Bob Munson

Recap Of 8/8/2018 28 Board IMP Individual

Seven double digit swings today including an unusual number of slams.  In addition to 3 boards where an excellent slam was bid at both tables for a push, 5 more boards had slam bid at only one table with huge IMP swings in the balance depending upon the success of that slam.  The other 2 boards were games that were bid/not bid causing the swings.  So, you could say bidding decisions created all of the swings.  But, in fact, opening leads, defense and declarer play played significant roles in deciding which way the swing would go.

 
13
Both
North
N
Ed
AK104
A108
J
K10653
 
W
Bob
J2
KQ643
KQ764
J
J
E
Manfred
Q8
75
8532
AQ987
 
S
Jack
97653
J92
A109
42
 
W
Bob
N
Ed
E
Manfred
S
Jack
1
Pass
1
Dbl
3
All Pass
 
W
Bruce
N
Nick
E
Mark
S
Cris
1
Pass
1
Dbl
31
Pass
4
Pass
Pass
Dbl2
All Pass
(1) Invitational spade raise with singleton diamond
(2) Lightner Double

Based on the lie of the cards, this hand ended up all about bidding, since no defense can defeat the 4 game once trump broke 2-2.  At one table, North offered a ‘mini-splinter’ raise of spades and South decided to pursue the game despite modest values.  A full game splinter bid would be 4 and, had West passed, 2 would have been a natural forcing reverse, so 3 must be shortness, strongly invitational, but less than game force.   Had the A been onside, declarer could have withstood a trump loser with a 3-1 trump split, but after the opening J lead, there were 2 club losers and a certain heart loser.  This meant trump had to be 2-2.  Trump were 2-2, so declarer was able to win 7 spade tricks (with 2 diamond ruffs in dummy) along with the red aces and a second trick in hearts to provide their 10 tricks and fulfill their contract.

When game was bid at the other table, East noticed that he provided no help in the red suits that partner held, so he decided the best chance to defeat 4 would come from an opening club lead, allowing him to choose which red suit to shift to (or continue clubs) after winning the first trick and looking at dummy.  So, he made a Lightner double of the final contract.   Theodore A. Lightner of New York City, New York,  was born in the year 1893 and was an early pioneer of bridge theory.  He figured out that if you ‘knew’ that the contract would be made by a normal lead, it cost little to double if you had a reason to believe that directing partner to make a different lead might present declarer with problems.  Often the bid is made with a void (but partner doesn’t know you have a void so they won’t be leading the suit unless you double).  Here the double was made holding AQ expecting to find the K in dummy.  Any unexpected double of a freely bid game or slam contract is considered a Lightner double and asks for an unusual lead, often dummy’s first suit.

Result, we were -170 but our teammates were +790, win 12 IMPs.

 
19
E-W
South
N
Ed
Q752
AQ975
K2
K7
 
W
Mark
943
KJ2
QJ753
108
3
E
Cris
106
10643
108
A9642
 
S
Bob
AKJ8
8
A964
QJ53
 
Bob
Ed
11
1
1
22
33
34
45
46
47
All Pass
(1) Typically, when holding 4=4 in the minors and an easy rebid, I start with 1C to provide greater flexibility for partner
(2) XYZ, but here that is the same as 4th suit game forcing
(3) Natural, showing 4, bidding out my shape
(4) Going slow, leaving room for slam exploration
(5) No club control, but I do have a diamond control
(6) Heart control, plus implied club control (if partner has none and I have none, then continuing to pursue slam is nonsense!)
(7) Signing off, should I?
Jack
Manfred
1
1
1
41
52
6
All Pass
 
(1) Signing off
(2) Sayng I have a diamond control with more than a minimum (enough more?)

Here is the first of the 5 hands where slam was bid at one table and not the other.  In my opinion, this slam is close – during the bidding we were both kicking around the idea of slam, but I just thought the tricks weren’t there, so we settled in game (no 5 card suit of my own, no help for partner’s heart suit, only 8 trump between us).  The bidding took a different turn at the other table resulting in the 6 contract.  Our bidding (which indicated two shapely hands in a 4-4 spade fit) suggested a trump lead to cut down on ruffs.  West did lead a trump and East did well by saving their 10 for a potential overruff in diamonds, should the play develop that way.  So, I won the 8 at trick 1 and decided to knock out the A at trick 2.  West won and returned their 10 to continue cutting down the cross ruff. At this point, scoring my trumps separately via ruffs, a successful heart finesse would bring me to 12 tricks (6+2+2+2) assuming both the QJ cash and that I can figure out which loser to throw on the A and which loser to ruff low (since the last trump was held by West, I couldn’t go wrong), but a losing heart finesse could cut me back to 10 tricks if they could win with the K and return a trump (5+1+2+2).  So, I just went for 11 tricks (6+1+2+2) and did not pursue the heart finesse, since I was only in game.  But, given the two rounds of trump leads by the defense, the heart finesse is the only route for me to score 12 tricks.

Playing 6 at the other table, 12 tricks were a requirement (with one sure loser).  How is declarer supposed to find 12 tricks?  Assuming no singleton in the minors (risking an early ruff), declarer has no reasonable way to get an extra trick out of their 4-4 minor suits (yes, a tripleton QJ10 would promote the 9 after a ruff, or a doubleton A onside (small to the K, duck coming back).  So, after an opening trump lead and ignoring these extreme outlier cases, there are exactly 2 tricks in each minor and 1 in hearts.  That means declarer must obtain 7 trump tricks via a nearly full cross ruff (ruffing 2 diamonds and 1 club in dummy), or else 6 trump tricks and a heart finesse.  But, at the table that bid the slam, the opening lead was the 10, and East went up with the A, presenting declarer with 3 club tricks.  Now the route to 12 tricks looks greatly simplified.  6+1+2+3 will see you home.  There are no clubs that need to be ruffed in dummy.  Assume trump are 3-2, assume diamonds are 4-3.  Ruff one diamond low, ruff one diamond with the Q and you reach your 12 tricks.  That was declarer’s plan, so declarer was disappointed when the first diamond ruff was overruffed by East’s 10.

Transportation is amazingly problematic on this hand, in spite of numerous winners in both dummy and declarer’s hands.  If declarer draws two rounds of trump (a precaution to reduce chances of an overruff if East happened to have only 2 diamonds and only 2 trumps), he can safely ruff the first diamond low.  But then a heart ruff is the only way back to hand for the second diamond ruff, and then there is no way back to hand to draw trump and enjoy the established clubs.  Still, I think declarer took, by far, the better percentage play for the 12th trick (vs. heart finesse) once he was presented with a gift of an extra club trick.

Should East rise with the A at trick 1?  Obviously not, on this hand.  But what if declarer held AQJxx in diamonds and the club loser went away on a high diamond.  A trick is a trick and it only takes two to defeat the small slam.  Making sure the A is one of the defensive tricks is a high priority.  But, is it really possible that declarer has a hand like that?  After the bidding at my table, the defense should know that I am 4=1=4=4 or 4=0=4=5.  But, after the bidding at this table where clubs were never mentioned, declarer could have long strong diamonds, allowing them to discard dummy’s club.  However, if that is the case, I don’t think any defense is going to defeat 6.  So, I think best defense is to not play the A at trick 1, saving the A for dummy’s K.  What does declarer do for 12 tricks if East withholds the A at trick 1?   They can try to cash 2 winners in each minor suit and ruff 3 minor suit losers in dummy (will not be a success on this lie of the cards) or ruff 2 minor suit losers and take a heart finesse to discard the other loser.  Missing both the 10 and 9 of trump makes it quite challenging to choose the best line, avoiding overruffs at each step of the way.

Back to the actual play after the A won the first trick and the K won trick 2…What other options does declarer have (besides a heart finesse or ruffing two diamonds)?  Trying to ruff hearts good (playing for Kxx in either hand) will fail because there isn’t transportation to do that and still draw trump.  What about a squeeze after drawing trump?  You would have 11 tricks and have threats in both hearts and diamonds, but again, transportation is a problem.  So, you could draw only 2 rounds of trump, then ruff a diamond high, return to hand using the last trump in dummy, then play winning black cards coming down to 9 and 8.  If the long diamond and K are in the same defensive hand, that hand will be squeezed and either the 9 is good or the hearts in dummy are good.  As the cards lie, this squeeze play also works, but I think it is hardly the indicated line of play.  There is no guide from the defensive bidding or play to suggest that this would be successful.  So, it seems to me the simple straight forward plan to ruff one diamond low and one diamond high is clearly the best percentage play, but unsuccessful as the cards lie.

In any case, the defense scored two tricks when the diamond overruff gathered in the second trick, so our teammates were +50 to go with our +450, win 11 IMPs.

 
20
Both
West
N
Ed
K9
87642
A983
K10
 
W
Mark
763
AQ5
KQ10
9732
10
E
Cris
AQJ102
KJ3
75
Q86
 
S
Bob
854
109
J642
AJ54
 
Mark
Cris
Pass
1
21
22
23
All Pass4
(1) Drury, asking strength of the opening bid
(2) Acknowledging ‘full opening bid’
(3) Weak shape, weak trump suggests no need to go higher unless partner does
(4) Nothing further to say
Nick
Bruce
Pass
1
21
42
(1) Drury
(2) Bidding the game

After both tables started with a Drury auction, one table bounced to game while the other settled quietly in 2.  With 3 nearly certain club losers plus the A, it was best to not be in game…unless the opponents let you make it!  Both tables had the opening lead of the 10, won in dummy followed by a trump finesse.  Not knowing that the K was doubleton (not that it mattered or changed things), both declarer’s won the trump finesse and led diamonds to the K and A.  At my table, after winning the A, partner played the K and then 10.  I overtook with the J and led back a small club for partner to ruff and declarer claimed, -140.  

North, at the other table, after winning the A, returned a heart (presumably hoping partner can ruff).  That assumes that declarer held the A and 4 hearts.  There are two problems with that assumption.  One – declarer would likely have checked on a possible 4-4 heart fit via a 2 rebid rather than bouncing to 4.  The other problem: if declarer does have the A, 4 tricks are not possible for the defense, even with a heart ruff.  Declarer will have 5+3+1+1 even if a heart winner is ruffed away.  If, on the other hand, North assumes that partner (South) holds the A, continuing with the K offers significant chances for defeating the contract.  Either the defense scores 2 clubs and a ruff, or 2 clubs and a trump promotion (when the K is overruffed with the A, it is possible that that will promote partner’s remaining 10x to a trick.  When North continued with a heart, declarer won in dummy, drew trump and then led a diamond to the 10, allowing a losing club to be discarded on the remaining high diamond.  Game bid and made, +620 for our  teammates to go with our -140, win 10 IMPs.

What about the Drury auction?  Assuming you are not playing a big club, nearly everyone will pass with the West as dealer.  All will open 1 and it is time for Drury showing invitational values with 3+ card trump support.  I think the choice to bounce to game comes from full membership in the club: ‘never take back a red +170’.  By bidding game, you are assured of not producing +170!  Any time you hold Qxx in a suit, that Q is not pulling full weight unless partner has some help there or you are lucky enough to have the AK on the right.  Also, 5-3-3-2 hands are only 1 card removed from the death holding of 4-3-3-3 (which is what West actually held on this hand).  Balanced hands need more HCP to produce games.

 
21
N-S
North
N
Cris
52
K82
AK984
1065
 
W
Manfred
AJ764
1097
J76
J9
6
E
Nick
10
QJ654
102
87432
 
S
Bob
KQ983
A3
Q53
AKQ
 
Cris
Bob
Pass
2NT
3NT
All Pass

 

Ed
Mark
Pass
2NT
4NT1
62
6NT
All Pass
(1) Invitational
(2) Accepting offering spades

Both tables started with an opening 2NT and the focus shifted to North.  My partner simply raised to 3NT ending the auction.  At the other table, with the strong 5 card diamond suit and all prime values, North decided the hand was worth an invitational 4NT.  Their partner accepted by offering 6 as a contract, but that was corrected to 6NT.  This needs diamonds to be 3-2 or else diamonds 4-1 with a singleton honor in East to pick up the diamond suit for 5 winners.  To reach 12 tricks, declarer also needs the A in the East hand, or else the J10 in the East hand (likely doubleton, since a first round successful finesse of the 9 would involve suspected cheating!).  When the spade suit lay poorly for declarer, our teammates ended defeating the slam down 2, +200 while we played a quiet 3NT, scoring +660 to win 13 IMPs.

Does North have the values to invite?  It is close.  One player thought yes, the other no.

 
23
Both
South
N
Cris
1092
10932
3
Q10764
 
W
Manfred
A754
AK8
AKQ108
J
10
E
Nick
63
Q7
9542
AK982
 
S
Bob
KQJ8
J654
J76
54
 
Manfred
Nick
1
21
62
(1) Inverted showing invitational values
(2) Bidding what he thought he could make (with all suits controlled, it was unlikely that slower bidding could improve the quality of the contract)
Bruce
Jack
1
1NT1
3NT2
(1) 6-10 HCP
(2) Bid what he thought he could make

Bidding at both tables was quite short.  Here again, it was the response to the opening bid the propelled the partnership into slam.  What is the ‘right’ response to 1?  Either you decide the hand evaluates to an invitational diamond raise and bid 2 or you don’t (and bid 1NT).  Both bids are flawed.  After 1NT, the opponents are going to lead a major suit, and you are ill-prepared for either major, but perhaps partner has you covered.  If you raise diamonds, you are usually promising 5 card support or else a bit better hand.  Still 5 card suits headed by the AK can often produce a lot of tricks (opposite a singleton or doubleton, 1 or 2 ruffs might produce an extra trick.  Opposite club length, perhaps the whole suit can run?  As you can see, the more passive 1NT resulted in 11 tricks for +660 while the play in 6 had 12 sure tricks as long as trumps were not 4-0 (1+3+6+2).  Assuming no singleton heart, after drawing only 2 rounds of trump, declarer played 3 rounds of hearts pitching dummy’s last spade and then cross ruffed the hand to score all 13 tricks.  In IMPs, this line of play was risking -100 to score a useless extra 20 points, but the chance of a singleton heart was quite small.  So we were -1390 to go with our teammates +660, lose 12 IMPs.

 
24
None
West
N
Cris
Q5
AK54
Q108
A943
 
W
Manfred
A108762
83
J93
52
2
E
Nick
K943
10762
K7
J106
 
S
Bob
J
QJ9
A6542
KQ87
 
W
Manfred
N
Cris
E
Nick
S
Bob
2
Dbl
4
4NT1
Pass
5
Pass
6
All Pass
 
 
 
(1) Two places to play – takeout
W
Bruce
N
Ed
E
Jack
S
Mark
2
Dbl
3
Dbl1
Pass
4
Pass
5
All Pass
 
 
 
(1) Responsive, takeout often with only 3 card heart support, but values to compete

Preempts were invented to keep the opponents guessing.  The mild bump to 3 left little difficulty for the opponents, while the bigger bump to 4 left me guessing at a higher level.  I felt I had a nice hand, but my bidding showed a nice hand.  I clearly didn’t have sufficient values to unilaterally bid slam.  Partner really needed some perfect cards in a maximum double for 12 tricks to be assured.  So, blame me, my fault, no one else to blame.  But, something happened on the way to the bank.  West made an opening (spade) lead out of turn, allowing the North declarer to forbid an opening spade lead.  Now the slam is cold if declarer could work out the necessary conditions for success.  The diamond spots are quite poor in dummy, creating a substantial problem.  The opponents will lead spades whenever they get in, tapping dummy.  Declarer must establish diamonds to pitch their losing spade.  So, I think to score 12 tricks, the A must remain in dummy when you lose a diamond trick.  The only way that can happen is to lead diamonds off dummy.  There is no way to lead diamonds from your hand that will force out the K, leaving the Q high and the A as a late entry to the established diamonds.  Try it (with any lie of the defensive diamonds).

So, what can you do?  If you determine diamonds MUST be led from dummy (preserving the A as a later entry to the established diamonds), and you must dislodge the K when you do lead diamonds, and you must have the singleton spade discarded from dummy prior to losing the diamond, I think there is only one choice. 

Dummy has plentiful tricks, plentiful entries, but not after drawing 3 rounds of trump and playing 4 rounds of hearts to discard the spade.  With that line of play, dummy is down to 2 entries – a spade ruff and the A.  If the A is gone prior to losing the diamond, the spade ruff that follows the losing diamond trick will leave you with possibly established diamonds in dummy that are inaccessible.

There is a winning play, but hard to find at the table.  Draw only 2 rounds of trump, then play 4 rounds of hearts pitching a spade, then draw the last trump ending in dummy, then lead a diamond off dummy.  If West holds the K, he must play it.  Otherwise, you could win Q, then A, then another diamond, establishing the diamonds with the spade ruff as an entry.  But, if West doesn’t play the K, you must assume he doesn’t have it and finesse the 10.  Now, hoping East doesn’t hold the J, East must win the K (otherwise, you, again, can play, A and another diamond, establishing diamonds while retaining the spade ruff as an entry to the good diamonds.  You hope for East to be 4=4=2=3.

I think the key to the hand is realizing diamonds cannot be successfully led from hand to produce the necessary ending.  Leading diamonds from hand, no lie of the diamond suit can provide establishment as well as the necessary entry after they are established.  In actual play, declarer drew 3 rounds of trump, played 4 rounds of hearts discarding the spade, then led the Q, covered with the K and A.  When a small diamond was led from dummy, the J came up and a spade was led, tapping dummy.  Now a diamond to the 10 and all the diamonds are good, but they are in a dummy with no entry.  

Playing 5 at the other table, the defense cashed a spade and declarer navigated the diamond suit for one loser, scoring 11 tricks.  Our teammates were -400 to go with our -50, lose 10 IMPs.

 
25
E-W
North
N
Ed
105
1076
1083
QJ976
 
W
Nick
Q832
KQJ964
A7
A
Q
E
Bob
AJ5
8
KQJ92
K843
 
S
Bruce
K974
A32
654
1052
 
Bob
Nick
1
1
2
21
2NT2
3
43
4NT4
55
6
All Pass
 
(1) 4th suit game force
(2) Spade stopper
(3) See below
(4) RKCB
(5) 1 key card
Manfred
Cris
1
1
2
21
2NT
3
3NT
All Pass
(1) 4th suit

The last slam of the day was lucky for me.  Both tables had identical bidding for the first 6 bids.  I felt partner’s choice of sequence showed very strong hearts (they were, but not THAT strong) and a desire to not play NT (actually he was OK with NT having strong values in every suit outside of hearts).  Anyway, for the 7th bid of the auction, my hand bid 3NT at the other table, ending the auction.  I raised hearts (likely suggesting a doubleton, which, if I held that, wouldn’t have made the heart slam quite so bad).  Partner checked on aces and bid the slam.  The 6 slam requires a doubleton or tripleton 10 as well as no spade lead.  If I (East) played 6NT, I am protected from a spade attack and the only requirement for 12 tricks is a doubleton or tripleton 10.  So, a poorly bid slam came home when North led from their club sequence rather than attacking spades, the unbid suit.  We scored +1430 against our teammates -690 to win 12 lucky IMPs.

So, all 7 swings were game/not game or slam/not slam, but leads, defense and declarer play was often the determining factor regarding which side obtained gains by bidding (or not bidding) higher.

