Tuesday, September 30, 2008
I have this bad habit of assuming my opponents don't know what they're doing. I mean, quite often, these theories are confirmed, but then again, not everyone is an idiot, and when I take someone for a fool who's not one, I get schooled. And I don't recognize the good players on the west coast yet. I guess that'll come in time.
I misplayed a hand earlier today because my LHO gave such flagrant body language, I was sure she had a trump stack. The auction went P (1D) to me, I bid 1H, and it passed around. When she picked up her pass cards, she jerked them off the table and SLAMMED them into her bidding box. When she led, she practically threw her card at her partner. I was sure she was pissed because he hadn't recognized her trap pass and reopened with a double, so I didn't draw trumps, thinking that she had all the honors I was missing to my left. Turns out, she was just a grumpy old bitch, and trumps broke 3-3 with the honors onside. Dangit. I was down one instead of making one or two.
That kind of thing gets in my head a little more than it should. I know I could play a lot better if I could just move on after tucking the cards away. Oh well. Harvey and I finished the afternoon session somewhere in the middle of the pack, and I'll try to shake off my bad afternoon and do some good things this evening. We're still alive.
I'll post some hands at the end of the day, if I'm up to talking about it then. I do feel like Harvey and I had some great auctions in spite of all the mediocrity, I just don't want to think too much more about this afternoon for a while. It was one of those really frustrating sessions that you just want to leave behind you.
Monday, September 29, 2008
- 1H (P) 2H (P);
- 1S (2D) 2S (P);
- 1C (P) 1H (P) 2H (P);
- 1C (P) 1D (P) 1S (P) 2S (P);
- (1D) 1S (P) 2S (P);
- (1D) 1H (2C) 2H (P);
Standard practice in this situation is the "help-suit game try" -- when the one of a major bidder has enough above a minimum that he wants to investigate game but not enough to just up and bid four of the suit (I'll call that player 1M for short) bids a new suit where he has some losers that need to be taken care of. In response to this, his partner (we'll call him 2M) can bid game if the "help suit" is well covered (with high cards or shortness), return to three of the major if the "help suit" is not at all covered, or bid three of another suit that he has "stuff" in when he's not sure if his holding in the "help suit" is enough for a game bid.
Let's show a couple of examples:
Partner has opened 1H, you raised to 2H, and he bid 3C as a help-suit game try. You hold:
(a) JT5 KJ64 86532 7
(b) JT5 KJ64 72 8653
(c) JT5 T94 KQ9 K942
With hand (a), your lousy five-count has turned to gold. Partner will lose a club but then trump any further club losers in the dummy. Bid 4H!
With hand (b), you still have a lousy five-count. You can't do anything about partner's club losers, and he probably has some spade-diamond losers as well. Bid 3H and hope he makes it.
With hand (c), you have a good raise to 2H, but that alone shouldn't make you bid game. You have some help in clubs, but not enough to go straight to game yourself. Here you should bid 3D. This tells partner, "Yes, I do have some help in clubs, but not enough to be sure of game. I do have some nice stuff in the diamond suit, too--- maybe that information will help you make the right decision."
Many years ago, some players turned the game try system on its head-- they bid the suit where they didn't want their partner to have high cards -- their singletons! This is called the short-suit game try. Partner will tend to bid game with no wasted values in that suit -- something like three small is a great holding here -- and sign off in three of the major when he has wasted high cards in that suit.
Which works better, help-suit or short-suit game tries? If I had to pick, I guess I'd say short-suit, but thankfully, I don't have to choose between them.
Eric Kokish came up with what he called two-way game tries. This structure has held up very well over the several years that I've been playing it.
Let's talk about the 1S - 2S auction first:
1S - 2S -
- 2NT = asks partner where he would accept a help-suit game try.
- 3C = short-suit game try.
- 3D = short-suit game try.
- 3H = short-suit game try.
When 1M relays with 2NT (asking for a help suit), 2M will bid the cheapest suit in which he would accept a help-suit game try. So if 2M has QT6 J84 KQ632 86, he'll bid 3D over 2NT. This not only tells partner about that diamond help, but since 3C was skipped over, 1M knows that 2M has a poor club holding.
