Bob Munson

Recap Of 8/7/2019 28 Board IMP Individual

There were six hands with double digit swings, most of which involved bidding judgment (remarkably, on 4 of the 6 hands, it was the opening bid that got things started down a different path).  Other opportunities were available on defense and declarer play for substantially different results, so the judgment in bidding wasn’t the only factor determining who won the board.

Before getting into the hands, I want to honor Bruce Noda (he lived too far away to ever play in this game).  Tomorrow (Friday, 8/9) there will be a memorial service where many from the Bay Area will gather to celebrate what a great bridge player he was, but an even finer outstanding gentleman.  The bridge world lost a great one.  On page 12 in the attached Bulletin from Las Vegas there is a tribute to Bruce in case you missed it last month:

https://cdn.acbl.org/nabc/2019/02/bulletins/db5.pdf

 
4
Both
West
N
Mark R
Q10952
Q63
AJ75
10
 
W
Dan R
8743
109
KQ9
Q876
4
E
Bob
K6
AJ72
10632
A52
 
S
Tom
AJ
K854
84
KJ943
 

 

W
Dan R
N
Mark R
E
Bob
S
Tom
Pass
Pass
1
Pass
1
Pass
1NT
Dbl
All Pass
 
 
 

 

W
Jess
N
Cris
E
Mark M
S
Bruce
Pass
Pass
1
Pass
1
Pass
1NT
All Pass

What do you open in 3rd seat, both vulnerable?  Traditionally, I have only deployed bidding a 4 card major in 3rd/4th seat when I have less than an opening bid, so I didn’t consider 1 and thought nothing of opening 1.  After partner responded 1, it was time to rebid 1NT.  South, who passed over my 1 opening, doubled 1NT – showing hearts and clubs (although some play this hand to be strong with diamonds, not suitable for bidding 1NT the first time, but essentially, the double is penalty when they double at their second opportunity).  Anyway, what South had was hearts and clubs, the two unbid suits.  His partner had spades and diamonds.  So, rather than struggle to declare a marginal fit, North opted to defend and pass the takeout double, converting it to a penalty double – if 1NTX makes, at least they aren’t doubled into game.  On this deal, that strategy worked very well.

At the other table, the player holding my cards judged to open 1 and rebid 1NT after the 1 response.  Here, South had no convenient action, so 1NT was passed out.  Both tables were trying to find 7 tricks in NT, but the stakes were (much) higher at my table since I was doubled.

Double dummy, there are a variety of ways to reach 5 tricks (and probably single dummy too).  When I lamented to my teammates that I was down 3, -800, our teammates acknowledged that they slipped a trick – they could have had 300.  However, I could have been down 2 if I judged the timing better than I did.  That would have been -500 vs. teammates +200 (and kept this miserable deal out of the blog).  Alas, I only scored 4 tricks, -800 vs. +200 to lose 12 IMPs.

What happened?  Scoring 7 tricks as declarer was never remotely possible on this deal.  Part of my problem, as declarer, was trying to scope out my objective – how many tricks are possible?  Where is the A, where is the A, where are the KQ?  I didn’t know it at the time, but this deal was all about making 4 tricks, as declarer, or 5 for -800 or -500.  I ducked the opening club in dummy and won the A at trick 1.  I am still on track for 5 tricks, and I can choose to lead a club or a diamond at trick 2 to reach that total.  I tried a club and when South played the 9, I ducked (now I’m on track for 4 tricks).  But South continued with K and another club to the Q (I’m back on track for 5 tricks, since South had to shift to hearts (not obvious) rather than set up their clubs), but the only play available to me after winning the Q (to reach 5 tricks) is to play a top diamond – that play didn’t cross my mind.  I led a heart, so now back to 4 tricks as the best possible result.  North covered with the Q so I won the A (my 3rd trick).  I led a diamond to the K and A and back came a spade, ducked to the J.  South could cash a high club, high spade and high heart, and then lead a diamond.  I could win the Q (4th trick), but North had the last 2 tricks (high spade and high diamond to beat dummy’s spade and diamond).  In all, I lost 3+1+2+3.  I only won 0+1+1+2.  While there were numerous obscure routes to 5 tricks, the easiest single dummy is to fly the Q at trick 1 and play hearts while I still have the A as an entry to my hearts and a diamond as an entry for a repeated heart finesse.

I have a choice to win the Q at trick 1, trick 2, or trick 4.  After winning the Q at trick 1, I can reach 5 tricks by playing a heart or a high diamond.  But, if I wait until trick 2 or 4 to win the Q, the only way to score 5 tricks is to immediately play a high diamond.  I was still hoping the A was onside, so I was never finding that play.

Probably a more normal single dummy route to 5 tricks is to win the A and play a diamond at trick 2.  I think that is what the declarer did at the other table, and North ducked, retaining the AJ over the remaining honor in dummy.  If that is how the defense plays, switching to hearts should eventually find 5 tricks for declarer.  This seems like a better line than what I tried.