 

 

 

 

Recap Of 7/18/2018 28 Board IMP Individual

Reporting on 7 double digit swings today – 5 caused by bidding decisions, 1 lead problem and 1 play problem.

 
1
None
North
N
Mark R
K932
105
954
10984
 
W
Dan
J6
964
AQ106
KJ3
4
E
Manfred
AQ
AKQJ873
J32
5
 
S
Bob
108754
2
K87
AQ76
 

 

Manfred
Dan
21
2
2
3
4
4NT
52
53
64
All Pass
(1) !?
(2) 0 or 3
(3) Heart Q?
(4) Yes, but no K

 

Mark M
Cris
1
1NT1
4
All Pass
(1) Forcing, showing, in this case, 3 card limit raise

The lower bound threshold for all bids seems to be in a continuing downward slide.  Here, at one table, after the dealer passed, East opened 1 but at the other table, East opened 2.  The result – a slam that, barring a ruff on the opening lead (followed by cashing the A), needs nothing more than the K and K onside (or 3-3 diamonds to pitch a black loser after winning the diamond finesse).  It is possible that a favorable opening lead could improve the odds of the slam?  There is one more chance (but not exactly another arrow in the quiver), instead of taking the spade finesse, lead up to the K hoping the A is onside (or lead to the J hoping the Q is onside) providing a discard for the spade loser.  So, a very poor slam needing 2 cards favorably placed was reached with the result: win 11/lose 11 based on the location of the kings.

In my mind, this was all decided on the opening bid.  I don’t see how West, opposite a real 2 opening bid, can fail to proceed towards slam.  In fact, West at the other table might consider moving onward towards slam, since they have a good 3 card limit raise and partner blasted to game opposite a nebulous forcing 1NT.  However, if East-West could look at all of their cards, there is no reason they would want to get to slam.  But 22 IMPs hung in the balance (win 11 vs. lose 11) based on the location of the K and K.  Since both kings were onside, the club loser could go on the 13th diamond and 13 tricks were made at both tables.  For me, -1010 vs. +510 for our teammates, lose 11 IMPs.

 
3
E-W
South
N
Mark R
QJ8743
AKJ62
93
 
W
Dan
6
87543
J862
Q73
A
E
Manfred
A2
Q9
AQ104
AK1064
 
S
Bob
K1095
10
K75
J9852
 
W
Dan
N
Mark R
E
Manfred
S
Bob
Pass
Pass
1
Dbl
2NT1
Pass
4
4NT2
Pass
53
54
Dbl5
56
Pass
Pass
Dbl7
All Pass
(1) Limit raise values (as dummy, singleton heart worth 3)
(2) Further takeout, 2 places to play
(3) Choosing diamonds over hearts in case the ‘2 places’ are the minors
(4) Bidding out the hand, lead director if we end up on defense
(5) I don’t think they can make this!
(6) Correcting back to the previously agreed suit
(7) I don’t think they can make this!

 

W
Cris
N
Tom
E
Mark M
S
Bruce
Pass
Pass
1
Dbl
2NT
Pass
4
Dbl1
Pass
52
Dbl3
All Pass
 
(1) Further takeout
(2) Assuming hearts is one of the requested suits for takeout
(3) I don’t think they can make this!

The first 7 calls were the same at both tables and the focus was on East.  With nearly half the deck in HCP, it seems East must chose something other than pass.  One table bid 4NT suggesting 2 places to play (likely both minors, but since spades was the suit initially doubled, hearts might still be one of the suits offered).  Partner replied 5 with their longest minor, but North wasn’t done.  North bid 5 which was doubled by East, corrected by South to 5 which was also doubled by East.  The powerful fit found by North-South had 11 easy tricks, just losing the 2 pointed aces.  So we were +650 for making 5X non-vulnerable.  Seemed like an OK result…

At the other table, faced with the same start to the auction, East chose to double.  In this situation, it is still largely a takeout double, so partner, with reasonable shape and no defense to offer vs. 4X pulled the double to 5.  North had no problem doubling that contract and, with East-West vulnerable, it was not a happy ending.  Our teammates were down 7 for -2000!  Lose 16 IMPs.

Double dummy analysis shows that, with best play/defense, 5 would be down 3, 5 would be down 2, and 5 would be down 5.  So, had declarer been ‘only’ down 5, he could have saved 3 IMPs.  The real problem goes back to the double of 4.  If West chose to pass, letting the opponents make a non-vulnerable doubled game with an overtrick, they would only lose 1 IMP (-690 vs. -650).  But, partner’s double suggests bidding.  With a likely useful Q, J, singleton spade and 5 trump, West bid onward to the ill fated 5.  So, I think the verdict (what caused the swing) falls to the 4NT call chosen at our table vs. the double chosen by our teammate.  After a 4NT call, if North chooses to double 5, they can collect +500 vs. +450, but with their 6-5 hand, North will certainly bid onward as they did at my table.  It would take a very meek East to not double 5, but 5 IMPs can be saved by avoiding the double of a making contract (assuming both tables arrive in 5, one doubled and one not).  With 2000 scored at the other table, the double of 5 only cost 1 IMP.  Like most swings, this hand was all about bidding decisions.

 
5
N-S
North
N
Mark M
87
8752
AKQJ85
4
 
W
Bob
A10962
J10
6
98763
K
E
Manfred
J53
AQ9
9
KQJ1052
 
S
Bruce
KQ4
K643
107432
A
 

 

W
Bob
N
Mark M
E
Manfred
S
Bruce
1
2
Dbl
5
Pass
Pass
5
All Pass
 
 
 

 

W
Dan
N
Tom
E
Mark R
S
Cris
2
3
5
61
Pass
Pass
Dbl
All Pass
 
 
 
(1) !?

A pair of phantom saves brought a big swing on this hand.  The choice of opening bids seems (to me) to be a close call.  A 2 opening risks losing a potential heart fit (this would be an incredible dummy in a heart contract).  A 1 opening risks suggesting more overall strength.  As you see, one table tried 1 while the other tried 2.  After our teammates opened 2, North-South quickly reached 5 and then West made the peculiar decision to try for 12 tricks (to make? to save?) and bid 6!

At my table, after North opened 1 East overcalled 2and South had a clear negative double.  I bounced to 5.  When that gets passed around to South, with their excellent diamond fit, it seems South must try for the vulnerable game bonus (+600 vs. taking the ‘sure plus’ defending 5X).  It turns out defending would have been better, since 10 tricks is the limit with the North-South hands.

When 5 failed by a trick (2 hearts and a spade for the defense), we were +100.  Meanwhile at the other table, in an attempt to ditch the losing diamond in 6, declarer won the K opening lead with the A and tried a heart finesse.  When that failed, the spade continuation provided a spade trick, a spade ruff, the K and 2 aces, down 4, +800 for our teammates.  Added to our +100 produced 14 IMPs.

Several side notes to observe here.  The famous law of total tricks is off by 3, with 22 total trumps only providing 19 total tricks.  In addition, the best contracts are not in the longest fits.  The best contract for North-South is 4 where the same 10 tricks are possible (their 8 card fit instead of their 11 card fit, even though they are missing the AQJT9 of trump).  And, for East-West, their best contract is 4 where 9 tricks are possible (down 1) rather than 5 where 9 tricks are also possible (down 2).  Not surprisingly, neither spades nor hearts were ever mentioned in the auctions.

 
6
E-W
East
N
Mark M
J93
K4
96
KQJ754
 
W
Bob
AQ74
9765
Q532
10
7
E
Manfred
10852
A8
A1074
632
 
S
Bruce
K5
QJ1032
KJ8
A98
 

 

Bruce/Cris
Mark M/Tom
1NT
3NT
All Pass
 

Here is the opening lead problem of the day.  After what I would consider a routine 1NT-3NT auction at both tables, West was faced with a classic problem. 

  1. Lead a 4 card suit with 2 honors
  2. Lead a 4 card suit with 1 honor
  3. Lead a 4 card suit with no honor
  4. Lead a singleton

Here, the old adage of a 4th from longest and strongest 4 lead would have sufficed for down 1.  A diamond lead and continuation would lead to down 2.  I’m baffled by what actually happened, which I will get to in a minute.  I ran Lead Captain to see what it would pick from the list above.  Lead Captain attempts, via software, to capture David Bird’s classic book on opening leads.  Assuming you have correctly defined what to expect in the hands of both declarer and dummy, you can run a simulation (with double dummy play) for the lead  of every possible card in the hand of the opening leader (note, if you hold cards in sequence, such as 765, from a double dummy perspective, the 765 all are equal so the program treats them as the same card and only simulates one of those cards, not all 3).

What would you lead?

Here are the results from Lead Captain.

 

I fully expected the 7 to come out as the lead most likely to succeed, and it did.  However, surprisingly (to me), there was not a great difference in any of the leads in terms of expected results.

Back to what happened at the tables.  In my mind, the clear ‘book lead’ (using the principles from David Bird’s book), was a major.  And, leading away from AQ suits can provide declarer undeserved tricks, so I picked the other major and started with the (fatal) 7 (2nd best from a weak 4 card suit).  Fortunately, partner was dealt the 8, so he is able to read that I have made a lead of 2nd best from nothing.  That is, using 4th best leads, if my 7 was 4th best, he can see all of the hearts except QJT9.  For the 7 to 4th best, I must hold 3 of those 4 cards – which one do I not hold?  If not the Q, I would lead J from JT9.  If not the J, I would lead the 10 from QT9.  If not the 10, I would lead the Q from QJ9.  And if not the 9, I would lead the Q from QJT.  Therefore, the 7 is not a 4th best lead, declarer holds great hearts and it is time to shift.  As the cards lie, the only shift to give declarer a problem is a diamond.  Declarer has a guess.  It might seem that the only card to play is the K, since you can’t afford to have LHO win the Q and then possibly lead to RHO’s A and then perhaps still lose the AQ.  But, by the same logic, you can’t afford to have the K lose to the A and then possibly lead to RHO’s Q and then lose the AQ.  Declarer has plenty of tricks as long as he can gain the lead (6 solid clubs and 3-4 hearts).  If he loses the lead, the defense might be able to score 2+1+2+0.  So, had a diamond shift occurred at trick 2, on a different lie of the cards the J would be the winning play, but here, as the cards lie, declarer must fly with the K to ensure the contract.  All of that was rambling about a defense that might have occurred, but didn’t.  In reality, at trick 2, partner returned the 8, declarer cashed their 10 tricks, and conceded two aces at the end.  We were -430.

What was the lead at the other table?  The A!?!  That lead did not hit my radar, but it had the benefit of defeating the contract when spades were continued at trick 2, establishing 3 spade tricks plus 2 aces.  Playing leads of the ace vs. NT asks for attitude, what would you signal, as East, to the A?  You do have spade length, but no strength.  I must confess that I would have discouraged, but then partner may have shifted to a fatal heart rather than a successful diamond.  If the opening lead was from Ax or AQx, you so not want a spade continuation, but from the actual AQxx, the continuation was satisfactory for down 1, -50 for our teammates, lose 10 IMPs.  I can’t argue with success – my lead resulted in 10 tricks for declarer, while the A achieved down 1.

Often an ace lead allows you to look at dummy to figure out what you should have led.  Often, you learn what you should not have led was the A!  Here, according to Lead Captain, hearts, diamonds and even the lowly singleton 10 were all deemed to be a better opening lead than a spade, but on this hand the club is ineffective and the spade was quite effective.  Why is the A superior to 4th best?  Because you will retain the lead and might be able to figure out the best defense after seeing dummy as well as partner’s signal.

 
10
Both
East
N
Mark R
J1053
8
K973
10986
 
W
Mark M
AQ7
Q6
Q84
KQ752
A
E
Bob
6
AK109532
J652
A
 
S
Cris
K9842
J74
A10
J43
 

 

W
Mark M
N
Mark R
E
Bob
S
Cris
1
1
2
3
4
Pass
4
Pass
5
Pass
5
All Pass
 
 

 

W
Manfred
N
Tom
E
Bruce
S
Dan
4
All Pass

I considered opening 4 but feared that bid would just invoke the “transfer” to 4 (by the opponents) and then I wouldn’t know what to do (but partner would know what to do on this hand!).  So, I started slow and advanced to 4 after the 3 weak jump raise.  That showed both a pretty good hand and a very good suit.  Partner, not unreasonably, made a slam try with a 4 cue bid.  When I cue bid the A, the exposure of our weakness in diamonds was complete, so the defense started with 3 rounds of diamonds sending our contract down 1.  At the other table, after East’s 4 opening bid, West, the partner, might consider going further, trying for slam.  Alas, our opponents at the other table passed it out in 4 and took their 10 tricks.  -620 for our teammates and -100 for us, lose 12 IMPs.  Clearly without a diamond ruff, we would have been safe in 5 and 12 tricks are possible without a diamond lead.  Was this result bad luck, or was my failure to open 4 simply bad bridge?

Another interesting (to me) note – had partner simply blasted to 6 we would not have provided the roadmap for the defense.  Obviously 3 rounds of diamonds could have still scored the same 3 tricks, but without the clue from the bidding, I doubt that that defense would have been found when defending against 6.  Not complaining, just observing.  Of course, I could have bounced to 6 over 4 and I think it would have been highly unlikely to find the A lead.  Interesting that 5 cannot make but 6 likely does make!

 
24
None
West
N
Dan
43
K93
AQ1032
J52
 
W
Cris
KQ9
Q
K76
AK10873
Q
E
Bruce
AJ8762
A106
9
964
 
S
Bob
105
J87652
J854
Q
 

 

W
Cris
N
Dan
E
Bruce
S
Bob
1
1
1
3
4
Pass
4NT
Pass
5
Pass
6
All Pass

 

W
Mark R
N
Tom
E
Manfred
S
Mark M
1
1
1
3
3
Pass
4
All Pass

As you can see, the auction started the same at both tables.  Since East’s 1 bid only promised 6 points and 4 spades, I was a bit surprised when dummy came down.  East expected more playing strength (to justify the leap to 4 since the K is likely worthless on offense), and I expected a 4th spade.  However, East was not hurting for spades – there were plenty of tricks as long as clubs were 2-2 (or a possible restricted choice play).  The singleton club honor was there, but it was in front of the clubs instead of behind the clubs so the slam had no play as long as the defense captured a diamond trick before or after winning the club that they always must win.  Our teammates simply bid 3 over the weak 3 jump, so East raised to game, but there was no slam exploration.  So, 11 tricks were there and it just depended upon how high East-West got.  Our +50 along with +450 allowed us to win 11 IMPs.

 
25
E-W
North
N
Tom
AK102
J
K76
K10975
 
W
Bruce
983
Q976
98542
A
4
E
Bob
Q74
A1054
QJ3
864
 
S
Mark R
J65
K832
A10
QJ32
 

 

Tom
Mark R
1
1
1
21
22
2NT3
3NT4
All Pass
(1) XYZ forcing 2D, typically the start of all invitational sequences
(2) Forced
(3) 2NT, the only way to invite in NT, since a prior 2NT bid would relay to clubs
(4) With 14 HCP, easily accepting the invite

 

Manfred
Mark M
1
1
1
2NT
3NT
All Pass

Similar bidding resulted in the same contract with the same lead (the unbid suit, 4th best diamond) at both tables.  With clubs solid, declarer is looking at 8 sure tricks (4 clubs and AK in both pointed suits).  The 9th could come from a spade finesse or the A on side (by leading up to the K).  As long as diamonds are 5-3 and the A is onside, a losing spade finesse still doesn’t jeopardize the contract and provides the 9th trick.  But, as the cards lie, declarer must duck a round of diamonds to sever the transportation for the defense.  After the opening 4 lead went to the J and A, declarer led clubs.  Partner won the A and continued with the 2 (confirming a 5 card suit), so when declarer went up with the K, it was easy for me to unblock the Q, preserving the 3 as an entry to partner’s diamonds.  Now, a losing spade finesse can’t utilize the 10 for the 9th trick because the defense will have already cashed out sufficient tricks to defeat the contract.  So, in the fullness of time, declarer took their 8 tricks, we took 5 for down 1, +50.  Our teammates did duck a diamond, so they were able to score 9 tricks when the A was onside for +400 and 10 IMPs.

The commentary about the play on board 25 suggested that failure to duck a diamond was simply wrong.  Clearly that is not the case – sorry.  If declarer ducks the diamond at trick 1, any heart shift (high or low) will produce 5 tricks for the defense.  If declarer ducks the diamond after losing the A, there is still a risk of a heart shift.  If the East-West hearts are reversed (so that East holds Q976), a shift by East to the Q (smothering the J) would produce 3-4 heart tricks (to go with the club and diamond tricks already won).   The texture of declarer’s heart suit presents great risk.  In short, the right way to play diamonds (duck or don’t duck) is based on where you think other key cards are (Q and A).  Since RHO held both, a diamond duck was necessary on this hand.  But, had LHO held both, ducking a diamond could be fatal when a simple spade finesse will produce the 9th trick.

I’m adding a footnote as another opening lead problem.  You are leading against 6NT holding:

S
South
A743
QJ973
2
973

And you heard this auction

W
LHO
N
Partner
E
RHO
S
South
Pass
2
2
Pass
Pass
3NT
Pass
6NT
All Pass
 
 

Clearly a spade is right if partner has the K.  Anything but a spade is right if the opponents need a spade trick to reach 12 tricks and partner has the QJ.  Clearly a heart is right if the opponents need a spade trick to reach 12 tricks and partner has the K.  Opening leads can be tough.  You have to pick something.  (Sorry, I don’t know the auction at the other table)

All players who join in this game attend the National tournaments and have had some success.  The two players that held this lead problem have recently had high finishes in 2-day national events.  This hand didn’t reach the blog because it was a push.  A heart was led at both tables producing 13 tricks for declarer (yes, partner had the K).  This is not the same hand, nor the same auction as board 10 where I suggested 6 might have succeeded had the auction not provided the road map for the defense.  I have received numerous and universal feedback that the A would have been the automatic lead vs. 6.  When you are given the hand as a problem, you often think of unusual leads.  When you are given the hand and see all of the other hands, there is often a clear cut best lead.  My main point was that as long as we are going down in 5 we may as well go down in 6 just in case 6 happens to make.

Recap Of 6/11/2018 28 Board IMP Individual

There were eight double digit swings in our last game, but the cause of the swings was quite varied.  Some were caused by bidding judgment, others declarer play, opening leads, and bidding confusion that comes with unfamiliar partnerships.  Here we go.

