Thursday, December 30, 2010

Forcing or Not

Had an interesting situation come up in our weekly IMPS game yesterday. My partner and I had an lively discussion on whether this auction was forcing or not, I thought it definetely was, he did not. No one vul, you open 1S and it goes 4H on your left. Partner bids 4S and it goes 5H on your right, is a pass forcing or not?

My contention after the fact was that since the opps had pre-empted, and we had bid a game over it, we by force came into a forcing auction. Otherwise, there is no real intelligent way to try to bid. And it will not be the first time I have given up -550 for 5H doubled making. But what are your thoughts, since 4S can be made on a very wide variety of hands, does my first comment apply, should this become a forcing pass auction?
The hand worked out, since I had a small doubleton Heart, I assumed partner had a singleton and a good hand. I bid 5S and partner was able to claim quickly, even though he did have a doubleton Heart as well and had thought the pass was not forcing, since we were not vul and I had not shown a strong hand in bidding 4S.
Not really sure what is best with my hand after 5H P P back to me. I had Q53 76 AJ94 KJT6. If partner has anything like a good hand with short Hearts, 6 might even be right, but I was worried if he thought it was a forcing pass situation, so decided to bid 5S, hoping for 2 things, get a discussion going on what is a forcing pass situation, and not insult partner if he had intended it as a forcing pass :)

Monday, December 20, 2010

What Suit to Play IN?

Playing IMPS in a local qualifying game for the CNTC’s against a good pair, you pick up the following hand with your side Vul vs NV, 76 AJ65 K6 AKJT4. The auction starts with 2H (standard weak 2) on your left, 2S by partner, 3D on your right. You have an awfully good hand, that has actually improved on the auction with the 3D bid on your right, coupled with partners probable shortness in Hearts (3D tends to be lead directional with Heart Support). So now what?

Possible bids that come to mind here are 3H, 4C, 3S (an underbid), Double and perhaps even 3N. What do they have going for them. First, 3H sets up a game forcing situation, which you want, but does nothing to help you find where to play the hand, which is bad. You are not certain which of Spades, Clubs, or NT is right, and partner will play you for Spade Support now. 4C shows your suit, but does it do justice to your hand. Or do you need to, since it should be forcing and you can bid again later. 3S is a bid I do not like, it tends to imply better Spades, with a lot less high cards, and it is not really forcing. 3N is a weird bid, that may work, but you may have to take the first 9 tricks on a Diamond lead, and that may not be possible without very good Spades in partners hand. Double is an interesting bid, except if they are left to play there. It should show values, but does it mean more penalty or action on this kind of auction. And can/should partner pass it? Plus will the opponents, or will RHO always run back to Hearts if LHO passes? Too many questions not to make Double a little scary.

At the table, the person holding this hand elected to start with 3H, setting up a force. This now went 4D on their left, 4S by partner, 5H on their right. This is good in that it confirmed partner should be very short in Hearts, but there are a lot of points and/or distribution in this deck. And we are back at the crux of the matter, you are still not certain what to play the hand in. Although a free 4S by partner goes a long way to letting you know where partner wants to play the hand.

I think options at this point boil down to Double, which should get fairly messy even NV, 5 or 6 Spades, depending on how much you trust partner, or perhaps 5N, hopefully offering partner a choice of slams, in Spades and the only remaining suit, Clubs. The question about that is, are your Clubs good enough to offer partner a choice of where to play the hand or not? I am not sure what is best here, but with partner bidding freely to 4S, I think I like double or 6S the most, with it being a toss up between them.

At the table, this hand actually bid 6C now. The reasoning was that since the opps had an announced 2 suited fit, it made sense that our side also had a 2 suited fit, so partners hand should have Clubs. If you are going with that reasoning, 5N makes more sense, since partner can bid 6C with Clubs, and Spades without Clubs. On this hand, 6C became the final contract, and partner put down AKQJT4 4 J985 83. 6S has a lot of play and will make on most lines of play with the A of Diamonds onside and Clubs behaving. 6C was not a success with the Q of Clubs offside and declarer losing control of the hand and eventually going down 2.

The last question on this hand, do you agree with the 2S and 4S bids on this hand, especially where 4S is made as a free bid. I actually held this hand and felt that with the solid Spades, after the 3H cue-bid, I wanted to bid where I wanted to play, expecting some values in partners hand. After partner later bid 6C, I thought I had shown the Spades, and expected partners hand to be almost a twin to mine, but in Clubs. The only worry I had was partner having a singleton Spade and the opps leading that suit early to cut communication, perhaps for that reason, I should consider 6S more, since transportation should be less of an issue. It certainly would have worked well here, but not sure about in the long run, when I assumed partner was not offering me a choice of locations to play the hand.

Friday, December 17, 2010

2 Suiters in the Statosphere

Playing IMPS in the local team game, you hold the following hand NV vs Vul. 8 AKJ86 A AKJT63. Partner opens 1D in first seat, and after a Pass on your right, you bid 2C, GF. This now goes 2S on your left, Pass by partner, 3S on your right. What now?

First, it would be nice if those pesky opps would stay out of your auctions and let them stay uncomplicated. And second, there are a lot of points in this deck, or distribution. You are aware that partner and the person on your left like to bid, but the person on your right is pretty reliable. So does that say anything about the hand. Partner is unlikely to have psyched in first seat, that is not his style, so you can rule that out to start, and the person on your left is frisky, but not crazy, so EW should have a lot of Spades and shortness somewhere. Question is, how does that help you.

The person at the table now bid 4S with this hand, trying to show the hand strength, but I think that gets you to high early. I actually like a Pass with this hand, to see what partner does. I think that will leave you much better prepared to bid something reasonable. Over the 4S bid, partner bid the expected 5D, and over 5H, now bid 5N, which is a something bid. At this point, this hand guessed, and bid 6C, which bought the contract. The opening lead was the K of Spades and dummy tracked with AJT 953 KQJ864 8, not the dummy of your dreams. Since this person was unsure of what 5H meant, they did not correct 6C to 6H. Although I feel a bid of 6D might be warranted, since this hand is going to be useless in Clubs for the most part.

At the table, it looks like you are now prevented from setting up the Diamonds for any Heart pitches, but you have to try and make it. You can win the A of Spades, and decide what rounded suit hook to take, but the Hearts only need to be 3-2 with the Q on side to avoid a loser there. The Clubs need to be 3-3 or 4-2 with a tripleton or doubleton Q on side to avoid that loser. So it appears the Heart hook is the winner, and it actually works on this hand. Add that to a 4-2 Club break with no ruffs coming, and 6 Clubs can come home with the Heart hook. In the interests of safety, I will not reveal the line taken at the table, except to say that it did not make.

Back to the bidding, the reason I like a Pass over 3S is that partner is going to do 1 of Double, bid 3N, or bid 4D. Either of the first 2 are things you like, since you can bid 4H or 5H (my preference) over them to show a massive 2 suiter, on the Pass and Pull is stronger theory. And over 4D, if you bid 5H and partner bids 6D, you are fairly happy to pass with the A of Diamonds and all of the tricks in your hand. The direct bid of 4H over 3S does not begin to do your hand justice in my opinion.

The question asked at the table was if the Pass had to be forcing. If you are playing 2/1, it does, since you are below game, you are in an absolutely forcing auction.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

What to Bid

What to bid with Ghoulies is always a problem, especially at Teams. So when this hand came up in the first round of the TUE-WED KO's, it was bound to present lots of problems and opportunities at the same time. First published in the Daily Bulletin for the Orlando NABC's

None Vul, you pick up QJ98743 -- -- QJ9642 in 4th seat, and here this unlikely start in front of you, 1H by LHO, 1S(!) by partner, 3S (Splinter) by RHO, so what now?

