Friday, December 14, 2012

What Does That Mean?

Playing with a pick up partner on BBO, you hold this hand with no one Vul.

84  A85  K62  AJT98

And respond 2D to partners strong 2C opener. Partner now bids 2N and you decide to invite the Grand with 5N. Except partner makes an unexpected response, he bids 6H. What does 6H mean and what do you do over it?

You finally decide to bid 6N, ending the auction. The opening lead is the Q of Spades and

The whole hand is

I was the person that bid 6H and intended it to show 5 Hearts, and unsure about going on. As stated after, the option was to play in 6 or 7NT, not Hearts or any other suit. So 6H was intended to allow partner to evaluate hand, and bid on with Good Heart Cards.

How would everyone else treat the 6H bid?

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Couple of Fun Hands

Had a couple of very interesting hands at our weekly IMPS Game this week. So will have a longer article than have put in for a while. Sit back and enjoy some weird and sometimes wonderful things with me.

On the first, with no one Vul, you pick up this nice hand, AKQT83  ---  843  AKQ4 in first seat. There are a few questions right off the bat, how strong is the hand, and what is the correct (or best) way to open it. In terms of high card points, it is good but not great, an 18 Count, but in terms of losers, it is very strong, only 3 losers, and since they are concentrated, it actually tends to work out even better than that in a lot of cases. I thought the 2 main considerations for opening were 1S and then try to show the strength of the hand with some jump in Clubs, or 2C to show a GF hand to start. With the partner I was playing with, I was going to get either a 2D or 2H response to 2C, so I was going to be able to get in an easy 2S over either. Since I intended to play this hand in at least 4S, that is the course I decided on.

I opened 2C, partner responded 2D, showing values, and I now bid 2S. I was hoping partner would now show support or bid a suit, allowing me to show Clubs and start to get the hand across, but partner made a bid I did not want to hear, 4N, RKC. There was now almost no way for me to get the power of this hand across, and the void. I responded 5D showing 3 Key Cards, and partner leaped to 6S. Not having anything else to say, I passed. I had considered how best to show 3 Key Cards with a void for a sec, but there were 2 big problems with that, first, what void did I have, partner needed to know, and second, I was not going to come up with some 6 level bid with this partner, and play in some contract I could not make when he failed to read it. We were not an established partnership, and I was not going to put stupid pressure on partner. Finally, the pair at the other table were unlikely to get to a Grand based on a perfecto fit, so just play the contract in a makeable spot and live with the result.

The opening lead was a small Club, and partner put down the perfecto, so 7S was cold.

J9  K532  AKQ6  J95

AKQT83  ---  843  AKQ4

I have given this hand as a bidding problem to a couple of partnerships now, and  no one has gotten to 7S. Although I think that was an aberration in at least 1 case, as I liked the auction, and it should have worked. The best auction I have seen on it so far has gone:

N                  S
1S                2D
3C                3N
4D                4S
5C                5D
6H(!)             7D(?)

The auction was very nice, and the 6H bid I think had to describe about the exact hand North held. First, he did not hold primary (4 card) Diamond support, since did not splinter over 2D or directly raise Diamonds. Second, he could only hold 4 Clubs on this auction, or would have bid 4C over 3N, not 4D. Third, he must hold a Void in Hearts, ergo, the hand must hold 6 Spades. I thought 6H was a very nicely thought out bid, and deserved better than 7D from partner, who was not on the same wavelength. They got to the 7 level, but in about the only contract that can go down, and would, Diamonds were 4-2.

So how would you bid this to 7S?


The next interesting hand, I held A763  J42  4  98643 with No one Vul, and heard it go a weak 2S on my left, 3D by partner, and 4S on my right. I wanted partner to play Diamonds for a Ruff, so decided to double 4S, which ended the auction.

Partner led the A of Diamonds, and this nice dummy tracked,

T8  AKQ753  K3  KQ7

When the A of Diamonds won the first trick, partner continued with the Q of Diamonds, which I ruffed. I finally decided that a void in Hearts with partner was too much against the odds, and if not, I did not want declarer pitching Clubs on Hearts, so led back an intermediate Club. Declarer won this with the A (oops), and continued another Club to the K on board. So looks like declare is some 6322 or 6232 variant (don’t think declarer can have 3 Clubs for this play), and we are going to need 2 Spade tricks to beat this. Partner is known to have a singleton Spade on the hand, so when declarer played the 10 of Spades off board, I ducked as smoothly as I could. Declarer now went into a big tank, not happy with the situation, which in turn made me happy since it meant partner had a Spade honor of some type. Declarer finally played low, and partner won the trick with his stiff Q. My A of Spades meant down 1 and a fairly unhappy declarer, since the only way to beat 4S was a Diamond Ruff.

But thinking about it after, it seems pretty automatic for the hand to go down. Even if partner starts the A of Diamonds and then shifts to a Club, declarer is probably going to lose a Spade hook to that hand, and it should be pretty obvious to play for the Diamond ruff now. So not sure how our partners wound up with a +420 on the hand, but it was a nice batch of IMPS anyways.


The third hand was more about luck and aggressive overcalls. Not Vul vs Vul opps, I picked up AJ T9752  83  AQT2 and had my RHO open a 12-14 HCP 1NT in 1st seat. We happened to be playing Capalleti over this, so I was able to bid 2H showing Hearts and a Minor. I would prefer a 6th Heart when they are this weak, or a singleton somewhere, but I didn’t have it, and like getting into these auctions. One thing to watch for here is if an opponent that is playing weak NT’s (sometimes even strong ones) is playing negative doubles at the 2 level. If they are, I hate to say it, but you are almost invulnerable, and can get in a lot more auctions.

The auction now speeded way up. LHO jumped to 4S (they had the option to transfer to 4S or play it direct, decided to protect something and play it from that side), and partner waded in with 5H, which got doubled by RHO, ending the auction, although LHO did squirm some.

The opening lead was a 5th best small Spade, and this dummy tracked:

5  A864  KJ65  J9876

AJ T9752  83  AQT2

The only problem on the hand looked like they might not make 4S, which would make this a fairly expensive phantom sacrifice. Oh well, hope our partners are doing something good on the hand.