 
7
Both
South
N
Bob E
108
A64
J1053
K1086
 
W
Gary
KJ3
QJ9532
872
J
A
E
Bob M
A9654
K
4
AQ7542
 
S
Chris
Q72
1087
AKQ95
93
 
W
Gary
N
Bob E
E
Bob M
S
Chris
Pass
Pass
Pass
1
1
21
3
52
All Pass
(1) Intended as showing a hand similar to a weak 2 opening in hearts, but unsuitable to open
(2) Taking partner’s bid as a ‘fit jump shift’, bid what I think I can make
W
Mike
N
Dan
E
Ed
S
Jerry
Pass
Pass
Pass
1
2
2
3
31
Pass
42
Pass
43
All Pass
(1) Playing ‘maximal doubles’ the suit between their suit and our suit is the only game try available – 3S would simply be competitive
(2) West likes hearts a lot
(3) Correcting back to the previously agreed suit

This hand was all about bidding, nothing much happening in the play.  I know, from past discussion that Gary, my partner on this hand, has extremely high standards for opening a weak two bid.  He wants to hold 2 of the top 3 honors plus an outside A or K – otherwise he passes.  Still, I thought ‘everybody’ plays that jumps after an initial pass show a fit (on this hand, 2 would show a good 5 card heart suit along with 4 card club support, invitational values).  In practice, Gary was simply making a weak 2 jump saying he had a hand unsuitable for an initial weak 2 bid.  In this case, I had an easy 3 bid  at my second turn (over 3) that could possibly find out that partner was not trying to support my clubs.  I don’t know where that would have led, but it could have led to someplace better than our hopeless final contract of 5.  So, I would classify this (my failure to offer 3) as strictly a bidding error rather than bidding judgment or bidding misunderstanding.  The other table also did not open a weak 2.  But my opening bid involved bidding judgment.  When faced with a 6-5 opening hand, I tend to follow The Bridge World standard – open the 6 card suit unless it is the lower suit, adjacent to the 5 card suit, and unsuitable for a reverse.  Here, I could open clubs and bid spades.  At the other table, after my hand chose the spade opening bid, it allowed the players to easily reach the 4 contract.  I still like starting with 1 but ‘assuming’ partner has a fit is super dangerous, especially with no prior discussion.  There is no reason for my unilateral 5 bid when 3 was available.

Double dummy, there are 9 tricks in clubs (losing 2 trumps and 2 aces) – which was my result, down 2.  Double dummy there are 9 tricks in hearts, since the opponents can kill any diamond ruff and score their 3 top diamonds to go with the trump ace.  In spades, on the other hand, with hearts so friendly, 11 tricks are possible – simply lose the two red aces, draw trump and claim.  Playing more safely, the actual declarer scored 10 tricks in spades for +620 to go with my -200, lose 13 IMPs.  

 
9
E-W
North
N
Bob M
Q10642
K95
K54
K6
 
W
Dan
973
10863
J9
AQ108
8
E
Mike
AKJ5
AJ
A87
J974
 
S
Chris
8
Q742
Q10632
532
 
W
Dan/Ed
N
BobM/BobE
E
Mike/Jerry
S
Chris/Gary
Pass
1
Pass
1
1
2NT
Pass
3NT
All Pass
 
 

After the same auction at both tables, one South player chose (successfully) to ignore partner’s spade suit and lead the 3, 4th from longest and strongest.  This had the effect of establishing diamond winners for the defense.  At my table, partner led my ‘suit’ the 8.  This had the effect of eventually establishing declarer’s 5 as a power finesse against my 6! and providing 9 easy tricks for declarer (4+1+1+3).  Actually, instead of shifting to diamonds after winning the K , I shifted to hearts.  That allowed declarer to score a heart trick too, getting him up to 10 tricks.

At the other table, after (routinely) ducking two rounds of diamonds, declarer noticed the power of the spade spots, but first played a top spade, hoping to drop a singleton Q or 10.  When, instead, the 8 came down, declarer had lost the opportunity to score the 5.  Had declarer started with the 9 and let it ride if not covered, he also had 9 tricks available, but that is a hard play to find.  So he had to rely upon the club finesse to reach 9 tricks.  When the club finesse failed, 9 tricks were no longer possible, down 1.  So, our teammates were -100 to go with our -630 to lose 12 IMPs.

 
10
Both
East
N
Bob M
AJ104
A62
942
J109
 
W
Dan
95
107
1076
K87432
10
E
Mike
76
KJ543
AQ85
Q6
 
S
Chris
KQ832
Q98
KJ3
A5
 
W
Dan
N
Bob M
E
Mike
S
Chris
1
1
Pass
2
Pass
4
All Pass
 
 
 
W
Ed
N
Bob E
E
Jerry
S
Gary
1
1
Pass
2
Pass
31
Pass
3NT2
All Pass
 
(1) Exploring 3NT as an optional contract
(2) ‘I have a heart stopper’

The auction had a similar start at both tables, but one South player, concerned about the play in spades holding Qxx, the suit bid by his RHO, thought that 3NT might play better than 4.  With the cards so friendly, both contracts should work fine, but that is not how it worked out.

Playing 3NT, East decided to try the Q, hoping to hit partner’s suit.  He did, but with no entries, partner’s clubs were not of much use.  Declarer was able to score 5+2+1+2 for 10 tricks, +630.  At my table, playing 4, partner had opportunities.  Many years ago, I read/learned that JT9 sequences are incredibly undervalued (worth much more than the 1 point scored using 4-3-2-1 evaluation).  JT9 can turn Qxxx from an unlikely trick into 2 sure tricks; JT9 can turn Kxx from a possible trick into 1 certain trick while two tricks possible; JT9 can turn Axx from 1 sure trick into a 75% play for 2 tricks.

On this hand (playing 4) while drawing trumps, declarer could have used one entry to dummy to lead JT9.  If covered, they have a second club winner on which they can discard a losing diamond.  If not covered, they will find out the K is with West, leaving East with, most likely, every remaining high card.  Plus, if the club lead is not covered, they could later play the A and see if a doubleton Q comes down (it does), again providing a discard for a losing diamond.  Or declarer could simply hope the Q is with the opening bidder and finesse the J.

Here, the actual declarer play was to draw trump, cash the A and lead another club.  When East won with the Q, they played a small diamond which was ducked to the 10, losing a heart, a club and 2 diamonds for down 1.  So, we were -100 to go with -630, lose 12 IMPs.

 
17
None
North
N
Chris
AKJ2
1072
K742
KJ
 
W
Jerry
Q64
Q8
9863
A862
5
E
Bob M
98
J953
A105
Q954
 
S
Ed
10753
AK64
QJ
1073
 
W
Jerry/Dan
N
Chris/Bob E
E
Bob M/Gary
S
Ed/Mike
1NT
Pass
2
Pass
2
Pass
4
All Pass
 
 
 

We had the same auction at both tables. The opening trump lead made the difference.  After the trump lead, the defense had no chance, allowing 10 tricks for our teammates, while my heart opening lead required declarer to guess the location of the A.  I led the 5 (third best) which was won in dummy with the A, declarer tried a club to the J.  When I won the Q and returned a heart, we had two aces remaining and an established heart (with the A for an entry) for down 1, +50.

The trump lead at the other table could have allowed declarer to draw trump and simply lead clubs from hand, forcing the establishment of the 10 for a heart discard while he still maintained control of the heart suit.  Our team’s declarer at the other table considered that line of play, but the actual play varied from that.  Declarer played only 2 rounds of trump and then, concerned about diamond blockage, led a diamond to dummy (QJ).  When that won, he followed with a club finesse to the J and Q.  Then they led a club to partner’s A who then led his last trump.  Now it was easy to cross to dummy to take the heart pitch on the 10.  That brought the game home, +420 to go with our +50, win 10 IMPs.

If hearts aren’t led at trick 1, the defense can’t get to 4 tricks.  If hearts are led at trick 1, declarer must guess to play the K on the first club lead to reach 10 tricks.  Our opponent did not.

 
18
N-S
East
N
Chris
65
AK843
32
K832
 
W
Jerry
Q974
Q6
AJ8
AQJ9
4
E
Bob M
10832
1095
Q754
76
 
S
Ed
AKJ
J72
K1096
1054
 
W
Jerry
N
Chris
E
Bob M
S
Ed
Pass
1
1NT
Dbl
All Pass
 
W
Dan
N
Bob E
E
Gary
S
Mike
Pass
1
1NT
Dbl
Pass
Pass
2
Dbl
All Pass
 

The auction had an identical start at both tables with the first call by each player the same.  Once the opponents double us in NT, a runout is often advised.  My runout of choice with regular partners is to redouble with all one suited hands (asking partner to bid 2 which is pass or correct), and to bid a suit showing that suit and a higher one for 2 suited hands.  Using that structure, I would bid 2 and partner, fearful that my other suit is hearts, would likely pass.  However, I was not playing with a regular partner and even though we could discuss our runouts at the table, I opted to not add that confusion to the mix, so I simply passed and hoped for the best.  Passing allows us to stay at the one level and 1NTX may be our ‘least bad’ spot?  I did have honors in 3 suits for play in NT.  Nothing suggests we could find our way into (our best spot) 2.

Double dummy, we are down 3 in 1NT, while if we can find our way to a spade contract, 7 tricks are available for down 1.  I’m not sure what runout would allow us to arrive in 2, nor am I sure that we could achieve double dummy play for down 1, but 7 tricks do appear likely if we could play in spades.  

At the other table, the East hand did not attempt a runout, but when passed back to the West hand, they went from the frying pan to the fire by bidding 2.  That was quickly doubled and that ended the auction.  Double dummy play can only achieve 4 tricks for declarer, and that is what he got for -800.

Meanwhile, playing 1NTX, the start was the 4th best heart.  Clearly that is the best lead when holding no entry, but with the K a likely entry, it turns out that starting with the top hearts will be more effective.  Declarer’s Qx will fall under the AK, establishing partner’s J (and partner can return a club to your K to cash the remaining hearts).  On the run of hearts, declarer can keep their club winners at the expense of shortening themselves in spades/diamonds, so 4 tricks is the best they can do against best defense – down 3.

Note:  if you start with “top hearts” it is critical to have a partnership understanding of the “power lead.”  Traditionally, the power lead asking for unblock or count has been the lead of the ace, but my current favorite is the king for the power lead.  The reason is that from Ax or Axx, you may take a stab at leading the ace in that suit vs. NT, hoping to see partner’s attitude requesting you to continue or shift (but you sure don’t want them unblocking their honors!).  But with Kx or Kxx in an unknown unbid suit, you are quite unlikely to start with the king.  Thus, using this system: A=attitude; K=count/unblock.  Be sure to know what your partner plays.

But, back to our table, the opening lead of the 4th best allowed partner to score their Q at trick 1.  At trick 2 declarer tried the J won by the K and hearts were continued and cashed.  The first discard by South was the 10, but declarer discarded the QJ and after cashing the hearts, North exited with a club, allowing declarer to score their A9.  They eventually scored a spade trick to go with a heart, 2 diamonds and 2 clubs for 6 tricks, down 1, -100.  With our partners scoring +800, we netted 12 IMPs on the board.

Note there is no makeable game for N-S, so intervening with 1NT proved quite costly at one table, but not the other, even though not vulnerable against vulnerable opponents.  I would always overcall 1 with 1NT when holding the West cards.  Since both tables made the 1NT overcall, yet a large IMP loss occurred, you can blame the defense to 1NTX, or you can blame the runout to 2X.  But the defense could have been right, the 2 runout could have been right (sometimes the opponents mistakenly start bidding, taking you off the hook).  Bridge doesn’t come with a lot of guarantees.  The trouble with runouts, there are countless millions of hands that partner could hold for the bidding thus far, but you need to find the right contract for this hand, the one that they do hold!

 
25
E-W
North
N
Bob E
105
AQJ65
762
A83
 
W
Jerry
J7632
83
10954
Q7
10
E
Mike
K4
97
KQJ8
109542
 
S
Bob M
AQ98
K1042
A3
KJ6
 
W
Jerry
N
Bob E
E
Mike
S
Bob M
Pass
Pass
1NT
Pass
21
Dbl2
33
Pass
44
Pass
45
Pass
46
Pass
4NT7
Pass
58
Pass
69
All Pass
 
 
 
(1) Jacoby Transfer
(2) Lead directing
(3) Not sure what we are playing, but…
(4) May as well cue bid since bidding 4H anyway
(5) May as well show a diamond control
(6) Enough
(7) Making the poor decision to check key cards
(8) Showing 2 with the Q
(9) No options now
W
Chris
N
Dan
E
Gary
S
Ed
1
Pass
2NT1
Pass
42
Pass
43
Pass
54
(1) Game raise with 4+ trump
(2) Balanced minimum with no slam interest
(3) Still interested…Dan wasn’t sure if this was intended as key card or cue bid, but…
(4) Bid 5H either way (whether 4S was key card or not)

Lots of bidding issues with this next hand, but at the end of the day, it is really a simple problem.  I had only played 4 previous hands with this partner (in my lifetime), so we didn’t really have a lot of solid agreements, just play bridge.  Still, I will discuss some potential bidding items.

The first fundamental question – is the North hand an opening bid?  Since it fails the rule of 20, I would not open, but it was opened 1 at the other table.  Their auction proceeded to 5 and miraculously stopped there.

After opening 1NT and partner does a Jacoby transfer into a suit where you are holding 4-5 trumps, what agreements do you have about ‘super accept?’  Some play only jump to 3 of the major with 4+ trump and a maximum HCP for the 1NT opener.  Some have a system for showing 3 trump with maximum HCP values.  My current system with most partnerships includes a simple accept (bid 2) with any 2-3 cards, bid 1 step higher with a maximum and 4+ trump support and a doubleton somewhere (in this case 2), bid 2 steps higher with a maximum and 4-3-3-3 (in this case 2NT), and accept the transfer at the 3 level with 4+ trump but less than the maximum HCP.   And, what do you do over interference?  And what do you do over lead directing doubles (does taking action promise a stopper in the indicated suit, do you continue to use the same system)?  It is amazing to me how often, playing with new partners and filling out convention cards, how simple little conventions (such as Jacoby transfers) have a staggering number of necessary followup questions that require discussion (but what if…?).  This discussion rarely happens except in very experienced partnerships with lots of bidding notes.  And then, once the notes are made, of course, you must remember what you discussed/agreed!

Anyway, all of that aside (and undiscussed with this partner), I jumped to 3 after partner’s transfer.  Of course partner has promised no values, but I’m hopeful that, with the jump, they will have game interest.  Partner did have game interest, and cue bid 4 over my 3 bid.  That, unjustifiably, got me interested in slam?!?  Partner is a passed hand!  What was I thinking?  What “perfect” passed hand could offer good play (better than a finesse) for slam.  Given enough years, you may be able to find one, but odds are very strong that if partner has the hoped for key cards (Q and both missing aces) they cannot have any other useful stuff to provide good play for slam (well, a singleton diamond starts to give hope, but partner didn’t have that).  Still, I went ahead and asked for key cards (note here that another useful convention ‘1 over key card’ (where 4 is the key card ask for hearts) allows partner to respond showing “2 with the Q” and not force slam).  But we were not playing ‘1 over key card’ so I bid 4NT and then 6 over the 5 reply.  With a sure diamond loser, I had to avoid any spade or club loser (this requires dropping an honor or taking two finesses).

So, playing 6, I won the diamond lead with the A and returned a diamond.  Since there was no way to avoid a diamond loser, I returned a diamond at trick 2 (maybe they would break a black suit for me?) and they returned a diamond which I ruffed.  This stripped diamonds from both hands so that, if I ever lost another trick, I couldn’t go down 2 – not that it mattered, since the IMPs lost for down 1 and down 2 are the same. 

I drew trump in 2 rounds, ending in dummy and led the 10.  I had not decided what I was doing, but my RHO popped with the K, so I won the A.  Now, due to the power of the 98 the contract is cold…if I could just look into their hands to find the J (or if I bothered cashing the AK prior to worrying about the J).  If RHO holds the J, simply enter dummy, finesse against the J, and pitch the losing club on the Q.  If LHO holds the J, simply cash the A and lead the 9 for a ruffing finesse.  If they cover, the 8 is established to pitch the losing club.  If they don’t cover, I can pitch the club as the 9 wins the trick and come to 12 tricks.  Also, I could try to first cash the AK and, if the Q falls, I don’t even have to worry about who has the J, I am home with 12 tricks.  Or, I could cash the Q and ruff a spade, winning whenever the J had initially been only  3 long regardless of who held it.  I have taught many classes on ‘maximize your chances’ – that is, if you are getting ready to take a finesse for your contract but have a side AK that you could cash that would possibly drop a doubleton Q, DO IT!!!!  If the Q drops, the finesse you were about to take is not necessary.  Don’t even think about it – the bonus for making far exceeds whatever problems happen if the Q does not fall.

Lots of choices in spades.  Is this a coin toss?  Play for split honors?  (as noted above, whatever you may decide about spades, you should simply cash the AK as basic routine fundamental technique prior to making your spade play – I didn’t.  Very very sad play.)  East probably has diamond length to justify their double of 2♦ (and therefore possibly spade shortness).  As a defender, when holding KJx(x) and it appears that declarer is about to double finesse with the 10, playing me for holding both honors, I have often played the K on the first finesse, hoping to dissuade him from taking the double finesse later.  On that basis, I was obsessed with the fact that I ‘knew’ where the J was and carelessly didn’t bother to play clubs first.  I played to finesse East for the J.  Wrong.  Doubly wrong.  Down 1, -50 to go with our teammates -450, lose 11 IMPs.

Note to self:  There are a lot of IMPs at stake when playing slams.  Even when in a poor slam, a nearly hopeless slam, give it best play.  You might just make it.

 
27
None
South
N
Bob E
AQ96
5
A106
87643
 
W
Jerry
QJ2
987542
QJ105
9
E
Mike
K108543
1043
QJ3
9
 
S
Bob M
J72
AK9876
K
AK2
 
W
Jerry
N
Bob E
E
Mike
S
Bob M
1
Pass
1
Pass
31
Pass
4
Pass
4
Pass
5NT
Pass
6
All Pass
 
 
 
(1) ?? Not the values for a jump shift, but hoping, if pard holds 5 spades, he will bid 3D/3H and I can bid 3S showing 3 card support and, now, I have closer to the values for a jump shift.
W
Gary
N
Ed
E
Chris
S
Dan
1
Pass
1
Pass
3
Pass
3NT
All Pass
 

Here I am again in an extremely poor slam, requiring 2 key cards to be located favorably on top of requiring trump to be 3-3.  Trump were 3-3, so now all I needed was West to hold the K10 and I would be home.  When West showed out on the first spade lead, I could simply duck, down 1 after pitching my losing club on the A.

As noted in the bidding above, I was expecting/hoping that partner held 5 spades with a hand that would respond 3 or 3 to my jump shift, allowing me to then bid 3 showing my 3 card support.  Instead, partner raised my clubs and I was in a precarious position.  I hoped to be able to get out and play 4 or, if necessary, 5.  The heart split made 4 easy and the club split made 5 unlikely (it can make, but declarer must play for the 4-1 club split which they would be unlikely to do).  5NT was clearly ‘pick a slam’ but there was no slam to pick!  I had messed up the bidding with my decision to jump shift rather than a simple jump to 3.  I think I held a little extra for the 3 rebid, but there is nothing wrong with holding a little extra.  I did not have the right hand for the jump shift and paid for it when partner raised clubs and then took me to slam.

At the other table, a more sensible 3 rebid arrived in an excellent 3NT contract (or North could have raised to 4 which would also be excellent unless hearts were 5-1 with a singleton small heart).  Still, there is work to be done in 3NT – do you look for tricks in clubs, hearts or spades?  If suits are splitting poorly (spades and clubs sure did), even reaching 9 tricks could possibly be problematic (if you lead and lose the J finesse, you are looking at 8 top tricks (2+2+2+2).  Still, you need 9. 

At this table, the Q lead went to the singleton K in dummy (while partner played the 9 announcing (via upside down carding) no interest and, specifically, denying the 10.  Declarer ran the J at trick 2, losing to the K and East continued with a diamond into declarer’s A10, providing the 9th trick.  I think, at this point, declarer just claimed their 9 tricks and went on to the next hand.  That left our teammates -400 to go with our -50, lose 10 IMPs.