So, neither the play nor defense was double dummy.  We went back and forth – 5 tricks available for declarer, no 4 tricks, no 5, no 4, no…until finally, I was down 3, -800.

Summary: opening 1 on this hand blocked South out of the bidding.  But I’m not taking a charge for  being at fault for opening 1 – should I?  What do you open with the East hand in 3rd seat?  

So, both tables played 1NT with the defense having play for 8/9 tricks, so while I hate -800, I’m not sure that the right play on this deal (to reach 5 tricks for declarer) was the right play overall.  I was hoping for 6-7 tricks.  What a way to start the day.

 
13
Both
North
N
Bruce
109
Q1075
KJ
KQJ95
 
W
Tom
QJ76
932
AQ10872
K
E
Mark M
K85
AK864
953
A10
 
S
Bob
A432
J
64
876432
 

 

W
Tom
N
Bruce
E
Mark M
S
Bob
1
1
Dbl
21
Pass
4
5
Pass
Pass
Dbl
All Pass
(1) Cue bid, good hand with heart support

 

W
Mark R
N
Cris
E
Jess
S
Dan R
1
1
Dbl
2
Pass
4
All Pass

The first 6 calls were the same at both tables.  I got lots of support from both partner and opponents for my error on this hand (I’ve written before about “never” save at IMPs).  Of course that (“never save”) is an exaggeration, but still, that advice would have served me well here.  It was a phantom “save” (which is where the “rule” comes from – it is VERY expensive to choose to go down when the opponents were going down).  Still, the bidding sounded like they were bidding 4 with confidence, so it felt (to me) like time to save.  The player with my hand heard the exact same bidding and (wisely) chose to pass and defend.

Defending 4 the defense has an automatic spade, diamond and 2 trump tricks for down 1.  Defending 5 the defense has an automatic trick in every suit, down 2.  So, there was nothing happening for the lead, defense or declarer play, the hand was decided in the bidding judgment.  Our teammates were -100 and we were -500, lose 12 IMPs.

 
15
N-S
South
N
Bruce
K964
982
AK6
K64
 
W
Tom
A5
J63
Q98752
109
7
E
Mark M
J1073
754
103
AJ85
 
S
Bob
Q82
AKQ10
J4
Q732
 

 

W
Tom
N
Bruce
E
Mark M
S
Bob
1
Pass
1
Pass
2
Pass
31
Pass
32
Pass
3NT
All Pass
 
(1) Spiral
(2) Max HCP with 3 card spades

 

W
Mark R
N
Cris
E
Jess
S
Dan R
1
21
Dbl
Pass
2
Pass
3NT
All Pass
 
(1) Weak

Even though the same contract was played at both tables, the route to arrive in 3NT was sufficiently different to alter the result.  I LOVE to bid 2 over 1 at every chance I get, since it simply makes a far more difficult auction than if I pass or bid 1.  After pass or 1♦ by East, North has an easy time bidding their 4 card major or whatever else they may have, but over 2 North often ends up with an awkward negative double (as they did here) followed by an auction that continues to be awkward.  It is pretty rare that bidding a suit headed by the Q9 becomes an effective lead director, but here the diamond bid which generated the diamond lead made things difficult for declarer.  Declarer can still score 9 tricks, even with the diamond lead, but (I think) to do so requires, possibly, some double dummy play. 

At our table, the lead of the 7 gave declarer some extra chances (although he isn’t home free).  With hearts behaving and the black aces knocked out, declarer has a pretty straight forward 8 tricks (1+4+2+1), but he has to find a second black trick to reach 9.  He won a high heart in dummy and then led a spade to the K which won.  When he continued spades, East split his spade honors and after West won their A, they led a small diamond to the J.  Now declarer could power out the remaining high spade in order to establish the 9 and eventually get a club trick as well, so he ended up with 2+4+3+1 for 10 tricks and +630.

After the heart lead, using double dummy play, declarer “always” has 10 tricks, but in double dummy play, the defense should not split the J10 on the second spade lead and declarer needs to play the 8, allowing the A to catch air, promoting the Q for a trick.  Then, passive defense (not a diamond) could have led to an eventual spade endplay against East to score 2 club tricks.  In all, after the heart lead, declarer can score 2+4+2+2, double dummy.

It is much better (for North-South) for South to declare NT, allowing protection for the J4 on opening lead.  When South is declarer, only a club lead can hold declarer to 9 tricks, double dummy.  However, East was on lead at both tables and the diamond lead certainly presents a greater challenge for declarer.  To make 9 tricks, after East leads a diamond, there are a number of options, but many/most involve looking at all 52 cards.  To make, North should duck the first trick, but they don’t have to.  They should attack spades from dummy (but they don’t have to).  Essentially, the declarer needs to guess that the entry to the diamond suit is the A and that the A is doubleton.  Why would you “guess” that?  Well, your spade spots (missing J10) are markedly better than clubs (missing J1098).  So, it may be possible to generate a second spade trick by dropping a doubleton J or 10 even if you do not find a doubleton A.  But, double dummy, there are all sorts of lines that allow declarer to bring in 9 tricks.  The 9th trick has to come from scoring a second black trick by working out the location of the black aces and the shape (assuming 4-2, who has 4 and who has 2?).  Here the preempt helps (especially if you learn early that hearts are 3-3) – West has 3=6 in the red suits and therefore a doubleton in both black suits (of course they still could be 3-1 or 4-0 in the black suits).  On top of that, you have to guess which ace West holds.  Not an easy hand – I give credit to the 2 bid that ensured North would declare NT and that East would lead a diamond, the toughest start to the defense.

