Thursday, July 31, 2008
We all know the basics of Stayman - 2♣ asks for a major, then 2♦ denies one and 2♥ or 2♠ shows one. But are you and your partner on the same page when it comes to rebids? Here's the rebid/response structure I suggest for you.
1N - 2♣ - 2♦ -
2♥ = bad hand, both majors. Opener is expected to pass with better hearts, or bid 2♠ with better spades.
2♠ = invitational to 3N with five spades and four hearts. Opener can pass with a minimum and three spades, bid 2N with a minimum and two spades, or bid a game in notrump or spades with a maximum.
2N = invitational.
3♣ or 3♦ = natural and a slam try. Every system needs a way to show a slam invitation in a minor, and I feel this is the easiest way to go about that.
3N = to play.
4♣ = Gerber.
4♦ = 5-5 or better in the majors. Opener is expected to bid his better major.
4♥ or 4♠ = to play.
4N = invitational to 6N.
1N - 2♣ - 2♥ or 2♠ -
2N = invitational.
3♣ or 3♦ = natural and a slam try.
3 of partner's major = invitational.
3 of other major = artificial slam try in partner's major.
3N = to play.
4N = invitational to 6N (not Blackwood - to bid Blackwood, start with the artificial slam try, then bid 4N).
Over the artificial slam try, 1N - 2♣ - 2♥ - 3♠ or 1N - 2♣ - 2♠ - 3♥,
opener should show his cheapest ace by cuebidding it. This can lead to some highly intelligent slam-bidding auctions.
Remember, a bad set of agreements is better than no agreements at all-- so you don't have to take these agreements over Stayman, but make sure you and your partner have agreed on something!
I played in the Mini-Spingold in the Las Vegas NABC last week. My team was me, Paul, Buffy, Tomb, and LCC. Tomb and LCC had met for the first time a few days prior to the event, played the Life Master Pairs, and placed a very impressive 59th overall. Tomb, LCC, and I would be anchoring, and Paul and Buffy would be platooning with me, generally Paul the odd quarters and Buffy the even.
With 99 teams in the field and a need to get down to 64 for the next day, the bulk of the matches were three-ways with two survivors. We were the 42nd seed and would be playing one much higher seed and one much lower seed.
1st eighth, vs. the low seed:
We bid a pushy red 3N-- pard opened a strong NT with his good 14, and I forced to game with KJT85 76 AT86 J2. Lose six. One other small partscore swing their way, and afer seven, we were down 12-1.
2nd eighth, vs. the high seed:
Pard severely underdefended 1N – lose six; 3N – lose 11; 3N – lose 10. Ouch.
The opponents had the auction 1D (1S) P (P) 3D (P) 3N. Dummy (the 1D-3D bidder) held A T9x AJT9xxx xx. Down 4, for 11 back. Dummy chastised his partner-- “You knew I didn't have a good hand- I would've doubled with a good hand!” This is the high seed? We also gained 6 back for staying out of a bad white game, going 170 opposite -50. We were down 30-17.
3rd eighth, low:
I'm starting to get the feeling that these players have well over the equivalent of 5000 MPs in their home country. I don't know that we're going to be able to beat them.
They bid everything that moved-- getting to two games that LCC and Tomb didn't. The last board, I thought we needed a pickup, so on the last board, all red, holding 976 Q8 Q9873 AQ7 over pard's 1H, I bid a forcing NT, then an invitational 2NT over his 2C call. I guess pard was in the same mindset, because he raised to game with xx AKT9x Ax JT9x. They led the five of diamonds. I played low from dummy, and righty took the king. I dropped the nine looking for a continuation, and I got one-- LHO played the jack under the ace. It turned out lefty led low from JT5! This filthy, filthy game came home (with an overberry!) for win 10. Down 30-11 after 14.
4th eighth, high:
This was the most ridiculous board of the event:
First I held 8754 AQ86 85 AKQ and opened a strong NT. Lefty passed, pard transferred to hearts, and righty overcalled 2N, both minors. I bid 3H, lefty 4D, pard 4H, and righty 5D. I thought we were in a game-forcing auction, so I doubled to show diamond losers... pard didn't think we were in a forcing auction, and figured me for a diamond suit like my actual club suit. So he sat, and they were cold for 6-- minus 650.