RHO played the Q of Spades on the trick and I won it with the A. I now made a mistake on the hand, I ruffed the Spade to board before cashing the A of Hearts. The reason this was an error will show up in a minute. Both followed to the A of Hearts, and I assumed both Hearts were now on my right. The first reason for the Spade ruff being an error is if I now play a Heart, I will be in the wrong hand later for playing on Clubs. Sigh, too late now.

I played the 6 of Clubs off board, and when RHO played the 3, dropped the 2 under it. And was pleasantly surprised when LHO pitched a Spade on this, as 4S was almost certainly making now, and I had picked up the whole Club suit. I could now run the J of Clubs, and play a third Club off board, clearing the Club suit. This is when the second reason ruffing the Spade at trick 2 came up as an error, that was my quick entry back to the 5th Club for a Diamond discard.

So I was now forced to play a Diamond to the J, which fortunately lost to the A, so I was down 1 in 5H. This was a 13 IMP pickup as our partners were allowed to play in 4S and made it. But shows why you have to plan out the hand to the end before playing early. I was lucky that the silly play of the Spade ruff at trick 2 did not cost anything. I will also have to decide, if I do it the other way with a Heart to the A at trick 2, whether I play for Hearts 22 and try to make, or play for Hearts 31, and play a Club off board. If I play a Heart and they are 31, RHO can win and tap dummy with the Spade, bringing me back to the same ending where I need a Diamond onside.

I am also not sure why LHO decided to bid 4S, unless it was to prevent my partner from getting in an easy 4H call over the transfer bid of 4D. The hand was 7105, so if it was to prevent 4H, which makes a lot of sense, then nice try. It was not as if the hand had much, the K of Spades and Q of Diamonds.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Interesting Slam Play Problem

Picked up a very interesting play problem the other night during our regular weekly Team Game. I held AQ53  AK8  AKT  J74  and opened 2N in 1st seat. Partner transferred to Hearts with 3D and then bid 3N. Even with the 4333 hand, I liked my Hearts and bid 4H, partly in case partner had a short suit somewhere, and partly to see if partner could make a move knowing I had real Hearts.
Partner bid 5C over 4H, and I bid 5D. Partner retreated to 5H, but now expecting a Spade Lead, which would improve my hand, I tried the pushy 6H. This went all pass and I got the 4 of Spades lead. Partner put down this hand for me.

The Spade lead took care of the pointed suit loser, now I had to bring in Hearts and Clubs for only 1 loser. Wanting to keep some flexibility for later, I played low in the Spade, and the K appeared on my right. That now left some interesting possibilities in Spades for later.

I cashed the A of Hearts, and both opps followed low, now I went across to the A of Clubs, with RHO dropping the 8 of Clubs. RHO was not a person to make a false discard too often, so the 8 could be treated as an honest card, giving even more interesting options. I now played a Heart off table, and when RHO played low, I inserted the 8, on which LHO pitched a small Diamond. So now I had a Heart loser and had to bring the Clubs in for no losers to make this. There looked like 2 basic options to do this, play RHO for Q8 or T8, but then I would have to guess which. Or play LHO for the 10 of Spades for the small Spade lead.

I finally decided that I did not want to guess what magic holding to play RHO for in Clubs, so played a small Spade to the 9, which held the trick. I now cashed the J of Spades, which RHO ruffed, but I could now claim, pulling the last trump when I got in next trick, and pitching the 2 Club losers on the good Spade and Diamond. Turns out RHO had T8 of Clubs, so playing the J of Clubs out of my hand also would have worked.

This was not bid at the other table, they played in 4 Hearts, so we were able to win 11 IMPS on the hand, which was the margin of victory. The other team, although relative newcomers to the IMPS League, played very well and will be heard from.

Friday, November 2, 2012

Nasty Play Problem

Playing in a CNTC Team Qualifying game the other day, I had this interesting play problem come up. I held KQJT98  6  KQT32  J, everyone Vul. Partner opened 1C and RHO overcalled 1H. I bid 1S, which thankfully we play as forcing, and partner bid 2C. I know bid 3D and partner caved to some Spades with 3S. We now got to 4S and the opening lead was the 7 of Hearts, with this hand appearing.

63  AT95  5  AQ9874

KQJT98  6  KQT32  J

Not the most appealing opener or hand, but will see what we can do.

I won the A of Hearts at trick 1, and led the Diamond off board. RHO thought for a moment, then won the A of Diamonds before playing A and another Spade, both following. I perforce won in my hand, and played a third Spade, LHO following while RHO pitched a Heart. Just to see what was going on, I played 1 more Spade, and LHO pitched a small Heart while RHO pitched an interesting small Diamond.

Basically at this point I am cold if both opps follow to another Diamond, so I cashed the K of Diamonds. Sure enough, RHO pitched a small Heart, giving me a fairly good count on the hand, but a problem. We were now at this point in the hand.

---  T9  ---  AQ98

---  ?  J9x  ??                                        Basically irrelevant

                    98  ---  QT3  J

There are 2 problems on the hand, to figure out what the last 3 cards in LHO’s hand are, and find a way to strip him down to only Diamonds for the endplay. There are a couple of possibilities here, I could play A and ruff a Club or Heart, then the last Spade, but LHO could then pitch a Diamond on the last Spade and keep a winner. I could rely on the Club hook, but based on the overcall and defense, that looked unlikely. Or I could try squeezing LHO now with a Spade.

The last option looked best, so I played out another Spade. LHO thought for a moment and threw another Heart, which I did not think was best, and RHO threw a Club. I was pretty sure LHO now had 2 Clubs and 3 Diamonds, and it was irrelevant where the K of Clubs was. I played a Club to the A, ruffed a Club while RHO played the K and LHO followed, then exited the low Diamond and claimed.

Kind of a nice strip/squeeze/endplay, but I really thought the opps did not give me best / toughest defense here. First, RHO should NEVER have thrown the Diamond early, that gave away the whole hand and set me on a winning course. Keep the Diamond and when I cash the K of Diamonds, I almost need mirrors to decide to play for this. And on the final squeeze Spade I played, LHO should pitch the small Club, not the Heart. Now when I play the Club to the A and ruff something off board, I have to decide what the last card in LHO’s hand is, a Heart or a Club, and play the correct card off dummy. If I get it wrong, LHO can pitch the small Diamond and easily beat the hand.