The closest thing to a ‘single dummy’ play to make the contract after a diamond lead would be: duck the diamond lead, win the diamond continuation, cross to dummy in hearts, lead a spade to K, followed by a spade to 8.  On this lie of the cards, that brings you 9 tricks.  This comes with no guarantees, but a reasonable line of play assuming a 6 card diamond suit with West.

 
16
E-W
West
N
Bruce
4
A96
J
AK1087432
 
W
Tom
AJ95
QJ1087
Q5
J5
K
E
Mark M
K73
K543
AK75
Q9
 
S
Bob
Q10862
2
1098642
6
 

 

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

 

W
Mark R
N
Cris
E
Jess
S
Dan R
1
3NT
4
4
Dbl
5
5
Pass
Pass
Dbl
All Pass
 

More bidding judgment issues going on at both tables.  After the dealer passed at our table, it seemed like we had a totally straightforward auction.  Partner (North) opened 1 followed by a takeout double, nothing to bid by my hand (South) and a strength showing cue bid by West.  North then ended proceedings with the jump to 5 which was doubled.  Perhaps, East-West may be more tempted to bid higher if North started with 5 but that could cause us to miss a totally cold 3NT when 5 is going down?  Declarer started (and ended) with 9 tricks when the defense, of course, led a trump to kill the heart ruff after cashing a high diamond.  Still, we thought we parred the hand, nothing happened.  Little did we know what was happening at the other table.

For starters, West opened the bidding.  The “rule” of 20 sometimes includes a requirement for 2 quick tricks, or at least that the points you have are working.  The Q5 and J5 would seem to value as 3 non-working points.  Another problem with the opening bid is that there is no convenient rebid.  This opening bid had disastrous consequences later in the hand.  After the 1 opening bid, North looked at their hand and saw 9 tricks on a heart lead and bid 3NT (the opponents may have 10 tricks to take on a non-heart lead, but worry about that later).  East had plenty of values to raise partner’s heart suit to game and all of a sudden my hand (South hand with 2 points) decided to enter the auction with 4.  North corrected to 5, but East continued on to 5 which North elected to double, ending the auction.  With clubs splitting 2=2, the declarer had no chance. 

In summary, both North players arrived in 5 after an initial lower action, but at the table where West opened the bidding, East competed to the 5 level where the other table decided to defend and take the plus score.  There was nothing to the leads, play or defense.  So, since my team declared at both tables, we were -300 and -200, lose 11 IMPs.

 
21
N-S
North
N
Bob
1073
65
Q65
AJ1075
 
W
Jess
94
1042
87
K98632
A
E
Bruce
QJ865
AK9873
K2
 
S
Mark R
AK2
QJ
AJ10943
Q4
 

 

W
Jess
N
Bob
E
Bruce
S
Mark R
Pass
1
2
Pass
3
3
Pass
4
All Pass
 
 
W
Tom
N
Cris
E
Dan R
S
Mark M
Pass
1
1NT
Pass
2
Pass1
2
Pass
2NT
Pass
3NT
All Pass
 
 
 
(1) ?

Wow, what a difference an opening bid makes!  Once more bidding judgment decides the board.  Often, the minimum HCP for a reverse starts at 16, but I think the rules change (a lot) when you are 5=6, especially, when both are majors.  Opening 1 and then bidding 2 shows considerable strength, but the East hand does have considerable playing strength – able to score 10 tricks opposite a nearly worthless dummy with the right lead.  In addition, letting partner in on the secret, when you are 6-5, regarding which suit is 6 long and which suit is 5 long can pay huge dividends, so I think Bruce’s decision to open 1 wasn’t just right on this deal, it was the right bid for this hand no matter how it turned out.

At the other table, the decision to open 1 (so that they could avoid being forced to reverse later in the auction) ended up losing the heart suit entirely, both for bidding and for lead direction.  But, it certainly seems reasonable/mandatory for East to come in with a 2 bid over North’s 2 Stayman  bid, even if North is ostensibly looking for a 4-4 fit, it could be (and was) that 2 is the only invite available (since a direct raise to 2NT would have had a different meaning).  The North-South pair bounced into 3NT and ‘all’ they needed was no heart lead plus a diamond finesse.  No problem.  2+0+6+1 produced 9 tricks and -600 for our teammates.  A heart bid at some point (after failing to open 1) would either keep the opponents out of 3NT or else allow an easy defeat on a heart lead.  At the table, after each double digit swing, I ask for the auction at the other table.  I think/hope I got the auction right but it seems very strange for East to never introduce hearts.