So let's say the auction went 1S - 2S - 2N [asking] - 3C [showing goodies in clubs], but 1M wasn't interested in the club suit. He can now bid 3D or 3H, asking for help there. So, theoretically, an auction might go like this:
1S - 2S; 2N [asking] - 3C [stuff in clubs]; 3D [do you have stuff in diamonds?] - 3H [Not really, but I have some goodies in hearts!]; - 4S.
It gets just a bit trickier for a lot of folks when hearts are trumps. If we were to use 2NT as the "help-suit ask" over 2H, there would be no way to show spade help-- so we use 2S as the asking bid.
1H - 2H -
- 2S = asks partner where he would accept a help-suit game try.
- 2NT = short-suit game try in spades.
- 3C = short-suit game try.
- 3D = short-suit game try.
One more little space-saving maneuver: When partner asks with 2S, to show spade help we bid 2NT. So if the auction goes 1H -2H -2S [asking] - 3C [stuff in clubs], 2M has denied help in spades (the "cheapest" suit).
So there's Kokish's two-way game tries. Astute readers may have noticed the title of this post was three-way game tries. What's the third way? We use the re-raise (1H - 2H - 3H or 1S - 2S - 3S) as trump asks. If we've opened a 16-count with Jxxxx of spades, after partner's raise we certainly don't want to be in game if partner has a medium hand with Txx of spades. SO we make the trump-ask of 3S. Pard will pass with Txx but bid game with KQx or AT9x.
The re-raise can also tip 2M off that the values for game are there, but the trump quality may not be-- so if he holds 10 HCP but a trump suit of 854, the funny looking but highly intelligent auction of
1S - 2S - 3S - 3NT - Pass
can occur. How about that -- 10 HCP opposite 16, we take our nine tricks in 3NT when the rest of the field is losing three trump tricks and an ace in 4S. Go team!
I've also been known to use the "trump ask" of 3H or 3S as a preemptive action. I once held
AKQxxx x Qxx Txx
and the auction went 1S (X) 2S (P) to me. I bid the "trump ask" of 3S knowing full well pard wouldn't bid 4S. It was a slight risk that he would bid 3NT, but knowing my LHO had a big hand it seemed that the tactical bid was the percentage action. I turned out to be right (for once) -- lefty had enough values to take another bid over 2S but not over 3S. Down two, -100, against lots of -170s and -620s their way.
So, to sum up: When one of a major gets raised to two (no matter what bids came before those),
- the next step is an asking bid
- everything else between the next step and three of the major is a short-suit game try
- three of the major asks for good trumps.
Sunday, September 28, 2008
Thursday, September 25, 2008
Wednesday, September 24, 2008
At the end of those Laws, there's an Etiquette section. This is very well done, and I'd like to share the first seven Rules of Etiquette. Modern bridge players could do well to take this to heart.
In Auction Bridge slight intimations convey much information. A code is compiled for the purpose of succinctly stating laws and for fixing penalties for an offense. To offend against etiquette is far more serious than to offend against a law; for, while in the latter case the offender is subject to the prescribed penalties, in the former his adversaries have no redress.
- Declarations should be made in a simple manner, thus: "One Heart," "One No-trump," or "I pass," or "I double"; they should be made orally and not by gesture.
- Aside from a legitimate declaration, a player should not give any indication by word or gesture as to the nature of his hand, or as to his pleasure or displeasure at a play, a bid, or a double.
- If a player demand that the cards be placed, he should do so for his own information and not to call his partner's attention to any card or play.
- No player, other than declarer, should lead until the preceding trick is turned and quitted; nor, after having led a winning card, should he draw another from his hand before his partner has played to the current trick.
- A player should not play a card with such emphasis as to draw attention to it. Nor should he detach one card from his hand and subsequently play another.
- A player should not purposely incur a penalty because he is willing to pay it, nor should he make a second revoke to conceal a first.
- Players should avoid discussion and refrain from talking during the play, as it may be annoying to players at the table oro to those at other tables in the room.