At the other table, they also opened a strong notrump. My teammate made some sort of a conventional double, Buffy's counterpart bid a systemically natural 2D meaning it as a transfer, and everyone passed. E-W took the same twelve tricks on defense as they did on offense at our table, and our teemies went +350. Lose 7. Would've been only two if I hadn't doubled... so, as usual, double of a making game cost 5 imps... just in a ludicrous manner.
Other than that, we were pretty on. We cracked an unfavorable notrump for 500 and win 9, and we bid a good grand. I held KT42 KQT654 A 62 over pard's 1S. I bid 2H, and over his 2S (not neccesarily extra length) I splintered with 4D. He checked for keys and bid 7S with his AQxxxx A KQxx Ax. Win 13.
When all was said and done, we were down 40-39 at the half.
5th eighth (I'll stop the low/high stuff-- team 1 is certainly much stronger than 2.):
We won 11 when the opponents missed an easy slam-- they keycarded and found out they were off one, and stopped. This is one of my biggest pet peeves (by partners, not by opponents.. I love when opponents don't know how to bid). If you're not strong enough / don't know enough to bid a slam when you're off only one keycard, you weren't strong enough to Blackwood in the first place!! A few other imps fell on the table for various reasons, and we ended the quarter down 34-25.
I opened an intermediate 3H in third chair at all red with – AJT986 AT63 962. Lefty doubled, and righty pulled to 3N. This is untouchable from that side-- doubler had Qxx of hearts, and notrumper Kx. At the other table, it went pass – pass – 1H – 1N – 2S – all pass, down three. Pard held king-seventh of spades and out. Not much else of interest happened, and at the ¾ mark, we were down 59-46.
Buffy and I turned it on and had a wall of a card.
We pushed a white game; we won 7 for a good white game, 450 opposite 170; then, I picked up at all white the best four-count ever:
52 9765 J3 KT643.
I passed, and pard bid 2C. I coughed up a positive response of 2D. He bid 2S, I bid a natural 3C, and he came out with 5H! What could this be but Exclusion Keycard? So I duly responded one without the queen (our response structure is zero, one without, one with, two without, two with, etc) and he bid the club granny. His hand: AKQJxx – Ax AQJxx. Cold for 13 tricks in clubs, but only 12 in spades. We hoped the opponents would get to the spade grand and go down... it was almost as good, though-- they stopped in 4S and made 6! Win 12. We picked up one when our teemies pulled an overtrick in 6H, and 13 more when the opponents missed a red slam. Then came:
KT7 JT9 T975 976. Pard opened 2N (red) and I figured my good spot cards were worth a lift to game. Pard was staring at a “Bridge Master 2000 Special” of Q32 AQ2 AKQ A432. Note the lowest spot cards possible. He impressed all at the table by bringing home ten tricks. The seven of spades was his ninth trick, and his entry to the 13th diamond for his tenth. Nicely done. Win 11.
On the last board, we got to the only game with a chance at making-- 4S on the 5-2. Splits were foul, and I went down two. The other table took a line of play that guaranteed down one, for lose 3. So in seven boards, we won the set 36-3 and the match 71-37.
We continued our mooseish ways, tacking on 26 imps and giving away none. My favorite board from this set:
I held QJ8762 53 J4 AQ9 at all white. Pard passed, righty opened 1D, I leapt to 2S, lefty doubled, righty bid 3C, lefty cued 3S, and righty bid a confident 3N. Auction over? Nope-- pard's in there with a resounding double. I duly led a heart (dummy's first “bid” suit), and dummy was K KJ8xx Qxxx KTx. Pard held Tx AQT9x T9x Jxx and we put it down 3 for a win 10 opposite 3N -1 at the other table.
We won this set 26-0 and the match 72-59. The tally for the final 14 boards was 62-3.
This is why I love playing with Buffy.
