open 4H when NOT playing Namyats, since there is a chance of missing a slam, as happened. The actual hand passed 4H, and the discussion afterwards was whether the hand should bid, and whether the other hand should open 4H or not. I think it is a close call either way for both hands, but the 4H hand knows they do not want to defend any contract, so wants to make if as difficult as possible for the opps to get into this auction, the definition of a pre-empt.

And this is why I do feel that Namyats, despite all the bad press it gets, is actually a useful convention. It is nice to know when partner has a good pre-empt, vs one of those other, ‘Putrid’, things that you never open :)

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

What Constitutes a 2/1 GF Hand?

Back on BBO, was playing in a pick up Team Game when this hand came up for the opps. All Vul, you pick up 73 T7 A KQT97653. The auction goes 1H by partner, pass on your right. I know you only have 9HCP, but c’mon, look at the hand, this hand is worth a lot of tricks in Clubs, and the 1H opener rather than 1D has improved the hand. I would bid 2C and then 3C or even 4C with this hand.

At 1 table, this hand bid 1N forcing (uugh!) and heard partner bid 3D, which went double on his right. Now he has got himself into a position where some people might never mention their 8 card suit, but at least he got over that and bid 4C. His partner raised this to 5C, and now he had another problem, how much can he make? He finally passed, and wound up making 7 when partner put down Axx AKJxx J9xx A. 6 was pretty much always cold on anything other than a Spade lead, tough to find after the double of 3D. And on this hand, everything was cold since the Q of Hearts was 3rd onside. Looked like losing a slam swing on the board.

Except for the weird happenings at our table. After 1 Heart, P, this hand decided to bid 4C (!) at our table, what most people think of as a Splinter. His partner now Cue Bid 4S and he bid 4N, seemingly confirming the Splinter. The 1H opener now bid 5D and he attempted to sign off in 5H (!). This got raised to 6H and on the opening Diamond lead, was not the expected dummy. This quickly went down 2, when dummy got tapped in Diamonds so declarer could not take the Heart hook, and 12 IMPS went the wrong way on the board.

This hand get so simple if you just start bidding your suit, either 2C followed by 3C or 2C followed by 4C, which I prefer. Either way, partner with lots if A’s and a source of tricks, will have a chance to place this in a decent contract.

Monday, November 16, 2009

CNTC Unit Final Part 2

The only potential slam hand that came up during the CNTC Unit final was as follows. You are not vul and pick up KT762 A73 864 K4. Partner opens 1D in first seat and you bid 1S, the opps are silent throughout. Partner now bids 4C (Splinter), up to you?

The main question is do you have enough to cooperate towards a slam with the wasted K of Clubs or not. At our table, this hand decided the 5th Spade and A was enough to make 1 try, and bid 4H. Partner now Key Carded with 4N, and settled into 6S, which then got doubled by your RHO. The opening lead was the K of Diamonds, and partner laid down AQJ4 KQJ5 AQ93 6. It looks like the A of Diamonds is going to get biffed here, but with nothing better to do, you play it. Strangely, it holds, and when you play Spades, they are 2-2. You quickly claim, and RHO explains he looked at the auction wrong, and thought the opening bid was 1C, not 1D, hence the double.

At the other table, this hand decided that there was a little too much wastage opposite the shortness, and bid 4S, hoping partner could act again. This ended the auction, and resulted in a 12 IMP swing.

Diamonds are Sue's Best Friend

Playing in the unit CNTC finals, a couple of interesting problems came up this past weekend. On the first, All Vul, you hold this hand in 2nd seat. AK8 --- KJ42 AQ9752 and open 1C after a pass on your right. This goes 2C (standard Michaels) on your left, P by partner, 2H on your right. You come back in with 3C and it goes 3H on your left, P-P back to you. You are playing with an aggressive partner, so you know she does not have any 8 count, or any kind of decent Club support, and you know Hearts are not friendly, so the big question is, do you disturb this contract, and if so, with what.