I have given this hand to several people I respect, and most have groaned and been very unsure of how to proceed, with bids ranging from pass to an immediate 7S. The consensus seems to be 6S. But what would you bid, think about it before reading the rest.

At the table, this hand decided to make the consensus 6S bid, which went P, P to his RHO. This person had an interesting problem as well, but decided against the bold 7H call with 5 A97654 AT632 A, not fully trusting partners pass of 6S, and Doubled, hoping to get a couple of A's. Declarer quickly claimed making 6 for -1210 their way, when he held the AK of Spades and the K of Clubs.

Here was the full deal


--                                           5
KQJT8                                  A97654
KJ875                                   AT632
T53                                        A


The result at the other table was the same -1210 for a weird kind of push board. The auction started the same, but this S bid 4C over 3S, trying to find out if he should save over 7H or not. When RHO bid 4H over that, he also leaped to 6S, which was doubled and claimed.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Hang em High

Playing on the last day of the Orlando NABC in the AX Swiss Teams, you pick up the following nice hand with everyone Vul AQ975 A42 AK AQ7. You are getting ready to decide how to bid this when partners open 2D (Weak) in 2nd chair in front of you, the opponents both passing. This now presents the problem in a totally different light. Systemically, there are 3 primary things you can do here, bid 2N (OGUST) to ask partner what kind of pre-empt this was, although you have some idea looking at the AK of Diamonds, or you can bid 3C, asking if partner has a high card feature in their hand. The last option you have, is to bid 2S to check if partner has any Spades support, this is forcing for 1 round.

You decide on option 3 and bid 2S over 2D, and partner surprises you by bidding 4H. You are not a regular partnership, and have not discussed this, but that certainly looks like Heart shortness with Spade Support, which is about as good news as it is possible to get on this hand. You bid 4N now, RKC in Spades, and partner shows in with 5C (1/4). This is certainly starting to look serious, the only question now is, how good are partners Diamonds?

Working under the assumption that partner should not open a very bad Diamond suit in 2nd seat, the non-weak pre-empt seat, and certainly should not bid 4H with something like Kxx x Jxxxxx xxx, I think you should gamble out 7D here. You can not count 13 tricks if partner has bad Diamonds or Spades go 4-1, but even with Spades bad, there is an extra chance, partner can ruff out the Spades and take the Club hook, if needed, for trick 13. All in all, I think your odds for 13 tricks come in somewhere in the high 80’s, certainly not absolute, but pretty solidly in your favour.

At the table, this hand bid only 6D, making 7 when partner held Kxx x QJT98x xxx and even though Diamonds were 4-1, Spades being 3-2 meant an easy claim early on the hand. At the other table, this hand passed, and now there was no practical way to find out about the massive Diamond fit and count 13 tricks after a 2C opener, Spade bid and raise. So a possible big pickup went out the window. Who says that weak 2D bids have no value.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Qualifying for Day 3 in the NA Swiss Teams

We had lots of earlier opportunities to qualify to play in the third day of the NA Swiss Teams in Orlando at the NABC’s, but had decided to defer the decision to this point in time (in other words, we had been doing the wrong thing a little too much). We needed a large win in the last round to leapfrog into a qualifying spot, and had been having a good round when this board came up as the last board of the set.

Vul vs Not Vul, you pick up A AK532 A KQJT843 and hear the auction go 1D by LHO, P, P to you? The opps are playing a standard 5 card major, strong NT, 2/1 system, so the Diamond bid can often be made on a 3 card suit. Any ideas on how to bid this monster in anything remotely like a sane auction?

The biggest problem is that most people play 2N in balancing seat as a standard 19/20+ balanced hand, not as unusual. So you can not use that to describe your hand. And just bidding 1 of your suits at the game or slam level is like rolling craps. Hint, discuss with you partner what 1D – P – P – 2N really means to that person.

After discussion with quite a few people after the fact, the consensus seemed to be that 2D followed by 3C over partners probable Spade bid was the best way to start. It should be forcing and show a good 2 suiter, probably in Hearts and Clubs like you have since you did not raise Spades. At least this way, you have a hope of getting your hand across to partner.

At our table, I opened a 12-14 HCP 1NT and after a long period of thought, my RHO leaped to 6C, since he could not think of a way to describe this hand over 1N. I had many scattered values, and did not want him to score ruffs in dummy, so I led A and another Club. When dummy contained a pair of pointed Jack’s with 2 small Clubs and 1 small Heart, there was no way to make the slam, and we got an eventual Heart winner for down 1.

At the other table where they opened 1D, our partner bid 2N, and then over partners 3H transfer into Spades, also leaped to 6C. This convinced my counterpart to protect his Heart holding with the same A and another Club, resulting in a push board, and us failing to qualify by 3 VP’s, despite having a 5-3 W/L record for the day.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Never Relax

Played this hand in the last match of the first qualifying day for the North American Swiss in Orlando last week. It was one of the most annoying bridge hands I have had for a while, mainly because I had worked out virtually all of the hand, then wound up completely falling asleep at the end and destroying everything I had done up to that point.

With everyone Vul, I picked up the following hand, 4 KQG843 KJ3 KJ5 and heard the auction go 1C on my left, 1S by pard, P on my right. We play transfers to overcalls at the 2 level, so I bid 2D as a transfer to Hearts, showing 5+ Hearts and 8+ HCP’s. Partner refused the transfer and bid 2S. This tends to show 6+ Spades and usually less than 2 Hearts, and does not promise extra values. I decided that at IMPS I wanted to play this hand in game, and wanted to protect my Diamond and Club values, so jumped to 3N on the hand, ending the auction.

The opening lead was the 3 of Clubs, and dummy tracked with AKJT95 6 A964 93, not a bad buy here, I put up the 9 of Clubs, and RHO made (what I thought anyways) was an error by covering with the Q, since that left very little available to be in his hand. I could now play his partner for virtually every card left, allowing me to keep the positional second Club stopper alive. I did not want to commit to the Spades yet, I was worried that RHO might have the J of Spades, so decided to start on the Hearts first. If they are 33, I have no worries on the hand. So I led the K of Hearts, which held the trick, and then the J of Hearts, also holding the trick as RHO shed the 10 of Hearts. I kept on with the Q of Hearts, won by LHO with the A as RHO pitched the 2 of Spades, a very strange card. I had pitched 2 small Spades on the 2 Hearts. LHO still retained the 9 of Hearts, so it looked like he was something like 2425, 3424, or possibly 2434.

LHO now returned the 3 of Spades, and I won the A while RHO followed small. This is where I started to lose the hand, LHO must have the Q of Spades on the hand, both for a real opener and because I need him to stay on lead to protect Clubs. So the easy play here is a small spade off board. This works anytime LHO started with Qx or QJx of Spades, the only holding it fails to is Qxx and that meant that RHO had pitched a Spades from Jxx looking at that dummy, something I considered highly unlikely. Instead, I cashed the K of Spades off dummy, pitching a low Heart, while LHO followed with the Q. And now I started to give myself doubts, did RHO pitch a Spade from Jxxx and now had the J. So I came off board with a Diamond to the K and played the 8 of Hearts to LHO’s 9. And at that point, I did something really stupid, I kept the Club on board and called for another Spade pitch.

LHO had now worked out all he needed, and cashed the Spade J, squeezing me in the red suits, before exiting with the Q of Diamonds, forcing me to lead away from my Jx of Clubs, since I had pitched trick 9 with that last Spade pitch from dummy.