The weaker but higher ranking team lost, so we assumed the 29 seed going in to day two.
Wednesday, July 30, 2008
(A) Favorable, 4th
K32 764 AT2 AQT3
LHO opens 2H, pass, pass to you. Do you move?
I reopened with a double and got us to 3N just in opposite pard's Jxx AKx Kxx Jxxx.
(B) All red, 2nd
98654 KQT AQ4 QT
RHO opens 1H. You overcall 1S [do you?], LHO bids a non-forcing 2C, check, check.
I balanced with 2D, which pard competitively raised to 3 for -200. Not the best bid I've ever made.
(C) All white, 1st
KQT63 --- 86532 Q83
I decided to open 2S. Partner bid an Ogusty 2N, and I jumped to 4D to show a side five-card suit. Pard got justifiably excited, and I was down two in six spades opposite Axx AKTxx KT ATx. I didn't feel too bad about this, because as the cards lie, proper defense would set four spades. Sadly, the opponents got to 3N at the other table, which made with the club onside.
We met up with a pretty good team. At my table were Cheech and Chong (you may remember my runin with Chong a few years back; in a Gatlinburg Bracket 2 KO, he used Hesitation Bergen to get to a game [he had a 1453 seven-count; showed a 7-9 HCP raise over partner's 1H with 3C, and raised partner's slow 3H call-- in the words of Edgar Kaplan, "your partner's tempo robbed you of the chance to be brilliant."], got bitchslapped by the Director for blatant use of UI, and had the cojones to appeal. I do sort of miss the $50 to the ACBL Education Foundation for frivolous appeals...). Cheech seems like a pretty good guy, but I certainly wouldn't keep playing with someone like that, so there's a bit of a guilt by association thing going for him.
| 1N (P) 2♥ (X) |
2♠ (3♥) 4♣ (P)
4♠ (All Pass)
Other than that, nothing much spectacular happened, and we won the match 30-18.
So we made it in to the finals, and guess who else made it-- team Rodwell.
We decided we should put our best defenders against Meckwell, so the Mrs and I went up against Curtis Cheek and Reanette Froebuck. Curtis was on my left. Reanette was on my right. Rodwell was in my seat, and Meckstroth was in pard's.
We played boards 1-12. I sat West.
1: The opponents bid to a normal 3N, -430.
2: 75 AKJ2 T42 KJ95. Pard opened 1D, I bid 1H, and she rebid 1N (11-13 or a bad 14, doesn't deny four spades). Do you think this is worth a game bid? I decided that it was, but just barely. You know the opponents will be in it -- they haven't missed a 23-point 3N in decades -- and there should be some play for it. +400.
3: We accurately defended 4H for +50.
4: AKQT3 865 Q Q876. I opened 1S. Pard passed, and the opponents bid up to 5D. Pard led a high spade, and dummy was 2434 with Axx of diamonds and massive round-suit holdings. I led three rounds of spades, hoping to protect pard's Jxx of trump. It turned out not to matter-- she had J9x. +100.
5: A7653 J8 A2 AJ95. I opened 1S in fourth chair. Pard bid 2D, limit raise in spades (2C would've been natural). What's your call? I liked the multitude of bullets, so I made a minimal artificial game try with 2H. I could've made any Kokish game try starting with 2N, so this showed only very mild interest. Pard had heard enough, and leapt to 4S, just in. +420.
6: Q8432 KQJ84 87 8. Pard passed, Reanette opened 1N, I doubled to show a spade two-suiter, and Curtis shrugged this off to show a light invitation with five spades, which got raised to game. I'm not sure if double-dummy this should be set, but we certainly shouldn't have let it make five. Curtis played it really, really well... I wasn't sure that UK would be able to handle this one. -450.
| 1♠ - 2♦ |
2♥ - 2♠
4♣ - 4N
5♣ - 5♦
5♥ - 7♠
I opened a touch light, knowing my hand would be opened at the other table. Pard forced to game with 2D, I rebid 2H, and her 2S set trumps. I splintered with 4C. We'd agreed that actions like this are purely shape-showing and not showing extras. I decided to prove it once and for all... she asked for keycards. I showed one key, the queen of spades, and the king of hearts. That was enough for her and she put me in 7S.