First question is, can they have any play for 4H if you do take another call, your LHO should be showing a decent hand, either distribution, high card, or both, and your partner is limited. You do have the 6th Club and the Heart void going for you, but what are you going to do if they bid 4H, sit it or bid another time? At the table, this person passed 3H, and it made for -140. The problem was, they can make 5D as partner had xx Kxx Axxxxx xx, and in their methods, could not bid 2D over 2C. This cost 12 IMPS when our partners got to 5D making at the other table.

But even that was due to a bit of luck and a convention I do not personally like, Klinger. The auction at the other table went 1C – 2D (Klinger, showing the majors) and the Diamond hand doubled, showing Diamonds and some values. Now it was easy for them to get to 5D. That is my basic problem with Klinger, you show some 2 suiters by bidding 1 of the suits the opps will have to play in. You can never keep them out of openers suit, or NT, but Klinger makes it easier in some auctions for them to show marginal hands with the other suit they can play in by doubling, as was the case here.

The counter to that argument though, is if the auction goes 1C-2C Michaels, you have 3 bids available. If you play a variant of the Unusual vs Unusual over Michaels, the normal treatment then is 2D is 6-10 or so, 2H is a limit+ in openers suit, and 2S is 11+ in Diamonds, the other suit. So this hand still could have got in, playing something like that.

Next hand, you hold Jxx Jxxxx 10xx x NV vs Vul and hear it go 1D by partner, 1S on your right. You decide to pass, and it goes 2D on your left (good Spade raise), P by partner, 4S on your right. You pass and this ends the auction. You lead the stiff Club and table hits with K9x K Q98 QTxxxx. Partner wins the A of Clubs while declarer drops the J, cashes the K of Diamonds, and leads a small Club back for you to ruff. However when you return a 2nd Diamond, declarer ruffs, draws trump, and claims making 4. Looks like you missed the 2nd ruff until partner explains he only had 2 Clubs, they had a 10 card fit, and Partner did not have the Heart A.

Normal, expect at the other table, opener doubled the 2D bid, showing good Diamonds, so this hand decided to sack in 5D and your RHO bid 1 more to 5S. On the same defense, this went down 1, for another 12 IMP pickup. 5D would have gone for -500, so trying for 5S converted losing 4 IMPS into 12.

Last hand in this batch, All Vul you hold Ax Ax AQxxxx Kxx and hear it go P 1H to you. The hand is fairly good, so you decide to start with a Double, even if Spades can get you in trouble. This goes 2H on your left, 2N (Minors) by partner (nice partner!), 3H on your right. That is too bad, as it would have been nice to bid 3H with your hand, so what now.

This hand now bid 4D, assuming it was forcing after the double, except that it went all pass. The opening lead was a Heart, and dummy put down xxx x Kxxx Axxxx. It takes a Spade lead to beat 6 on the hand. The discussion was mainly what is forcing after 3H? How do you compete, or can you? At the other table, they got to 5D for the final 12 Imps from Diamonds.

The bridge in the final was a little inconsistent, with 10 game swings occurring in 28 boards (plus 2 more potential game swings), not counting all the part score swings. A lot of this was the boards were tough, with decisions having to be made in competition at the 5 level on several, but a few too many were mis-defense or questionable decision making both ways.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

How to Get Lucky and Survive in the KO's

Playing in the first round of the KO's, we were in a round robin of 5 teams looking to eliminate 1. So we of course started off the first half of the round robin with a loss and a tie against the first 2 teams, placing ourselves in the position of needing a win in the 2nd half against the other 2 teams.

Playing the first set, you pick up AK82 AQT5 873 A4 if first seat Vul vs Not, and decide to slightly violate system by opening 1C (playing a weak NT system). This goes 2C (Michaels) on your left, and 3D by partner. You play unusual vs unusual style bids, so 2S would have shown a forcing hand in Diamonds, but also play fit jumps in competitive situations, so this should qualify as that. It now goes 3H freely on your right (!), which you double, P on your left, and 4D by partner. You finally decide to take a hopeful plus and bid 5D. The opening lead is a small Spade and partner holds x x AQJTxxx QTxx, giving you chances for a slam on a Diamond hook. After winning the Spade,partner takes the Diamond hook, which loses, and eventually gives up a Club on the hand, when there are no squeezes. The K of Hearts was onside, the 2C bid was on Jxxxx in each major. So it looks like the winning play for the Diamond slam is almost impossible to find, 3 rounds of Spades ruffing, Heart hook, cash the A, ruff a Heart, A and out a Diamond, endplaying LHO in Clubs. So you are happy that the slight underbidding that kept you out of the slam worked.