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


Had another fun hand, more from my side anyways, in the same match. I picked up JT  AQ853  T742  T8 at what we call terrorist vulnerability (NV vs VUL) and opened 2H in 3rd seat. LHO bid 2S, and partner bid 3C, more lead directional with usually Heart tolerance. RHO doubled this, passed back to partner who ran to 3H. RHO now bid 3S, and LHO raised to 4, ending the auction.

Partner led a small (3rd best) Heart, and this dummy appeared.

K2  964  K5  K97632

Declarer played low on the Heart, I won the A, and played back a low Heart, LHO winning the K. Declarer played a Spade to the K, under which I dropped the J. Declarer jokingly asked if that was good or bad, and for who. Declarer thought for a while and played a second Spade off dummy, smiling when I dropped the 10, winning with the Q. Declarer now pulled 2 more rounds of Spades, with the A and 9, partner following low. I pitched a low Heart and the 8 of Clubs. We play upside down Count and Attitude, so I was hoping partner was getting closer to working this out. Declarer now played a Diamond to the K, and I dropped the 4. When he played the small Diamond off board, I followed with the 2, supposedly showing 3 of them.

Declarer thought for a minute and played the J, and the roof fell in. Partner won the Q, cashed the A of Clubs, and exited with that precious third Heart, declarer ruffing. Declarer now cashed the A of Diamonds, and when partner showed out, I could claim for down 2.

Pretty sure declarer had a lot better line of play, but this hand was going to be rough to make. But setting up a Club and ruffing 1 Diamond turns out would have worked better, although it gets pretty complicated whether it makes or not. But it was fun to bug declarer, a friend, with an ‘I Lied’ comment when he cashed the A of Diamonds and got an annoyed look on his face.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Not Missing This

Playing online on BBO in a pick-up Team Game, I picked up this nice hand Vul vs Not, 2  AKQT75  KJ752  T and heard the auction go 2 passes to me. This is something I do that is very different and strange to most people, I hate the opps exchanging information, and finding a sack on hands like this. So in 3rd Seat, I opened 4H. First, I wanted to play in game if partner had virtually anything, and I was willing to trade the chance that partner had a fit with 2 Aces to make a slam, against the possibility that the opps could find a Black Suit Fit and a profitable sack.

This now went all Pass, and the opening lead was the 9 of Spades, with partner putting this hand down. I see he had the Black Suit Sacks well covered, sigh.

With the Diamond Q onside and going 43, it was fairly easy to score up +620 in the hand. In the other room, my hand opened 1H, and over 1S, bid only 2D. The other hand now made one of those 'I am a better player than you' bids of 2S, over which my hand bid 3H. East now passed, and the hand made the same 10 tricks on the same lead for an easy 10 IMP Pickup.

I just do not like opening 1H or not getting to game on hands like this. Almost anything in partners hand, 2 small Hearts and Qx of Diamonds gives you play, but you might get passed out in 1H. And partner does not have to have the Black Suits covered like that, Change E and N hands around, and we can make slam if you find the Q of Diamonds, but have to be allowed to get there and play there when they are bidding super agressive in Spades.

So I guess I will continue to open 4H in 3rd seat on these hands and continue to get lectured why it is wrong.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Not Something I would do

Had a neat hand this weekend in a qualifying game against a good team. With no one Vul, I picked up K KQ9753  KJT752 ---, your standard 6-6 hand at Imps. In 3rd seat, I opened 1H, LHO overcalled 1S, partner bid 2C, and RHO bid 2S. I now bid 3D, LHO bid 3S, P, P to me. Decided to hope for something, and bid 4H, sorta what I was intending to do when I picked up the hand.

The opening lead was the 9 of Diamonds (Gee, think that is a singleton?) and a pretty sad dummy hit.

QJ97  J6  6  KJT653

Not what I really wanted to see, lots of defense and virtually no help on offense. And about the worst hand pard could have for 2C.

Turns out the Diamond was a singleton as I suspected, but when RHO won the A and exited A and a Heart, there was not much hope on the hand, and I pretty quickly drifted off 2.

The interesting thing was what happened at the other table. The auction started the same, with 1H - 1S, but this S kept silent, and it went 2S by RHO. This hand bid only 3D (I would have bid 4D here), and LHO now bid 3S. This went Double, P to N, who ran to 4H, what I would expect normally, On a lead other than the Diamond, our partners only beat this 1 trick, so not a serious loss, and we won the match by 6 Imps.

But after the hand, this N stated first, he did not see the Double (This is why the Double cards are RED), and if he had, he would have passed 3S Doubled in a second. With a 66 hand that makes game opposite the right Q. I have to admit, passing 3S Doubled would never really occur to me. You have no defense for your 2 bids, and the liklehood of missing a game is so high. Turns out you will beat 3S 1-2 tricks, and game does not make. But I do think this is playing the wrong end of the probability tree.

There was another interesting hand in the 3rd match we played. I picked up J75  AJ83  K74  JT9 with everyone Vul. Partner opened 2N (20-21) in first seat and I had to think a sec. But finally deciding that pushy slams are not a good idea with a 4333 hand, I started to sign off in 3N. Due to the way we play over 2N to look for minors, 3S is a relay to 3N, either to play or a 1 suited minor hand, 3N is both minors, so I started with 3S. This now got interesting as it went Double on my left, P, P to me.

What my partner and I had talked about was that Pass here said pard had some Spades, but not good enough to Redouble. I finally decided it was time to have some fun, and passed out 3S. The opening lead was a small Spade and partner tracked with

Q84  QT3  AQ  AKQ64

J75   AJ83   K74   JT9

So 3N was a little better spot than our 3-3 fit, but I knew I had passed for the fun aspect, and to keep LHO under control in the future. So that meant I needed to make this. Assuming LHO had AKxxx of Spades (I assume with 6 he would start an honor), that gave me some hope, even if the K Hearts was offside. Although I was likely going to need that card onside, unless the distribution was friendly.

