Sunday, November 27, 2011

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, November 21, 2011

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

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

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

T4   KJ732   KT6  983

J  A96  A973  AKJT7

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

How High to Bid

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

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

Do you bid again on this hand?

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

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

Monday, November 14, 2011

Back from the Summer

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

J873 AJT75 A AK3
AKT4 6 KJT743 97

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