Tuesday, September 23, 2008
- Since this is Auction Bridge, you are given game and slam bonuses for making the right amount of tricks no matter how high you bid... one club making six still gives you the slam bonus.
- There are two ways to bid spades-- Spades, and Royal Spades or "Royals", Royals scoring more.
- To make game, you need 30 points "below the line"; No Trumps count for 10 per trick, Royals 9 per trick, Hearts 8 per trick, Diamonds 7 per trick, Clubs 6 per trick, and Spades 2 per trick. All this extra math means is you still need 3NT, 4M, or 5m to make the game bonus. You can never make a game in Spades.
- If your opponents revoke, giving you your 12th or 13th trick, you do not receive the slam bonus.
- The dealer cannot pass! If the dealer had a bad hand, he would bid One Spade (remember, this counts only 2 points per trick).
- The worst you can do in 1S is -100.
- To bid more than the current bid, you have to bid something worth at least as much in trick value. So if your RHO bid 3NT, you couldn't bid 4C -- you'd have to bid five!
- If you bid or double out of turn, either opponent can demand a new deal.
- When declarer revokes, the defenders automatically get 150 points.
- When the defenders revoke, declarer can take 150 points or take three tricks from the defenders.
- The revoking side cannot score (except for honors, of course).
Monday, September 22, 2008
Thursday, September 18, 2008
No trump finesse necessary! Giorgio exited with his spade loser and had to take the last three tricks.
Wednesday, September 17, 2008
(A) White vs. red
QT95 A63 4 T8762
Partner opens 1H in third chair, and righty overcalls 2D. You bid 2H, and lefty competes in diamonds. The auction:
P (P) 1H (2D);
2H (3D) P (P);
(B) White vs. red
Q5 AKJ764 T A954
Lefty opens 1D, partner passes, and RHO limit-raises with 3D. Do you bid?
(C) White vs. red
-- KQ762 AQJ974 73
You're first to speak.
(D) All red
AQT62 K3 852 432
Pard opens a 20-21 2NT. Your call.
(E) All red
52 AKJT843 J6 QT
You open 1H in first seat (at least, I hope you do). LHO jumps to 2S, which gets passed back to you. What's your call?
(F) White vs. red
QJ93 J6 A832 432
Pard opens 1H, righty bids 1S, and you bid 1NT. LHO raises to 2S, partner bids 3C, and RHO passes. What's your bid?
Tuesday, September 16, 2008
This has been kind of a headache when it comes to the planning. Until yesterday, we hadn't really gotten a straight answer from the staff about what parts of the hotel we'd get to use. Some of the rooms designated in our signed contract don't even exist anymore. Nice. But McKenzie and I swung by yesterday for a tour with a very helpful service manager, and we made some good progress in our planning after spending about an hour at the hotel.
We are confident that we will have plenty of space, though one of the ballrooms is only accessible via the indoor pool if you're in a wheelchair. That's not going to be fun. We're going to put the I/N games down there, probably, because it's the smaller of two large ballrooms we get. We're also getting eight conference-sized rooms, four of which are way out of the way and not really big enough for bridge anyway, so we'll make those the offices. Directors, caddies, and prizes, probably, unless we decide to just do a prize desk up in the main ballroom, which might be better. These rooms are really out of the way.
One big headache we've had already is the hospitality. This hotel has been adamant that we must use their catering services exclusively and we MAY NOT BRING ANY OUTSIDE FOOD OR BEVERAGE INTO THE HOTEL. Only guests can do that, and only hotel food can be served in the common areas, including any tournament rooms. So even though we've got these eight rooms that would be great for hospitality suites but not much else, we can't serve food there. For a while, it looked like most of our budget would go to hotel catering. After all, the MABC has an excellent reputation for hospitality, and we are not going to let anyone down.
However, after a nice long discussion with the managers yesterday, we worked it out that we will be permitted to rent a suite upstairs and bring in our own food and beverages for that room. It's not ideal, because it's several floors up, and not very large, but it will save us a lot of money to be able to do hospitality this way. Scott Tumperi has generously offered to manage the hospitality efforts, so he'll be the friendly face up there at the end of your day, ready to pour you a drink or hand you a piece of cake. He'll need assistants, of course, including people who are willing to cook and/or prepare food each day.