Needless to say, partner was not very pleased with this, and with good reason. Pitching a Club and Diamond off board at any time and keeping as many Spades as possible means I can almost never go down on the hand. The only thing I could think of later was that when RHO played the Q of Clubs, then pitched a Spade, I relaxed on the hand since I did not think I could go down anymore, and stopped counting on the hand. I had worked out basically exactly what they both had, within 1 optional card, and thought everything was rosy. Goes to show, can never lose concentration on a hand, especially if it appears to be going well.

The 1 good point about it was that the 3N did not cost us too greatly, we wound up in a dead tie, which meant both teams easily qualified for day 2. If I had made it, the Australian team we were playing would have had a good chance of being eliminated from day 2. So they were very appreciative, it was just my team mates that were not as happy for some reason.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Scissor You

Scissor You

Going to present some hands from the NABC in Orlando that just completed. This hand from the Evening Session of the 2nd day of qualifying for the North American Swiss Teams gave a chance for declarer to make one of the more interesting plays available in Bridge.

NV vs Vul Opps, you pick up AJ7 KJ983 753 K4 and open 1H in 2nd seat. It now goes 2C on your left, 4C (Splinter), Double on your right. You bid 4H which ends the auction and the opening lead is the K of Diamonds. Dummy comes down with KT42 QT54 AJ86 8. Plan the play before reading the rest.

The only way to make the hand now is to exercise a scissors coupe on the opponents. You need to win the A of Diamonds at trick 1, and play a Club towards the K at trick 2. If you do anything else, including playing a Heart, your LHO will play a second Diamond and then lead a Club to RHO to get a Diamond ruff. Playing the Club before the Diamonds are unblocked kills the entry to RHO's hand prematurely and prevents the ruff, giving you enough time to play the rest of the hand.

Here is the complete hand


Q63                                              985
A76                                              2
KQ                                              T942
QT953                                         AJ762


Thursday, November 11, 2010

Mother Love

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

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

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

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

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

Saturday, November 6, 2010

CNTC Qualifying

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Saturday, October 30, 2010


Had a few interesting hands from the District 2 NAP finals this last weekend. On the first, we were playing 2 local experts that shall remain nameless for obvious reasons. With everyone Vul, I picked up 2 K8752 653 J432 and heard the auction go P P to me. Even I don’t open this bad of a hand, even in 3rd seat. LHO opened 2C strong in 4th seat, partner bid 3D, and RHO doubled, showing scattered values, all of a sudden everyone had come alive.

Now I psych about once every 2-3 years or so, and since I had not done it in quite a while, and wanted in on the fun on this hand, I really wanted to bid 2S. The problem was, that is such an obvious ploy, especially when you run back to 3D, that I did not think it could work against these 2. I really considered the double bluff, bidding 2H, the suit I had, thinking I was most likely to get doubled there, and then could run to 3D, causing more confusion. But I did not like the options if LHO bid 2S over my 2H instead of doubling, I would then be wishing I had bid 3D direct, so I finally settled on 2S. This went the expected double on my left, pass, pass back to me, so I dutifully ran back to 3D, which went around to a double on my right. LHO passed, and that became the final contract.

The opening lead was a Club to the K and partners Q, and partner played really well on the Heart return, dumping the 10 and Q on the first 2 rounds of that suit, as RHO won the A and gave his partner a ruff. They cashed a Spade, then partner ruffed the Club return and claimed, since he had unblocked the Hearts to take the marked hook and pitch the Club losers. +670 looked very out of place with all the -1430’s for 6S making their way. I mostly blame South for this, I do not thing Pass is correct over 3D on this hand with a pronounced 2 suiter, how do you expect to get back in this. The South hand was AKQT5 9 Q AKT985.

Next hand was against a very aggressive pair in the 2nd session. I picked up AJ72 J5 QT92 KT2 in third seat and had the auction go P P to me. We play a 12-14 HCP NT, and I do not like to shade it. I decided to let the spot cards, and 3rd seat status sway me, since did not want to give free ride to my LHO. Partner bid 2C, mostly Stayman, and passed my 2S response, ending the auction.

The opening lead was a small Spade, and dummy tracked with KT3 KQT7 J8764 5. The opening lead ran around to my J, and I returned the J of Hearts, holding the first trick. LHO had hitched slightly on the J of Hearts return, and since I wanted that side in, I led my second Heart. Sure enough, LHO won the A to return a 2nd Spade. I wanted to lead Diamonds off board, hoping to throw LHO in yet again, so I won the K on board, and led a little Diamond off board, throwing the 10 when RHO won the A of Diamonds. I was expecting a Club now, and had not totally decided what to do in that suit, when RHO surprised me with the Q of Spades return, on which everyone followed. I led a second Diamond out of my hand, and LHO won the K, while RHO showed out. They took their A of Clubs, but my +140 looked very lonely again against all of the pass-outs or +110 for 3D.

 We partially got the good score for bidding, partly for a slightly soft defence, but those are the kind of things you need a few of for a good score.

 The last hand, I picked up NV vs Vul, K6532 K853 --- 7632. The opponents bidding went 1D on my left, 2N, 6N, double by partner. I had been planning on an aggressive lead against this, probably a Spade, until the double by partner. Now knowing that Diamonds was not a source of tricks, I did not want to give away too much by underleading a K, so I led the 7 of Clubs. Dummy tracked with a flat 19 count, with AKQJ of Clubs in the mix and no major suit A’s. So when the smoke cleared, I scored both of my K’s, and partner got a Diamonds trick for +500 and a good score. The reason I was writing the hand up was the nice double by partner to talk me out of a major suit lead, the reason he did it. His hand on this auction was xx xxx QJ87xx x and he had figured a normal major suit lead would give declarer too much of a tempo. By asking for a Diamond lead, since he probably had that suit well stopped, it would give us the best chance of beating this hand and moving their good score to our side.

RH played one of the best pair of sessions I have seen him play, and with a little luck, we would up going to Louisville in the Spring. Should be fun.

Monday, October 18, 2010

The Path to Dummy

Playing MP’s at a local club this week, you pick up the following hand with everyone Vul, 763 AKJT A T8732 and hear the auction go 1D in first seat on your left, P, P back to you. As a partnership, we play aggressive overcalls, so partners pass should mean the lack of a biddable major, but at MP’s, passing is not really an option here, the major question is what to do. I was not sure this was our hand, so I decided that I did not want to make a nebulous TO double, have the opps buy the hand in 2 or 3 Diamonds, and have partner lead a little Spade from some random holding for a 0 on the board, so decided to overcall 1H. This had the advantage of getting partner off to what I thought would be the best lead if we wound up defending.

This went 2D on my left (interesting, less values perhaps than expected), 3D by partner, P on my right. I decided that I liked my hand if partner had Hearts and some values, since the probability was that I would be leading Black suits through the opener to partners supposed values, I had the red suits fairly well covered. And the 2D bid on my left improved the chances that partner would not have too much wastage in Diamonds, so I leaped to 4H, which ended the auction.

The opening lead was the K of Diamonds, and partner put down a very nice collection, perhaps too nice. A4 Q753 985 AKJ9. I won the A of Diamonds perforce, cashed the A of Hearts, both following, and led a Club towards dummy. LHO sportingly produced the Q, so I won the A and ruffed a Diamond high. It looked like I was probably a lock for 12 tricks now, the question was could I come to all 13? I cashed a second Heart in my hand, both following, and now made a mistake in the play. My plan was to go to dummy, ruff the last diamond, then see if the Club lived to get back and pull the last trump, finally pitching the Spade on the 5th Club from my hand.

This is fine, but I played the Spade to the A for the ruff first, then tried the Club to see if I could get 13 tricks, which actually worked. But I should try the Club first, after pulling the 2nd trump, since even if it gets ruffed, I still have the timing to take 12 tricks, and the knowledge that I could not get all 13. The problem with doing the Spade first is that I have opened up the Spade suit, and if the Club then gets ruffed, the opps have the ability to cash a Spade winner and hold me to 11 tricks, for what should be a bad score.