At the other table, this hand opened a strong NT, and with no opposition bidding, they got to 6D on a Spade lead to the Q and A. Declarer could not work out the complete hand, so took a Diamond hook at trick 2 losing to the K, and another Spade came back. Declarer won that, ruffed the 8 of Spades, keeping the 2 hidden, hooked the Heart, cashed the A, and ruffed a Heart, then ran all the Diamonds. The opps signalled wrong on the hand, and declarer took the last 2 tricks with the A of Clubs and 2 of Spades for our side.

Turns out we thought we had won the other match at our table, and probably lost this one due to our opps staying out of the slam. Wrong, we lost the match we thought we could win, and won this match to advance to the next round. This got us jump started, although we eventually lost in the final on a close match.

The hand that decided the match we thought we had won you hold KJTxxx Ax --- JTxxx Not Vul vs Vul. The auction goes 3D on your left, Double by partner, 5D on your right, what do you call?

At our table, this hand bid 6S, and when there is no Club ruff on the go, and partner lays down AQxx Kxxxx --- KQxx, it is not hard to make it. (The ruff and sluff on the opening lead does not give anything away, and since Clubs were 2-2, there was no way to beat it) At the other table, our partner with that hand finally decided to bid only 5S, and thought it was good on the Club lead, until no ruff emerged. We had won small pickups on several other boards, and the opps had missed a hard to get to but making slam at our table, but when our partners missed both the slams, our small pickups could not handle that 1 hand.

That is a problem with these short matches in this kind of format, 1 bad thing happens and you only have 5 boards to recover, do 1 bad thing in more than 1 match, and it gets interesting :)

Another Sectional Hand

Will give the hand that decided the last match in the sectional, we did not win, far from it, but this hand went a long way towards deciding the winners as we were playing the 2nd place team that had a shot at the win. (They had run out of other teams for them to play I guess :) )

You hold a pretty nice hand as dealer with no one vul, AKx --- AJ98xx AQxx and open 1D. The opps are silent throughout and partner bids 1H. I do not like jumping with a void in partners suit, but I can not conceive of a way of bidding this hand later if I do not, and it is a nice picture bid, so I jumped to 3C. Partner now bid the expected 3H and I bid 3S, not sure if 3N is not better, but I may not have any tricks on a Spade lead if I do, so wait and see again. Partner now bids 4D, and the question is, how strong is that? I am working under the assumption in this auction that we are in a GF auction now, with my bidding, so if partner had a truly bad hand, 3N and 5D were available, so in theory, 4D should show values. I do not play regular with today's partner, so there are no really solid agreements in place, but I trust him and that is the general nature of how we treat hands and have talked about. But I do have a lot of losers on this hand, so for better or worse, I decided to under bid for once and bid 5D. I really believe the correct bid here is 4S, showing the second Spade card and letting partner make the decision, since I have shown my hand at that point, but did not bid it, sigh :)

The opening lead is a small Spade and partner puts down a very good dummy, xx AQxxxx KTx xx, oops, that will teach me to mastermind on a hand. Anyways, I still have a potential lot of losers, lets hope they will materialize, since the pair at the other table are quite agressive and can be expected to be in the slam. So I won the AK of Spades, ruffed a Spade, all following, if the carding can be believed, probably 4-4 in Spades, and led a Club to the Q and K. A Heart now came back, so I won the A, pitching a Club, cashed the K of Diamonds, played a Club to the A and ruffed a Club. Now ruffed a Heart back to hand and cashed the A of Diamonds, and luck was in today, the Q did not appear as RHO pitched another Heart. So I wound up making 5D exactly, hoping they did bit the slam, since as nothing was working, it appears you must always lose 2 tricks.