What we want to do is ask each local club to take a day during the regional to be responsible for hospitality. Club members will bring in homemade goodies and help Scott with preparations on their day, and then Scott will supplement the things that are brought in with things from Sam's Club, which is conveniently in the same parking lot as this hotel. I'm really relieved that we were able to work this out with the DoubleTree, because it will save literally thousands of dollars on hospitality, and we'll have plenty of wiggle room in the budget now. We're definitely going to feed these bridge players well, though. No one cooks like the ladies from Unit 139!
We also discussed the parking situation. Unlike many regionals, parking here will be free, but there are only a handful of handicapped spaces, and even those are sort of down a hill from the entrance, which I predict will draw complaints. The hotel does have a little roundabout right in front of the entrance where folks could be dropped off, and I asked if we could provide our own valets. The hotel doesn't do valet parking, but they said they would permit us to do that for our players. I think free valet parking would be a really nice touch, if we can get the volunteers and also permission from the MABC. I'm not sure what, if any, liability issues might get in the way, so this may not happen, but I do think it'd be nice.
If you've signed up to volunteer with the tournament, look for an email in the next few days. McKenzie and I are on our way to Oregon right now (typing from an airport lounge) and will be out west for a month, but we should be able to manage a lot of the planning online. We also hope to get all the committee chairs assigned in the next week or so, so the committees can go ahead and get moving on their own. If you haven't signed up, but would like to volunteer, please drop me an email at Meg@DoubleSqueeze.com and I'll get you on the list. All volunteers will be welcome in the tournament suite (snacks and drinks each night for volunteers and staff) and free plays will be distributed for anyone who contributes significant time and effort.
One thing we'd appreciate all our members to do is to start inquiring about and collecting door prizes from local businesses. We'll want to give out a few nice freebies each session, which will mostly be free dinners at local restaurants. Other gifts and services might be appropriate, too, though -- really anything that would make a nice prize for someone who's in town for the tournament. Also, we're still taking suggestions for registration gifts and prize ideas!
I know we've still got a lot to do, but I feel like we got a lot of questions and concerns settled yesterday, and things are looking good for now. Thanks to everyone who's been helping already, and to those who are waiting eagerly for something to do -- you'll get your chance very soon!
This hand from the first segment of the Buffett Cup, played this morning, interested me. This auction was repeated several times, and, of course, all declarers made at least six. The West hand, in my opinion, is way too good for a 4S call here.
Why preempt when you have such an immense hand?
Why preempt when you have spades?
Couldn't you have a hand more like AQxxxxx x x Qxxx?
Does the board-a-match scoring affect your thinking on this hand?
Several excellent players made this decision, so I may well be in the wrong here. Would you bid 4S on this? Why?
Monday, September 15, 2008
(A) All white
J9 K7 JT87653 J7
Do you preempt in first chair?
(B) White vs. red
32 63 8762 KQ764
(P) 1S (P) ?
(C) White vs. red
AKJ AJT K9632 T6
(2S) P (3C*) ?
(D) White vs. red
A753 AJ76 A862 6
The opponents are silent. Partner opens 1C, you bid 1H, and partner bids 1S. What's your bid/plan?
(E) All white
AJ985 7 972 AJT3
Pard opens 1H. You bid 1S, and she rebids 1NT. What's your bid?
(F) Red vs. white
AQT2 875 K54 843
Pard opens 1H. What's your call?
The first Buffett Cup was played in Dublin, Ireland in 2006. The USA team was victorious. Europe led after the Pairs and Teams competitions, but in the Individual the Americans pulled out a last-minute win.
Every hand of this event will be broadcast on Bridge Base Online. Here's the schedule of the broadcasts.