Turns out that 3 of the 11 pairs made all 13 tricks, while most of the others made 12. There were only 2 that managed to hold themselves to 11 tricks somehow, for a very bad score.

As for bidding to 6 on this hand, I am not sure how possible that is, especially when LHO bids a 2nd time. It requires partner to have an absolute perfecto super max for passing 1D, with the Q of Clubs appearing, and having a 3rd Diamond, without anyone bidding Spades on this auction. I think that is kind of a lot to ask for, and I certainly feel admiration for anyone that can honestly say they can bid this slam with some confidence.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Lazy Play

Playing in our local regional this last week, you are in the 2nd last match of the Swiss Teams. You are currently leading the field, but there are a lot of teams snapping at your heels, so any slip up and you will find yourself looking up, not down.

The first board of the match, you pick up JTxxx AKJTxx Ax --- and hear the rather surprising auction, 1H (3D) ? to you, what now. This particular North player had the ability to use 5C as exclusion key card, to find out scientifically what to do, but finally decided to play pressure bridge and leapt to 6H, which went all Pass. The opening lead was the K of Diamonds, and it turns out you are off the AK of Spades, but due to a fortunate lie of the Clubs, partner is able to pitch 4 Spades on the Clubs and make 6H. The result, a push board, it was the identical auction and play at the other table.

Now for the other problem on the board. Sitting in East chair, you hold AKxx x Txx 9xxxx and hear the above auction, 1H (3D) 6H to you. Do you double, and if you do, what do you think the chances are partner will find a Spade over a Club. And finally, will 2 Spades even cash. These are the kinds of decisions, especially on board 1 of the match, that can give you even more grey hairs. Personally, I think I would chance the double, it sounds like your RHO is prepared for a Diamond lead, and without partner knowing there is a profitable other lead, they will probably try a Diamond or maybe a Trump. The risk of not doubling is that if you have 2 Spade tricks to cash, they may go away, the risk of doubling is that partner leads the wrong suit, or that you did not have 2 tricks to cash at all. But I think the risk/reward ratio is in favor of the double, since if you double and it makes, either since it was always cold or partner leads the wrong suit, you give up 5-6 IMPS, but if the double causes it to go down, you stand to gain 13 IMPS. If the double was neutral, in that it was always going down or always making, it is about even.

Now for the board that gave this article it’s name. Later in the same match, V vs Not, you pick up this fine hand, AJ AT3 AKT7 QJT8 and open 1C in first seat. This goes P, 1H by partner, Double on your right. We play a redouble shows 3 card support (not my favorite, but the condition of contest), so I thought the options were between that and a flawed 2N bid. Since I have good 3 card support, only 1.5 stoppers in Spades, and a ruffing value in support of Hearts, I thought it was fairly lopsided in support of the redouble to start. This now went 1S on my left, 4H (!) by partner, 4S on my right.

I have an awful good hand on this auction, the question is can we make a grand slam? I would need partner to have 6 Hearts to the KQ and the AK of Clubs to be able to count 13 tricks, and the 4S bid tends to be warning of some not to friendly breaks here. So deciding not to play partner for the perfecto, I bid 6H, which went around to RHO, who not being done, bid 6S. Wanting to get partner in on any decisions, I passed, but partner reopened with a double, ending the auction.

Partner led the K of Clubs and this dummy tabled, KQTx x QJ9xx xxx, certainly had her bidding shoes on. I signaled encouragement, and partner continued with the A of Clubs (oops, looking like the perfecto, sigh) and another Club, everyone following. I now cashed the A of Hearts, and continued with the Ten, declarer ruffing on board. Declarer played the J of Diamonds off board, and I won the K as partner played a high Diamond (standard count). So I am pretty sure I have an exact count on the hand, and continued my last Heart, LHO and partner following, ruffed on board. Declarer exited the K of Spades off board, as I won the A, and then did not stop to think like I should have. I know declarer started with 5323 distribution, and partner was 2623. Unless we manufacture something, we are only getting the A of Diamonds at this point, since declarer is almost all trump now. But there is one small chance, if you look; if partner has the 9 of Spades, it is higher than all of declarers trumps, and he will score it on 2 rounds of Diamonds. In addition, he can then play a Heart to give me an uppercut in trumps, for the full +2000 on the board. But, being lazy on the board, I returned the pedestrian J of Spades, and watched partner follow suit with the 9 (of course) as declarer claimed -1400 on the board. Fortunately, they missed the grand at the other table as well and we only lost 2 IMPS on the board. But chances like these have to be taken advantage of when they come up if you want to win, especially when there is no downside, as happens here.

The last part, which kind of surprised me, occurred at the end of the first match we played. It was an Ax event, and we were playing a local team, that usually plays in Flight B, except they had 1 person on their team that forced them to play in A flight. When they played a really good match, we scored it up as a dead tie. I went back to their table to compare before turning the result in, but they said they had us winning by 12. Looking at their score card, I saw they had marked 1 game as making, when our partners said they had gone down 1. I pointed this out, and the NS at the table thought about it and went ‘Yea, we did set that’. We marked it up as the draw, and they thanked me for being honest. Not sure what they expected, but I can not see too many people actually taking the win here, especially against a newer team like we were playing. Or maybe I am wrong and that does happen too often. We wound up winning the event in the end, but if we had taken that win and won, I would not really have felt very good about it.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Fargo Regional

Just returned from the Fargo Regional where had a really great time. The food and hospitality was great, and the bridge was mostly fun. Except for a couple of hands that I wanted to report on, where I did not do as well as I could/should have.

The first hand occurred during the finals of the SAT/SUN KO’s. We were playing a pair of very nice, but highly aggressive ladies and this was the final board of the 2nd session. Up to that point, I thought we were doing pretty well, but that does not excuse my hideous transgression on an interesting board. I opened a 12-14 HCP point 1NT with the following hand AT83 KJT A8 7543. Partner responded 3C, which we play as GF Puppet Stayman (4 and 5 card majors) as opposed to 2C which would be standard Stayman. This was doubled by RHO and I bid 3D, showing a 4 card major and denying a 5 card major. Partner bid 3H, showing Spades, and I signed off in 4S. RHO decided to double this, ending the auction. On the plus side, we had discussed this auction before, and had decided that the 3D bid showed a 4 card major, while pass denied it. And I was glad partner did not bid 3S showing Hearts, (or worse 3NT) as I would probably have had to bid 4H on the hand, with my less than elegant Club non-stopper.

The opening lead was the J of Clubs, dummy came down with 7642 AQ8 KQ653 Q, and the Club Q was won by RHO’s A of Clubs. A second high Club came back, which I ruffed on board, and when I led a Spade off board, RHO popped with the K. I still could not tell if RHO had long or short Spades on this hand, but if the K of Spades was singleton, I could at least hold the damage down, since I had to duck 1 Spade anyways to have any chance. If Spades were 3-2, I was in good shape, but I expected them to be 4-1, I was just not sure of what direction. If it was LHO with 4 Spades, I was probably not going to make this hand, but might get out for 1 down if I played carefully. RHO persisted with another high Club, which LHO thankfully followed to, and I ruffed it and led the last Spade off dummy. RHO now flew with the Q of Spades, and I won the A, LHO pitching a small Heart, and showing me where the J9 of Spades were, still in RHO’s hand.