Except a funny thing happened at the other table, on the same start of 1D-1H, the person with my hand elected to next bid 2C only, and his partner now bid 3H. Not sure what I would have done over that, but the 4H bid at the table should have play on high card alone, but the bad Hearts in partners hand meant there were 4 losers in Hearts, so we did win 13 Imps, the hard way. I have a lot of sympathy for the 3H bid, since by not using 4th suit forcing, it implies a hand very like what he had. It shows the problem of not bidding 3C though, since you are now caught on the hand. If partner has all values in Hearts, and a little better suit, 4H becomes an excellent contract. But on this hand, you lose the chance at what was actually not a bad slam in Diamonds, with only 1 real problem, it doesn't make.

Not sure what the correct or best sequence is, but it is a good hand to talk about with your regular partner, where would you get to and would you be happy with the result.

Monday, November 9, 2009

3 Hands to Drive you to Drink

Playing in the Swiss Teams at our local sectional over the weekend, we had 3 back to back hands in 1 match that produced interesting results, even if they were somewhat unfair to our team. But if you make errors, no matter why, it is nice to see them punished.

First hand, you pick up --- Txxx AK8xx AKxx in first seat and open 1D. This goes 1H on your left, 1S by partner, 2H on your right. I really thought 3C was going to get me into trouble on this hand, since partner will likely bid 3S leaving me with no real valid options, so I passed. This went P to partner who bid 3H. I bid 3N over this and partner now jumped to 5D. So thinking about this, I assumed partner had something like 5-5 in the pointeds, with 0-1 Heart, leaving 2-3 Clubs in hand. Since this meant the hand was fitting like a glove, I decided to push 1 more and bid 6D. This went P-P-Double on my right, oops, oh well. The opening lead was the Q of Clubs and partner put down AK876 x Q9xxx xx, a REAL nice version of what I expected, but the double was a real worry now. I played low on the Club, and RHO followed with a small non-descript Club while I won the A. First test was the Diamonds, since if both followed to the first 1, I can claim, but LHO pitched a small Club as expected on the Diamond.

I now figured I had 2 main options for trick 12, try to set up Spades on board, or try to do the cross ruff that I had intended when I bid 6D. The problem was that RHO was a VERY good player, who did not double on 3 Diamonds and the fact his partner had bid, there were other pitfalls waiting for me on this hand, I had just not discovered them yet. The fact the Club survived the first round is a bit of a surprise and not surprise, since was LHO 7-5 or 7-6? I decided to see if could combine some chances (probably stupid) and led a Heart at trick 2. LHO played a fairly high Heart, but RHO won and played the J of Diamonds, which I allowed to run to the Q while LHO pitched another Club. I now cashed the AK of Spades, pitching a Heart and a Club, while LHO followed with the 10 and the J? LHO was also a good defender, and they would not be doing me any favours in the Spades, so what was the JT, were they real or not. I now had 2 options to try to set up Spades, run the 8, or ruff another, hoping for 4-4 Spades, which was looking less and less likely, unless they were trying to get me, also a possibility. Not being able to decide, I finally went back to plan 2, and led a Club off board, Since this now got ruffed, the hand could always be set after the Club lead on my line, if LHO was left on lead. So this was a version of the Grosvenor that I was supposed to get right, sigh. Anyways, RHO held Q9xxxx Axx JTx x, to make the hand, I had to cash 3 Diamonds ending on board, cash the AK of Spades, then run the 8. And LHO had also participated by not bidding 2N over 1D with 5 Hearts and 6 Clubs. At the other table, the opps bid 3N after our partner bid 2N with the W hand, and he found the Club lead, not the Heart, so 3N actually made, instead of going down 1, lose 11 Imps.

Next hand, RHO picks up Qx AKT AKT8xx AK and hears it go P by pard, 1S on his right, double by him, P on left, 2C by pard, 3S on right. He doubled again and pard bid 3N, ending the auction. The opening lead was the J of Spades, and pard held Kxx xxx x QJTxxx. 6C looks like a pretty nice contract, and 3N has many worries, but declarer won the Q of Spades on board, cashed the AK of Clubs in case the opps screwed up, unlikely when LHO pitched a Spade on the second Club, then cashed the AK of Diamonds, LHO dropping the Q on the second round. By force he led another Diamond, and was able to claim 9 tricks when RHO won the 9 of Diamonds but did not have a 2nd Spade to return. This still looked like it should be a loss, but at the other table the strong hand doubled the 1S opener as well, and after 2C by pard, 2S on his right, leaped to 5D. This had no play at all, and another 11 Imps out the window.