One comment that shouldn’t need stating, but I’ll state it anyway.  Declarer can make 11 tricks in NT (without the heart lead) via the club finesse.  But finessing in clubs is beyond crazy.  When the diamond finesse is necessary and sufficient to bring in 9 tricks (and likely to work given the opening bid), the correct club play is to the A, providing the necessary entry to finesse in diamonds, the critical suit.

Meanwhile, at my table, after the 1 opening bid, partner has a routine 2 overcall which I raised to 3.  Bruce now came in with 3 which West converted to 4.  To make 10 tricks in hearts, ‘all’ that was needed was the opening lead of a high spade, 2-2 hearts and no entry to the North hand to lead diamonds through the K2.  No problem after the A opening lead – the defense no longer has an answer.  Declarer could establish spades, pitch dummy’s diamonds on spades, and then ruff a diamond and lose a diamond at the end, losing 2 spades and a diamond for 10 tricks.  Because of the lie of the spade suit, without the helpful opening lead, declarer has no play.  Since they don’t possess the 10, it is not possible to establish spades without ruffing a spade at which point it will no longer be possible to ruff a diamond in dummy because dummy’s trumps are gone.  So, a double game swing, losing -420 and -600 to lose 14 IMPs.  Wow!  At both tables, a different opening lead defeats the game.  However, had we defeated 4 we still lose 11 IMPs if the vulnerable 3NT comes home.

Prior to the lead, partner (South) could see 3 likely tricks (for sure his spades were not going away), so one more trick could achieve defeat.  If I have a spade ruff coming, it is likely the ruff will only happen if he starts with spades at trick 1.  Still, you rarely get rich cashing the AK of a long side suit bid by declarer.  A passive heart or club would have resulted in 4 tricks for the defense.  But what about the bidding?  Should North-South have kept bidding (North did raise diamonds)?  Clearly the answer is yes if they are going to allow 4 to make.  The same transportation problems that provided difficulty for the defense vs. 4 is there playing 5.  There is no entry to the North hand to take the diamond finesse.  If South tries to get to dummy in clubs, East will ruff.  So, playing diamonds, North-South will always lose 2 hearts and a diamond.

 
28
N-S
West
N
Cris
AK95
J875
7
Q763
 
W
Bruce
Q873
K109
QJ9
1082
J
E
Mark R
J1062
A3
A852
J54
 
S
Tom
4
Q642
K10643
AK9
 

 

W
Bob
N
Dan R
E
Jess
S
Mark M
Pass
Pass
Pass
Pass

 

W
Bruce
N
Cris
E
Mark R
S
Tom
Pass
Pass
Pass
1
Pass
1
Pass
2
Pass
2NT
Pass
4
All Pass
 
 
 

Finally, on the last hand of the day, we saw the South player at my table pass out the deal in 4th seat, perhaps using “Pearson points” (Pearson points = total HCP plus total spades – if you reach 15, open the hand).  This “rule” was devised to deal with hands you might not otherwise open.  Here, since you have a decent hand, it proved worth while opening in spite of coming up short on Pearson points.  At the other table, South did open 1.  Being vulnerable, both North-South hands were appropriately aggressive in the auction and reached the 4 game.  Now to make it.  Double dummy, it cannot be defeated!  In spite of those miserable heart spots.

The opening J went to the A and declarer put his singleton diamond on the table.  East can grab the A, but then, given how the diamond suit was distributed, 1 ruff would establish the diamond suit (if declarer could draw trump).  To draw trump, declarer would have to assume one opponent held a doubleton high honor and then guess which opponent had that doubleton high honor.  By leading through that hand (East in this case) on the first lead of trump and then ducking the next round, trump can be drawn.  In the actual play, East ducked the A at trick 2 and declarer won the K.  Then a diamond ruff, club to A, diamond ruff, K (pitching dummy’s low club), spade ruff, club K, and a diamond was led off dummy.  West decided to ruff in with the 9 which was overruffed with the J.  If, instead of ruffing, West decides to hold onto their heart length and pitch either the 2 or Q, declarer must next lead the suit that West did not discard to reach 10 tricks.  As it was, at this point nine tricks had been played and declarer had won them all.  When declarer led a spade, dummy could ruff while both opponents followed.  This was declarer’s 10th trick.  In fact, if declarer had known clubs were 3-3, they could have scored 11 tricks once the A was ducked!  Even in the end position, spades were all gone, diamonds were all gone and the opponents each held 2 hearts and 1 club, so declarer could have led a trump from dummy and STILL score the Q at trick 13 for 11 tricks!?!?!?!  But, declarer led the established diamond, West discarded their club, North ruffed and East overruffed with the A and West had the K10 over the Q to score the last 3 tricks for the defense.  

Still, that was 10 tricks in 4 for +620 while we had passed the hand out, win 12 IMPs.

I have had a flurry of games with the associated blogs in the past few days.  Now there will be a long break as my wife and I cruise for much of the next 6 weeks.  Have a great rest of the summer.

