Wednesday, April 7, 2010

A (doubled) grand old time in Toronto

I just got back to the States from the Canadian Nationals (also known as the Toronto Regional).  My partner and I had a great time, and a bit of success - two Blue Ribbon quals is a good tournament. in one knockout, we played a round-robin and these two hands came up:

In a forgettable auction, we got to 6NT from the North side after East had bid hearts. This was viciously doubled by East. I have a rule... if the person on lead against 6NT thinks you're going down, he's probably right, and often VERY right. (I get to some baaaad slams.)

I pulled to 7♣, which got doubled in a rage on my right. My LHO was a very ethical player, though... he took inferences only from the auction and not from his partner's table action. So he read this as a Lightner double, and led dummy's suit (spades). I tucked in the nine which brought down the queen. A 3-2 club split later, I racked up 1630 for 7♣X nonvulnerable!

East here made two huge mistakes. First, he was on lead against 6NT with a solid six-card suit. This should be a situation that you dream about... but he got very greedy. He wanted to turn +250 into +1100. Then he regretted his decision so much that he forgot what a double of a slam means when you're not on lead.

Let's look at the IMP math here. His teammates were in 4♠ just making for +420. Adding 250 to that gets us 670, or win 12 IMPs. Adding 1100 would make it 1520, or 17 IMPs. So he was trying to gain 5 IMPs, at his great risk. The actual +1630 gave us 15 IMPs - so he lost 27 due to the double. Even if his partner had led his suit, we would have gone down 300 in 7♣X... for the same 12 IMPs! Not a very good trade...

Later in the session, this hand came up:


I know some very fine players who would open the South hand 1♡. I strongly disagree, but when you pay your entry fee, you can bid whatever you want! It was a fun auction:

I decided not to defend with my 8-5 hand. As it turns out, I could have doubled 6♠ for a fine score - +1400. But that would have lost an IMP! At the other table, my friend Ranald was in 6H just in for 1430. I decided that I didn't need much to make 7♢ a good contract, so I just up and bid it. My LHO doubled and led the ace of clubs. I ruffed in hand, and could see that a successful heart finesse would bring it home. The trouble with finesses, though, is that they sometimes lose. So I looked for a better way to go about it.

The diamond spots looked nice - with a good trump break I'd have three entries in the diamond suit. So I led the king of diamonds to the ace (showing off a bit), and they broke 1-1. Nice! I ruffed a club, went back to the board with the seven of diamonds, ruffed another club, and went to the board with the eight of diamonds. These cards were left:
I cashed the king of clubs, hoping the queen would fall for my 13th trick. Sadly, my RHO showed out, so clubs were 5-3. Hmm... my LHO had 5 clubs and overcalled 1♠. He must be 5215 or 6115! He'd pitched a heart on one of the diamond leads, so he had at most one heart left. I pitched a heart on the ace of spades, cashed the king of hearts, and led a heart to the jack, knowing it would win. +2330, for win 14!

Finesses only work 50% of the time. They should be your last resort.