Third hand, W picked up AKxx Axx AKQTx A and in true Canadian fashion opened 1D in first seat with the 2 suiter. This went 1H on his left and 1S (!) by partner. Losing patience early in this hand, he bid 4N and got the expected (!) 5C response from partner. Problem is that he now lost track of the auction, and bid 5D, intending it to ask for the Q of Spades. The problem is that when 5D and 5H are available for this kind of ask, and 5D is a possible place to play the hand (4N could be asking about Spades when you intended to play in Diamonds), the ask should be 5H. As I said before, E was a good player, decided this was what it should be, and passed 5D. And since N was endplayed on the opening lead, 5D also happened to make when E held QJTxx Qx xxx xxx and N held 4 Diamonds to the J. At the other table, our partners got to the 7S contract, but made a small error in the play, ruffing the 3rd Club with a low Spade, allowing N to overruff and beat 7S 1 trick, losing another 11 IMPS.

So in 3 hands, we managed to lose 30+ Imps when the opps played in the sub-optimal contract 3 times, instead of winning 30+.

The only thing you can say to that is Sigh :)

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Innovative Ways to GO Down in a Contract

Playing teams on BBO last night, I watched an opp give me a gift on a hand that up till that time they had done perfectly on, and all because he got what I consider a simple suit combination wrong.

The eventual declarer held Kxx Ax AQxx T98x and had this auction.

Him Pard
1D 2C
3C 3S
3N 4D
4H 6D

The opening lead was a small spade and partner put this hand down Ax Kxx KJxx AQxx. He won the K of Spades in hand, cashed 3 rounds of Diamonds (they were 3-2) ending on board, cashed the A of Clubs, came to the A of Hearts, and led the 10 of Clubs, LHO playing small (of course!). He had now given himself a problem, what card to play from board. He eventually played small, and lost to the J on his right, LHO later got the K of Clubs for down 1.

After a little thought, he apologized to his partner for not taking the double Club hook as happened at the other table. He did get unlucky to get this Club holding and to get a defender who played low on the K of Clubs smoothly, and the line is not totally unreasonable. Any Club honour shows up early and he has no guess. But these are the kinds of hands where you have to get them, if not right, at least take the highest percentage play.

Monday, November 2, 2009

The Novice

Playing on BBO last night, I got invited to a team match with a random partner and opps. First hand, my LHO held this hand, Vul vs Not, AQ2 AKJT763 7 Q3, opened 1H in first seat and heard his partner bid 1S. I think this is a good hand at this point, as the 1S call has improved it, but not to the point that this person thought it had. He now bid 4D, showing a singleton Diamond and a GF hand. I think I might have bid 3H, hoping partner can scrape up another call, have to admit this particular call would not have occurred to me.

Anyways, his partner signed off in 4S, but apparently being concerned his partner had not caught the brilliance of his first bid, he now went 4N and heard his partner bid 5C (0/3). He finally decided he might be high enough, and bid 5S, which went pass all around. The opening lead was a Diamond, and the opps cashed the A of Diamonds, and the AK of Clubs off the top. Since his partner only had Kxxx x Kxxx xxxx, with the Heart Q offside and Spades not breaking 3-3, he had to go down another 2 tricks.

As the hand ended, this person announced that he was dropping out of the game due to his partner being a ‘Novice’. I have played against his partner a few times, and feel he is one of the better players on BBO, but at least we had lost 1 novice from the table :)

Incidentally, the contract at the other table was a simple 4H, which was allowed to make, even with the 3 top losers and slow Heart loser. That declarer seemed to think that he needed 4 Spades in his hand to force a Spade contract after the same 1H-1S start to the auction, what a ‘Novice’ idea :)