This year's teams:
Sabine Auken and Marion Michielsen
Michel and Thomas Bessis
Boye Brogeland and Espen Lindqvist
Tom Hanlon and Hugh McGann
Tor Helness and Jan Peter Svendsen
Michal Kwiecien and Jacek Pszczola
Bob Hamman and Zia Mahmood
Geoff Hampson and Dick Freeman
Alan Sontag and David Berkowitz
Tobi Sokolow and Janice Seamon-Molson
Howard Weinstein and Steve Garner
Roy Welland and Bjorn Fallenius
Friday, September 12, 2008
"2 over 1, right?"
"Yeah. Upside-down carding?"
As the game went on and we got caught up, we also agreed to play 0314, 2-way Reverse Drury, Lebensohl, and semi-forcing 1NT. That was pretty much the extent of our agreement. Fun times!
We started off with a terrible round, and just an average second round, but things started looking up from there. If you have the booklet from the game, it might be easier for you to follow along, but I'll do my best to explain everything fully here. Here are some of the more interesting hands from our night. I sat South.
Board 1: All white, North deals
AK642 AT82 KQ2 8
At our table, the auction started:
3D (P) ?
Larry Cohen says that "Over [a diamond preempt], South will immediately think of game in diamonds..." Well, I disagree. This is matchpoints, after all, and I have a good hand with the majors. Perhaps I should have six for my 3S call, but I wanted to make a positive, forcing bid. I wasn't ready to ask for aces in pursuit of a diamond slam (this was our first board and we hadn't talked about our ace-asking conventions yet anyway!), and I certainly wasn't going to settle immediately for 5D when 4S might be the better contract. Unfortunately, when pard bid 4S, I didn't know if he had 2 or 3. I should've thought of that before I bid 3S...oops. -100 wasn't a very good score.
I got a chance to redeem myself on board 5. After a miserable first round, I guess Mike decided it was time to swing.
Board 5: N/S Vul, North deals
43 T8754 954 A74
1C (P) 1H (P)
1S (P) 1N (P)
Uh-oh. I didn't like bidding 1N here, but what else can I do? I would've happily passed any of pard's bids but 1S, and fully intended to pass anything he did over my 1N, which would hopefully be pass. Then to make matters worse, I get an allegedly 4th-best lead of the club 9 (which obviously can't be 4th best when dummy comes down with QJT5 in the suit. Hmm. I played the queen and lost my only entry to my hand when righty covered. Here's the full dummy:
KQT9 AQ A32 QJT5
Anyone care to guess how this one went for us?
Board 10: All red, East Deals
A96 AK2 Q962 K62
(P) 1N (2C -Natural) 2H
Now, we've discussed that we play Lebensohl, but no more than that. So what's 2H? Well, with McKenzie, I play that systems are on over any X or 2C bid, and I assumed that was standard, so I took the transfer. I was down 400 in our 5-card fit, but the opponents are on for 4S, so it wasn't a total loss. Not sure they would have found 4S at our table, though.
Board 11: All white, South Deals
This is actually a problem for E, so I'll give her hand:
4 AKQ863 QT93 A8
P (P) P (1H)
P (3H) P (4H)
The dummy came down with: T875 JT75 AK K95
After she made the cold 6H, collecting only 43% of the matchpoints, she moaned "This is ridiculous! I only have 15 HCP!"
That made me laugh (on the inside). She has a known 10-card fit, only four losers in her own hand, and presumably three winners in her partner's hand. If they had sense enough to put Drury, one of the most valuable conventions in bridge, on their card, then perhaps East would have been more comfortable exploring for slam without overshooting. Still, with a known 10-card fit, and huge playing strength in her own hand, East should not be afraid of the five level. Not all slams require 33 HCP, and the way to win this game is to bid your 25-point slams and your 19-point games... when it's right.
By the end of round three, we'd made it almost back up to average. We were playing seven four-board rounds.