 
28
N-S
West
N
Bob E
J64
AQ8762
QJ6
A
 
W
Jerry
K8
10
K10832
KQ853
4
E
Mike
7532
J54
A75
J74
 
S
Bob M
AQ109
K93
94
10962
 
W
Jerry
N
Bob E
E
Mike
S
Bob M
1
1
Dbl1
22
Pass
4
All Pass
 
(1) Negative showing 4 spades and 6+ points
(2) Cue bid showing heart support with invitational values
W
Gary
N
Ed
E
Chris
S
Dan
Pass1
1
Pass
2
3NT2
Pass
4
All Pass
(1) !
(2) !! showing the minors

As you can see from the bidding, after West failed to open as dealer, radically different auctions occurred.  As the cards lie, 4 cannot be beaten.  But after a 1-2 start, North, who has an extra heart but a lot of losers, is not prepared to compete higher over the surprising 3NT call.  And South, who has a maximum 2 raise, but lots of minor suit losers, is not prepared to compete over 4.  As a result, EW were able to play 4 undoubled, losing a trick in every suit for down 1.

In our auction, as noted, I upgraded my hand based on my spade suit (after hearing the negative double on my right) to treat the hand as 10-11 invitational vs. 6-9.  So, I showed invitational values via the 2 cue bid.  With a minimum opening bid, West had nothing to say and partner has an easy raise to game opposite an invitational hand.

Does West have an opening bid?  Often, the side that makes the first bid in an auction has a large advantage.  Here, the delayed action of 3NT claimed the advantage and stole the hand.  Nice bid Gary!  In 4 we were +620 while our teammates were -50 to gain 11 needed IMPs after my two miserable failed slams in the last round of the day.

Recap Of 5/2/2018 28 Board IMP Individual

It has been over 2 months since we last played.  March included the Nationals in Philadelphia plus other travel.  April included the Gatlinburg Regional plus other travel.  So here we are in May.  Lots of slams today, with four slams bid at one table that were not bid at the other (for large swings) and two more times slam was bid at both tables, making, for a push.  Rather than report the boards in numerical order, I’m going review the four slam swings first.

 
14
None
East
N
Mark R
J92
2
AQJ96
KQJ7
 
W
Bob
1083
J98
K82
8543
2
E
Manfred
Q75
Q6543
43
1062
 
S
Ed
AK64
AK107
1075
A9
 

 

 Ed
Mark R
1
31
42
53
64
All Pass
(1) Diamond support, short hearts
(2) Two-way bid in case it was long/weak hearts
(3) Nope, diamond support
(4) I hope it is GOOD support!

 

 Bruce
Cris
1
21
2NT2
33
3NT4
All Pass5
(1) Inverted showing diamond support with invitational or better values
(2) Balanced game force
(3) Short hearts
(4) With weak diamonds, not sure he wants to go higher
(5) Thinking he has done enough

Here, the table that reached slam was not a practiced partnership with no bidding agreements.  In fact, everyone at the table was wondering if 3 was intended as natural/weak hearts or a splinter in support of spades (and we were discussing the appropriateness of simply asking – remember, we are just playing for fun.  Obviously in any competition the partners are supposed to have agreements, know their agreements, and would never be allowed to ask ‘what does that bid mean?’!!!).  However, South had an easy 2-way bid to discover if the 3 bid showed long/weak hearts or diamond support, simply raise to 4 and find out what partner does with that!  If partner had a hand with weak hearts, 4 will have good play.  And, if he had a diamond splinter, he can pull 4 to 5.  Upon hearing that it was a splinter in support of diamonds, South raised to slam and found a suitable dummy.  I led a small diamond thinking I may be able to cut down ruffs and that I would eventually score my K anyway.  Declarer played safe for the slam by rising with the A and playing another diamond, knowing that whoever won the K at trick 2 couldn’t give themselves a ruff, and it would be unlikely that they could give partner a ruff either (thus insuring 2+2+4+4 for their contract).  So, I scored my K, ‘holding’ declarer to 12 tricks.  Declarer commented after the hand that “that is, by far, the worst suit I ever held where I bid slam.”  Partner had him covered.

At the other table, a very practiced partnership (Cris and Bruce) with many pages of system notes was unable to find their way to the slam.  6NT is best (no ruff possible, double stoppers in all suits). When the diamond finesse won, declarer had 13 tricks, but our teammates only scored +520 for their game bid of 3NT.  Compared to the -920 at the other table, lose 9 IMPs.  Technically not a double digit loss due to the structure of the IMP table, but it felt like one at the time.

A “morning after” email discussed upgrades to the notes to handle this hand.  I commented after the hand that “our” system notes (the notes that I have with Bruce, but not Cris), do cover this hand (notes repeated below):

1C/2D and 1D/3C are invitational; 3 level MAJ splinters; 1C – 3D also splinter : Note: Splinters are game going values, while a splinter by responder after inverted raise is slammish

Still, even with this agreement, some judgment is involved.  Had North treated their hand as “less than slammish” and merely bid an immediate 3 splinter, it is still reasonable/possible, with AKAKA in the South hand, to pursue slam as was done at the other table.  Clearly, if North had this agreement and had chosen to make the 3 bid after the inverted raise to show a slammish hand with a singleton heart, the slam would have been reached.  Without specific agreements on this auction, our North/South teammates failed to find their way past 3NT.

So, be sure to discuss this with your partners so that you know, for starters, is 1m-(P)-3M natural/weak or splinter?  And, while you are at it, if you conclude it is a splinter, you may as well decide if there is a difference between an immediate splinter and a delayed splinter (after first offering an inverted minor suit raise).

 
16
E-W
West
N
Mark R
84
J10642
82
A765
 
W
Bob
AKQJ9763
A
A
KJ9
J
E
Manfred
52
Q87
KJ10975
84
 
S
Ed
10
K953
Q643
Q1032
 

 

 Bob
Manfred
2
2
2
31
3
4
All Pass2
(1) Natural, values better than a terrible hand, game force
(2) Fearful to go higher

 

 Mark M
Dan
2
2
2
3
61
(1) Ready to go higher, don’t need much

Wow – this West hand is a rare powerhouse where 10 tricks are about as close to a 100% certainty you will ever have.  Here 12-13 tricks are possible if you can find partner with one or two club cards…or an entry to provide one or two discards…or an entry and a chance to lead up to the K (and then guess what to play).  The problem was that partner has no red entry (due to my singleton aces), and a possible trump entry requires a specific holding, so the most likely chance for slam is a club card.  Clearly I was a bit of a wimp on this one – I was looking at 3 possible club losers (nearly certain to have 3 losers if I play clubs out of my hand with no club help in dummy).  Therefore, I didn’t view the 5 level as safe.  A bid of 4NT would have allowed me to locate the A if partner held it, but I possessed no tool to locate the Q, and I did not want to go minus if partner held neither of those cards.  At the other table, the player with my hand simply flipped his coin and it came up ‘bid the slam and see what happens.’  A heart was led at both tables.  Against the slam, the defense worked out to discard diamonds and save clubs, holding declarer to 10 tricks.  Against my game, I started playing trump and with 2 trump to go, the 10 was discarded.  That allowed me to ensure 11 tricks, so I stopped playing trumps and led the K, dropping the (now singleton) Q and scoring 12 tricks for +680.  With our teammates +200, that was 13 lucky IMPs for our side.  Perhaps someone else can better understand how to bid this hand.  From my viewpoint, I can’t really see any blame for bidding the slam or not bidding the slam – either you are feeling lucky or you are not.

Note that the slam cannot be beaten if the defense starts by leading the A, since the 3rd club can be ruffed in dummy.  Good defense teammates!

 
19
E-W
South
N
Mark R
KQJ1083
A85
4
Q64
 
W
Dan
95
32
J8532
J975
6
E
Bruce
6
Q976
K97
K10832
 
S
Bob
A742
KJ104
AQ106
A
 

 

 Bob
Mark R
1
1
41
4NT2
53
5NT4
65
66
All Pass
 
(1) Not wanting to splinter with an ace
(2) Enough to explore slam
(3) 0-3 aces
(4) We have all the key cards, kings?
(5) I have the heart K
(6) Not enough to ensure 13 tricks

 

 Ed
Manfred
1
1
41
42
4NT3
54
5NT5
66
77
All Pass
(1) Game raise in spades, short clubs
(2) Cue bid
(3) Key card for spades
(4) I have 2 with the Q
(5) We have all the key cards, kings?
(6) I have the diamond K
(7) Cool, let’s try grand

There are mixed views of splinters in the expert world whether or not it is appropriate/valuable to bid a splinter that is a singleton ace.  The down side is that partner may view their hand as slam negative if they have strong values opposite the splinter, since the splinter is usually a small card.  The upside of splintering with a singleton ace is that, in some cases, a key card asking bid might disclose the singleton ace and partner can proceed accordingly.  I elected not to splinter and simply show a hand that evaluated to about 20 points.  Since partner had 12 HCP and a singleton, he judged that sufficient values were there for slam and bid key card, then showed that all key cards were present by checking on the kings via 5NT, but when I couldn’t show him the K (to go with his Q), he was fearful of a loser there.  He also held 2 losing hearts that had to be dealt with and had no way to count 13 sure tricks, so he settled for the small slam.

At the other table, the player with my hand opted to splinter with the singleton A and when his partner cooperated with a return cue bid in hearts, the hand that I held ended up doing the key card asks.  Over 5NT (showing possession of all key cards and asking about specific kings), the North hand inexplicably showed the K with his 6 reply and the grand slam was reached.  Of course, the 6 card spade suit  (unknown by South during the auction) immensely improved the prospects of 13 tricks.  But, still the grand slam was not a lock.  Declarer must ruff out a doubleton or tripleton K, or guess the Q.  When the K fell on the second diamond ruff, the Q remained, allowing a discard of the heart loser from the North hand, so there was no need to guess the location of the Q.  Both tables played the deal the same way, with slam bid at both tables, but our 13 tricks were only worth 1010, while the grand slam scored up 1510, lose 11 IMPs.

 
26
Both
East
N
Mark R
93
AK
9543
KJ974
 
W
Cris
KQ85
10753
A10
A103
Q
E
Bob
AJ1076
4
KJ72
Q52
 
S
Mark M
42
QJ9862
Q86
86
 

 

 W
Cris
N
Mark R
E
Bob
S
Mark M
1
Pass
2NT1
Pass
32
Pass
33
Pass
44
Pass
4NT5
Pass
56
Pass
67
All Pass
 
 
(1) Discussed at the table, “1960s Jacoby 2NT”
(2) Short hearts
(3) Intended as a waiting bid, asking me to bid 3NT with non-serious slam values, or cue bid with serious slam values
(4) Unaware of partner’s convention/intention, thinking that, even with minimum values, I have to show a control on the way to 4S if I have one
(5) With nothing wasted in hearts and all prime values, ready roll out ol’ Black
(6) One Key card
(7) Only missing one, must be good for slam

 

 W
Bruce
N
Ed
E
Manfred
S
Dan
1
Pass
2NT
Pass
3
Pass
41
Dbl2
Pass
Pass
43
Pass
44
All Pass
(1) Showing a club control
(2) Requesting a club lead
(3) Showing a diamond control
(4) Minimum, not wiling to go higher

Often, right or wrong, I find a way to justify my action to myself if no one else.  Every so often (too often) reporting a hand in the blog is super painful due to my clear culpability in the loss.  This is one of those hands.  Here we had a confused auction (partner thought one thing, I thought another) and we arrived in a very poor slam (albeit, as the cards lie, cold).  The bidding problems were annotated above, so I will move on to the play.  At the other table, requiring only 10 tricks for the contract, declarer received the requested club lead.  12 tricks are possible, but it is complicated and potentially dangerous to pursue the 12 tricks, so declarer simply took the 11 tricks in front of him, losing a heart and a club.

At my table, I had to score 12 tricks on a heart lead, so I was booked at trick one and needed the rest of the tricks.  A simple diamond finesse (small to the 10 after drawing 2 rounds of trumps) succeeds if my LHO has Q, Qx or Qxx.  I can toss my 2 losing clubs from dummy on the KJ.  Here is the tool I use to determine the odds of success on any given hand:

http://www.automaton.gr/tt/en/OddsTbl.htm

Using that tool resulted in this:

The tool says that the slam succeeds if the distribution that is shown in rows 8, 9 or 10 matches the hand in question.  As you can see, that makes this an 18.2% slam (of course this is assuming that trumps are 2-2, so the actual percentage is much lower).  Not the kind of slam you would choose to be in, but, nevertheless, not hopeless and, yes, trump were 2-2 and the Qxx was with LHO making the slam cold with that line of play.

However, I adopted a more esoteric approach, looking for a squeeze where I hoped to find my RHO with the K as well as 4+ diamonds with the Q (when RHO overtook the Q with the K at trick 1, and returned the A, there was some inference that hearts were 6 long on my left, and only 2 long on my right – therefore placing a lot of clubs and diamonds in the North hand).  Using the same tool mentioned above (this tool is not available while playing the hand!), I found the probability of RHO having this specific holding (K as well as 4+ diamonds with the Q) to be only 15.2% (again, lower when you must also assume 2-2 trump).  However, this line of play has the advantage (since the defense already had me booked at trick 1), of not going down as soon as I lost a first round diamond finesse.  There is something mildly satisfying about not going down on a finesse early in a slam (but there is also something satisfying about attempting the best play for your contract!). 

Anyway, I ruffed the A return at trick 2, drew trump (both following) ending in dummy (instead of ending in my hand and finessing the 10).  I ruffed a heart (RHO pitching a club).  I crossed to the A (both following) and ruffed the last heart (RHO pitching another club).  Now I crossed to the A (both following) and led the Q (RHO pitching the J, I pitched a club, and LHO pitched a heart). In this position, I led dummy’s last trump, the 8:

 
26
Both
East
N
Mark R
954
K
 
W
Cris
8
10
103
Q
E
Bob
KJ7
Q
 
S
Mark M
8
Q8
8
 

When I led dummy’s last trump, RHO pitched the K!  At this point, Mark R was hoping/assuming that the ending looked like this:

 
26
Both
East
N
Mark R
954
K
 
W
Cris
8
10
103
Q
E
Bob
KQ7
8
 
S
Mark M
8
J8
Q
 

If this had been the actual layout of the cards, pitching the K is the only way to defeat the slam.

Instead of realizing that I am now cold for the slam (once the K was discarded – quite easy to see with all the cards laid out above), I ‘concluded’ that RHO had the precise holding I was looking/hoping for (K plus Qxxx) and that he had been duly squeezed.  I was momentarily elated!  So, I mistakenly kept my ‘good’ Q) and finessed the J, losing to the Q, down 1.  If I bothered doing the math, I can throw my Q at trick 10.  The 10 is high with only 1 other club outstanding.  So, in the 3 card end position, had I thrown away my Q, I can cash TWO clubs in dummy and lead to my K for 12 tricks, scoring up +1430 to win 13 IMPs.  Instead I scored -100 to go with our teammates -650 and we lost 13 IMPs.

Counting suits is always good.  Sometimes, when a lot of discards are in play, keeping track of all suits can be difficult.  But, here, RHO followed with a club when I played to the A plus they discarded a club at every opportunity (2 heart leads, 2 trump leads).  Counting the clubs can’t be that hard.  When 10 clubs are gone and only 3 remain and you hold a high one and a low one, those two clubs will produce 2 tricks.  Always.  Disappointed.

One more thing – my computation that the squeeze only produced a 15.2% success rate is bolstered by other extraneous factors.  For instance, my a priori assumption, for the squeeze to work, required LHO to hold no more than 3 diamonds.  But, had my LHO held 9xxx, perhaps they would not have  held onto all of their diamonds to the very end, allowing a pseudo squeeze to succeed.  Or, as in the actual case, the defenders will misjudge and discard incorrectly.

Epilogue…There are many lessons from this hand.

  • Know your bidding agreements (we should not have reached this horrible slam)
  • When you are in a nearly hopeless contract, don’t give up
  • When you are in any contract, any time, count, count, count and count some more
  • Don’t get distracted with a planned line of play when information develops that another line is better
  • Sometimes a mathematically inferior line of play can become the best available line of play when you add in the potential for defensive missteps.

While these slam swings were happening, there were 3 other boards with double digit swings.  One was a bidding mishap, the other 2 involved leads.

 
9
E-W
North
N
Mark M
KJ954
KJ2
Q10965
 
W
Dan
AJ5
8732
AQ10
732
J
E
Bob
KQ102
AQ
8653
AK8
 
S
Manfred
987643
106
974
J4
 

 

 W
Dan
N
Mark M
E
Bob
S
Manfred
Pass
1
Pass
1
2
2NT1
All Pass
(1) Thinking I’m showing 18-19 HCP

 

 W
Cris
N
Mark R
E
Ed
S
Bruce
Pass
1
Pass
1
Pass
11
Pass
22
Pass
43
All Pass
(1) Unclear what conventions partner may play/assume after a 2NT rebid, decided to simply bid his 4 card major
(2) Showing 7-9 with 4 card support
(3) Found our suit, game values, bid the game

The bidding (annotated above) wasn’t especially effective, but reaching the 4-3 fit in spades instead of the more reasonable 3NT proved to be adequate to win the board.  Defending against 2NT, North pitched down to a singleton K, so I was able to win both my A and Q for 10 tricks, +180 (losing a club, diamond and heart, winning 4+2+2+2).  At the other table, the spade game suffered from the 6-0 split, but declarer still managed to score 10 tricks for +620, to lose 10 IMPs.

What happened in the bidding?  I thought 1m-1M-2NT showing 18-19 HCP was the equivalent of the auction I was actually facing (which had the intervening 2 call).  I could have bid 3NT rather than 2NT, but usually 1m-1m-3NT shows about an 8-9 trick hand with a long running minor with hopes partner can produce the 9th trick if needed.  I thought I was just bidding the values I had while showing clubs stopped.  My partner, having bid hearts, was concerned about his ‘weak hearts’ and I guess didn’t think we actually held 29-30 HCP to pursue our likely 9 tricks in 3NT.

As North, I might have chosen to open 1 but after an original pass, that weak club suit would not tempt me to enter a live auction.  However, the 2 bid proved to be amazingly effective at disrupting our auction.  With that miserable dummy, there would not be many tricks available for North in any contract, but it was hard to find a penalty double at that vulnerability.  Playing support doubles, it was impossible.

 
22
E-W
East
N
Bruce
AKJ9
AQJ82
87
92
 
W
Manfred
543
75
A952
Q1074
4
E
Cris
102
1064
KJ64
A653
 
S
Bob
Q876
K93
Q103
KJ8
 

 

 Bob/Dan
Bruce/Mark R
Pass
1
21
42
All Pass
 
(1) Drury showing heart support with invitational values
(2) Enough to bid game

Here, the same auction reached the same contract.  At my table, East started with a trump lead.  When partner tried a diamond towards dummy, East hopped with the K and continued with a passive trump.    Declarer could draw trump, lead another diamond to the 10 and was able to throw a losing club on the Q, eliminating any guess for the  A/Q.  When declarer led their last club towards dummy, East ducked, allowing the K to score, reaching 11 tricks for our side, +450.

At other table, East started with the 10 and learned there was no future in spades.  When declarer drew trump and tried a small diamond towards Q103,  East won the K and switched to a small club to put declarer to a guess.  Declarer guessed wrong, +50 for our teammates.  Win 11 IMPs.