 

 

 

Recap Of 8/5/2019 28 Board IMP Individual

Only 4 double digit swings today.  All involved bidding judgment, but the largest two swings of the day involved a player that thought it would be wise to interfere in the auction with hearts.  Spoiler alert:  It wasn’t.

 
3
E-W
South
N
Mike
A863
K53
A7
Q632
 
W
Bob
J10
AQ
Q1042
K10975
4
E
Jerry
KQ952
J10984
653
 
S
Dan
74
762
KJ98
AJ84
 

 

W
Bob
N
Mike
E
Jerry
S
Dan
Pass
1
Pass
1
Pass
1NT
Pass
2
Pass
2
All Pass
 
 

 

W
Jack
N
Ed
E
Chris
S
Manfred
Pass
1
Dbl
1
Dbl
All Pass
 
 
 

I strain very hard to “never” open 1 when I have 4 diamonds and 5 clubs, so I began with 1 thinking that I had an easy rebid of 1NT unless partner responds diamonds.  After I did rebid 1NT, partner showed a weak “pass or correct” hand with 2 (they would use new minor forcing if they held invitational values).  I had a routine preference back to 2 which ended the auction.  Early in the hand, the defense got their diamond ruff which held partner to 8 tricks, making 2 for +110.

At the other table, this deal involved a fundamental bidding misunderstanding.  North elected to make a minimum value off-shape takeout double.  When the auction starts (1)-X-(1)-X, the traditional understanding of the second double is that it is a penalty double showing spades.  It is possible to treat it as responsive showing the suits not yet bid (diamonds and hearts), but it is standard to treat it as showing spades.  Here, South thought they had some values, so they should do something, but didn’t want to choose a suit (why not just bid diamonds, the suit you have?), so they selected the double that ended the auction.  South couldn’t bid hearts with only 3 and they didn’t bid 1NT with no spade stopper (but they do have clubs stopped and partner likely has spades stopped, so bidding 1NT, or bidding the diamond suit that they had, were both certainly options if they didn’t want to pass).  Somehow, South concluded double would be DSI (asking North to do something intelligent). 

Looking at it from North’s perspective (with South already a passed hand), if South has 5 solid spades, the defense is up to 6 tricks with chances for down 1.  But, why is West passing when void in spades and they are already doubled?  Why is East bidding spades with a worthless 4 card suit?  At the end of the day, North decided to take South at face value – that they were showing spades with a penalty double.  When the defense failed to obtain their diamond ruff, they only had 4 tricks, 9 for declarer, which meant 2 doubled vulnerable overtricks for a score of -560.  Paired with our paltry +110, lose 10 IMPs.

If the defense did manage the diamond ruff, E-W would have been “held” to +360 and this hand would never have seen the light of day (in the blog).

At the time this seemed like a nothing hand.  We got to our best fit, took our 8 tricks, and got out with a plus score.  Lesson:  It is good to know their intentions if partner doubles a new suit after you make a takeout double.

 
6
E-W
East
N
Mike
Q62
KQJ1093
A
A63
 
W
Chris
J7
A87642
QJ9
42
K
E
Manfred
9854
876432
J98
 
S
Bob
AK103
5
K105
KQ1075
 

 

W
Chris
N
Mike
E
Manfred
S
Bob
Pass
1
2
Pass
Pass
Dbl
Pass
Pass
RDbl
Pass
3
Pass
Pass
Dbl
All Pass
 
 
 

 

W
Ed
N
Jerry
E
Jack
S
Dan
Pass
1
Pass
1
Pass
1
Pass
21
Pass
2NT
Pass
3
Pass
3NT
All Pass
 
 
 
(1) Game forcing

At the other table, West cautiously (rightly) passed over the 1 opening bid and North-South had an uninterrupted auction to 3NT.  Both North and South had some left in reserve and might (should?) have found a way to keep bidding to the cold slam (12 tricks are there in 6NT without needing any finesse nor any suits to split).  If they had bid the slam, it would have greatly reduced their losses, but as you might have noticed, the hand was irretrievably lost at the other table.

When vulnerable vs. not-vulnerable, preempts should be rather sound.  It isn’t often you can get a trump split like the one you see here (this is probably the most extreme case I’ve ever seen!), but when you do, you will pay dearly.  And, when vulnerable vs. not, the price is steep, far beyond the non-vulnerable slam they could bid.  At least East came to the rescue with a redouble (nice bid, saving a lot of points), sending the auction a level higher, but with diamonds playing 3 tricks better, it was “good” to be in 3X down 4 for -1100 instead of 2X down 6 for -1700 (both of which are the double dummy best results possible).  So, we collected our +1100 while our teammates were -490 to win 12 IMPs.  In a diamond contract, declarer has 4 diamonds and a heart for 5 tricks.  Again, if the slam had been bid, this hand is not in the blog!