I ducked the Spade on board, and RHO contributed the 10, which I won with the J. Starting by cashing the Diamond AQ, I came to my hand with a Club and led the K of Diamonds. LHO now made a strange play of ruffing this low, allowing me to over ruff. It was looking more like LHO was something like 5323 or possibly 4 cards in either rounded suit. Either way, I needed to prevent a Club ruff by his partner, so exited dummy with the Q of Spades. Sure enough, RHO followed with a small Spade, and LHO cleared the AK of Spades (a better lead) before exiting a small Heart. Looked like I now had him, so played the 10 of Hearts, holding the trick, and started running Clubs. RHO showed out on the third round, so LHO was the 5323 and I was now making an overtrick.

LHO eventually ruffed a Club, and I was able to claim on the Heart return, making 10 tricks and a lucky +930. RHO now complained that the explanation of 3S was not sufficient. My partner had actually stated it was a minor oriented try, had not said that it might be a sign off in 3N as well. She said she would have run to 4D if it was explained correctly. Although after deciding that -1100 was not a good thing to bring back either, we settled for the 930 score.

And now, next time this hand comes up and I want to bid a silly slam off an AK, LHO may not make that double to give away the good lead. Or we can always hope, since the bad slams will still be there.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Nice Hand

Playing on BBO the other night, I got to hold the strongest hand that I have ever held. Not sure if a loser count applies when it works out to 1/4 loser total.

Playing IMPS NV vs V in a fairly decent game, I picked up AKQT85432  ---  AKQ6  ---, a fairly nice holding. The auction got fairly simple, P, P, 1H to me. Since I know of no method of asking for specific J's, I just bid the (to me) normal 7S over this.

I like to fool around on a hand as much as anyone, but I did not want to be dropped anywhere when even Partner must be short in Spades with some Hearts. He might not get the joke.

7S went back to the opener, who doubled, guess we found those missing A's. Not knowing still about Diamonds, this was passed out. The opening lead was a small Heart, and partner put down 2 nice cards, a Spade, and the J of Diamonds. This meant the play did not take long.

I looked at the score later, 3 people bid 4S with this hand, 1 in 4th position after 3 passes and 2 others after a Heart opener on their right. I noted their names, planning to never double anything they play in. Out of 16 people that played it, only 5 bid 7S, 2 did not get doubled, and the other 2 redoubled, assuming the Diamonds would work out. Guess if you are going to bid it, the redouble is fun as well.

I don't assume I will see too many hands like that again, but will keep watch :)

Monday, August 13, 2012

Wierd Slam Hands

Have not posted in a while, was on a trip to England, but not for the Olympics. We went prior to them starting and had a great time for a few weeks.

Had a couple of very wild hands in the last week where distribution and wildness was the order of the day. On the first, playing in our weekly IMPS League, I picked up the following with no one Vul. AKJT83  8  753  A94 and after a Pass by partner, heard it go 1H on my right. The opps had gotten a good board on the first board, and since I have a bit of a rep for light pre-empts, it was time to change some things around. I jumped to 3S, and it now went 4D on my left. Pard now got into the act with 5C, which interested me a lot, since it should imply Spade tolerance to introduce a new suit like this as a passed hand. RHO now went 5D, and I assumed that they prob had a 2 suited fit like it appeared we did. Not wanting LHO to be able to bid 5H, I bid 5S, really hoping partner had that Spade Support I assumed he had, rather than have a normal assume situation.

LHO now bid 6D over that, and partner showed the Spade Support with 6S. I had kinda hoped to be able to defend 6D, but here we are. RHO passed, I passed, and LHO doubled, ending the auction. LHO led the 9 of Hearts, and this dummy appeared.

6542  T7632  --- KQT6

AKJT83 8 753 A94

RHO won the Q of Hearts and led the K back. Since it appeared I needed 2 Hearts on my left, since the Q of Spades was more likely to be there, I ruffed with the J of Spades, LHO following with a low Heart. It was a pretty simple matter to ruff two Diamonds now and claim +1250 on the board.

The next occurred on BBO, and resulted in some hard feelings on the hand, and a complaint from me. I picked up AKT5  98743  Q943  --- with everyone vul. Partner opened 1D, which I liked, and I responded 1H. Partner now jumped to 4H, making my hand a gold mine, so I jumped to 6H, giving up on the grand since we were not an established partnership, and I have pretty awful Hearts. The opening lead was the Q of Spades, and this was dummy.

83  AK2  AK75  AJ86

AKT5 98743 Q943 ---

All in all, a very nice slam to be in. I won the A of Spades, and played the AK of Hearts, with everyone following. So far so good, now if Diamonds are 3-2, it is claimers, and if a Singleton J or 10 falls and I guess which side, I can also make. Since there is a slight extra chance with the stiff 8 fo Diamonds on my right, I decided to play for that side having a possible singleton. I now played the A of Clubs pitching a Spade, a Spade to the K, ruffed a Spade, and a small Diamond off board. RHO popped with the J of Diamonds (YES!) and I won the Q. Hoping that was not a nice false card, I advanced the 9 of Diamonds to hope for a cover.

LHO covered with the 10 of Diamonds, I played the A, and RHO ruffed with the last Heart. I now claimed, saying I was taking the marked Diamond hook.

At this point, everything fell apart. The opps rejected the claim (of course) and then stated I was cheating when I now took the Diamond hook, since I had claimed. LHO stated very clearly that I was cheating, since I could now see all 4 hands ( Declarer can not on BBO ) and that I had not said I was taking the Diamond Hook. Well I was stating that his partner had SHOWN OUT on the Diamond, my partner stated I had said I was taking the Diamond hook. Both opps now left the table of course, not wanting to finish the hand.

LHO left the game, but came back on a few minutes later and started swearing at me and claiming that I was a cheater. Since this annoyed me a lot, I sent in the hand with the recording of the conversation to BBO and thier abuse group. Will see if anything happens.

At least the 2 hands were a lot of fun to get right, and nice to remember how to play still :)

Monday, May 28, 2012

GNT District Finals

The district finals of the GNT was help this last weekend. It was the first time the district tried holding the event on BBO, primarily due to the size of our district. I will not say it was an unqualified success, a lot of potential teams did not play in the event, especially in the Open Category, but it worked and those people that did play enjoyed the experience a lot. It was very well run by the District Coordinator, and everyone pitched in to make it a success.