 
28
N-S
West
N
Mark R
KJ752
J72
7
AJ107
 
W
Cris
A
AQ9
986
865432
5
E
Bob
64
108654
KQJ103
Q
 
S
Mark M
Q10983
K3
A542
K9
 
W
Cris
N
Mark R
E
Bob
S
Mark M
Pass
Pass
11
1
22
43
Pass4
4
All Pass
 
 
 
(1) Very strange 3rd seat “opening bid”…where P, 1H, 2H, 1D and 2D are all considered. By opening 1D, I showed the lead I thought I wanted and I kept hearts in play, either via a response in hearts or a negative double, so that was my choice
(2) Nice values with extremely weak clubs, but sticking in a 2C bid anyway, the longest “suit”
(3) Splinter showing short diamonds with spade support
(4) No longer any need for a diamond lead to set up tricks, so no double of their 4D call
W
Bruce
N
Ed
E
Manfred
S
Dan
Pass
Pass
21
2
32
43
Pass
4
All Pass
 
 
 
(1) Deciding to treat this as a weak 2 in diamonds
(2) Routine ‘law of total tricks’ raise with 3 card support
(3) Strong spade raise – not able to show short diamonds

Quite different bidding reached the same contract, 4 by South.  Our teammates were faced with a diamond lead (the suit that East opened in 3rd seat), presenting no problems for declarer.  Upon winning the A, when West didn’t cash the A, declarer had 12 tricks for +680 (his losing hearts were discarded on the good clubs).

At my table, partner found the killing club lead.  Declarer is helpless.  When declarer led trumps, partner won the A and continued with a high club for me to ruff (asking for a heart return).  When I continued a heart through the K3 to partner’s AQ, we obtained the necessary 4 tricks for the defense, +100, win 13 IMPs.  Nice lead partner!

Recap Of 2/26/2018 28 Board IMP Individual

Bidding choices basically decided the swings in today’s game, but there were some interesting play and defense opportunities as well that could have made a difference, both on the hands reported and some others not included.  There were only 3 double digit swings, but I included one more hand (‘only’ 9 IMPs, but a funny result).

 
6
E-W
East
N
Paul
K942
632
KJ
A752
 
W
Jerry
J108765
98
84
Q43
2
E
Bob
AQ3
AKJ10
AQ53
109
 
S
Jack
Q754
109762
KJ86
 

 

W
Jerry
N
Paul
E
Bob
S
Jack
2NT
Pass
41
Pass
4
All Pass
(1) Texas transfer showing 6+ spades

 

 

W
Gary
N
Dan
E
Manfred
S
Mike
2NT
Pass
31
Pass
3
Pass
4
Pass
4NT2
Pass
Pass3
Pass
(1) Jacoby Transfer
(2) Intended as key card ask in spades
(3) Thinking 10 tricks might be easier than 11, go no higher

In standard bidding (where Jacoby and Texas transfers are both used), when a player has a 6+ long major suit and only has game aspirations, the transfer is done at the 4 level (Texas), signing off with pass after the 1NT opener completes the transfer into game).  If a player does a Jacoby transfer and then bids game in that major, they show a suit 6+ long (since partner may only have 2), but the Jacoby sequence suggests to the 1NT opener that, should the NT bidder have a slam suitable hand, further bidding would be welcome.  The ‘Jacoby then game’ sequence is considered ‘slam invitational’.  

Also, in standard bidding, I try (and have asked my partners to try) to ‘never’ use a key card ask when they hold 2 quick losers in an unbid suit.  Use control bidding instead.

At my table, partner used Texas to arrive in 4 quickly and easily.  At the other table, East and West were not using the ‘standard bidding rules’ noted above and arrived in a rather unhappy 4NT contract.  Perhaps West transferred while considering playing only 3 but then changed his mind and decided to bid game?

Unfortunately, even 4 is too high, since it can be beaten after the actual diamond opening lead (unless declarer takes a view in the heart suit).  Fortunately, the defense allowed 10 tricks at my table.  The foul trump split (and strength of the 9) allows the defense to score 2 clubs and 2 spades.  After the K was played at trick 1, I won the A and reviewed the situation.  It looks like I can score 5+2+2+? – I need 10 tricks.  I have to deal with the problem in clubs – either promote the Q to a trick, or ruff the third club, or take a heart finesse (to discard a club on a heart winner) or ruff out the Q and then discard a club.  The last option has transportation problems (unless 3 rounds of hearts is the first thing you do, which it should be) and doesn’t seem likely to succeed (but, in fact, leading 3 rounds of hearts is the only winning line, double dummy for this lie of the cards).  There is no legitimate way to promote the Q other than AK onside.  If the J is with South, they should cover what I lead (whether I lead the 10 or 9) with the J and when I play the Q from dummy, North will win the A, leaving a club loser for later, hopefully to be ruffed by declarer’s small spade.  If the J is with North, they will win the J and the AK will still be outstanding and I will need to ruff (or discard) the third club in dummy.  I led the 9.  Rather than cover with the J (best) or duck (next best), South rose with the K and not liking any other suit, continued with a small club.  The J (pinning my 10) would have been a better continuation and given me further problems).  I ducked the club lead in dummy around to my 10 with North winning the A (establishing my Q and solving that problem).  When North shifted to a heart, I won with the A and started playing trump (seeing the bad trump break).  North won the third round of trump (while South was pitching hearts) and continued hearts.  When I won the K, I had to chose a red suit to ruff (low) in dummy so that I could play my last high trump from dummy, allowing me to extract the outstanding 9 and claim the balance of the tricks (by this point, dummy was down to the established Q and trump).  Had I led a diamond, North could overruff with their 9, but when the Q came down under the K, I concluded North still had a heart remaining and ruffed my good heart in order to get to dummy, draw trump and score 10 tricks.

How might the defense have gone?  Best (cover my 9 with the J) leaves me very poorly placed.  Double dummy, the hand can still be made, but I wouldn’t have.  North wins the A, leads their last diamond which I win.  Now if I play another club (so that I can void myself in clubs and ruff the third club), South can win their preserved K and play another diamond.  This promotes the trump 9 into the setting trick.  Playing the K on the first club lead lost the defensive transportation to get the diamond ruff. 

Finally, if the J was played on the first club lead, I still have the losing club to worry about to possibly go down 2.  Or take a heart finesse and go down 3?  All in all, a very messy hand.

The only way to set the hand, double dummy, is to make an opening lead of the K or J.  This is not happening – no one would make that lead.  Once a diamond is led, the only way to make the hand (double dummy) is to play for South to hold the Q and play hearts (early) from the top, ruffing out the Q.  Then take spade finesses leaving 1 trump outstanding, cash your good heart to throw away one club loser while they ruff with their last trump.  You still have a club to lose, but you make it, losing 2 clubs and a trump.

If declarer plays trumps early, there are complications that cannot be overcome.  The only entry to dummy is a red suit ruff (and that red suit better be hearts, because diamonds will be over ruffed).

After the diamond lead against 4NT at the other table, declarer won and played AQ, North ducking.  East doesn’t have a lot of options to score tricks, but South pitched hearts on the spades, so the AK brought down the Q bringing declarer to 8 tricks (2+4+2+0).  The defense took the rest, down 2, +200 for our teammates to go with our lucky +620, win 13 IMPs.

 
15
N-S
South
N
Mike
7
K9
Q10984
A9732
 
W
Bob
KQJ8
QJ1083
K5
108
6
E
Dan
432
7
A7632
KQ64
 
S
Jerry
A10965
A6542
J
J5
 

 

W
Bob
N
Mike
E
Dan
S
Jerry
Pass
1
Pass
1NT1
All Pass
(1) Semi-forcing

 

W
Gary
N
Paul
E
Jack
S
Manfred
Pass
1
Pass
1NT1
Pass
2
Pass
Pass
2
Pass
2NT2
Pass
33
All Pass
 
 
 
(1) Forcing
(2) Intended as ‘pick a minor’
(3) Thinking spades will play better

There were quite a few missed opportunities on this hand.  First, in the bidding, since we were not playing Flannery (where opening 2 shows 5+ hearts and 4 spades with less than reversing values), I opened 1 and passed partner’s semi-forcing 1NT.  No rebid appealed and that was the best possible contract for the E-W hands.  Double dummy, the only lead to beat 1NT is the ‘impossible’ J.  After the actual lead of the 6, declarer won in dummy and can reach 7+ tricks by attacking hearts or clubs.  But, hoping to find 3-3 diamonds, declarer played the K and the hand can no longer be made.  When the J fell under the K, he continued with another diamond, hoping that the J was an upside down count signal showing that diamonds were breaking 3-3.  Instead, he established the diamond suit for the defense and, in the end, was only able to score 2+1+2+0 for 5 tricks, down 2, -100.  Dummy was endplayed with a heart at trick 12, forced to lead from K8 to the A10.

Depending on how the defense goes, declarer can reach 8 or 9 tricks if the defense doesn’t get diamonds going soon enough.  The rule of 11 shows that the 8 is a power card, once the 7 falls from the North hand at trick 1.  With the A onside and the 9 falling, 3+2+2+2 tricks are possible unless the defense gets their diamonds established early.  Here, a bit unluckily, declarer established diamonds for them.

On this hand, the ‘par’ result is 2 by North.  When holding a Flannery hand that is 4=5=2=2, but not having the option of a Flannery opening bid, West is stuck for a rebid after a forcing 1NT.  Sometimes bidding a 2 card club suit is chosen.  That would not work well here, since only 5 tricks are available to E-W playing in clubs.  Sometimes rebidding a modest 5 card heart suit is chosen (and that is what West did at the other table).  Sometimes stretching a reverse and bidding 2 is chosen, but that is nowhere near the values of this West hand.  So, after the 1-1NT-2 auction was passed around to South, they looked at their 5 card heart suit (where they would collect down 2 with best defense) and decided they didn’t want to defend.  It was time to introduce spades, so they balanced with 2.  North, not happy with spades, pulled it to 2NT (intended as ‘pick a minor’).  For some reason, rather than picking a minor, South persisted with 3 and West did not double to collect +1100.  However, they did achieve the optimum double dummy defense for +400 to go with their teammates +100 and win 11 IMPs.  Only 4 more IMPs were available had they doubled and gotten +1100.  Sometimes large numbers produce large IMPs.  Sometimes, the numbers start off so large, that making them even bigger only captures a few more IMPs.  That is one of the funny things about the IMP scoring tables.

 
22
E-W
East
N
Paul
109742
KQ987
AQ8
 
W
Bob
AKJ86
J9872
K43
Q
E
Manfred
53
AJ1064
AQ43
95
 
S
Dan
Q
532
K1065
J10762
 

 

W
Bob
N
Paul
E
Manfred
S
Dan
1
Pass
1
Pass
2
Pass
31
Pass
3
Pass
4
Pass
5
All Pass
(1) Artificial game force

 

W
Jack
N
Jerry
E
Mike
S
Gary
Pass1
Pass
1
2
Pass
3
Pass
Pass
Dbl
All Pass
(1) !

This hand didn’t create a double digit swing, but the (failure to make an) opening bid changed things in a remarkable way.  Some have upgraded the ‘rule of 20’ to the ‘rule of 22’ saying that you need to add the length of your 2 longest suits plus high card points plus quick tricks.  Here, using that math, East, as dealer, holds 22.5.  Plus all of their HCP are in their long suits and the 10 is also a significant card.  Few would pass – my partner opened 1 but at the other table, East did not open, South passed, and West opened 1.  You can see how the auctions unfolded.  At the other table, North overcalled 2 after the 1 opening bid.  South’s singleton spade could be useful, but the Q is unlikely to be worth any points and the trump are minuscule.  So, with 4 working HCP and 3 small trump, South raised to 3♥ which was passed around to East and they doubled, ending the auction.  Double dummy defense vs. 3 can achieve down 2 (only by starting with A and another heart, cutting down spade ruffs in dummy).  The actual defense was only able to score 5 tricks for down 1, +100.  Chances are that East was hoping to hear a reopening double  of 2 and sit for penalties.  The result at the table points out the danger of making a reopening double with a void – here, if 2 had been passed around to West, they would need to either pass quietly, balance with 3 or double.  If they double, the defense needs to be more accurate or they pay out a game bonus for 2X scoring 8 tricks.

Back to my table – I forced game and partner signed off in 5.  After winning the opening Q lead in dummy, declarer had to assess their plan.  Had the K been onside with a 2-2 trump split plus the A onside, 12 tricks were there (3+1+7+1).  But, that isn’t how it was.  Partner started diamonds with the J.  This doesn’t cost a trick if diamonds are 4-0 in the North hand, but I can’t think of any lie of the cards where leading the J actually gains a trick (the advantage of being able to pick up the diamond suit without loss is offset by the lost opportunity of ruffing tricks).  Besides, the opening lead looks like someone who is looking for ruffing tricks, not someone who is void in trump.  Here, with diamonds 4-0 in the South hand, starting with the J cost a trick (South scored 3 trump tricks and North scores 2 clubs), so we were down 3, -300.  Paired with our teammates -100, lose 9 IMPs.

Once partner opens (I would always open this hand 1), I don’t see how my hand can merely invite game.  Had I raised 2 to 3, we would have played it there and might have gone plus.  Yes, people are opening light these days, but big fits often produce lots of tricks.  This one didn’t.

Would you open?  Would you stay out of game?

After the 2 overcall by North, would you raise to 3 as South?  If 2 is passed around to you as West, would you reopen with a double?  As East, would you start with two rounds of hearts for the defense against a doubled heart contract?

Anyway, I thought there were so many variations on bidding, defense and declarer play that I included this hand even though it wasn’t ‘double digits’.

 
25
E-W
North
N
Paul
K1087542
5
K4
1095
 
W
Mike
QJ
9864
Q963
K72
3
E
Gary
A
AKQ1073
A10872
4
 
S
Bob
963
J2
J5
AQJ863
 

 

W
Mike
N
Paul
E
Gary
S
Bob
3
4
4
5
Pass
6
All Pass

 

W
Jerry
N
Manfred
E
Jack
S
Dan
3
4
4
5
All Pass
 
 

This last hand is reminiscent of some hands last month where the bidding was the same up until the last bid – one table stayed below slam, the other ventured forth with a slam bid.  If, instead of worthless (as the cards lie) 6 HCP (QJ, K), West had provided 3 useful HCP (K) or even 4 useful HCP (A), the slam would have produced 12 tricks.  With the opponents bidding up to 4, East does have reason to hope that partner’s high cards are not in spades…but, alas, they were.  As it was, both a club and diamond had to be lost, 11 tricks at both tables, +100 at my table and +650 for our teammates, win 13 (pretty random) IMPs. 

Another way to look at it – if you took away all 8 HCP from the West hand but left the distribution the same, declarer still scores 11 tricks.  Sometimes, when partner supports you at the 5 level, they can offer a trick in the play of the hand.  I think the 5 call is clear.  I think the final pass is reasonable, but I also think 6 is what I would bid with this hand.  It didn’t work.  What do you think?

Recap Of 2/14/2018 28 Board IMP Individual

Sorry readers, but I’m not sure how much bridge edification is available in today’s post.  I considered moving on to other hands, but decided to stick with my ‘standard’ of reporting on the double digit swings.  There were 4 of these swings in the Valentine’s Day game, 3 determined by bidding, 1 by declarer play.  See if you would make the winning decisions on these boards?

 
7
Both
South
N
Lew
10654
3
AKQJ3
1087
 
W
Dan
QJ32
982
KJ9542
3
E
Bob
AK87
K105
976
AQ3
 
S
Mark R
9
AQJ764
108432
6
 

 

W
Dan
N
Lew
E
Bob
S
Mark R
3
Pass
Pass
3NT
All Pass

 

W
Mark M
N
Bruce
E
Manfred
S
Cris
2
Pass
Pass
2NT
Pass
31
Pass
3
Pass
4
All Pass
 
 
(1) Stayman

 

This first hand, dealer started with a preempt and 4th seat balanced with NT.  But, as you see, a different level preempt, different level NT at the two tables.  At the other table, bidding was simple and straight forward.  At my table after the 3 opening bid was passed around to me, given my flat shape, NT seemed to offer more promise than forcing partner to the 4 level (via a balancing double) with no known fit.  Pass seems out of the question.  If I can’t pass, then that only leaves 3NT or double.  Clearly double would have worked on this hand. In many bidding contests, respondents are always proclaiming the famous ‘F’ word – flexibility.  Would you double?  Double is certainly more flexible than 3NT (3NT figures to end the auction most of the time).  Double also pretty much rules out 3NT which may be our only makeable game.  After a double, my hand will become dummy, exposing the opening lead through the K.  I chose 3NT (which works rather well on a non-diamond lead but, alas, South found the diamond opening lead).  After failing to unblock the diamond 10/8 (to keep partner in the lead for a heart through), South won the 5th and setting trick and decided to seek even more tricks by not cashing the A.  That allowed me to escape for down 1, -100.  Meanwhile, our teammates were only able to score 2 tricks against 4 for a score of -650, lose 13 IMPs.

Many/most players preempt at the 3 level with a 7 card suit, but will usually open a weak 2 with a 6 card suit.  However, this was a good 6 card suit in a 1=6=5=1 hand.  I think the results speak for themselves – the 3 level proved to be an extremely effective start to the auction (for my opponents!).  Bid 1 more when you have this powerful distribution.  Of course Marty Bergen proclaimed you should bid 1 more (than standard) on all hands, but his style never really caught on in mainstream bidding.

Update: Sid Lorvan made some astute observations about this hand that I totally missed.  While spending time regarding the right number of hearts for South to open (2 or 3) I totally missed the fact that N-S are cold for 11 tricks in diamonds!  Should South be declarer, E-W better cash one of each black suit at trick 1 and 2, or there will be 12 tricks in diamonds!  If North declares, the two black singletons will be visible in dummy.

Meanwhile, 11 tricks are never possible in clubs (the longer E-W fit), and 11 tricks in spades are only possible if East declares (here, also, double dummy, 12 tricks are possible when East declares spades unless South starts with A and a ruff).

The bidding questions are how to ensure East plays spades and how N-S get to diamonds?  If you rule out NT (not good for either side to play NT), lots of auctions could result in West being the declarer in spades where 10 tricks is the maximum after a heart lead (but North might be enamored with their diamonds and start unsuccessfully with a high diamond).  Singleton leads don’t always work – they can blow up the suit on partner, allowing declarer to find a missing Q or J that they would not find otherwise, but singletons are often the best start to the defense and that would be the case here.

Back to the bidding – what sort of bidding, for each side, could allow them to achieve their optimal results?  What if South, dealer, passes (what? pass a good 6 card heart suit!?)?  West could try 3 but their void and strong side spade suit should argue against that, so let’s say West also passes.  Now, North is in 3rd seat and might open 1 or even 2.  In spite of no diamond stopper, some East players will unwisely compete in NT anyway, but a more logical start would be to make a takeout double.  South, having begun with a pass, has some ‘undisclosed values!!!’  After a 2 opening bid, if playing McCabe or ‘transfer McCabe’, South would have tools to suggest a heart lead on their way to diamond support. In fact, since the double could suggest the K will likely be in East’s hand, South can see that a high level diamond contract has great prospects – 11 tricks if partner merely has Axxxxx or AKxxx and diamonds behave.  But, with a nice 4 card side suit in spades, North might consider that a 2 opening bid could prevent reaching a good spade contract and start with 1.