 
22
E-W
East
N
Chris
1065
AQJ873
86
43
 
W
Bob
AKJ983
4
J107
A95
8
E
Dan
Q42
652
A93
QJ72
 
S
Ed
7
K109
KQ542
K1086
 

 

W
Bob
N
Chris
E
Dan
S
Ed
Pass
Pass
1
3
3
4
4
All Pass
 
 

 

W
Manfred
N
Mike
E
Jack
S
Jerry
Pass
1
1
Dbl
2
All Pass

There were wildly different auctions at the two tables.  At my table, South didn’t open (I would have), so I was able to open 1.  North came in 3 and partner supported my spades with a sound raise to 3.  South competed with 4 and my 4 bid ended the auction.  Double dummy, there are always 10 tricks available in spades, with the preempt helping place the cards.  The South hand has problems with their length/strength in the minors with various squeeze and end-play possibilities depending on how the play (and defense) goes.  The actual defense started with the 8 ducked to the Q and I played the 10 (not that it matters).  South switched to a heart and North won and continued hearts which I ruffed.  Then I played a top spade and a spade to dummy’s Q in order to ruff the last heart and then draw the last trump.  In the end position, I still had a trump and J7 and A95 while dummy had  A9 and QJ72.  I led a small club to dummy and South, who had come down to K5 and K1086, had to win the club (or, if they ducked, be endplayed via 2 rounds of diamonds).  But, after winning the K, they had no answer – if they led a diamond, all of declarer’s minor suit cards are winners.  They actually led a club and when I finessed the 9, it won and allowed me to cash the A and I sill had the A in dummy to get to my good J to discard my losing diamond.

An alternative play for me would have been to cash my last spade prior to leading a club.  That would have forced South to get down to 3 clubs (but also dummy must reduce to 3 clubs).  Then, I lead a diamond to the A and lead the Q from dummy.  Whether South covers with the K or ducks, they can be endplayed in diamonds to give up their 10 or their K. 

An alternative for the defense would have been to revert back to diamonds (at trick 3) after winning the heart at trick 2, removing the crucial A early in the hand.  I must rise with the A, but as long as South has the key 10, a variety of alternatives are available for me to squeeze and endplay South such that they never score a trick with the 10.  Would I have gotten it right?  I think so, I hope so, but as the play went, I found my 10 tricks for +620.

At the other table, I don’t know if the opening bid by South caused East-West to be more cautious, but the bidding died quite early.  When partner raises my 6 card major, I will often just bounce to game and hope (rather than going through some convoluted game try), since often you won’t know the key question to ask or the key answer to give to sort out if game is a good prospect or not.  Then there is also the issue of “declarer’s advantage” – that is, defense is tough.  Declarer knows 100% of the assets that they hold.  The defense, via signals and inferences from the bidding and play, can sometimes overcome that advantage, but the reality is that declarer has an advantage and sometimes can wind up with 10 tricks when the defense had 4 tricks coming but failed to find them.  Anyway, West at the other table made a simple 1 overcall and when raised to 2, that ended the auction.  Declarer ended up playing for 3-3 clubs to get an extra trick (and failed), but since the contract was only 2, there was no difference in the scoring whether declarer found 9 tricks or 10.  Save your effort for a hand that matters!  Our teammates were -140, win 10 IMPs.

 
26
Both
East
N
Jack
J854
Q10873
10
KJ3
 
W
Chris
AQ97
J4
QJ2
A984
5
E
Bob
K10632
AK6
A865
10
 
S
Jerry
952
K9743
Q7652
 

 

W
Chris
N
Jack
E
Bob
S
Jerry
1
Pass
2NT1
Pass
32
Pass
4
All Pass
 
 
(1) Jacoby 2NT game forcing spade raise
(2) Short clubs

 

W
Dan
N
Mike
E
Ed
S
Manfred
1
Pass
2NT1
32
43
54
Pass
Pass
Dbl
All Pass
(1) Jacoby 2NT
(2) ?!?!?!
(3) Cue bid
(4) Advanced “save”

This last auction is a little difficult to explain at both tables.  Different players have different agreements and different styles.  For, me, after bidding an old-fashioned Jacoby 2NT and hearing that partner has a singleton, I would never signoff in 4 when I hold 2 aces and the trump Q – all valuable cards for a potential slam (simply rebid 3 and see what partner does).  The slam is actually quite reasonable.  If spades are 2-2, 12 tricks are easy.  If diamonds are 3-3, 12 tricks are easy even when trump are 4-0 (in the North).  However, we were not in slam, since the jump to 4 pretty much precluded slam interest unless I had WAY more than what I had shown so far.  I didn’t.  Luckily, when both spades and diamonds split poorly, 12 tricks aren’t possible.  But, in the actual play of the hand, when south kept clubs and discarded two diamonds while trump were being drawn (they were trying to find 4 tricks to defeat 4) I was able to just lose 1 diamond trick and my last diamond became good for 12 total tricks, +680.

That didn’t score well vs. the carnage in the other room.  I’m not sure what North had in mind when they entered the auction over 2NT.  They already know partner is void in spades and there may be handling problems for declarer, especially if they venture forth into slam.  In any case, the 3 overcall, vulnerable, persuaded South to “take an advance save” in 5.  After the defense starts with 3 rounds of trump, declarer is held to winning 3 trump tricks and 2 club tricks – 5 tricks in all.  But, since they had contracted for 11 tricks, that left them 6 short, down -1700, so we lost 14 IMPs on a hand that might have accidentally luckily won 13 IMPs when we stayed out of a decent slam that might have been bid at the other table.  We will never know.