What's your line of play here assuming trumps are no worse than 3-1?
I ruffed the KC lead in hand, led a spade to the ace (just in case they were 4-0 on my right), drew trumps (3-1 on my right), led a diamond to dummy, cashed another diamond, pitched my last diamond on the club ace, and claimed a beer. +2210.
8: We defended 3S when we were cold for three or four diamonds. I didn't like that much, but in the end we squeaked out a fifth trick. +50.
9: We got lazy on defense to 3C, and allowed an overberry. -130.
10: We got to 4S. Pard made a slight misplay-- with AQxx opposite KTxxx, she cashed the king first. No cost though. +650.
11: JT5 QJ KQJ73 853. The opponents bid 1D - 2C - 2N - 3N and it was my lead. Any thoughts? I decided to table the three of diamonds. My heart sank when declarer played low from Ax on the board, and sank further when partner produced the nine. Amazingly, the nine held-- pard had T9x and RHO had xxx. A diamond was returned, declarer finessed into partner's QT doubleton of clubs, and we ran diamonds. +50.
| 1♦ (1♥) P (2♥) |
X (P) 3♦ (All Pass)
The three of clubs was led around to my queen. It seemed that club ruffs were lurking, so I decided to play for trumps 2-2 or the queen of spades onside. I led out ace and a diamond. RHO had KQx, and LHO had AQ of spades, so I was down one. -50. Damnation.
We went to compare results. I said, "We weren't bad, but I'm not sure we have it." UK smiled and said "Then I think we have it."
On boards one through five, the same contract was played at both tables. Meckstroth overplayed board two for one imp. It was 0-1 after 5.
6: Pard and Meckstroth held -- T6 Q65432 KQ932. Mullet opened 1D in a weak notrump context, Rodwell overcalled 1H, UK bid 1S, and Meckstroth bid 1N showing clubs. This was doubled by Mullet's 17-count, pass, pass, 2C, double-- 800 for the good guys. There goes one of our soft results. Win 8.
7: In eight rounds of bidding (in which Rodwell also opened my 6430 nine-count), they got to six spades. Win 13. (Incidentally-- in 6S, Rodwell just drew trumps and took the diamond finesse. Is this the right line in six?)
8: The teemies let RM play 3D just in. Lose 2.
9. Our soft defense cost us an imp opposite UK's 3C making. Lose 1.
10. Same contract, same result. Push.
11. Ditto. Push.
12. In a highly competitive auction, Meckstroth took the push to 5D over UK's 4S. He also played ace and a diamond, but UK led ace and a spade to begin, so that was just 300 for us. Win 6.
When all was said and done, we'd won 27-4.
Tuesday, July 29, 2008
(A) All red, 3rd
75 KQT96 J953 K7
Pard opens 1D, you bid 1H, and she jumps to 2N. You check back with 3C, which lefty doubles. Pard bids a natural 3S (not denying three hearts), and it's up to you.
I bid 3N (which worked just fine), but I think pulling to four of a red suit is probably right, most likely 4H.
(B) Unfavorable, 3rd
93 KQT763 AKT9 4
1S (P) 2H (3C)
P (P) 3D (P)
3H (P) 4H (5C)
X (P) ?
2H was game-forcing, so pard's double is regressive and tends to show fast club losers. Your call.
I pulled to 5H and was right, this time. Not sure what the percentage action is.
(C) All white, 2nd
K987652 3 K76 97
Pass to you. Do you or don't you? I passed and went +170 in 3S; my counterpart went +420 after opening 3S. The more I think about it the more I like a 2S opening.
In the first half, I had one bad board and the teammates had one bad board... luckily the same one. I went for 800 in a favorable save when it could have been 500, and UK bid the wrong game for lose 15. We won the set 64-21.
The opponents didn't withdraw from the match... I guess people in Bracket 2 still enjoy playing bridge even when they're getting their asses handed to them. Good for them.