This is getting really involved, guessing the various routes the bidding could take, with each seat having choices that vary widely depending on what the prior bids have been!  On top of that, it assumes South passes to start with, and I would project that nearly zero contestants would pass with the South hand in a bidding contest/quiz.  After the recommended 3 opening bid, I can’t really see how N-S can arrive in 5.  With no heart fit to fall back on, North bidding 4 over 3 seems crazy, and all standard bidding would consider that forcing.  The only option would seem to be new suits non-forcing after a weak 2, allowing 3 to be bid, but North has no reason to suspect that a 3 level diamond contract will play better than a 2 level heart contract.  Nor can I see how East can play 4 or 5 after the 3 opening.  The strong diamond fit with N-S is a freak unexpected fit, but it would always be nice, playing bridge, that the optimum contract could be achieved with best possible bidding.  Sometimes that is not possible.

The last comment – the old adage “6-5 come alive” applies to this hand.  If you make a ‘rule’ that 6-5 hands first bid their 6 card suit but ‘must’ introduce their 5 card suit later, that would work well on this hand.  One hand obviously cannot establish a ‘rule’ and it cannot be blindly followed if you smell a misfit, but it would work really well here!  Judgment and more data required.

 
11
None
South
N
Bob
65
8762
A2
A10987
 
W
Bruce
Q98
Q1053
Q864
KJ
4
E
Mark M
J102
K9
10953
Q43
 
S
Mark R
AK743
AJ4
KJ7
62
 

 

W
Bruce/Manfr
N
Bob/Lew
E
Mark M/Cris
S
Mark R/Dan
1NT
Pass
2
Pass
2
Pass
2NT1
Pass
32
Pass
3NT
All Pass
 
(1) Invitational may or may not hold 4 hearts
(2) Showing 5 spades, accepting game invite

Here, the same auction at both tables resulted in the same lead at both tables.  Since the diamond lead gave up a trick for the defense, declarer is looking at 4+1+3+1 to reach the required 9 tricks, as long as spades are 3-3.  You hate to rely on 3-3 spades, but finding extra tricks in clubs or hearts is really not very likely – spades better be 3-3 or you probably will not be making this contract.  My partner was declarer on this hand and simply led a small spade at trick 2, maintaining communication with dummy.  When spades turned out to split 3-3, they had their game with 9 tricks as well as the needed transportation to cash them.  At the other table, declarer had a blind spot.  He wanted to fully ‘know‘ that spades were splitting right away.  So, he played A, K and another spade.  Sure enough they split and now he knows it.  But, so do the opponents.  They switched to hearts which provided an entry to the established spades, but removed the crucial entry to the K.   This meant the A/K could no longer be untangled.  After winning the A, declarer could cash spades and cross to dummy’s A.  But there was no small diamond to return to hand and score the K, and no other entry back to hand.  Thus, declarer ended up with 8 tricks, down 1, plus 50 for our teammates to go with our +400, win 10 IMPs.

What about that opening diamond lead?  Since Stayman by North followed by 2NT did not promise a 4 card heart suit (due to other system constraints), I think a good case can be made for West to start with a heart lead (besides the heart suit includes the 10, which is potentially significant).  As the cards lie, after a heart lead and best defense, declarer has trouble finding 9 tricks.  In fact, after the heart opening lead, it is difficult to construct any layout that will produce 9 tricks other than 3-3 spades plus a diamond finesse, but this hand contains one such layout (a route to 9 tricks without counting on spades 3=3).  The alternative route to 9 tricks involves the fact that East (the danger hand) is unable to gain the lead early for a diamond through declarer. Here, the strength of the club suit as well as the 9 dropping doubleton brings into play the power of the 8 allowing declarer to score 2+2+2+3 and reach 9 tricks without scoring long spades.  As the cards lie, Declarer’s club losers must be won by West and West cannot attack red suits.

Here, the diamond opening lead provided declarer a trick with the J that they can never score otherwise.  Finding 9 tricks after a heart lead would have been possible, but difficult.

 
20
Both
West
N
Mark R
7653
K75
52
A532
 
W
Cris
J102
AQ92
AQJ10
J6
5
E
Bob
AKQ94
J4
K864
K10
 
S
Manfred
8
10863
973
Q9874
 

 

W
Cris
N
Mark R
E
Bob
S
Manfred
1NT
Pass
2
Pass
2
Pass
4NT1
All Pass
(1) Natural with 5 spades, invitational to slam

 

W
Bruce 
N
Lew
E
Dan
S
Mark M
1NT
Pass
2
Pass
2
Pass
4NT1
Pass
52
Pass
63
All Pass
(1) Natural with 5 spades, invitational to slam
(2) Thinking 5S might be safer than 4NT, declining the invitation
(3) Nevertheless, moving on to slam

 

As you can see, with N-S passing throughout, the first 4 bids by E-W were the same at both tables.  My partner, with a quacky hand (loaded with queens and jacks) reasonably decided to pass my invitational 4NT.  The same hand at the other table, noting the same lack of values, decided to signoff in 5 rather than risk 4NT with the weak doubleton in clubs.  However, East wasn’t done.  After issuing an invitation that was declined, they proceeded to bid 6 and found partner with 100 honors!  Wow!!!  Had the clubs and diamonds been reversed in the opening NT bidder’s hand, the auction would have proceeded to 6 or 6NT.  Then, as long as the heart finesse works and the missing minor suit ace was onside, no problem. Anyway, bidding 6 had the benefit of keeping the K protected as well as the virtue of scoring 12 tricks without a club lead.  On the heart lead, declarer went up with the A, drew three rounds of trump and found that trump split.  Then they simply ran the spades, pitching dummy’s clubs.  Then the lead of the J forced a second heart trick and declarer had a trump left in each hand to land 5 tricks in diamonds, 5 in spades, 2 in hearts, 12 tricks, unbeatable as the cards lie.  -1370 for our teammates to go with our +660, lose 12 IMPs.

After a club lead scores the ace, declarer cannot benefit from throwing away clubs or hearts and must eventually rely upon the heart finesse which fails.  The auction seems to call for either a club or heart lead and on a different lie of the cards, a heart might have worked.  Here a club lead works and a heart doesn’t.

We had a fair discussion (without resolution) regarding responder’s second bid.  I considered 3 and that would have worked very well here.  My problem (at the time) was that I didn’t know how to invite slam after that, and bidding 3 might indicate I hold a more robust suit than K864?  Given a chance to bid this hand over, I think the right answer is to offer a 3 bid after partner makes  a minimum acceptance of my transfer to 2.  If partner likes diamonds (In this case, they would like them a lot), I can forget invitations – simply ask key cards and blast slam.  I was so focused on my hand evaluation (I think, this is clearly a slam invitational hand, not a slam force), that I wanted to get that valuation across with a 4NT bid.  That involves partner in the decision.  But, a 3 bid would involve partner even more in the decision and I think that should be the way to handle this hand next time.  If you don’t know what the final contract should be, go slow and involve partner.

On the other hand, if partner held:

W
Cris
J102
AKQ
QJ1032
QJ

 

 

He would like diamonds, have maximum HCP, and yet 6, 6 and 6NT all have no play. Here, checking on key cards should avoid the slam.  Of course, on the actual hand all 3 slams have no play on a club lead. Sometimes bridge is tough.

Would you have bid 6 over partner signoff in 5?  It sure worked here.  West realized  (correctly) that the 4-4 fit would likely produce one more trick than the 5-3 fit, plus partner can’t be disappointed with 100 honors, so they passed 6!

Back to the opening lead – Lew Stansby points out that opening leader knows a lot about the distribution. Declarer (in 6) is likely exactly 5242.  Dummy is likely 3442 or 3244. (would have passed 4NT if 3343). So you want to lead the suit where they have a 22 fit, because that’s the suit where dummy’s cards can be discarded on the long spades.  No guarantees, but holding longer clubs than hearts, clubs is more likely to be their 2-2 fit.

 
 
23
Both
South
N
Lew
AQJ2
K9
2
KQ8732
 
W
Bob
4
QJ106432
K854
5
Q
E
Manfred
K97653
875
106
104
 
S
Bruce
108
A
AQJ973
AJ96
 

 

W
Bob
N
Lew
E
Manfred
S
Bruce
1
3
Dbl
Pass
5
All Pass
 
 
 

 

W
Mark R
N
Dan
E
Cris
S
Mark M
1
3
Dbl
Pass
5
Pass
6NT
All Pass
 

 

Again the auction began exactly the same at both tables.  Again, one table quickly ended the auction, passing out in 5.  The other table also quickly ended the auction by taking one more bid over 5… 6NT!  The North hand possibly has 3-4 points  more than a dead minimum negative double of 3.  Still, 6NT is a pretty big bid considering the misfit and single heart stopper.  7 happens to make if you guess the location of the K and ruff it out after drawing trumps (pitching your spade loser on the K).  If you go for a big cross ruff in 7, it will fail, because the defender who is also short in diamonds sits over the your shortness.  But, as the cards lie, you could ruff 1 diamond low, then ruff 2 diamonds high and then, as long as you find diamonds 4-2, and clubs 2-1 you would find your 13 tricks.  However, when vulnerable opponents preempt, there is often foul distribution.  Here, the 3 bidder had two singletons, it just happened that neither was diamonds.

Anyway, the contract wasn’t 7 it was 6NT by North with the AQ protected as declarer.  However, even with South declarer, a spade lead through the AQJx, simply duck to the 10 in dummy to guarantee 12 tricks.  After the expected heart lead, declarer was able to run the 10, ensuring 12 tricks no matter where the K was and no matter whether they covered or not.  So our teammates scored 1440 while we were -620 defending 5, win 13 IMPs.

 

Recap Of 2/8/2017 28 Board IMP Individual

I’ve been gone awhile, so I’m just now having another game to report.  We played yesterday, 2/8, and only had 2 hands which cleared the hurdle of ‘double digit swings’ (my usual criteria for reporting a hand).  There were a number of other interesting hands, not being reported, but I am so behind on a variety of work at home, I’m just reporting these 2 hands.  Of the 2, I won one, and lost one, but my actions had no bearing on the actual swings.  You can decide what you would have done.

 
4
Both
West
N
Dan
AQ
10962
AK8
K1054
 
W
Ed
6
Q543
J10764
J96
J
E
Bob
J10972
AK
Q953
Q2
 
S
Lew
K8543
J87
2
A873
 
W
Ed
N
Dan
E
Bob
S
Lew
Pass
1NT
Pass
2
Pass
2
All Pass
 
W
Bill
N
Mark
E
JoAnna
S
Manfred
Pass
1NT
Pass
2
Pass
2
Pass
2NT
Pass
3NT
All Pass
 

The first swing came on the first round and was not all that interesting.  A careless discard, all of a sudden, turned a hopeless 3NT into 9 tricks.

At my table, South decided to simply transfer to spades and stop in 2.  Because I held the 7, I was always assured of 2 spade tricks and felt the J was the safest start for our side against 2.  In the end, we scored 2+2+0+1 to hold declarer to 8 tricks, -110.  Meanwhile, our teammates, with the same start to the auction ventured onward, arriving in 3NT.  It seems to me like a close call with the South hand (whether to give up on game, or try one more bid after the transfer is accepted, but not super-accepted).  If partner holds 3 card spade support and a maximum, the singleton diamond might prove useful.  Kaplan and Reubens (http://www.jeff-goldsmith.org/cgi-bin/knr.cgi?hand=k8543+j87+2+a873) evaluated the hand at 9.40!  I was surprised it could come in that high.  If you count a point for the 5th spade, you can get to 9 points, but the 5 card suit is decidedly weak, the J is only 3 long, and there is a lot to be said for passing, which is what Lew chose.

As you can see from the auction, our teammates felt the lure of the red game and bid it.  Not only is the decision close whether to pass 2 or continue to 2NT, the decision to go on (to 3NT over 2NT) is also very close.  16 HCP is right in the middle between 15 and 17.  Evaluating the AQ is good news and bad news – it will fit partner’s 5 card suit, but having only 2 can leave the suit blocked and awkward to score extra tricks.  Neither passing 2NT nor bidding 3NT can be called an error (in my opinion).  There are a lot of IMPs at stake when red games get bid and made, so continuing to 3NT was the final decision.

On the diamond lead (the J would have been safe, but extremely passive, knowing dummy will also hold 5 spades), declarer has no real play for 9 tricks unless spades break 3-3, so they won the K and cashed the AQ, seeing the bad spade break.  They can give up a club and get to 8 tricks (3+0+2+3), but they decided to first cross to dummy’s A and cash the K.  On the K, West elected keep all of their hearts and diamonds and let go of a club and that provided 4 tricks in clubs and 9 tricks total, +600, win 10 IMPs.

 
26
Both
East
N
Bill
QJ6
QJ632
109543
 
W
JoAnna
K532
987
Q
KQ1095
4
E
Ed
A984
A10
K6
A7632
 
S
Bob
107
K54
AJ872
J84
 
W
JoAnna
N
Bill
E
Ed
S
Bob
1NT
Pass
2
Pass
2
Pass
4
All Pass
 
 
W
Lew
N
Dan
E
Mark
S
Manfred
1
1
1
4
Pass
Pass
5
All Pass
 
 

It has become extremely fashionable to open 1NT, not only on balanced hands, but most semi-balanced hands in range for your 1NT opening bid.  Here East has an easy 1 opening bid with an easy 1 rebid.  This hand would always be opened 1 by traditionalists.  But, as you can see from the result, the 1NT opening bid proved far more effective (I approve!).  Even though the opponents have found it very effective to disrupt the 1NT auctions as much as possible (more and more people are interfering over 1NT all the time), 1NT still preempts the auction (the opponents have to start bidding at the 2 level and may not have a suitable bid) and it conveys critical information to partner (partner knows within 1 point the number of high card points held).  And, usually, you have at least 2 cards in any/every suit (the ACBL recently approved a new rule that allows 1NT opening bids with a singleton as long as it is the A, K or Q – experts have been doing this for quite some time).

So, a simple auction at my table (Stayman followed by bidding the game in spades) left me on lead vs. 4.  Lead Captain (http://www.bridgecaptain.com/LeadCaptain.html) and David Bird’s books on opening leads  have resulted in me very rarely leading trump or any suit that is Axx(xx) or Kxx(xx).  So, on this hand, with all of those leads ruled out, that left me with a rather lucky lead of the 4.  Partner ruffed and now must find me with a red ace (or the trump A).  It is pretty much a coin toss, with the tie broken by the extra undertricks we will gain if declarer happens to hold the K and I hold the A.  Partner can not only get a second ruff, they have a heart to cash for down 2.  Sadly, a diamond lead at trick 2 would have achieved down 1, but on the actual Q lead at trick 2, declarer could win the A, draw trump and just lose the opening ruff plus 1 diamond and 1 heart, 10 tricks, -620.

Moving on to my teammates table, the 1 opening bid allowed a cheap 1 overcall.  Responder was able to bid 1, so opener knew there was at least a 4-4 fit in spades, but when North bounced to 4, opener was reluctant to compete with 4 (I think I would have – if RHO had passed you would certainly have bid 3♠ so what is one more?), so when 4 came around to West, they competed with 5.  In clubs, declarer must lose a trick in every suit (except trump) for down 1.  Nothing the defense can do to allow the contract to make, nothing declarer can do to find 11 tricks.  Down 1, -100 combined with our -620 resulting in losing 12 IMPs.

Interesting – a side benefit (on this hand) of having opened 1 right-sided the spade contract.  That is, we could have beaten 4 by East, but 4 by West cannot be beaten because there is no ruff on the opening lead.  North has a natural trump trick, but one ruff just scores that single natural trump trick allowing 10 tricks for declarer (West) in 4.

One hand does not prove a rule, and bridge biases creep into selective memory.  But, I have found much greater success opening all hands that come close to looking like a 1NT opener with 1NT and then let the chips fall where they may.  There are lots of tools available for responder to sort out where the hand should be played after the 1NT opening bid.  I think gives an extra edge to starting with 1NT when possible.  Double dummy, on this hand, opening 1NT was the losing action and opening 1 was the winning action.  But, the actual results proved otherwise.

 

 

Recap Of 12/28/2016 28 Board IMP Individual

For the first time in a long time, we got in two games this month – mostly with different players.  There was quite an assortment of 5-6-7-9 IMP swings, some with interesting hands, but I’m going to stick with reporting the 5 double digit swings of the day.  Normally I just use first names – if the reader knows the players, they know who is who, if not, they don’t care.  This time, with 2 Bobs and 2 Mikes, I used last names for half the field.

 
2
N-S
East
N
Munson
Q62
Q108653
3
1076
 
W
Ed
K983
A
A8542
A32
2
E
Bill
AJ4
KJ7
J10976
Q8
 
S
Jack
1075
942
KQ
KJ954
 
W
Ed
N
Munson
E
Bill
S
Jack
1
Pass
1
Pass
2
Pass
31
Pass
3NT2
Pass
43
Pass
44
Pass
55
Pass
Pass6
Pass
(1) Usually denying a 5th spade and exploring for where to play
(2) Showing only 3 card spade support with hearts stopped
(3) Pulling 3NT, not yet giving up on a diamond slam, showing a strong hand with strong diamond support
(4) Weak diamonds, offer to play 4S, look for the 10 trick game instead of 11 tricks.
(5) Deciding diamonds would be safer than spades, even though it is a trick higher, and leaving open the possibility partner will carry on to the slam
(6) Weak trumps, weak controls, not interested in slam
W
Schneider
N
Pastor
E
Bandler
S
Manfred
1
Pass
1
Pass
1NT1
Pass
22
Pass
23
Pass
34
Pass
35
Pass
66
(1) Rejecting the raise with 3 card support
(2) New Minor Forcing, ostensibly checking for 3 card spade support or 4 card heart suit
(3) Admitting to 3 card spade support
(4) Showing where he is really heading
(5) Not ready to commit to anything yet
(6) Ready to commit!!

The first swing of the day came on board 2 where our opponents stopped in 5 while our teammates ventured a small slam that was, to say the least, not odds on.  The auction seemed sensible at our table, but our teammates just blasted into 6.  In 5 you get two chances to avoid a third loser.  After winning the A at trick 1, lead a small club towards the Q.  If the K is onside, you can pitch your third spade on the A without risking the spade finesse.  In 6 your only real chance is to find spades 3-3 with the Q onside (about 18%).  But, since spades were 3-3 and the Q was onside, no problem. The 13th spade provided a parking place for the club loser, so the only trick lost was the power trump trick to the defense.  +920 vs. -400, win 11 IMPs.  