I now led the A of Diamonds, and then the small Diamond to the KQ on board, pitching my little Club from my hand. Both opponents followed to the Diamonds, making the 2 remaining Diamonds on board good, and giving me a perfect count on RHO’s hand, 4135. The trump coupe looked simple now, cash the Heart, and run the 2 Diamonds on dummy through RHO. It looked so simple that I called for a Diamond, since order did not matter!!!!!!! As soon as I called for the Diamond, even before RHO threw the Heart, I was quite aware of what I had done, not sure if it was a mechanical error, or just thinking of the ending before I had completed the setup, or what. But RHO did not show any mercy, pitching the Heart, and now being able to ruff in on the first Heart with the 9 of Spades for down 1.

Fortunately, we had a good set for the rest of it, and combined with the +32 from the first half, we easily survived the –12 on this hand when the declarer at the other table did not make my error in the same contract.

The other hand was against a well known couple from the US, and involved an inferential decision that I still think I have to make right. I was quite annoyed at myself at the time for following through with my original plan during the hand. I held 92 AJ9 AT98 AK43 and opened 1D in first seat. Partner bid 1S and I rebid 1N showing a strong NT. Partner bid 2C, invitational Stayman, and I bid 2D, denying 3 Spades or 4 Hearts. Partner now bid 2N and I went on to 3N primarily on the strength of my spot cards.

The opening lead was the 5 of Clubs, low from an honor or 2nd from no honor, and dummy tracked with AKT75 T743 J65 7. It looked like I was going to have to decide if I wanted to try to set up Spades, which would require a quite favorable position in the suit, or use the 2 entries to try to set up a red suit, and then hope for an end-play for the other red suit. RHO played the J of Clubs, which I ducked, and then won the 8 of Clubs return with the A as LHO followed with the 6. I thought the odds of the Spade suit were low, but slightly higher than the other line. I wanted to catch LHO early to see his reaction as well, so I played the 9 of Spades almost immediately after winning the Club. Sometimes a card like this will get a small reaction, and I was hoping I might get some kind of a read. LHO was a good player, and played low without any thought at all. So that ruled out any 2 or 3 card holdings in his hand with an honor, as he would have covered. That left only 3 cards to 2 honors, or 4 cards to an honor in his hand that would give me any play.

I decided to continue on with my original play, and ducked the Spade now, which I really think is and was wrong. This wound up going very bad, and I eventually drifted off 3 on the hand. The hand was actually makeable even with the Club lead and lack of entries if I just follow my instincts and play for a little luck. Win the Spade on board, and play a Heart to the J, losing to the K on my left. Win the Club return, play a Spade to the A, and another Heart to the 9, which holds. Cash the A of Hearts, dropping the Q on my right, and exit the Club to LHO. Now when he has only 2 Spades, he is endplayed into leading a Diamond, play the J off board, and when it holds, cash the 10 of Hearts and the A of Diamonds for 9 tricks.

Of course, this was much easier after the fact, but as soon as LHO ducked the Spade, every instinct at the table was telling me to go for line 2, and I stupidly ignored them, sigh.

On a more positive note, we did do a few things right during the weekend, and 1 of the good results occurred early in the same final session of the KO’s where I screwed up the trump coupe in 4S. I picked up JT83 KQ43 A87 Q9 with neither side vul, and heard my RHO open 2H in first seat. I passed, LHO passed, and partner re-opened with a double. RHO passed, and I decided the best chance for a decent plus was go for the penalty, and also passed, ending the auction. I think this is a bit of a lead problem, and since I was a min for the penalty pass, decided we needed to set up some tricks early, so led the Q of Clubs, a lead that tends to do very good or bad. At least I thought if LHO had solid Clubs or something, I was going to ruff in early. Dummy tracked with Qx J KJTx J8xxxx, actually quite a nice buy for declarer on this auction. Declarer played low on the Club, partner signaled he liked it, and declarer ruffed it, both good and bad for us, since we had started the tap on declarer, but we might need some of those tricks later.

Declarer now led a Spade, I played low, and partner won the Q with the K of Spades, to lead a Heart to my K. I returned my last Club to partners 10 and declarers ruff, shortening declarer to the same length in trumps as I had. Declarer now played a Diamond, which I ducked, and won the J as partner showed an even number. I won the K of Diamonds with the A as all followed, and realized the hand was now fairly easy for the defence, I led the J of Spades and a small Spade to partners A, declarer following, and on the A of Clubs, over-ruffed declarers 9 of Hearts with the K, to give partner a Diamond ruff. Now a final Club gave me another trump trick for a nice +500 and a 12 IMP pickup when even with partners nice hand, nothing makes on the defensive cross ruff.

All in all, it was a fun tournament. I had not gone to Fargo for the labour day regional for a while, and got to see a bunch of people I had not seen for a few years, as well as play a bunch of bridge. We had a couple of great meals, including one at Ushers in Moorhead that was so grat we tried to go back 2 nights later, only to find out they were closed on Sundays. The turnout this year was down, a symptom everywhere, but with the great site, great hospitality (free lunch every day and something at the end of the day for a snack) and good bridge there, hopefully more people will decide this is a good tournament to come back to and let them build up again.

Friday, August 27, 2010

That unlucky 5

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sunday, August 22, 2010


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

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

Here is the full hand.

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

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

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

Thursday, August 12, 2010

What Defines a Good Slam

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Don’t You Hate it When You Get Things ‘Almost’ Right

Playing in our IMPS League Weekly Game, I had a neat defensive problem come up that while we almost succeeded, the patient wound up dying anyways at the end.

Our Vul opps got to 3N on the simple auction 1H-1N-3N (4 card majors, 1N is not forcing). Partner led a Small Club, and the Club suit was

KJx              Tx

I won the A, and led my middle Club back, declarer inserted the J, losing to the Q, and partner returned a 3rd Club, clearing the suit and setting up 2 tricks for us. The only problem remaining was to get partner in to cash them.

The interesting part of the hand is the battle in the Heart suit between declarer, having to set up a third trick in the suit, vs us, trying to force an entry to my partners hand to cash Club tricks. The other 2 suits are irrelevant to the story since they were going to provide a set (5) number of tricks for declarer, or enough tricks for us to set the contract, there was no way for declarer to set up any more tricks in those suits.

The Heart suit was, with the spots being of prime importance:

742       AQ65

Declarer won the third Club in hand, and led the 7 of Hearts, partner put the 9 on this, a somewhat unusual card, and declarer played the Q. I survived the first hurdle by pitching the J of Hearts on this. (If I play low, declarer can always play for this position and keep partner off lead by leading up to the Heart A, and ducking if partner plays low, I will not be able to duck any longer) Declarer now came back to hand in Spades, and led a low Heart. Partner, worried about me having JT doubleton of Hearts, played the K now, forgetting that declarer never raised Hearts on the auction, something he probably would have done with 4, even if they were bad. Declarer played the A of Hearts on this, and I made the same mistake that partner did, playing declarer for 4 Hearts rather than the actual position, and did not follow through with pitching the 10 of Hearts.

When I played the actual low Heart, declarer came off board with a low Heart, hoping for something good, and it came up when I had to win this trick, giving declarer a lucky third Heart trick and the contract.

I really found this hand annoying for myself, since I had found the pitch of the J of Hearts under the Q, then did not follow through with the subsequent pitch of the 10, leaving the 8 of Hearts as the boss Heart for partner to cash the 2 Club tricks.

Of course, this might have been a little easier with the 8 of Hearts at the first Heart trick, but that does not really matter. When partner played the 9 and the K, I have to play him for the 8 as well, since there is no way for me to beat the contract if I win any Heart trick. Since it is IMPS, an overtrick from pitching the 10 of Hearts is not really going to matter.

At the other table, it was played from the other side, so there was no Club lead, so out partners easily made an overtrick with more time. This could have allowed us a big swing in the match, instead of winning 1 IMP.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

How Good of a Suit Do You Need to Play In It?