The second half was basically cleanup... we did nothing stupid and gave away 12 imps to win 87-52. Sloppier than I'd like, but it's a win.
We had a ridiculously awful start, losing the first four boards 22-0. I knew we were in a big hole (but certainly not insurmountable-- again, we're two imps per board better than this team) when better than this team) when I picked up
(C) All red, 4th
T8642 J98763 3 7
(P) 1D (P) ?
I decided to pass and await further developments. LHO balanced with 2C, passed back to me. I thought it quite likely that a double would be left in, so I tried 2H, and went +200 opposite partner's AQ AKJx Kxxx Qxxx. Luckily, this was a push.
UK and Mullet said they had a very poor set as well. I was prepared to mount another grand comeback, but when the imps were tallied for the first half, we were only down 22-14. No problem!
(D) None vul, 4th
-- AJ952 KQ6532 84
(P) P (1N) 2D!
(2H*) 3D 3S ?
!=red suits *=transfer
I bid 5D, which was cold opposite pard's Qxxx Kxx ATx xxx. I think pard should've 'cued' 2S over the transfer to show equal length in the reds and a desire to compete. This was a win 13 opposite UK's 4S making.
(E) Unfavorable, 3rd
97543 85 KQT AQ3
Pard opened a strong [14+-17] notrump. I transferred and bid 3N, she corrected to 4S and overplayed it to win 1. Do y'all agree with the sequence?
I've since decided I like Stayman better. If partner shows four spades, I have an easy 4S bid; if she shows four hearts, 3N should be good; and if she shows neither, I can bid 3H showing 54xx and gamegoing values. Have you ever seen anyone deliberately pull to the 4-3 major fit in a Smolen auction? Me neither. I've seen people forget and raise, but never on purpose. I think this sequence would get us to the right game much more often than transfer and 3N. And it just might deter a heart lead against 3N when it's right....
We won the match 50-28.
So the event turned out to be what we thought it would be - an exercise in not screwing up. We screwed up plenty, but we did more than enough offsetting good stuff to hold on.
Mullet and UK were great teammates, not to mention fun folks to hang with between sessions. Hopefully we can do it again sometime. Maybe D6 0-5000 GNTs? We'll see...
We (the Mrs. and myself) entered with high hopes of making Bracket 1 - playing four-handed with Mullet and UK, we certainly had a B1 team. Sadly, our 11000 MPs only brought us up to the 17th seed in the event... so it was top of B2 for us (the 18th seed was 7200, an the bottom of B2 was 4500). So it appeared to be an exercise in not screwing up. Or was it? If we go into a KO being theoretically three to one to win each match, we only have a 31.6% chance of winning the event (assuming head-on matches throughout). Four to one? A 40.1% chance. It turns out we have an even chance to win a KO event when we're between 5:1 and 6:1 favorites in each match. So it's not as easy as it sounds...
Round 1. Our bracket was 12 teams. With the low number of teams, plus the low number of masterpoints in the event, it turned out that to win B2 paid less than to make 3/4 in B1. Annoying. Anyway, we had a three-way for the first match. All we needed to do was go plus on the 24 boards (or go minus with one win and one loss, but have the team that beat us beat the third team - but I find it best to treat it as a 24-board match, just trying to stay positive).
(A) All white, 4th
KJT JT94 AJB T86
(1D) 1S (2D) ?
I guess I was feeling aggressive.. looking back, this seems like a fine 2S bid, but I decided to show a three-card limit raise via an irresponsive double. LHO lifted to 3D, pard bid 4C, and RHO passed. If we're going to go down at the four level, it might as well be in game, right? I bid 4S. Lefty tanked for a while, and I was thrilled to see her pull to 5D. As it turns out, this was the right decision--- we were cold with pard's AQxxx xx x KJ9xx. We got one of each for 300 and win 9 opposite UK's 3D making.
We picked up another 9 for another 300, undoubled this time. Declarer could've held it to 100, but severely lost his way.