Neither North’s decision to enter the auction with 3 nor South’s decision to compete to 5 make much sense to me – at equal vulnerability, a lot of tricks must be taken (9 to be exact) to have a worthwhile save.  Maybe some of those offensive tricks will be available in defense vs. 4.  Obviously, there would never have been a 5 bid if there hadn’t been a 3 bid.  So, the preponderance of the cause for the large loss has to fall on North.

I have to say not a lot of great bridge today, but still some interesting hands with some lessons to learn.

Recap Of 7/31/2019 28 Board IMP Individual

We had 8 double digit swings today.  Bidding choices played a large role in most of the deals, but leads, play of the hand and defense were heavily involved in 3 of the hands.

Before getting into the blog, I would like to give a shout-out to Ed Nagy and Gary Soules (regular players in the game, but they play on Monday, not Wednesday so they did not play yesterday) – they finished 2nd in the recently completed LM Pairs in Las Vegas.   And, while I’m at it, a (very) long  delayed recognition to Cris Barrere and Mark Ralph who won the Sr. Swiss last summer in Atlanta (and finished 13th in Las Vegas this year in the same event) – both Cris and Mark played yesterday.  Congratulations to all 4.

 
6
E-W
East
N
Cris
986
KQ
AJ742
Q106
 
W
Dan
A10
A85432
Q
KJ83
9
E
Bruce
KJ754
J96
K65
72
 
S
Bob
Q32
107
10983
A954
 

 

W
Dan
N
Cris
E
Bruce
S
Bob
Pass
Pass
1
Pass
2
Pass
31
Pass
32
All Pass
(1) Kokish – short suit game try
(2) Devaluing the diamond K, signing off in 3H

 

W
Mark M
N
Tom
E
Mark R
S
Gary
Pass
Pass
1
Pass
2
Pass
4
All Pass
 
 

Here, one partnership was using “Kokish game tries” after 1M-2M.  One step up asks responder to bid a suit in which he would accept a game try (or 3M to say there is no suit where he would accept, 4M to say I have a maximum raise and accept with any suit).  If opener bids any higher, they are showing shortness and making a game try – partner to evaluate game prospects in light of that shortness.  That pair, as shown, bid their diamond shortness and responder, with a possibly wasted value in the K just signed off in 3.  At the other table, opener felt the best “game try” was the old fashioned game try: bid game and try to make it.

After winning the opening spade lead with the 10, our declarer cashed the A and noticed the fall of the Q from North.  If South held the remaining K10, the 3 level could be in jeopardy.  Declarer played no further trump, but played the Q.  North won the A and shifted to a club which South won with the A.  Another club was won with the K and a club ruff brought down the Q, so declarer could simply play hearts and when they broke 2-2, declarer was up to 10 tricks, losing a heart, and the 2 outstanding aces.  Even though the spade suit was there, after the opening lead, for lots of tricks, untangling those tricks with limited/no dummy entries was rather futile, so declarer’s 10 tricks only included 2 spade tricks.

I don’t have the details of the play/defense at the other table, but our teammates scored 10 tricks as well, but since they bid the game, they were +620 and we were -170 to win 10 IMPs. 

Unless declarer floats the 10 to lose a spade trick to the Q, or gets to dummy to lead a club to the J, it seems 10 tricks will automatically be scored with most reasonable lines of play.

 
10
Both
East
N
Bruce
J9
42
986543
J93
 
W
Tom
KQ632
Q1096
A
1086
J
E
Mark M
A8
AJ75
K72
AK54
 
S
Bob
10754
K83
QJ10
Q72
 

 

W
Tom
N
Bruce
E
Mark M
S
Bob
2NT
Pass
3
Pass
3
Pass
31
Pass
42
Pass
43
Pass
44
Pass
55
Pass
6
All Pass
(1) Confirming hearts are trump, suggesting slam possibilities
(2) Cue bid
(3) Cue bid
(4) Cue bid
(5) Cue bid

 

W
Mark R
N
Cris
E
Gary
S
Dan
1
Pass
1
Pass
2NT
Pass
3
Pass
4
All Pass

At my table, East, the dealer, saw a hand rich in aces and kings, so they opened 2NT despite holding “only” 19 HCP (and no 5 card suit).  Many players play that, after hearing a favorable response to Stayman, bid the other major to confirm that they like the one that opener responded and have at least some interest in exploring slam.  Our E-W opponents then cue bid their way to the excellent slam (on a finesse for 7 with 12 tricks quite likely if trump split and nothing terrible happens in spades).  At the other table, the 2NT jump rebid promised a similar hand (18-19 HCP, balanced)  but that was enough of a difference such that neither hand developed slam interest with our teammates subsiding in the 4 game.  With the heart finesse losing, 12 tricks was the limit, but with trumps splitting, it was easy to ruff the spades good and reenter dummy with a ruff to score up the slam.  We were -1430 while our teammates were +680, lose 13 IMPs.