 
15
N-S
South
N
Munson
J102
10
AJ105
AJ1053
 
W
Pastor
87
A8752
K93
Q94
5
E
Ed
Q954
K94
74
K876
 
S
Schneider
AK63
QJ63
Q862
2
 
W
Pastor
N
Munson
E
Ed
S
Schneider
1
1
21
Dbl2
2
Pass
33
Pass
3NT4
Pass
Pass5
Pass
(1) Usually limit raise or better in diamonds
(2) Values with heart support, but not willing to venture 3H
(3) Upgrading my J10 holdings (plus singleton) to essentially game force, giving partner a choice of games
(4) QJxx in hearts may be more useful in a NT contract than a spade contract, and 11 tricks is too rich for a diamond contract, so shoot for the 9 trick contract
(5) “3NT ends all auctions”
W
Manfred
N
Jack
E
Bill
S
Bandler
1
1
21
2
Pass2
Pass
33
Pass
Pass4
Pass
(1) 2/1 not game forcing, just showing longest suit (and implying less than 4 spades, since no negative double)
(2) No where to go
(3) Now showing diamond support
(4) Not willing to take it higher with the club misfit

It isn’t often you raise partner’s second suit with only 3 card support, but here, since I didn’t make a negative double, partner did know I only have 3 spades and that I am offering a choice of places to play.  Knowing that, he still opted for the tenuous 3NT.  Game in spades appears to offer better prospects than 3NT, assuming hearts are no worse the 5-3 and spades no worse than 4-2.  If that is the case, you will lose 2 spades and a heart, but win 2+0+4+1 in top tricks (with the diamond finesse) and still score club ruffs in hand and heart ruffs in dummy to reach 10 tricks.  The opponents can ruff your diamonds or overruff your heart ruffs, but they can still only score 3 tricks vs. 4.

To achieve 9 tricks in NT, declarer needs the diamond finesse and the spade finesse.  With the opponents starting out with 4 rounds of hearts (establishing the 13th heart as the setting trick), you have no play but to hope the Q is onside.  It is, and so is the K.  That provides 3+1+4+1 for 9 tricks and the red game comes home.  We were certainly lucky to bid/make 3NT, and 4 would have been a better spot, but when vulnerable at IMPs, the payout is so huge, it pays to go after red games.  As you see, the other table languished in 3 just making, -110 for our teammates to go with our +600, win 10 IMPs.

 
21
N-S
North
N
Munson
AQ1084
K84
KQ97
9
 
W
Manfred
2
J105
10853
J10842
2
E
Schneider
KJ7653
7632
A
AQ
 
S
Bill
9
AQ9
J642
K7653
 
W
Manfred
N
Munson
E
Schneider
S
Bill
 
 
1
Pass
1NT
Pass
2
Pass
2NT
Pass
3NT
All Pass
 
W
Ed
N
Bandler
E
Jack
S
Pastor
 
 
1
Pass
1NT
Pass
2
Pass
31
All Pass
 
 
 
(1) Somewhat conservative

Once again, a close vulnerable game is at stake.  The first 3 bids were the same at both tables and then they diverged.  Bill (my partner) slightly overbid with 2NT (so, with a maximum “minimum hand” I automatically raised to 3NT – never miss a red game), while his counterpart at the other table only raised to 3 and they played it there.  

This is a challenging opening lead vs. 3NT, but with no suit and no entries, it is often best to try to hit partner’s suit.  Perhaps partner has great spade spots over dummy and you know partner has at least 5 spades (South never supported spades, North never rebid spades).  The spade lead caught the KJxxxx with partner for 2 tricks, but the spots in dummy were strong, so spades provided declarer 3 of the necessary tricks for game, with hearts and diamonds also bringing 3 tricks each for a total of 9.  To declarer, the club suit looks a bit scary, but the distribution of the club suit offers no great source of tricks for the defense.

On the actual play of the hand, East won the J at trick 1, shifted to hearts with the K winning in dummy.  Declarer then knocked out the K to establish spades.  When East won the K and continued hearts, declarer knocked out the A and had his 9 tricks (able to finesse against the 10 when East showed out on the J).  So again, a vulnerable 3NT making for +600 against 9 tricks in a diamond part score, so our teammates were -110 again, win 10 IMPs.

 
24
None
West
N
Munson
76
Q73
AK9
KQ743
 
W
Manfred
AK10854
96
1076
J5
K
E
Schneider
QJ2
AKJ104
5
10986
 
S
Bill
93
852
QJ8432
A2
 
W
Manfred
N
Bob
E
Schneider
S
Bill
2
Dbl1
4
52
Pass
Pass
Pass3
(1) Not perfect, but…
(2) Pard asked me to bid my longest suit, so…
(3) Who knows? Give declarer singleton or void in hearts and dummy singleton or void in spades and they could be missing slam?
W
Ed
N
Bandler
E
Jack
S
Pastor
2
31
4
52
Pass
Pass
Dbl3
All Pass
(1) Rejecting the double
(2) Deciding Ax was enough support and that the bad guys are trying to steal the hand. It’s OUR hand! (not)
(3) Here, the double seems more clear and paid off handsomely

Faced with the opening 2 bid on the right, North has to choose.  I really hate to double a major with only 3 card support in the unbid major, but I wasn’t going to pass and I hated bidding 3 even more, since the hand is flat, the club spots are weak and the suit is only 5 long.  So, I doubled, followed by 4 and then partner has to decide what to do.  This is a very high frequency auction and, nearly every time it happens, no one knows whose hand it is?!  Was the 2 opening super light (as it sometimes is, especially non-vulnerable), was the 4 bounce being bid expecting to make 10 tricks, or an advance save trying to jam the auction and make the opponents guess at a high level?  Bill guessed to not defend 4 and bid 5 which was passed out.   It turns out 4 cannot be beaten (on the magical fit, the defense only has 2 clubs and a diamond to collect), but E-W were unable to sort out that it was their hand (and score a penalty double vs. 5).  On the lead of a top spade and a heart shift, they gathered in their 5 tricks in the majors before declarer got started.  The rest of the tricks were ours, so we were down 3, -150 in our non-vulnerable game.  

At the other table, when my hand decided to venture a 3 overcall after the 2 opening bid, East again bounced to 4 putting maximum pressure on N-S.  Here South thought the opponents were trying to steal the hand.  Since he had no idea about partner’s diamond support, he tried 5 over 4.  When that got doubled, both North and South sat for the double, not realizing there was a better spot.  The defense was ruthless.  After 2 hearts were cashed and a third heart lead ruffed, a top spade was cashed with the Q available as a signal that the J was held.  So, West underled to the J for another heart lead, ruffed with the J and overruffed with the Q – the trump promotion created 2 trump tricks for East.  So, E-W essentially scored the same 5 major suit tricks vs. 5 that they did vs. 5, but with 2 additional trump tricks available against the club contract, doubled, the damage was significant +1100 vs. our -150, win 14 IMPs.  Had our opponents doubled (for +500 instead of +150), we still win 12 IMPs.  Those 1100s can be really costly!

 
28
N-S
West
N
Munson
AJ643
J103
73
654
 
W
Jack
Q
Q75
KJ10986
KJ7
5
E
Pastor
95
K9862
2
AQ1032
 
S
Manfred
K10872
A4
AQ54
98
 
W
Jack
N
Munson
E
Pastor
S
Manfred
2
Pass
Pass
2
Pass
31
Pass
42
All Pass
 
 
 
(1) Feeling like I owe him a raise, even though my hand is flat
(2) Nothing extra, but never miss a red game
W
Bandler
N
Schneider
E
Ed
S
Bill
1
Pass
1
1
Dbl1
32
43
Pass4
Pass
Pass5
(1) Support double, showing 3 card heart support
(2) A gentle preempt, hoping to buy it
(3) Upgrading the 5-5 hand, knowing there is an 8 card fit
(4) Enough defense to hope they might go down, so not taking the save
(5) Not much defense here, so the save in 4S might be indicated, but partner didn’t bid 4S, so maybe…

On this last hand, West, as dealer, has an awkward hand.  1, 2 and pass, all seem to be in play.  If bidding is an option, pass is rarely right, so as you see, my table chose 2 (ostensibly showing a 6 card suit with 5-10 points – discounting the singleton Q), and the other table started with 1.  With N-S holding 10 spades, it is rarely right to defend 4.  When East arrived in 4, there was no defense to beat it.  Not a great contract, other than it makes – you must lose 3 aces and avoid any defensive club ruffs as well as avoiding a second trump loser.  After ruffing a spade, you must play West for exactly Ax, so get to your hand to lead a small heart to the Q and then, on the next lead of hearts, play all small hearts as the A catches air, preserving the K to draw the remaining trump.  10 tricks, +420 for our teammates.

As you can see, we landed in 4 with hearts never having been bid.  West has a difficult opening lead against 4.  I think I would have chosen the Q.  The Q is coming down singleton anyway, and the other 3 suits all have serious dangers.  Eventually West chose the 5, declarer covered with the J, and East thought they had a problem.  Is it a singleton 5?  A doubleton 54?  Or 3 to the Q75?  It turns out it doesn’t matter.  For any of those holdings, the K is the necessary play.  It costs nothing in the case of the  singleton/doubleton – declarer always has 3 top heart tricks and whether or not you play the K at trick 1 doesn’t change anything.  They still have 3 tricks.  But, if partner happens to hold the Q75, failure to play the K at trick 1 costs the contract.  The defense is entitled to 0+1+1+2.  But, when East decided to play third hand low at trick 1, the heart trick for the defense disappeared and declarer had only 3 losers, 10 tricks, and a double game swing for +620 to go with +420, 14 IMPs.

Today was my lucky day.

 

Recap Of 12/21/2016 28 Board IMP Individual

Wow, this time we had no less than 9 double digit swings that included, I think, a number of interesting hands with all essentially revolving around bidding judgment/bidding choices that players face every day.  Bidding at the 5 level (or not), choosing game (or slam) in hearts, spades or NT.  It all started on the first first hand.

 

 
1
None
North
N
Nick
KQJ108643
K7
KQ6
 
W
Mark
97
Q84
KQ108
10732
A
E
Bill
A
AJ6532
64
AJ95
 
S
Bob
52
109
AJ97532
84
 
W
Mark
N
Nick
E
Bill
S
Bob
11
2
Pass
3
4
52
Pass3
Pass
54
All Pass
 
(1) 1S seems right here. Too strong for 4S, too weak for 2C. Yes, this hand has a lot of tricks.
(2) First of a number of 5 level decisions that created swings today. Good choice by Bill
(3) My offense/defense ratio isn’t clear but seems to me to be 1. 1 trick on offense (wrong), 1 trick on defense. Yes, a double here by me might persuade partner to not carry on, but since he was willing to bid 4S unilaterally with no support from me, pass seemed at least reasonable.
(4) Need to decide, declare or defend. This looks like a hand you do not want to defend, so Nick took the push to 5S
W
Bruce
N
Cris
E
Dan
S
Manfred
21
32
Pass
4
4
Pass3
All Pass
(1) I don’t think I’ve seen a 2C bid with no aces, but I have now.
(2) Usually you don’t preempt with 3 aces. Usually you don’t hold 3 aces when the opponents open 2C!
(3) Thinking there is too much defense to venture 5H and save against a contract that may not make.

There are not a lot of constructive bidding tools created for how to compete over a strong 2 opening bid (for good reaason – all tools are about disrupting their auction, not creating your own constructive auction!).  Here E-W are cold for 10 tricks in their heart game, while N-S are in good shape for their own 10 tricks in their spade game.  A possible opening lead of the A followed by a shift to, specifically the J is the only line of defense to defeat 4.  So, 4 will be making every time.  Some mental gymnastics could arrive at that defense (if partner has the K, no problem.  If declarer has the K and partner has the Q, leading the J could create a useful entry to partner so that they could continue drawing trump, preventing a club ruff.  Not going to happen.  So, the decision to save in 5 followed by the decision to declare vs. defend resulted in spades being played at both tables scoring 10 tricks.  My table, that meant -1, -50 vs. 4 making by our opponents at the other table, -420, lose 10 IMPs.  Had I doubled 5, partner may have pulled to 5 anyway.  And, if he didn’t, it only would have held our losses to 8 IMPs instead of 10.  The swing was created by the decision to bid 5 over 4.

 

 

4
Both
West
N
Nick
AK6
KJ9876
Q97
4
 
W
Mark
QJ2
A52
KJ853
95
K
E
Bill
97
Q
10642
KQ10872
 
S
Bob
108543
1043
A
AJ63
 
 
W
Mark
N
Nick
E
Bill
S
Bob
Pass
1
Pass
1
Pass
21
Pass
42
All Pass
 
 
 
(1) Raise with 3, or rebid with 6? The texture of the heart suit seems to argue for rebidding hearts
(2) Never miss a red game. Aces, support, ruffing values, jumping to game seemed clear to me.
W
Bruce
N
Cris
E
Dan
S
Manfred
Pass
1
Pass
1
Pass
21
Pass
32
Pass
43
Pass
44
All Pass
 
 
 
(1) Choosing to raise spades for the rebid
(2) I’m not sure where this is going…
(3) Finally showing the long strong heart suit
(4) Choosing to try game in spades rather than hearts

Here the 6-3 heart fit proved to be more effective than the 5-3 spade fit.  If the defense attempts to stop diamond ruffs (by leading trumps), declarer can merely establish the spade suit, no problem.  If the defense leads diamonds early, killing the late entry to spades, declarer can set about ruffing the 2 diamond losers and only has a spade loser and 1-2 trump losers.  After declarer ruffs both diamonds and is down to a singleton heart in dummy, it is time to start drawing trump.  Having every spot except the A and Q, how do you play the trump suit?  Finesse for the queen would seem to be the normal play, but it is wrong to finesse, since, with only 1 possible lead available (dummy is now down to only one trump), the finesse only works with exactly Qx in the West hand.  But, small to the K will pick up Qx in the East hand as well as the actual singleton Q.  So, against any defense, 11 tricks are always there in a heart contract.  But, when spades are trump, there are many issues going on – the main one is getting hearts right.  Here, depending on how the defense has gone prior to attacking hearts, the normal finesse not only picks up West holding Qx, but also Qxx and AQx and possibly AQxx, although the defense may have engineered a heart ruff before that (although maybe not, since declarer never revealed heart support).  Anyway, I think the lesson out of this hand is to support/play hearts and not have the problem of how to play 4.  10 tricks are there, double dummy, in the spade contract, but when the heart finesse lost, declarer ended up -2, -200 to go with our +620 to win 13 IMPs.

 
5
N-S
North
N
Bill
AKJ4
743
KQ9852
 
W
Cris
QJ65
932
J95
763
A
E
Bruce
109742
Q108
A10862
 
S
Bob
AK83
765
KQ
AJ104
 

 

W
Cris
N
Bill
E
Bruce
S
Bob
1
Pass
1
Pass
2
Pass
21
Pass
4
Pass
6
All Pass
 
 
 
(1) ?!?

 

W
Dan
N
Nick
E
Manfred
S
Mark
1
Pass
1
Pass
2
21
3NT2
All Pass
 
 
 
(1) I’m not sure where this is going. If pard chooses a heart lead vs. 3NT, I would not be disappointed, but I guess this was a ‘diamond lead director’ assuming partner was soon going to be on lead vs. 3NT
(2) And, yes, partner is on lead vs. 3NT

I have given my hand to a few capable players and all chose to bid 2 over 2.  I think it is a very tough call, and only 2 and 2 can be considered.  I have to force, while leaving 3NT and 6 both open.   How the auction proceeds (should I have bid 2) is anyone’s guess.  You should still be able to reach the cold slam.  My ill-advised 2 bid hit the jackpot when partner expressed strong heart support.  However, 6 would be far less cold (depends on the heart finesse which would have lost) if partner had held two diamonds and one spade.  The third diamond in partner’s hand provided a diamond ruff in dummy for the 12th trick, while both losing hearts can be discarded on the AK.  So, while some might chalk this up to blind luck after my bad bid, I’ll take the slam and the +1370.

At the other table, the 2 call threw a monkey wrench into the auction.  Yes, ‘my 2 bid’ could still have been deployed and they likely would have ended up in the slam, but 3NT seems reasonable – you can basically count 9 tricks (2+0+1+6) and if pard only has 5 clubs, they could hold the Q or the A to get to 9.  But, 3NT is quite unilateral, losing almost any chance of reaching the club slam.  “3NT ends all auctions.”  So, our teammates were -660, win 12 IMPs.

 
6
E-W
East
N
Bill
Q7
Q1092
976
AQ53
 
W
Cris
J109654
A753
J103
7
E
Bruce
K2
K6
542
KJ8742
 
S
Bob
A83
J84
AKQ8
1096
 

 

W
Cris
N
Bill
E
Bruce
S
Bob
Pass
1
Pass
1
2
Dbl1
Pass
2NT
Pass
3NT
All Pass
 
 
 
(1) Showing 3 card heart support

 

W
Dan
N
Nick
E
Manfred
S
Mark
Pass
1NT1
Pass
2
Dbl
2
Pass
3NT
All Pass
 
(1) Although we all play 15-17 strong NT opening bids, Mark ‘upgraded’

This proved to be a bad time to upgrade the South hand.  I opened a pedestrian 1 which had the effect of rightsiding the NT contract.  Having no tenaces, and the dreaded 4-3-3-3 (lack of tricks), South at the other table decided to try opening 1NT.  So, at that table, 3NT was reached with South playing, West on lead.  Ignoring partner’s double (you can’t lead clubs if you don’t have them), the J was led.  With the K over the Q, declarer is toast.  Even if you duck spades twice allowing both the J to win and the K to win (so that spades are not established), you still can’t get to 9 tricks.  The defense will score at least 2+2+0+1 to defeat the contract.   The actual result was -2.

At my table, East was on lead and tried 4th from longest and strongest, the 7.  This resulted in an overtrick, but even with best defense, no lead can stop 3NT played by the North hand.  The hand with queens is often the best declarer in NT.  Here South had one queen (protected by the A and K), North had 3 unprotected queens.  So, we were +430 and our teammates were +100, win 11 IMPs.

 
10
Both
East
N
Nick
J
AK872
AKQJ982
 
W
Bruce
AK53
A10743
Q103
6
4
E
Bob
Q10
KQ62
J954
754
 
S
Dan
987642
J985
6
103
 

 

W
Bruce
N
Nick
E
Bob
S
Dan
Pass
Pass
1
5
51
Pass
Pass
6
Dbl2
All Pass
(1) Not clear, but vulnerable opponents often have their bid
(2) Not clear, but I really don’t want partner bidding again.

 

W
Bill
N
Manfred
E
Cris
S
Mark
Pass
Pass
1
2NT1
3
Pass
Pass
5
All Pass
 
(1) Is this a 2-suited hand, or a 1-suited hand. Bidding 5C has the advantage of concealing diamonds. Bidding 2NT brings both suits into play.  Manfred decided to show both minors with 2NT.

 

Another 5 over 5 decision – this one proved costly (to not bid and let them play 5♣).  At the other table, it went more slowly.  Still, 5 does not sound like an advanced save!  The opponents have decided to pass out 3, so they are not going to game.  5 sounds like a hand looking for 11 tricks and expecting to find them.  As it turned out, both tables found the club lead which is the only lead to hold them to 11 tricks.  If 2 diamond ruffs can happen in dummy, the whole diamond suit is good and 12 tricks are there for the taking.  At the other table, the extra information about 2 suits (and the opening leader holding Jxxx in the other suit), I think the club lead is indicated.  At my table, I found a club lead anyway.  Is a club always the best lead?  Undoubtedly not, but with values in all suits outside of clubs, I decided to try to make sure to limit the (unknown) potential ruffing value that dummy may have.  That lead saved us from -1370.  Instead we were +200 while our teammates were +600, win 13 IMPs.  It would be interesting to find out what Lead Captain would choose to lead, but so much is subjective about what values and what shape you infer into the opposing hands, I decided to not do the research.