We played in the A category, with me playing with Ray again. I thought we played quite well, but we lost the last match, and missed the 2 team playoff by 1 VP, ouch. There were a bunch of interesting hands, some good for us, some not so good. Here is the first interesting decision.

I think once you force a cue bidding sequence, and hear the perfect response, no Club cue and a Diamond cue, instead of 4S, you need to make a forward going move. 4S, expecting partner to bid again, is just a little too pessimistic. They had no problem bidding the slam at our table, so we lost 11 to start.

They got it back fairly quickly on this board. At our table, the West hand only bid 2D, buying the contract. With the A's and the 6 card suit, I really like our partners choice to upgrade the hand and get to 3N. With the K of Diamonds singleton onside, there was not much to the play.

We got a gift on the last board to win the first match by 16. A nice start, especially after losing 11 on the first board.

In the 2nd match, our team mates had a hard time on a couple of boards, bidding a close slam off 1 on a losing hook, then doubling a part score that made with an overtrick on a bidding misunderstanding, not getting to a cold game after a 2C opener, and finally, letting the opps off the hook when they bid the wrong game. This was our worst match, we wound up losing by 27.

The third match was fun, 3N was the contract of the match. If you got to it, it seemed to always make, even if it did not look nice from the bidding. The first one, I picked up 10852  AK85  974  K9 and after 3 passes to partners 1D call, I bid 1H. Partner bid 2C and I have a close decision. Being Vul, I upgraded my hand slightly, and partner raised my 2N to 3N, ending the auction. As you can see, the opps took their 4 Spades to start, but we had an easy 9 tricks and 10 IMPS when my hand bid 2D over 2C at the other table and they played there.

The last hand of the match was a good decisions by my partner not to hang me after I bid over an overcall. As he said after, no fit and a pre-empt meant bad splits around, and i was under some pressure with Spades over the pre-empt.

My 3N was based on having a Diamond Stopper and a fit for Clubs, not on any great confidence in making it when I bid it. A funny (mostly) thing occurred on the lead. East led the 10 of Hearts, then typed in, without being asked, that it showed 0 or 2 higher. I finally decided that I needed either it to have the Q, or West not to have too many Hearts. I was quite happy I ducked when the J of Hearts won the trick. Wound up not even needing the Clubs to break when Spades set up. At the other table, West passed, and North opened 2S. Not sure if they had an accident or not, but they got to 5S, definitely too high on the 3 of Diamonds lead. So we won this match by 15 Imps, to be in a virtual tie with the teams from our first and third matches for the lead at half time.

After lunch, we played the 2nd half of the round robin against the same opponents. We lost 6 Imps against the first team to still win a close match, but gained back all we had lost in the 2nd match to also win that. Mostly due to the opponents having a disaster bidding on 1 hand, and when the smoke cleared, they were -1700 on what should have been a part score hand, our partners played it in 1N at the other table, which can be but was not beaten.

The last match, we were in the lead by 7 VPs on the 2nd and 3rd place teams when 1 of our partners at the other table had a blind spot in a good 6H contract and went down for a 14 IMP loss. Combine that with a probable 6 IMP loss on the next board, and it set the stage for the next to last board. Do you double 4S with the East hand, knowing that you are basically down 20 at this stage?

It turns out this would have let us make the finals, by 1 VP. Instead, we missed out by 1 VP, on a really close score between the 3 teams at the top.

All in all, it was a fun event, that worked out quite well, and showed how BBO can aid in solving geography problems with medium events. For large events like the CNTC's, it will almost always be face to face, but for other events, we now have some other options for our large district.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Ooh, Those Nasty Queens

In the 2nd of 8 sets in the CNTC Final between the Todd team and the L'Equyer team, there were 2 hands where a very specific scenario occurred twice in 3 hands, with the same strange result both times.

Both hand were played by Don Pearsons in 3N, with an effective holding in Spades of KJxxx opposite 2 small, and probable 8 outside tricks. He had a 2nd stopper in the suit the opps led, so he needed 1 Spade trick early before setting up his long suit.

This is the first hand, Board 8.

Don Pearsons got the lead of the 7 of Diamonds, and won the Q with the A. He then led the 7 of Spades and allowed it to run. It proceeded to win the trick when Danny Miles ducked the Q of Spades. Don now had his Spade trick he needed, and could make the hand by playing on Hearts, which is what Demuy did at the other table. (He played a Spade as well, but put up the K, then played on Hearts)  But he thought the Spades were positioned well now, and led another Spade to the J. Danny won this, cleared the Diamonds, and now the hand can not be made.

2 Hands later, this earily similar hand came up.

This time, Don got the lead of the 5 of Hearts to the J and Q. He led the 10 of Spades, and again it was allowed to hold the trick. And again that was the elusive 9th trick due to the lucky lie of the Diamonds. But again, Don repeated the Spade hook, Danny won the Q, cleared Hearts, and Don again wound up down 1.

At the other table, the result was the same, 3N down 1. So Don lost 11 Imps on the 2 hands, instead of having a chance at winning 13.

The Finals of the CNTC continue on BBO today.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Off to the CNTC

I will be in Montreal this week for the CNTC's, Canada's annual week long extravaganza to select Team Champions in Open, Women's, Seniors, and Flt B/C groups. Will try to post a few hands and results as it goes along.

If want to see results, they are available here

Sunday, April 22, 2012

What to Lead?

Have a couple of fun hands from our recent Regional. On the first, I have 2 stories on 1 hand. From several points of view. For the first part, I will give you a lead problem. You hear the auction 2H (Weak)-5N-7H (DBL) by partner. Your hand is JT63 J4 Q2 QJ864. What is your opening lead?

Here is the whole hand. At the table, there was no actual double, so on the Club lead, it was easy to ruff out a Spade and claim. The partner of the opening leader decided not to double and put more pressure on the opening leader on a blind auction. What does everyone think, if you have a void, should you double these auctions, to make partner think?

At the other table, regular  team mates of mine held the NS cards, and after a different and more complicated auction, got to 7S from the N hand. The opening lead was a Club, and my friend, without thinking about the possible problems on the hand, ruffed it on dummy. When he now played a Spade to the A, he found there was no way to make the hand. Sometimes there is no justice, the makeable Grand went down, while the easy to beat Grand made 7.