This was painful-- my LHO Blackwooded with a void, and when she found out only two aces were missing, she shot back a grand try of 5N. Her partner didn't bite... Pard cashed the right ace at trick one to hold them to six. Lose 13.
1N was made at both tables for win 5, and Mullet overdeclared 1N for win one. 24-11 after six.
(B) All white, second
T9 A QJ9764 A965
RHO opens 2S. Is this enough?
I decided it was. Over my 3D, pard's 3N made me fairly happy with my decision. She held KQ8x Q9xx Txx KT and went 400 for win 7.
I stole an overtrick in 3D, and it duly won an imp-- but it was just turning 12 into 13. UK was in a really filthy red 4S with good breaks and poor defense. 24-0 after six.
(C) All white, 2nd
J9864 AK9 T872 5
Righty opens a strong notrump. You double to show a spade two-suiter (rarely a strong spade one-suiter) [do you?], LHO Staymans with 2C, pard leaps to 3D, and RHO bids 3N. Your call.
I decided that my surprise heart defense and diamond length would give 3N some problems, so I passed and led the deuce of diamonds. They took the DK, five clubs, and a somewhat embarassing four spades. It was a push, but 4D would've been the best kind of save.
Three five-imp swings came about, only one to the good guys, but we won the semi-match 30-22.
(D) Favorable, 3rd
KQJT8 KJ 7632 73
Pard passes, and RHO opened 1H. I'm sure everyone and his grandma would bid 1S here, but I decided to preempt to 2S. Partner (very understandably) saved over the doomed 4H holding xxxx Qxx AQTx xx. They dropped a trick, and I was able to hold it to -100 (Kx of D was in the slot-- they gave me a ruff and discard in clubs so I didn't have a diamond loser). Mullet apparently played the hell out of 3H to pull in an overtrick-- win 2. We did some other fairly good things, and won the match 43-4.
The four of us packed in to a way too small car and headed off to dinner with UK's daughter, and a wonderful time was had by all.
We met up with the team that had won the last B2 KO, so we figured this might be the toughest match of the event.
The opponents bid to one very subpar making game that I knew the teemies would stay out of, I made the mistake of opening 86 KQ52 Q73 A974 unfavorable in third chair, pinpointing the high cards for declarer in 4S, and pard lost her way in a red 3N. We lost 10, 10, and 12 on those boards. We had a few pickups on normal play, but we were still down 35-15 at the half. Certainly not an emergency--- we're at least two imps per board better than this team.
(E) Favorable, 3rd
AK6 T43 763 KQ43
Pard passed, and RHO opened 1N which got passed back around to her. She doubled (spades and another), and it was up to me-- My options were 2C pass/correct, 2S, or pass. I decided pass had the biggest upside and no huge downside. I was a little disappointed to see a balanced eight-count come down as dummy, but we took five spades and two clubs for 200. Win 8 opposite Mullet's 1N making three.
(F) Unfavorable, 1st
K63 92 QJ84 A763
I passed, LHO opened 1H, CHO overcalled 2C, and RHO leapt to 3D, which LHO clearly had no clue about. Your call.
I decided to underbid a bit with pass. This isn't really a hand I wanted to force to the 4 level, and pard still has another call. LHO passed, and pard doubled. Your call again.
I passed again, of course. This was the third board of the second half [(E) was the second] and I wanted to put the fear of God into the opponents. As it turns out, pass was right-- we make 3C exactly, and 3D went for 300, win 5. The opponents were much less busy bidders for the remaining nine boards.
(G) All white, 2nd
K2 Q972 A8 Q9752
I passed in second chair (agree?) LHO opened 1C in third chair, pard jumped to 2D, and RHO passed. Do you move? I didn't want the opponents to find their spade fit, so I raised to 3D, all out. Pard played it well to make 3. At the other table, my hand opened 1C, and UK overcalled 1S on his good 4225, propelling them to the good spade game. Win 11.
When all was said and done, we won the match 64-48, and were quite amused to see the opponents celebrating. The cockiest member of their team came over to us, and smugly asked "Us by one?" Apparently they had mis-scored two boards and forgot to carry a one...