I should add that, in an email, Manfred made an excellent point about his 2NT call.  Although it provides information to the defense/opponents, it also provides information to partner.  Being void in hearts, Manfred ‘knows’ that there will be a  heart raise on his left.  Then, if partner bids freely (clubs or diamonds), he can have a reasonable expectation that 6 of the suit chosen by partner will have excellent play.  If partner does not come in, he can still bid 5 on his on, which he did.  And, right or wrong, his sequence bought the contract for 5 rather than have the annoying 5 interference over 5.  Should that have worked?  I don’t know, but it did.

 
19
E-W
South
N
Mark
K6
AKQJ62
J83
AQ
 
W
Bob
J1097
10753
75
752
Q
E
Manfred
432
94
KQ109
KJ94
 
S
Bruce
AQ85
8
A642
10863
 

 

W
Bob
N
Mark
E
Manfred
S
Bruce
Pass
Pass
21
Pass
22
Pass
2NT3
Pass
34
Pass
35
Pass
4NT6
Pass
67
Pass
6NT8
All Pass
 
 
 
(1) Not exactly a traditional opening, preparing to show 22-24 balanced
(2) Waiting
(3) 22-24 balanced, counting a point for the 5th heart and another point for the 6th heart!
(4) Regular Stayman
(5) Yes I have 4 hearts!
(6) Quantitative. Bruce would bid spades first to confirm that hearts are trump prior to blackwood. Here 4NT is simply ‘are you on the high end of 22-24?’
(7) However, Mark counted his points, he was ready to try slam, but in hearts!
(8) Not liking the singleton 8, Bruce reverted to NT

 

W
Bill
N
Nick
E
Dan
S
Cris
Pass
Pass
11
Pass
1
Pass
3NT2
All Pass
 
(1) What I think many would open
(2) I’m not sure what this shows, but it had the effect of ending the auction.

 

Our teammates arrived in 3NT and when it was over, they had 11 tricks for +460.  At our table, the opening lead (Q) tends to show, among other possibilities, something like KQT9, asking partner to unblock the J if they have it.  Declarer asked me ‘standard honor leads?’ and I reported yes.  He said, after the hand, he briefly considered winning the A and leading towards the J, playing me for the K!  But, why would the opening leader throw out an empty Q against slam?  Eventually, declarer knew the situation in diamonds.  I think a duck at trick 1 might offer slightly better chances to make the hand.  It rectifies the count and various positions could then arrive at 12 tricks.  But, declarer won the A and proceeded to run 6 heart tricks.  On the run of the hearts, East’s first discard showed club values, so declarer believed him, so after running all 6 hearts, he cashed the 3 spades, and led a diamond at trick 11.  That left East on lead at trick 12 holding KJ to lead into declarer’s AQ.  Nice endplay to make the slam.  You can say whatever you want about the bidding (I’ll leave it as ‘it wouldn’t have occurred to me’ – but perhaps it should?).  But NS chalked up the slam for +990 to win 11 IMPs on the hand.

 
23
Both
South
N
Dan
J4
K10
KQ9765
KJ9
 
W
Mark
108
Q2
J82
Q108642
3
E
Bob
K753
A853
A43
53
 
S
Cris
AQ962
J9764
10
A7
 

 

W
Mark
N
Dan
E
Bob
S
Cris
1
Pass
2
Pass
2
Pass
2NT
Pass
3
Pass
3NT
All Pass
 

 

W
Manfred
N
Nick
E
Bruce
S
Bill
1
Pass
2
Pass
2
Pass
2NT
Pass
3
Pass
4
All Pass
 

 

As you can see, the first 5 bids were the same at both tables.  A more flexible 3rd bid by North might have been 3, offering partner a choice of games, tending to show honor doubleton.  Here, one player ended the auction with 3NT, the other ended the auction with 4.  Double dummy, there are 10 tricks in spades against any lead and 11 tricks in NT against any lead.  But, 11 tricks in NT is due to the ability to finesse the J and later have it fall.  That relies on a very particular lie of the cards, unlikely to be declarer’s main line of attack.

I pictured declarer as possibly 6-4 in the minors and didn’t want to give him a free club finesse.  Instead I gave him the heart finesse (via my opening 3 lead) and declarer was feeling no pain.  He could power out tricks in the heart suit and eventually came to 10 tricks.  All leads looked extremely unappealing, but I think the 5 is probably the best opening lead (unbid suit) and hope for the best.

At the other table, winning 10 tricks in spades does not rely upon the fall of the J, but I don’t know declarer’s actual line of play.  Something good needs to happen in hearts or diamonds.  Something really good actually happened in hearts (those long lowly hearts become winners when the Q is onside, doubleton).  And the trump 108 coming down certainly doesn’t hurt the cause.  But, if you misguess hearts (flying the K the first time hearts are led, hoping to ruff some hearts later), 10 tricks will not be available.  In any case, our teammates failed in 4 -100 while our opponents scored +630, lose 12 IMPs.

 
25
Both
South
N
Nick
Q6
K953
10764
A73
 
W
Bob
A1054
AQ2
Q2
QJ106
A
E
Cris
KJ73
107
985
9842
 
S
Manfred
982
J864
AKJ3
K5
 

 

W
Bob
N
Nick
E
Cris
S
Manfred
Pass
Pass
1
Dbl
Pass1
1
Pass
Pass2
2
Pass
Pass
23
Dbl4
All Pass
 
(1) Waiting in the bushes
(2) Even though I have a good hand with 4 card support, I want a better hand than this to raise partner
(3) Well, if they want to stop in 2D, I’m ready to compete to 2S
(4) Ready to drop the hammer

 

W
Dan
N
Bruce
E
Mark
S
Bill
Pass
Pass
1
Dbl
1
1
2
2
3
All Pass
 

 

It is rare, at IMPs, to make tight doubles of partscore contracts that turn the partscore into a game.  This hand shows why.  Yes, they can beat 2 and turn +100 into +200 for, possibly, a gain of 3 IMPs.  But, if the defense falters, and 8 tricks come home, The loss of 10-13 IMPs can be pretty devastating.

So, at my table, I’ve gotten partner into 2X and he needs to find 8 tricks.  With a diamond ruff, he can get 5+1+0+2 as long as they don’t obtain a club ruff before trump get drawn.  But, the actual play left many opportunities for 6 tricks for the defense – I won’t go into the details, they were pretty amazing (ugly).  I’ll just say, when the dust settled, we had our 8 tricks, +670.

Meanwhile, our teammates arrived in 3 which I think was more routine bidding.  As North, I would always respond 1 after partner’s 3rd seat opener was doubled.  Maybe the hand belongs to us in hearts?  The 3 contract was not without its problems, but Bruce played diamonds from the top, dropping the doubleton Q offside and brought home 9 tricks.  +140 with our +670, win 13 IMPs.

Penalty doubles can run up huge scores when the opponents overextend their assets, but with no spade stack (and potentially locating the trump Q for declarer), the double here proved disastrous.

 
26
Both
East
N
Nick
AQJ65
9832
KQ105
 
W
Bob
K10732
4
K9765
AJ
8
E
Cris
9
QJ1065
10843
943
 
S
Manfred
84
AK7
AQJ2
8762
 

 

W
Bob
N
Nick
E
Cris
S
Manfred
Pass
1
1
Pass
Pass
Dbl1
Pass
Pass2
RDbl3
Pass
1NT4
Dbl
25
Dbl
All Pass
 
 
 
(1) Normal reopening double
(2) Normal penalty pass
(3) Let’s try somewhere else
(4) Unfortunately, ruling out diamonds, ‘somewhere else’ seemed like NT, since it seemed like partner was asking for hearts or clubs.  Plus, 1NT kept us at the 1 level.
(5) Thinking I announced ‘balanced, no preference’

 

W
Dan
N
Bruce
E
Mark
S
Bill
Pass
1
1
Dbl1
Pass
2
Pass
3
All Pass
 
(1) Negative double, looking for hearts or clubs

 

Amazingly, this was the very next hand!  Just after my preaching about ‘don’t double partscores at IMPS’ this hand comes along.  Nick, who made the penalty double of 2 on the prior hand, is the one who brought the penalty double into play on this hand.  This time he was right.  REALLY right.

Double dummy (I’ve looked at this hand a lot!), here are the results (for best possible defense/offense).  If we play the hand:

1NT -5, 1400

1 -4, 1100, except we were redoubled, 2200

2 -2, 500, what I should have bid after the redouble

2 -5, 1400, except we ‘only’ went down 4, for -1100

If NS play the hand

3NT, +1, +630

5♣ =, +600

Even though play/defense was not optimal at either table, it was all about the bidding.  We were going for a large number once I overcalled (as who wouldn’t).  Our teammates managed +130 against our -1100, losing 14 IMPs.  Once I overcalled, as long as N-S went for the penalty, we were toast.

There doesn’t seem to be much to the play in 3NT.  We have no threat of taking tricks, they have no problem finding tricks.  Likewise, in clubs, as long as you play the hand that overcalled for both missing kings, 11 tricks seem straightforward.  But, it really doesn’t matter how many tricks are scored in a club partscore.  Had they gotten +150 instead of +130, no difference in the IMP score.  And, had they bid and made 5 we still lose 11 IMPs instead of 14 IMPs.  So, once we were going for a number, nothing our teammates did (in terms of getting to game/making game) mattered.  We just needed them to get the same number (or better!).

I think this is a great hand for IMP scoring.  I’ll still bid 1 next time I hold this hand.  We might be cold for game in spades and I have to get in the bidding.  But, Nick, noticing the vulnerability, went for the jugular and found it.

Recap Of 11/9/2016 28 Board IMP Individual

Election conversation filled the day as we resumed our monthly (at least we try to  meet monthly, sometimes twice) 2-table bridge game.  Bidding judgement was the primary driver for all the big swings (throwing 9 IMP swings into the double digit category).

Board 2

 
2
N-S
East
N
Nick
KJ
Q9862
32
9542
 
W
Mark
A1097643
105
A96
3
2
E
Ed
8
AKJ7
J1074
KQJ10
 
S
Bob
Q52
43
KQ85
A876
 
W
Mark
N
Nick
E
Ed
S
Bob
Pass
1
Pass
1
Pass
1NT
Pass
4
All Pass
 
 
W
Bruce
N
Cris
E
Dan
S
Manfred
1
1
1
Pass
1NT
Pass
3
Pass
3NT
Pass
4
All Pass
 
 

You could call this first one an opening lead problem, but why would North lead a diamond?  Unless South bid 1?  Why would South bid 1?  Beats me.  I did not overcall, but Manfred did overcall 1 at the other table.  He was able to then receive the diamond lead which established the setting trick for the defense.  The A and 2 trump tricks will “always” be scored (see below) by the defense, but the diamond losers can easily be discarded on clubs without a diamond lead.  At my table, North led the 2, won by the A followed by the K.  I won my A, but at that point, there is no longer a chance to defeat the contract with the diamond losers discarded on the established clubs.  Should I have bid 1?  It appears so on this hand.

When the diamond was led a trick 1 at the other table, the defense chose to give declarer a “Grosvenor gambit” – an interesting psychological ploy in bridge.  For those readers not familiar, I quote from Wikipedia.

In the game of bridge, a Grosvenor gambit or Grosvenor Coup is a psychological play, in which the opponent is purposely given the chance to gain one or more tricks, and often even to make the contract, but to do so he must play for his opponents to have acted illogically or incorrectly.

Thus, the opponent likely ends up blaming himself for not taking advantage of the opportunity presented, even though to do so would have been irrational. The benefit of the Grosvenor gambit is supposed to come on future hands, due to a loss of concentration by the player who was taken in by the gambit.

The gambit was named after Philip Grosvenor, a fictional character in a short story by Frederick B. Turner published in The Bridge World,[1] who first discovered the gambit accidentally, and over time developed its theory and deployed it deliberately. The story depicts Grosvenor as often frustrated by opponents who are too obtuse to fall for his ruse. Grosvenor’s lifeless body is eventually found bludgeoned to death, his fingers broken, shortly after a bridge tournament in which he used his gambit against the wrong opponents.

So, back to the defense – after winning the A at trick 1, declarer played the A and another spade.  North, upon winning the K, failed to lead a diamond to cash the setting trick (along with the remaining Q and A).  Instead, they played a heart.  Declarer could have ducked the heart to the 10, and then played more hearts discarding his losing singleton club, losing only 2 trumps and the high diamond.  But, to take the heart finesse would likely result in an extra undertrick for -2, -100.  Why do that?  So declarer rose with a high heart and proceeded to lose his remaining trump loser along with the A and diamond loser for -1, -50.  With no diamond lead at trick 1, I was -420, lose 10 IMPs.

Board 4

 
4
Both
West
N
Nick
A10982
AK4
2
7542
 
W
Mark
Q6
QJ653
9874
Q9
5
E
Ed
KJ
82
AQJ
AKJ1063
 
S
Bob
7543
1097
K10653
8
 
W
Mark
N
Nick
E
Ed
S
Bob
Pass
Pass1
2NT
Pass
3
Pass
3
Pass
3NT
All Pass
 
 
(1) !
W
Bruce
N
Cris
E
Dan
S
Manfred
Pass
1
Dbl
3
Pass
Pass
3NT
All Pass

This next hand is, again, an opening lead problem, but more so (I think) a bidding problem.  As South, I was on lead vs. 3NT by East, the same contract that was played at the other table.  In a weak hand with no suit of my own,  I would ‘always’ lead a short unbid major, hoping for length in partner’s hand, and perhaps I should have led the unbid major here.  But with both length and weakness in spades, it made me think that spades was not the right start.  Instead, I went for length/strength in my minor by leading the 5 and presented declarer with his 9th crucial game fulfilling trick.  At the other table, North chose to open 1, providing a roadmap for the opening lead and the defeat of 3NT.  With a spade lead, declarer only has 1+0+1+6 tricks available.

Should North open 1S?  I think so.  It satisfies the rule of 20, it has 3 quick tricks, and it is SPADES.  I love bidding spades, the boss suit, because the opponents have to go to NT or else 1 level higher to compete for any contract.  But, still, I could have led a spade anyway.  Darn.  Lose -600 to go with -100 and lose 12 IMPs.  I hate starting out the day 22 IMPs in the hole.

Board 9

 
9
E-W
North
N
Nick
K1043
84
KQ6
AQJ3
 
W
Bruce
J92
10
J10754
K1072
4
E
Bob
Q7
AJ972
A98
964
 
S
Dan
A865
KQ653
32
85
 

 

W
Bruce/Ed
N
Nick/Manfre
E
Bob/Cris
S
Dan/Mark
1NT
Pass
2
Pass
2
Pass
4
All Pass
 
 
 

 

Bidding had nothing to do with the swing on this hand.  Both tables had the same auction arriving at the same contract.  The difference came from the timing of the declarer play.

At my table, upon winning the A at trick 1, declarer immediately set about to draw trump.  Trick 2 was 3 to the A, and then the 5 was led off dummy and RHO played the 9.  Time to think. If RHO held QJ9x there would be 2 certain trump losers (if the K is played now) to go with 2 red aces, down 1.  Is this time for a safety play, insert the 10?  That certainly seems reasonable, but in this case, the “safety play” cost the contract.  Declarer did play the 10 and when I (East) won the Q, I knew partner had another spade and at most a singleton heart (2+ hearts with the NT bidder and 10 more hearts in my hand and dummy), so it was a simple matter to cash the A (and A, just to make sure partner didn’t accidentally return a club) and then provide the setting trick with the heart ruff.

At the other table, after winning the A at trick 1, declarer led a heart.  Here East rose with the A and gave partner a heart ruff.  When  a diamond was returned to the A for another heart ruff, West ruffed with the 9, allowing declarer to overruff with the 10, draw trump and lose just the red aces and a single trump trick.  Had West ruffed up with the J, declarer must overruff with the K and then can only succeed by leading the 10, smothering the 9 if he is to bring home 10 tricks.

Is it best declarer play to play hearts first?  Is it best to take the safety play?  Beats me, but here the divergent lines of declarer play resulted in +50 and +420 for my side, win 10 IMPs.

Board 11

 
11
None
South
N
Nick
98532
J7
9643
93
 
W
Bruce
QJ10
K965
AK
J872
K
E
Bob
K
Q108432
J8752
5
 
S
Dan
A764
A
Q10
AKQ1064
 

 

W
Bruce
N
Nick
E
Bob
S
Dan
1
Dbl
Pass
2
2
3
Pass1
42
53
Dbl4
55
Pass
Pass
Dbl
All Pass
 
 
(1) A lot of spades but not much else
(2) When partner raises a 6 card suit, bidding game must be right
(3) Not wanting to defend and not hearing spade support…
(4) Warning to partner, don’t go higher
(5) Showing support

 

W
Ed
N
Manfred
E
Cris
S
Mark
1
Dbl
Pass
2
2
3
31
Pass2
43
Pass
Pass
54
Dbl5
All Pass
 
 
 
(1) (very) limited values, but holding 5 spades…
(2) Fearful that 4S might make
(3) Getting to the par spot before E-W bid their game
(4) Still not sure 4S can be beaten, so…
(5) 3 aces may hold up on defense, going higher doesn’t appeal

 

The bidding was the same at both tables through the first 6 bids.  I felt, with my shape and modest strength, it might be reasonable to respond to the takeout double with 1, 2, 3 or even 4♥ (6-5 come alive).  I’m still not sure of the best tactical bid.  Had I chosen to respond to the double with 4, I’m sure Dan (South at my table) was going to bid 4.  4X is the par spot for the hand.  In any case, both East’s responded to the double with 2.  The big difference in the auction was when North passed at my table with their second bid, while our teammate (Manfred) supported spades at the 3 level.  When Dan heard no spade support, he competed to the 5 level in clubs and then North converted to 5.  So, their ‘save’ was certainly preferable to defending 4, but it would have been better to take the save in 4.  There was nothing to the play nor defense – the defense will score 2+0+2+0, limiting declarer to 9 tricks, down 2, +300 for our side.  Our teammates collected their 3 aces for down 1 vs. 5X, but that was all they could get.  +100 resulted in 9 IMPs for our side.

Cris has a tough bid over 4.  Might 5 make?  Might 4 make?  That’s why people bid – it creates problems.

 
27
None
South
N
Nick
A1053
Q106
6
J10874
 
W
Bob
87542
K8542
AQ9
A
E
Cris
K64
AK9
AQ103
532
 
S
Manfred
QJ9872
J3
J97
K6
 

 

W
Bob
N
Nick
E
Cris
S
Manfred
2
Pass
4
Dbl
Pass
5
All Pass
 
 

 

W
Dan
N
Bruce
E
Mark
S
Ed
2
Dbl1
4
Dbl
All Pass
(1) While I do have playing tricks, I think partner expects more defensive values for a double of a weak 2 bid

I think Dan may have felt he bid so strongly the first time, he better go quietly (over 4X) and hope 4 goes down.  Since I passed the first time, it was easy to bid when partner made the takeout double of 4

The A might not have been the best start for the defense against 5, but with the K onside, I was never in danger of failing to score 11 tricks and, when the defense continued with a club lead into my AQ after ruffing a diamond, 12 tricks were available for +480.

The defense has 6 tricks against 4 (1+2+1+2) for +500 and a 1 IMP pickup.  But the defense started with the A and went downhill from there, scoring only 4 tricks for -1, -100.  So we netted +380 to score 9 IMPs.

As usual, there were other interesting hands with either lessor swings or missed opportunities, but it is easier to just focus on the largest swings of the day.

←Older