The next hand is from the finals of one of the KO's. With the opps Vul, you pick up K75  A984  T7  8643 and hear it go 1D on your left, Double by Partner, 1N on your right. You pass, and RHO raises to 3N, passed back to you. You decide to Double, ending the auction, and have to find a lead. You try the 5 of Spades, and this dummy tracks.

Declarer plays low on the Spade, and Partner wins the Q. Partner then cashes the K of Clubs, before leading the 10 of Spades back to the A. Declarer leads the 6 of Hearts off dummy to the K. But you win the A, cash the Spade, and lead a Club to partner for down 1 and +200. At the other table, it was played from the other side, and on a Spade start, declarer won the A of Spades, and played a Heart to the K, when that was allowed to hold, he claimed 9 tricks for 13 Imps.

The last board was another slam hand. With no one vul, you pick up --- AKQ95 74 KQJ984. Partner opens 1S in first seat and you bid 2C, which happens to be GF, nice on this hand. Partner bids 2D, and over your 2H, bids 3C. You show real Hearts with 3H and partner bids 4C, what now?

At the table, partner bid 6C, and quickly claimed 7 when dummy tracked with A8753 6 AQJ5 AT3. The main part of the discussion afterwards was did 4C promise extras, since partner had taken the scenic route to show real Club support. I think N should not give up on the grand with all the extras still in the hand, and try something like 4H or even 4S here. There is no way these are to play when there is solid agreement on Clubs. so they must be looking for controls, which S has an abundance of.

At the other table, they got to the Grand, which provided most of the winning margin, when S directly raised 2C to 3C. I am not a fan of this, or of the later Key Card ask by N with the void, but it worked when S showed all of the missing Key Cards, not the 2 N deserved to hear about, so there was a known parking spot for the 2 Diamonds and an easy 7 bid.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Do You Have Enough

Playing IMPS with an unknown partner on BBO, you pick up the following hand with no one Vul, and see this auction.

The question now is, do you have enough to go 7. Partner has forced to slam after showing Hearts and Diamonds, and you have both outside A's, instead of slow cards, good Diamonds, and a Heart card.

So what does partner have, he should be at least 54 in Hearts and Diamonds, if not 6-4, and probably has 0-1 Club for this auction, with a good hand. If he does not have a Spade card, then the 2 red suits in partners hand have to be very good.

I think it is a bit of a push to bid 7, depends on how much you trust partner. And that is the problem just playing a few random hands, you do not know partners style on these hands. So would you accept the push on this hand yourself?

These were the 2 hands.

Partner passed 6D, and 7 was claimed on the opening lead. Turns out 7H also makes, but having the 5th Diamond to pitch the Spade loser on is a lot to hope for, 7D seems like the right contract. Just not sure of an easier way to get there.

Turns out though, in the wonderful world of BBO IMPS Scoring, if you are not in a straight team match, 6D scored a win of 5 imps, as just under 1/2 the field did not get to a slam, and 1 person managed to play in 3H after the auction 1D-3H-all pass. The only 7 bid was the person who checked for A's, found all of them, and barged straight into 7H, not worrying about the 2nd Spade loser or if partner had real Diamonds to take care of the little Diamonds. Hey, it worked.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

A Bit of a Pushy Game

When you are playing with an exhuberant partner, many interesting things can happen, especially if you are not shy yourself. This hand came up last night at our IMPS League, playing against a young but good team. I held 653  K86432  6  K97 with everyone vul. Partner opened 1D in first seat and RHO bid 2C. I decided that I wasn't missing much unless partner bid again, and I didn't like coming in with a bad suit and effective 3 count.

This went P on my left, and partner re-opened with a double. This can quite often be a strong NT, since we play a weak NT system. RHO passed, and I decided I now liked my hand, so jumped to 4H, ending the auction. The opening lead was the A of Clubs, and a somewhat dissapointing dummy came down.

Partner was certainly feeling as energetic as I was on this board, but we are here and at least the Club lead was helpful. If the A of Spades is onside, there is not that much to worry about with this aggresive game. Just not sure it is when the A and another Club get led, and LHO could not take a call.

First order of business is to win the second Club, and play a Heart to the A and another to the K. RHO started with the stiff J, and pitched a Club on the 2nd Heart. Now, ruff a Club to board to eliminate that suit as LHO sheds a Spade, then off board with a small Diamond, since I do not have the spot cards to lead up to it. RHO wins the J of Diamonds, then thinks for a minute and returns the A of Diamonds. I ruff this and play a Spade to the K and RHO's A, then win the J of Spades return on board. Play the Q of Diamonds, ruff the K when it appears, Heart to board for a Spade pitch on the 10 of Diamonds, and claim 10 tricks.

As I told RHO later, he probably needs to count out my hand and realize that the J of Spades out when in with the J of Diamonds destroys my communication, and can not really cost. Anyways, they did not find this bid at the other table, so that became a 10 IMP pickup, instead of a 6 IMP loss. Partner said after the hand he thought I must be waiting with a penalty pass for a reopening double, so wanted to oblige me.

Monday, March 12, 2012

A Routine 24 Imp Swing

Had a truly wild hand this week in a practice match on BBO. Our opps at our table did really well to score the max possible on the hand, or so we thought. Turns out our partners at the other table had us totally covered, even if we got a magic plus score, we were not going to cover their score :)

Here is the hand from our table

My partner was a bit exuberant with the S hand, yes, E overcalled 1D not 1H, we assume it was a mis-click, but he did not ask for an undo. The negative double deserved to have me jump in Hearts, but the opps did. It served to get us to Spades.

When E pulled the double of 4S (which was going to be hard to make but had some chances if guess most things right) to 5H, and his partner re-doubled, the play was not very exciting. We were quickly minus 1200 on the board, and did not figure this could be good. Little did we know.

Here is the other table however :)

The auction needs a little explanation, 2D was multi, usually a weak 2 in a major, 3C showed an overcall in Clubs, limited, and E thought the opps could make anything they wanted, so he jumped to 6H, which he thought was pass or correct. We were still losing a bunch of IMPS on this, but when it came back to him Doubled, he thought partner had decided it was to play, not pass or correct, so he decided to make his own correction, assuming partner would now put him in their suit. W decided he had made his choice, and he had the Q of Spades, so since it sounded like partner was walking the dog, he sat the Double, as did E. The hand did not play well in 6S Doubled. I think they can hold it to 2 tricks, but holding it to 3 worked out well.