Playing IMPS in a pickup team match on BBO, you pick up this hand NV vs Vul, Q AKQJ87 J6 AT92. Partner opens 1S in 2nd seat and you bid 2H. Partner now jumps to 3S.

At the table, I was not sure where we should play yet, so I bid 4C, hoping partner could make a Diamond Cue-Bid. Partner decided to be nice today, and bid 4D, over which RHO decided to wade in with 5D. I was hoping I was right on partners hand now, that he had a good Spade suit and the A of Diamonds, so I jumped to 7 Spades (Not Hearts), since I thought it might be easier for him to get to his hand in Spades, than me to get there in Hearts on a Diamond lead. Turns out this was important, since partner held AK98742 96 A Q63.

We actually got a Club lead, but on the normal Diamond lead, 7H has no play, while 7S is still cold on the 3-2 Spade break.

The other thing I was considering was 7NT, which is what they played in at the other table, however on the same Diamond lead, it eventually went off 3 tricks. Nice to win 17 IMPS every once in a while.

To Bid or Not to Bid

Playing in our weekly IMPS league, had a few hands come up that presented problems (opportunities) for all involved.

The first hand, you pick up this hand all Vul. A A54 J8xxxx xxx and hear it go P, 1S, 2S (Michaels) to you. You decide not to take a call here, and it now goes 3H, 4D, 4H back to you. I think this is a pretty easy 5D call here, which goes, P, P, 5H back to you, so what now?

First, do you even know who is sacrificing on this hand, or is anyone? The person on your right must have a pronounced 2 suiter to be bidding this way, and partner is probably fairly distributional as well. You have 2 fairly sure defensive tricks, but negative defense in Diamonds. (I count negative defense when you have a holding that will subtract from partners expected defensive tricks, here you do not expect to cash very many Diamonds) I would expect that you will beat 5H about 50%-75% of the time based on the 2 tricks that you have and 1 hopeful trick from partner.

The next question is, what are your chances in 6D? If you receive a Heart lead, and partner can pull trump and set up Spades for Club discards, fairly good, but will you receive a Heart lead on this hand? Give partner a hand like KQxxx --- AQxxx Kxx and you are a favorite for 6D, since 2 Clubs can not cash, even with less in Clubs, you would make on a Heart lead. However, I would expect a 6D bid will not receive a Heart lead in many instances, so would not count on those versions very often. All in all, I would bet that it is about 50-50 as to whether doubling 5H vs bidding 6D is better, and the payback on 6D is a lot higher, so the nod has to go in that favour. At the time, I thought 6D was a funny bid, but looking at it in retrospect, it is probably a close choice.

In reality, it is the winning choice, 6D goes down 2, but 5H was not going down on this hand. Rho was 1-7-0-5 with the AK of Clubs. At the other table, the auction went 1S-4H, and the 1S bidder did not take any action over 4H.

The next hand, All Vul, you pick up T9842 A5 AQJT6 J and hear it go 4H in first seat on your right, your bid? This has put you under tremendous pressure, and it is usually right to get in the auction with a good 2 suiter, but does this Spade suit qualify you? Think about what you would bid (in tempo remember) and I will tell you what happened at the 2 tables next.

At my table, my RHO bid only 3H, giving me almost the same problem. I decided this hand did not qualify for any sane bid, so passed, which went P on my left, 4C by partner, P on my right. I bid 4S, which went Double, P, P back to me. I did not relish running to partners suit with a singleton, I was not sure he would thank me, so decided to sit it out, at least partner would not have to play it. The opening lead was the Q of Hearts and partner put down an amazing hand, A65 3 87 AQTxxxx. The K of Diamonds was onside, and the defense made a small error in the Spade suit, allowing me to make an overtrick for +990 and a loss of only 7 IMPS.

Finally, you pick up xx KQT8xxx Ax Kx and open 1H in first seat, all Vul. Partner bids 2C over this and you rebid 2H, partner now bidding 2S, back to you.

At the table, my partner decided to slow things down with a 2N bid here, which got raised to 3N. Worried about being able to take 9 quick tricks after the expected Diamond lead knocks out his A, he opted to run to 4H, which bought the contract. The opening lead was the K of Spades, and this dummy tracked, A9xx --- Q9x AQT9xx.

Partner ducked this trick, and won the A on the Q of Spades continuation. He came to hand with the K of Clubs to play the K of Hearts, won by the A on his right, and he ruffed the Spade continuation (A Diamond switch would have been nastier). He now continued the Q of Hearts and when the 9 dropped under this, was able to drive out the J, win the now Diamond continuation, pull trumps, and run the Clubs for making 4. 3N was definitely easier though.

At the other table, this hand decided to bid 3H over 2S on the same start to the auction. He now received a 4H bid, a bid I really like, but decided that if partner had Heart support and a good hand, he had a great hand. 6H was not a success.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Those Pesky Opponents

Playing IMPS in our weekly game, had 2 interesting hands come up where you have to judge what level to play a hand in a competitive auction, always one of the toughest parts of the game. As the title suggests, why can’t the opponents get out of our beautiful auctions and allows us to make our own errors in our own way.

On the first hand, No one Vul, you hold AJx ATxxx J A9xx and hear it go 1S on your left, double by partner, pass on your right. This is certainly a GF hand, so you decide to start with 2S to at least start to set up a forcing auction. Partner bids 3D over that, and you now show Hearts with 3H. Partner bids 3S over that, so now what?

At the table, this hand bid 4C, and partner bid 4H, again back to you. What do you know about the hand. Partner has Diamonds and Hearts (presumably 5/6-4), and a good hand, due to the 3S bid on the way to 4H, and should have short Spades (since I can not see a 3S bid on this auction on 2 small missing all those A’s).

Since you have all A’s and the 5th Heart, I think you have to take another call here, if not just drive to a slam. At the minimum, a 4S call to invite moving forward. At the table, this hand passed, stating afterwards they were worried about what LHO (A solid bidder usually) had for the 1st seat opener.

In actuality, there is almost nothing to the play. Partner puts down x Qxxx AKQxx QJx. On the Spade lead, you win, cash the A of Hearts, the J of Diamonds, and a small Heart. When Hearts are 2-2, you can claim, and have lots of play even if Hearts are 3-1, as long as opener does not have the singleton. At the other table, they had an uncontested auction and did not reach the good slam, so it wound up a push board, but had chances for an easy 10 IMPS.

The second hand, you are Vul against Non-Vul opps (as we call it, terrorist vulnerability), with AQx AKx Jxx Qxxx, no spot cards. Partner opens 1D in first seat and it goes 3H on your right, your call.

I think this is a very tough problem, you have a good hand, but too much of your strength is in Hearts, and you do not have a 4th Spade or any shape. When I held this hand, I thought the choices were between Double and 3NT. And the problem with a Double is what am I going to do when/if partner bids 4S over it, I will be essentially guessing on where and at what level to play the contract.

I finally decided to just bid 3N at the table, which ended the auction. Partner also had a problem hand, and took a while before passing. We had a long discussion afterwards on what or even should he can bid over 3N, with no firm conclusion. Basically the 3H bid was perfectly timed to give us no room to both show extra values for our previous bidding. Partner held Kxxx x KQTxx AKJ, so slam was a claim, just giving up the A of Diamonds on a perfect fit. We also decided that the most likely person that can move on this hand is this hand, which can bid 4H over 3N, under the assumption that 4N is safe and is to play. On this hand, 4H will easily get us to some slam, pretty much all of which make.