Here was a weird one from round 4:
Board 15: N/S Vul, South Deals
K8643 53 T7 AKJT
P (1H) 2D (X)
XX* (2S) P (P)
Again, we've had very little discussion about our card. In my mind, XX was "I have some stuff and am interested in penalizing one of their suits." I would expect partner to double West's next bid with a good hand, or pass with a weak hand, so I can know what to count on him for defensively. I haven't necessarily shown support, but I have shown a hand that has somewhere to run. But pard alerted my XX and called it a "support redouble." I'm not really sure that such a convention could be on here -- what does partner think I've shown? Only 2 diamonds? Values and willingness to play 2DXX? Who knows, but it's not for me to figure out. My main agenda now is to ignore the possible UI. I wanted to whack 2S, but that can't be (ethically) right. If pard had taken my bid as I meant it, he denied defensive values, so pass is certainly a logical call for me to make. Therefore, that's what I did. When 2S was down one, we collected only 35%. Doubled, we would have gotten 59%. C'est la vie.
The next round was just silly. We collected almost all of the matchpoints in this round, and it would be in no way educational or enlightening for me to write up what happened. We had a four-board break from bridge.
Board 24: All white, West Deals
JT3 T2 T42 AQJ86
(1D) 2C (X) ?
I was very pleased with my quick and confident choice of 5C here. They shouldn't have problems bidding 4 of a major, and if I compete over that, I'm much more likely to be doubled. So, over my 5C, the auction continued:
(5H) X (5S) P
Pard wanted to double, but just couldn't do it. Would you have doubled with my hand? If you do, you get 90%. We settled for +50 and 79%. Not too shabby. Do you agree that the ace of clubs is your clear lead here?
Board 25: E/W Vul, North Deals
(here again is where it's important to remember that we have very few established agreements)
A752 AJ76 A862 6
East-West was silent throughout:
1C - 1H
1S - 4C (hopefully pard recognizes the splinter...)
4N - 5C (0 or 3 keycards for spades)
5S - 6S (3 keycards!)
You be North:
KQ43 KT8 J AQ942 (declarer)
A752 AJ76 A862 6 (dummy)
The king of diamonds is led. What's your line?
Both Mike and I agreed that we had a good auction to a good slam. Unfortunately, we went down two when Mike's line didn't pan out.
Cohen suggests that my hand should go through a fourth-suit forcing sequence, which in hindsight may be better in that it takes up less room in the bidding and also should be easier to figure out than 4C, but Mike says he would not cuebid over 3S with his hand. Then what? Is my hand strong enough now to ask for keycards, or have I already shot my wad? I think in our particular partnership, our auction was best. Too bad the cards were unfriendly.
We had a terribly subpar final round, and finished the game with about a 53%. Surprisingly, it was good enough for first in our section, so we took home the gold point, and perhaps the award for lowest winning score ever. With more time to discuss our card and think about our strategies, I'm certain we could have done much better, but a win is a win. Maybe next year I'll have a shot at the district title. I don't think 53% will be enough this time around:)
Thursday, September 11, 2008
Wednesday, September 10, 2008
Tuesday, September 9, 2008
Buy Matchpoints at Amazon.com
Monday, September 8, 2008
3♦ - 3NT;
Friday, September 5, 2008
Thursday, September 4, 2008
Wednesday, September 3, 2008
However, I tend to think that playing with your spouse is a terrible idea. We've all been there when some couple rips into each other. Maybe it was a big mistake or maybe someone is just making a mountain out of a molehill, but there's no place for that kind of behavior at the table. It makes others incredibly uncomfortable, and do you really think you can have a good game if you're furious with one another? It's fun for no one.
Not every couple bickers or fights, but I think that we are generally more inclined to lose our tempers when we play with a spouse. We're comfortable with them and have fewer boundaries, and we censor ourselves less, blowing up at little things we'd overlook if we were just playing with a friend. McKenzie has never lost his temper with me -- he has the patience of a saint, honed to perfection over his years as a bridge pro. I do have a tendency to flip out, but he is such a better player than I am that I usually know I'm wrong before I start. Our bridge conflicts have been minimal.
While I don't think it's great for couples to play together, I do think it's important that they share the hobby. Many a marriage has ended or been strained when one half of the partnership wants to spend all of their free time at bridge games, leaving the other behind. It's such a time consuming hobby, I decided before I even started dating my husband that I didn't want to marry someone who wasn't a bridge player. I knew I wouldn't want to give up all my bridge games and traveling, so I would need to find someone who'd go with me.