The +1200 at one table and +2900 at the other works out to 24 IMPS, not a record, but a healthy portion of one. We managed to win on the other boards, but that proved a little difficult to overcome.

At least everyone had a good laugh.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

More Fun Slam Hands

Had 2 more interesting slam hands this week. The first occurred at our weekly IMPS League match. I picked up the following hand with everyone VUL, QT97 --- AJ975 Q964 and heard partner open 1D, with RHO overcalling 1H. I wanted to get the Spades in along with the Diamond support, so I made a slightly offshape Fit Jump with 2S. This went Double on my left (alerted as showing a Heart Honour), and 4C by partner. We play most jumps like this as splinters, so that certainly improved my hand. However, even with the announced double fit and lack of quick losers, my hand was still pretty min. RHO doubled 4C, and I cue-bid 4H anyways, since nothing I had heard so far was too bad. LHO doubled this again, and partner bid 4S. RHO passed, and I attempted to sign off in 5D. LHO (who should have probably done this earlier), not bid 5H, and partner bid 5S over that. RHO passed, and with partner bidding freely again, I thought slam should have some play. However, forgetting the golden rule that you need lots of trumps if you are planning a cross-ruff, I bid 6C to allow partner to take a choice. He chose 6S, ending the auction.

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

The opening lead was the K of Hearts and this dummy tracked.

AK73 943 KQT86 10

QT97 --- AJ975 Q964

The good news is I wasn’t down off the top, the bad news is I had a lot of work to do for that 12th trick. Even if I was able to ruff the 3 Hearts in my hand, I was not sure how I was going to get back to dummy to pull trumps, under the assumption that they were 3-2. Finally, deciding I needed some help from the opps on this, I led a Club towards the dummy at trick 2. LHO stepped up with the J of Clubs and obliged by leading a 2nd Heart back for me to ruff. Finally seeing some light, I ruffed this, played a Diamond to board as both followed, ruffed the last Heart, cashed the Q of Spades, ruffed a Club to board, and claimed as the Spades were 3-2.

They could not quite match this at the other table, so we won 12 IMPS. Would have been a lot easier if I had just bid 6D over 5S. That is pretty easy to make. My LHO was not thinking about my problem on defense though. If she just returns almost anything but a Heart after winning the J of Clubs, my timing is shot on the hand, and I am not sure there is much I can do at that point.

The next hand comes from the Sun Aft MP game at our local club. Playing with a regular partner, Vul vs NV opps, I picked up the following nice hand, AKJ42 --- AQ63 AK83, these Heart voids seem a common theme. My RHO started the proceedings with a 3H bid, and I bid 4H, not really wanting partner to pass 3H Doubled when I had no Heart to lead. LHO bid 5H, partner doubled, and P back to me. The Double here should show some values, but not enough to bid over 5H. We did not really play it as pure penalty. So I decided that we should play in a slam, and why should I guess wrong. I bid 5N, and partner converted this to 6D, ending the auction.

The opening lead was the A Hearts, and this is what partner saw.

AKJ42 --- AQ63 AK83

985 K95 KT52 J74

There is hope on the contract, and it looks like 6D is better than 6S, will just have to see if can be made and how it scores. The opening lead was ruffed and the AQ of Diamonds cashed. RHO played the 47 and LHO followed with the 9 before pitching a small Heart. So problems.

Talking about it after, we decided that the best line seemed to be to cash the AK of Spades now. Anytime they were 3-2, the hand was cold. And anytime the Q of Spades came down singleton or doubleton, the hand was cold or making 7. Also, on this line, you could afford to cash the K Hearts to pitch the Club losers, without having to worry.

Partner actually played the last 2 rounds of Diamonds then took the Spade hook, losing to the doubleton Q. Fortunately, that person led a Heart back, so the slam still make. It turns out it was always going to make, since the Q Clubs was also doubleton, but that didn’t mean there wasn’t a scary moment or 2 when the Spade hook lost.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Couple of Slam Decisions

Got a couple of interesting slam hands from the last 2 weekends for everyone to consider.

The first, Playing IMPS with no one vul, you open 1S in first seat with KQ9764 853 AQ4 6, and partner bids 2H over this. You raise to 3H, and then bid 4D over partners 4C call. Partner now bids 4N (RKC), you bid 5C showing 1, and partner now bids 5D, asking about the Q. Without it, you bid 5H, partner bids 5S, you show your second round Club control with 6C, and partner bids 6D. So now what. Here is the full auction.

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

First, what does partner have? He has to have all the KC’s and the Q of Trump to be interested in going past 6H, which he obviously is. So what is a possible hand, something like Ax AKQxx xxx Axx, assuming partner does not have 3 Spades. Is that enough for this auction, or does he need 1 more card. And finally, opposite that, is it a good grand? If partner has a 6th Heart, then the grand is better, but opposite that hand, you need a couple of Club ruffs, and hope you have no Heart loser. And even opposite that hand, if Spades and Hearts do not behave, there is no late entry to the Spades on a supposed Diamond lead.

With needing both suits splitting, that hand will not produce a grand that fits into the correct odds. If you need a board or a good swing, then it is probably worth bidding, but I am not sure I would want to be there without something else. Almost wish you had bid 2S instead of 3H over the 2H bid. Assuming you bid 6H, partner will subside.

Partners hand was AT AKQ64 83 AKJ7, and with Hearts splitting 3-2 and no Club overruffs coming, the hand made 7.

The next hand is again at IMPS, and happened during our final playdowns for the CNTC within our unit. Vul vs Not, you pick up KQ9 AQ865 AJ3 Q7. Partner deals and opens 1C, and then bids 2C over your 1H bid. You want to create a force, and find out about Heart Support, so bid 2D, and partner raises that to 3D. So now what?

Specific bids here are 4D is RKC, and 4N is quantitative.