As for the original problem, there was some discussion at the bar after about the merits of Double vs 3N, and a few of the Doublers said that over 4S they would basically give partner a choice of slams, 6D or 6S. I think this is being far too optimistic, what is partner to do after the auction 1D (3H) Double with something like Kxxx x AQxxx Kxx or worse Kxxx x AKQxx xxx except bid 4S, and this will create a very poor slam. The more I think about it, the more I think 3N is the only viable bid over 1D (3H), anything else leaves you really guessing. And if partner can not move over 3N on some hands, you may have to accept that sometimes pre-empts work.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

A Difference of Opinion

Playing in our weekly IMPS game, had the following interesting hand come up. All vul, I picked up AJ2 T863 T9 QJ84 and heard it go 1D by partner in first seat, 1S overcall on my right. This is the poster child for a negative double, and LHO bid 3S, pre-emptive over it. Partner now cue-bid 4S, pass back to me.

I felt I needed to slow the hand down a little here, my values did not appear well placed, so I bid 4N. Since we do not have any suit agreement yet, just values, I hoped this would imply values in Spades. Partner now bid 5C over that, and I felt I had a problem. I assumed from this auction that partner was a good 6-4 or perhaps 5-4 in the minors. My hand was actually not that bad, considering. If partner had a 6-4 hand something like x AK AQxxxx AKxx, then slam was a good prospect. The question was, how much less could he have for the 4S bid and the 5C follow up?

I finally decided that he had to be showing 1 of the very good variations, and raised to 6C, ending the auction. The opening lead was a Spade, and partner won the A while following with a little Spade. He now played the Q of Clubs off dummy, which held, then a small Club to the K and A. Finally, another Club to board, RHO following while LHO pitched a Spade. I thought with bad Clubs, he had to have a great Diamond suit on this hand, but he now ran the 10 of Diamonds, losing to the Q on my right. Back came a Heart, and based on a confidentiality agreement with pard, I will not disclose the rest of the play, other than to say it made 6:)

Turns out partner held x AKQ AJxxx ATxx. I think that is a 4C bid (or double) on this auction, your suits are too poor to force to game, and partner is not shy, will bid most games that have a shot. I think the Q of Hearts has to be in 1 of the minor suits to bid 4S.

It turned out we did not have to bid the poor slam to win the hand though. At the other table, strange things occurred, and when the opponents did not overcall, the auction proceeded 1D-1H-2C(!)-P. So bidding and making game would have won us almost as many IMPS as the slam. This is not something you expect that often, I guess the big hand assumed if partner could not bid over 2C, they were not missing much, but after 1D-1H, I think that hand improves too much not to try 3C.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Are Redoubles Ever Worth It?

Watching a match between 4 International Players on BBO the other day, I saw a hand that had every type of thing a spectator could want, high level decisions, redoubled contracts, some great and some not so great bids, in other words lots of fun for us. Not quite as sure about the fun level for some of the participants, these kinds of things can make your hair go more grey.

Here is the hand in question.

After 2 passes, East started with a normal 1H, and South overcalled with a normal 2C. West got the excitement started with a nice 4H bid, and North had the first problem of the hand, do you bid with this hand and the bad Spade Suit or not. He finally decided to pass, as did East. And now South surprised North with an unexpected 4S bid. This ran around to East, who made a great defensive bid of 5C, which his partner converted back to 5H, so far so good.

This is where North started to lose his mind, in my opinion. You have heard the cue bid of your partners suit on your left, you have 5 card support for your partners second suit that he freely introduced at the 5 level, hos many black suit winners do you really expect on defense on this hand? I think the clear bid here is 5S, this is IMPS, take out the insurance. But our North doubled, based on his hopefully 2 defensive tricks, and whatever partner could contribute.

And now it was East's turn again. He had got to the position he had wanted to be in, and he is also not sure how many losers he has on this hand, but decided to force the issue with the Redouble. I am not sure if he was not happy here and was hoping to pressure the opps into running, or he really thought he had them. If the latter, why the redouble, how much real defence does he have on this auction, and partner promised negative values on defence with the 4H bid.

Anyways, it appears poor South and East are along for the ride at this point, as it swings back to North, now starting to doubt the soundness of that earlier double. So deciding to finally believe West, he retreats to his undisclosed 5 card support finally. Now West, pleased with his earlier 5C call, setting the defence for the only hope to beat this, doubles, hoping he can get a third trick from somewhere. Perhaps 5H doubled was not so bad after all?

And finally, we come back to North. Having voted for defence, then ran, he now decides that maybe he had a superb hand on offence after all, and he Redoubles this, ending the auction. So a simple hand that should have quickly wound up in 5S doubled, where West gathered a bunch of IMPS based on a great 5C call, got pretty convoluted on the way there.

There was nothing to the play, West ruffed the automatic Club lead, cashed the A of Hearts, and waited for the A of trumps.

But earlier, he had options for a nice easy +650, assuming he picks up the Hearts, which he upgraded and downgraded to +200 (instead of -850 if he bids 5D), and finally was gifted with a free extra +200, to almost break even with anyone allowed to play 4H :)

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Blind Spots

Playing on BBO with a pick up partner in a team game, this interesting hand came up. I held 52 K865 AKQT8 Q7 and opened 1D in first seat. Partner bid 2C over this, and I decided not to get him too excited by bidding 2H and having him interpret this as a reverse, so contented myself with 2D to start. Partner bid 2N over this, and I bid 3N to end the auction. The opening lead was the Q of Hearts, not what I really wanted to see, and these are the 2 hands.



Not that nice spot cards in the Heart suit, but partner decided to duck the Heart lead, and the 10 appeared on his right. RHO now played a small Heart to LHO's A, and the 7 of Spades came back. And here is where partner had his blind spot.

You currently have 8 top tricks, and only have to develop 1 more to make this, at IMPS. So you need to take the safest line. Partner looked that the chance of 1 of 2 hooks working was 75%, and that gave him chances for overtricks (sigh), so put in the Q of Spades here, butchering a nice hand and play. This lost to the K, and the J of Spades came back. The hand played out for a while, and eventually partner played the Q of Clubs off board, making when the K was onside. And not even realizing the problem with the hand.

When the Spade came back, you now have a 100% line of play. Win the A of Spades, play a Diamond to board, and run the Q of Clubs. Even if it loses, they can not attack the Q of Spades, and you have an easy 9 or 10 tricks, with no down side.

It is plays like this that need to be punished with both black K's offside, to teach people about real percentages in bridge. I would rate that if played in a club game, over 90% of the people playing this hand would put in the Q of Spades, and complain about luck if both K's were offside. Then they would ask the lone +400 how they made it when everything was offside, or assume a different lead.

A couple of interesting Grands

Playing with RH, had a couple of very interesting hands come up, increasing the number of times that I have bid a Grand.

The first, from the recent World Wide Bridge Contest, I thought RH made a couple of truly great bids. I will give his hand as it is the most complicated in the auction. He held --- AKT3 K97 KQT642, and heard the auction start 1H from me, 3S (V vs Not) on his right. His hand is really good at this point, but how to find out about the minors and Hearts sanely? He started with 4C, showing the suit, and forcing, and I raised this to 5C. He now bid 5S, showing the first round control, and I bid 6C. He now bid 6H, which I think shows his hand very well. In fact, this is the auction that Eric Kokish put in his write up about the hand, except for the problem that I contributed.

Back over to my hand, I held Q976 QJ962 A A98, and was trying to figure out what RH could have for this sequence. He had to be looking for a grand here, else why the interesting route to 6H. I did not think that 6H was not a place to play this, we have talked about direct vs indirect auctions before, and I thought he was showing the hand he had. Incidently, I was annoyed with myself when I bid 6C and read the Eric Kokish write up later. He suggested 5N over 5S, hopefully showing the A of Diamonds as a good card. I had thought of that, but decided that playing partner for AK of Hearts, Spade void, and good Clubs was a little too rose coloured glasses, and bid 6C. But now when partner bid 6H, could he have anything less than what he had? If he did, we were going to have to have a discussion about this hand, since not wanting to insult partner here, I raised to 7H. There was nothing to the play, even Clubs split, so claimed very quickly.