McKenzie and I don't always play together, and I'm working on building partnerships with others in our circle of friends. Hopefully I'll never find myself wanting to throw my cards at him, but if it ever comes to that, I'll know it's time to stop playing together, lest we doom ourselves to play solely with one another forever, having alienated all our other potential partners with such ghastly outbursts.
If you're someone who fights with your significant other at the bridge table, I beg you, on behalf of all of your teammates and opponents, to seek out new partnerships. And if you're someone who fights with everyone you play with (you know who you are), why do you even play this game? Are you really having fun?
It's competition and it requires serious intellect and concentration, but patience and kindness are a huge part of the game as well -- no matter who your partner is.
Tuesday, September 2, 2008
(a) What was West's percentage of the blame for the final result?
(b) What was the single worst call [or play] of the hand?
I liked this column a lot. It was discontinued about a decade ago, so I don't feel awful about 'borrowing' the format.
By the way, if I haven't said this before, TBW is the one tool that every bridge player needs. Looking back on my bridge life, the thing that primed my brain for high-level competition and brought my game from middling-intermediate to expert is reading my Bridge World every month cover to cover and reading any back issue I could get my hands on. I was thrilled a few months ago to be able to buy over 100 back issues from the 1950s to the 1980s. Hopefully in a few decades my collection will be filled in. Hardly a night goes by that I don't read at least one back issue in bed before falling asleep. If you don't currently have a subscription, get one. If you already have one, get one for your favorite partner.
So let's get judgmental!
3♦ - 3NT;
Playing a strong notrump based system, West opened a natural diamond. East made an invitational or better raise with 2♦. When West rebid 3♦, East bid 3NT and West let it sit.
3NT made 4 on a spade lead. Obviously, 6♦ is laydown unless an opponent has Axxxx of hearts, and would have made at the table, giving E-W some very nice neckwear. As it was, they 'settled' (happily, may I add) for 6th overall in the World IMP Pairs in Verona, Italy, in the summer of 2006.
So-- the two questions for you, loyal readers:
(a) What is West's percentage of the blame?
(b) What was the single worst call?
Monday, September 1, 2008
I would recommend this book to anyone looking to make the leap from Intermediate to Expert. Mike shows the reader lots of basic inferences available from bidding and play of normal, everyday hands. He then moves on to the technique of "discovery play", that is, forcing the opponents to show you their distribution and locations of high cards. The final chapter changes tone from the rest of the book-- it's all about reading hesitations and other tells from your opponents. I don't find this part nearly as useful as the rest of the book. Generally, when I'm playing against strong opponents (say in a Bracket I of a regional knockout), they don't show these tells, and when I'm playing against weak opponents (say at a club game) their hesitations and fumbles generally just mean they weren't paying attention. Maybe these tells were much more prevalent in the early 1970s... and just maybe my "sixth sense" doesn't work as well as it should. The rest of the book is spot-on, though.
Here's an example of a simple discovery play:
At IMPs, East dealer, E-W only vulnerable, a painless auction leads to 4S:
(P) 1S (P) 2NT  ;
(P) 3C  (P) 4S;
 Artificial; Game-forcing spade raise
 Artificial; Minimum hand, may or may not have side shortness
See my post on Modified Responses to Jacoby 2NT for more on this auction and for better ways to utilize your bidding space.
So our hero South plays 4S on the diamond lead. East wins two diamonds, and hoping his partner's fourth-best was from Qxxx, shoots a third back. South wins, and sees a simple way to make the contract-- play up to a heart and try to hook the king of spades on his right. But like all good declarers, once he's found a good line of play he looks for a better one! He tables the jack of clubs. East, suspecting what declarer's up to, holds up for a round, but is forced to take the second club. East plays a heart to declarer's ace, and South bangs down the ace of spades, dropping the king on his left! Mirrors? No-- South recalled East's first seat pass, and watched 11 HCP tumble out of his hand. South knew that East couldn't hold the king of spades, so the only way to pick up the suit for no losers was for West's king to be stiff, and play accordingly.
West held his cards much closer to his chest for the rest of the session.
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