At the table, this hand bid 4N quantitative, and partner bid 5D over that. This hand now bid 6N, ending the auction. The 2 hands are:

J2 4 KQ95 AJT986

KQ9 AQ865 AJ3 Q7

6N went down 1 when Clubs were 4-1 onside, so the K could not be picked up. The interesting part of the hand is that 6C can make on the trump coupe, assuming you ruff a Heart early. This is a matter of good technique, so hopefully would have been done, but we will never know. During the discussion afterwards, we made the point that if this hand was going to go to a slam over 5D, then 6C is the better bid, since the balanced part of the hand was already shown. This would have led to the makeable slam, and tested my declarer play.

Friday, February 3, 2012

Ignoring those 4-4 Major Fits

Had a very interesting hand in the Swiss Teams at our recent Sectional. All Vul, I picked up T74 KJ86 AKQ K98. Playing a 12-14 1NT, I opened 1C in first seat, and with the opponents silent throughout, bid 1N (15-17) over partners 1H bid. If I had a doubleton on the hand, I would raise partner first, but with the 4333 shape, wanted to emphasize the flat shape. Partner now raised this directly to 3N, not bothering to do any of our Stayman auctions. This tends to imply a very flat hand, so after some thought, I decided I would accept partners rath for never supporting her suit with this holding, and play the hand in 3N.

The opening lead was the 3 of Spades (3rd and 5th), and partner put down AK5 AT74 654 T62. That was certainly a flat hand, and it looked like there were going to be enough problems taking 9 tricks, no matter 10, unless I could locate the Q of Hearts. Here are the 2 hands with the lead of the 3 of Spades.

AK5 AT74 654 T62

T74 KJ86 AKQ K98

Basically, if you can pick up the Q of Hearts, you have 9 tricks, with backup possibilities in Spades and Clubs for a 9th trick. From the lead, LHO could have 5 Spades, but it is slightly more likely that this is 3rd best since the 2 is missing. Also, the Spade honours are likely to be split, since LHO did not lead the Q or J. Ducking this with the AK on board will almost certainly lose to one of the missing Q or J on your right, and expose your K of Clubs to immediate danger, so it looks like you have to win this on board. And as stated before, picking up the Q of Hearts means 9 tricks, wherever the A of Clubs is.

After winning the A of Spades, with RHO signaling encouragement, I played the A of Hearts off board, RHO following with the 3 and LHO with the 9. When I led the 7 of Hearts off board, RHO now echo’d with the 2 of Hearts. They play upside down count signals, so if these are honest cards, it shows 3 Hearts, tending to leave LHO with the Q9 of Hearts (with 9x, it is a standard false card, but not sure LHO would make that play). Is there any reason for RHO to give honest count? First, he does not know I have 4 Hearts, I never did raise partner, so if he is playing his partner for 3 or 4, especially 4, then giving an honest count is more important. But if I have only 2 Hearts, why would I start with the A, and if I have 3, then there is no way for his partner to get the Hearts wrong. A clear case of Spy vs Spy. After some though, I played the K of Hearts, dropping the Q9 offside, and when the A of Clubs was onside, made 4.

I had actually been hoping for the A of Clubs to be offside when I dropped the Q of Hearts, as that effectively made it impossible to make 4H. Turns out, they bid 4H at the other table, but did not get the Hearts correct. When something else went wrong for them, not sure what. they went down 2, for a 13 IMP pickup for us.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Less than Optimal Slam Bidding

Playing in our weekly IMPS League the other night, we had a couple of slam hands that we brought back less than optimal results on.

On the first hand, I held 83 9873 AJ65 AQ4 with All VUL, and passed in first seat. Partner opened 1S in third seat, with the opponents silent throughout. I bid 1N forcing, and partner now jumped to 3S. This is where I made a very lazy bid, with an absolute maximum for my original pass, I should make a forward going cue-bid of 4C here. That gives us a good shot at getting to the cold slam in Spades. Instead I just raised to 4S, end playing partner into being forced to Pass with Jxx of Clubs in her hand. 4S can be made on a lot worse holding, and partner can not really go on over it. Partner held AKQJxx Ax K Jxx, and the entry to the A of Diamonds for the Heart pitch can never really be attacked early enough. The only thing that can beat 6S is the lead of a singleton Club.

The opponents at the other table opened a weak NT with my hand, and now the other hand had no trouble driving to a slam for a 12 IMP loss.

The next hand, my partner held this nice hand, Vul vs Not, --- A72 AKJ75 QT876 and heard it go 1D by partner, 1H on her right. She had the options of bidding 3C, fit showing, or 2C, natural and forcing, and chose the latter, which I do like. There is going to be time to get the Diamonds in later, but you want to know how partner feels about Clubs. LHO now jumped to 3H (Pre-emptive) and partner bid 4C freely. RHO passed, and she now bid 4H, which went Pass, 5C by partner, Pass back to her. This is actually good news, since partner was not able to make a Spade cue-bid of any type, and is marked with Heart shortness, her hand has improved on the auction. At this point, she bid 6C, missing the best bid available of 5N (Grand Slam Force). Her LHO now bid 6H, which was doubled by partner and passed back to her. She sat this, and we collected +1100 on the board when I could not read her for having a void in Spades on the hand. I wound up with 1 Spade trick instead of 2 ruffs.

Turns out her RHO had overcalled 1H with also having AJxx in Spades, so it was not easy to get right. My hand was QT73 4 QT62 AKJ4. I have a minimum, but after 2C by partner and 3H weak on my right, my Clubs and singleton Heart make my hand too good not to bid freely to 4C. 7C is pretty easy on the board, and if they take the sack in 7H, it is now easier to picture first round Spade control of some type in partners hand, and lead Spades when in with the Clubs, getting us up to a possible +1700 score. At the other table, our partner did not overcall 1D with 1H, so the auction was a quick 1D-6D, making 7, for a 7 IMP loss.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Interesting Play Problem

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

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

AK97 6 AJT8 AT62

JT8 4 K9643 J973

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

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

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

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


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

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Nice Hand

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

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

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

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

Thursday, January 5, 2012

How to Complete a Match

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

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

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

J --- AT975 QJ98632

6 QT975 KJ863 AK

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

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

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

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

Q64 J76 QJ6 AQT2

KJ AK853 752 J83

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

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

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

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

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

983 --- 9654 AQ9763


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

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