Of the 2110 times this hand was played, the grand was bid 198 times, or 9% of the pairs. The worst part is there were 565 pairs that only bid game, and several that did not even bid game on this hand.

The second hand was from our weekly IMPS League game, playing against a good pair. I held AK865 --- AQ983 A95 and heard partner open 1C. I bid 1S over this, and partner bid 2H, the full reverse. Even with no real fit, this was starting to look interesting. I bid 3D (4SF) over 2H, looking for more info, and my LHO doubled this. Partner now bid 3H freely, and I bid 4C, setting trumps. Partner bid 4D over this, and after the double, I assumed this was the void, so I bid 5N, asking about Clubs. Not sure where all 13 tricks are coming from here, but that won't be my problem. Partner thought for a sec and bid 7C over that. The opening lead was the 2 of Clubs, and here are the 2 hands as a play problem.



Partner allowed the Club to go to the 8 in his hand, and thought about options. Without the Club lead, there were 3 Heart ruffs in Dummy, but transportation is a problem. Partner did not look at the hand long enough, and decided to try to set up Spades, playing AK, when the second Spade got ruffed and another Club came back, the hand got ugly quick, and partner eventually drifted off 3 tricks.

I really think this is a neat hand, that has a couple of chances for making, primarily on a squeeze and partial strip. If you plan to ruff 2 Hearts in dummy, you come to 12 tricks, with threats in Spades, Diamonds, and Hearts for the opps to cover in the end position. But you need to ensure that you cash the A of Diamonds early as well, or you will squeeze dummy. It also looks like since the double of 3D, the squeeze might have to operate on your RHO only. There is also 1 other chance that I talked about with partner after.

I think the correct line of play is ruff a Heart, ruff a low Diamond, ruff another Heart, A of Diamonds, and the Q of Diamonds, making RHO cover this with the K. And now the extra chance comes in, RHO started with 10xx of Diamonds, so the 10 drops under the Q and K, making it easy to set up the 98 of Diamonds for trick 13.

It turns out the squeeze does not operate on this hand, so you have to take in the extra chance to make it. At the other table, they stopped in 6C, and also got a Club lead. But something went wrong and they also went down in 6C, cutting the loss on the board to 2 IMPS.

Back from Vacation

Hey to anyone that was reading this for a while. Sorry for no posts recently, but just got back from 3 glorious weeks cruising and wandering around the Med.

That is an amazing and fantastic part of the world we had never seen before, and totally loved it.

But now I am back, playing bridge again, and will start posting neat stuff again.


Friday, May 7, 2010

Lazy Bridge

Playing with a pick up partner in an IMPS game on BBO a couple of nights ago, I had a very strong demonstration of the variance in the term ‘Expert’. The person I was playing with counted themselves an expert, and for the most part, did quite well. But unfortunately, we had a hand come up that I would describe as beautiful because of it’s grace and timing, but my partner would describe as horrible as he went down in the game we bid.

All vul, with the opps silent throughout, my partner picked up QJ987 AKJ Q83 A9 and opened 1S in first seat. I raised this to 2S and he blasted to 4S, a bid I like since any random 8 count should give you some play. The opening lead was the 10 of Clubs, and dummy appeared with T64 Q A42 QJ8432.

The Club lead removes the possibility of a Club loser, but sets up the worry about a Club ruff. The Club was covered by the J, and after some thought, RHO played low, allowing the J to hold. For now, the main problem is the possibility of 2 Spade and 2 Diamond losers on the hand. The Hearts give a parking spot for the Diamond losers, but with the Club lead, entries are a bit of an issue. The line I like is cash the A of Diamonds, then overtake the Q of Hearts and pitch both Diamonds on the Hearts. Next, ruff a Diamond with the 10 of Spades, and lead a Club to you’re A. If this holds, ruff the last Diamond with the 6 of Spades and claim 5. (Hide the Spade spots as long as possible) If the Club gets ruffed, and they can and do pull trump, you still have 4 losers, but that is unlucky.

At the table, after the J of Clubs held, partner immediately played a trump, which RHO won with the A to play a Diamond through. He went up with the Q (premature) and this was covered with the K and A. Now he played another trump(?), guaranteeing down 1 when they cashed the K of Spades and 2 Diamonds. Even at this point, playing Hearts would have collected 11 tricks when Clubs were 3-2. But playing the 2nd Spade when the Diamonds were open for 2 losers is just being lazy.

The reason I like the hand is the beauty of the timing, you play every side suit card without touching trumps, then wind up with 5 Spades that always play for only 2 losers, whatever you do. The hand becomes so simple and elegant, that you can claim fairly quickly. Watching it get beaten up with a bludgeon was very painful.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Another Forcing Pass

Had another hand with a difficult forcing pass situation last night in the IMPS Game. Vul vs Not, you hold the following hand, xx AKQxxxx Ax xx and open 1H in first seat. This goes 2D by partner (you are playing 2/1 and this is a full forcing 2D, 3D would be a limited hand with Diamonds). This now goes 2S on your right, and you jump to 4H to (hopefully) show solid Hearts. This now goes 4S on your left, P, P back to you.

First, I think this is clearly a forcing pass situation. You were in a game forcing auction where the opps interfered and then bid on over a game bid. Partner then passed the bid over your game, so I think it is a forcing auction. Now, what is your hand worth. Personally, I think you have an absolute maximum with great cards for your previous bidding. You have the 7th Heart, and the A of Diamonds. For this reason, I would bid 5D with this hand. The 2 losers in each black suit are a worry, but what does partner have to make a forcing pass if you have solid Hearts and that A of Diamonds?

At the table, partner doubled with this hand, stating he had a lot of defense. Not sure I agree with that, and I think we had a disagreement mostly about what the forcing pass meant and entailed. I think it strongly suggests bidding on with a hand that is suitable, basically a hand that probably would have bid again without the opponent’s interference. Partner thought it was a hand that was unsure what to do over the opponents bid. The problem with that interpretation is that there is no way to intelligently bid if that is what you have. If you have the agreement that it always shows a willingness to bid on, but requires a fitting hand, then partner can feel free to safely bid whenever these situations come up. With the other agreement, you are basically going to double on every hand, so what is the purpose.

The actual hand is kind of funny, partner held AT T KT98xxx AKJ, a good hand with bad Diamonds and unsure what to do. I passed the 4S doubled, but we lost 1 trick and only got the hand for +500, not the +800 we can get. Declarer was void in Diamonds, so all slams have the 4-0 Diamond break to content with. Turns out the best place to play the hand is 7NT, since my RHO has the Diamonds and the Club Q, so there is an automatic squeeze for trick 13. At the other table, my RHO did not bid 4S, so my hand was able to bid that, and over the 5D cue-bid, raised to 6D. a contract sort of doomed to failure on the 4-0 trump break, except a funny thing happened to the defense. After a Spade lead and 2 rounds of Hearts pitching the Spade loser, declarer cashed the A of Diamonds to find out the bad news, then instead of trying a legitimate line to make the contract ,either the Q of Hearts to pitch the Club loser, or such, played 3 rounds of Clubs ruffing on board, and played the Q of Hearts now. Our partners, fearing a pitch of a Diamond on this, ruffed it, allowing the slam to make when the second trump trick now vanished. Counting can not be overstated!

Back to the main part of the discussion, what does a forcing pass mean to your partnership, and what do you expect when partner bids on vs doubles?