Thursday, April 23, 2009

A couple of nice auctions from the club

Board 11
Dlr: S
Vul: None



We were N-S and bid this one uncontested:

P - 1C [16+ any];
1N [8-10, 5+H] - 2S [natural];
4C [splinter raise; usually 4531 or 4621] - 4N
5C [one keycard] - 6S (all pass)

Making 7 easily on the trump finesse and hearts coming home. Only three of 22 pairs bid this 26 HCP slam.

Board 18
Dlr: E
Vul: N-S





This time we had opponents to deal with:

(1D) X (1H) 2C;
(2D) 3C (3D) 5C (all pass)

With trumps breaking 2-1 and spades setting up for a heart pitch, 5C was easy. [5D is a maker if they guess trumps correctly.]

Monday, April 20, 2009

A neat defense from Gatlinburg

In the Friday two-session Swiss teams in Gatlinburg last week, Robert Todd and I put together a nice defense. E-W subsided in 2NT after an invitational sequence in which West may or may not have had four spades. I got off to the lead of the two of diamonds. Declarer played low from dummy, and Robert made the very thoughtful play of the seven! Declarer won with the king, cashed the king of clubs (Robert playing the six, his lowest, as a Smith echo - showing that he liked my opening lead), and played a diamond up. Not yet believing that partner had made the good play in diamonds, I split my honors to guarantee me a trick in the suit if RHO had KQx(x). East let me hold the trick. Not really seeing anything else constructive to do, I played another low diamond. Dummy won and declarer pitched a heart. A club was led to the ace, and a spade to the queen. Two more rounds of clubs were played, ending on the table, and I pitched down to AJ of spades, KJ of hearts, and the good jack of diamonds. A heart was led to my jack; I cashed the good diamond and exited the now-stiff king of hearts to the now-stiff ace, and a spade through the queen was our sixth trick for down one. At the other table, our teammates were +400 in 3NT!

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Well defended hand

My partner Pat Riding put together a nice defense on this board to get us a plus score and top board on the way to 1st overall on Tuesday:

We were defending 2H in the East. Pat started things off with a low diamond to the ace. Declarer led a club to Pat's ace. She laid down the king of diamonds and played a third round, ruffed by declarer. East now played a club to the board to play a heart to the jack. Pat won with the king and pushed her deuce of diamonds through dummy. I ruffed with my lone queen of hearts, declarer overruffed, and Pat now had four trump tricks to go with her ace of clubs and king of diamonds for +100! Well done.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

On the road again

I'm in the airport at the moment waiting to head off to the Toronto Regional. If you're there, come over and say hi!

Monday, April 6, 2009

Building fences

West led a spade to his partner's king, which held the trick. East looked at the two tricks in his hand and the menacing club suit in dummy, and thought "the only way we're going to set this contract is if partner has the ace of diamonds. Then he can give me a ruff for our fourth trick." So East led his singleton diamond. West won the ace, thought for a while, and decided his partner wanted a spade led through the queen. So he tabled the spade jack, trying to smother declarer's supposed ten. Declarer ruffed, drew trumps, and claimed +420. East berated his partner for never giving him ruffs.

A few boards later, this was dealt:

West led a spade to his partner's king, which held the trick. East looked at the two tricks in his hand and the menacing club suit in dummy, and thought "the only way we're going to set this contract is if partner has the ace of diamonds. Then hopefully he'll figure out to duck the first one so when I'm in with my trump ace I can lead another diamond and he can give me a ruff for our fourth trick." So East led his doubleton diamond. West, having been yelled at just a few hands prior, jumped up with the ace and led another one back. Declarer scooped up the tricks, drew trumps, and claimed +420. East yelled at West for never knowing what the hell was going on at the table.

What went wrong here?

I think East was the culprit in both of these hands. First of all, his behavior was horrible. If you can't keep from yelling at or berating partner when he makes a mistake, you need to take up a new game. All players make mistakes. You do, I do, Jeff Meckstroth does. If you can't live with you or your partner making mistakes, bridge is not the game for you.

Incidentally, I heard a local player the other day analyzing a two-session event he'd played the day before. "I made three errors yesterday," he said. This person is fooling himself. Even the top experts make several errors per session. I asked my friend and top Canadian expert Cam Doner once, "What's the biggest number of hands in a row you've gone without making a mistake?" His answer: "One." Now there's a man who's honest with himself.

Every player makes mistakes, but it's the good players that work hard to keep their partners from making mistakes. On the first board, East should have won the first trick with the ace of spades. "Knowing" that declarer had the king, West would see no future in the spade suit and return the diamond for East to ruff. On the second board, when East wins with the king and puts a diamond back again, West should realize that now that he has a partner who's trying to get the right information to him, the defense isn't a blind guess any more. He needs to weigh the possibility that East has led a doubleton diamond [it can't be singleton since the king won the first trick] against the possibility that he led from three or more diamonds and needed a spade led through.

My reasoning would be this: It's far more likely on the auction that East is 5=2 in spades and diamonds than that he's 4=3 or 4=4, because I know he has at most two hearts. If he had a good hand with 4=2=3=4 or 4=2=4=3 or 4=1=4=4, he'd probably double 1H rather than overcall 1S. Since he did overcall 1S, I'll play him to have five spades and two diamonds. I'll duck this one, hope partner has a trump trick so he can lead a second diamond to get his ruff!

See how much easier the defense is to figure out when West knows that East's diamond isn't a singleton?

Friday, April 3, 2009

Amusing hand from bidding practice

Last night, I was practicing bidding with my partner Garth. Garth and I are playing several upcoming tournaments, and we have a very complicated bidding system, so we want our agreements to be in tip-top shape for our first big test-- Gatlinburg in just over a week. We've been practicing several hours a week, and getting better every time.

This hand came up as the last one of the session.

I was very amused to notice that game was most likely on in all five strains - these hands will probably make 3NT, 4H, 4S, 5C, and 5D! I've been experimenting with the E-W hands a bit, trying to see if I can make a full hand where N-S can make game in all five strains but can't make slam in any of them. I've come close, but it seems like 6C by South is always making. Can you come up with a better construction than I did?