What about that 2NT opening bid?  K&R evaluates it at 19.75, so the hand rich in aces and kings, lacking queens, is closer to 20 than it is to 19.  Clearly the decision to open 2NT (rather than rebid 2NT) was the driving force to reach the excellent slam.

http://www.jeff-goldsmith.org/cgi-bin/knr.cgi?hand=a8+aj75+k72+ak54

 
11
None
South
N
Bruce
K742
A965
AK10
J9
 
W
Tom
10983
KJ
J832
A73
6
E
Mark M
J5
84
Q97
Q86542
 
S
Bob
AQ6
Q10732
654
K10
 

 

W
Tom/Mark R
N
Bruce/Cris
E
Mark M/Gary
S
Bob/Dan
Pass
Pass
1NT
Pass
21
Pass
2
Pass
4
All Pass
 
 
 
(1) Since our Stayman auctions include a ‘fake Smolen’ (allowing a 3S bid over 2D to show 5 hearts and 3-4 spades, as well as a 3NT bid over 2S to show exactly 3 spades and 5 hearts), I started with Stayman.

The same auction arrived at the same contract at both tables, but when my partner received a club lead, they correctly assumed that the opening leader did not have the A, and they soon had 10 tricks (3+4+2+1). 

A diamond, a heart and a club had to be lost.  If spades break 3-3, you can reach 10 tricks without the club guess.  But, after the opening J lead at the other table, declarer did not find the hoped for 3-3 spade split, so a club trick must be found to reach 10 tricks.  Sometimes a discovery play can aid in locating who has the A and who has the Q.  If East has both, you can’t go wrong.  If West has both, there is no winning play.  If they are split…you must choose.  About all declarer can discover on this hand is that West held the KJ – is that enough to place the A in the East hand?  It is truly a guess (without an opening club lead), so at the other table, declarer guessed to go up with dummy’s K losing 2 red tricks and 2 club tricks for down 1.  That made our teammates score +50 to go with our +420, win 10 IMPs.

What about that lead?  I did not run it through Lead Captain, but I think David Bird would approve.  The doubleton Jx is a safer lead than from Qxx(xxx), since you may (and here you do) eliminate a guess for declarer on the club lead.  What about the club guess?  I think, on a spade lead, the club guess is strictly a guess, nothing to go on.

 
13
Both
North
N
Cris
A7
AQ97632
10532
 
W
Mark M
10532
108
1082
J987
Q
E
Bob
QJ964
5
J973
AQ6
 
S
Mark R
K8
KJ4
AKQ654
K4
 

 

W
Mark M
N
Cris
E
Bob
S
Mark R
4
All Pass
 

 

W
Bruce
N
Gary
E
Tom
S
Dan
1
Pass
2
Pass
2
Pass
3
Pass
3
Pass
4NT
Pass
5
Pass
6
All Pass
 
 
 

North, as the dealer, vulnerable, had to decide what to open.  At my table North started with 4 and that quickly ended the auction.  Should South explore further?  Slam could certainly fail if a black AQ were over either /Kx.  The heart fillers that South has will certainly be welcomed by North (not to mention the diamond tricks), but is that enough?  It depends upon partnership style (this is a somewhat regular partnership), but eventually South decided to not move towards slam.  When I failed to cash the A at trick 1, diamonds were established and declarer easily scored all 13 tricks.

At the other table, as you see from the auction above, North started with 1.  Once South supported hearts, slam interest was established and the N-S pair reached the heart slam.  Clearly, 6NT by South is where you would like to be with these N-S cards (in order to protect the K from the opening lead), but South can’t be certain that North’s hearts are 7 long (to reach 12 tricks in NT, since it isn’t possible to ruff the diamonds good in NT!).  When East started with the A, the danger was over and 12 tricks were easy.  That made our teammates +1430 compared with our -710 meant 12 IMPs for our side.

What about the opening preempt?  First seat preempts, especially at the 4 level, can be devastating to the opponents.  You are only preempting 1 partner, but 2 opponents.  But, preempts can be a double edged sword, taking partner out of the auction when you would like them involved.  Clearly this is not a 3 preempt, so the choice is to go high (4) or go low (1).  With partner having such useful cards, this deal worked best to start low.  On another deal, the preempt might have had greater success.

What about “transfers”?  Many play that when North opens 4 it is played (by the opponents) as a transfer to 4 – that is, when North opens 4 East (or West) is supposed to bid 4.  I almost did!  That would have been catastrophic, either pushing them into slam, or going for a very large number (1100).  I didn’t want to excite partner, and I thought partner would still have time to act if moving over 4 is the right action for E-W.

 
15
N-S
South
N
Cris
AKJ63
4
6
AJ8654
 
W
Mark M
95
10875
A54
Q1072
A
E
Bob
1072
A963
J10972
K
 
S
Mark R
Q84
KQJ2
KQ83
93
 

 

W
Mark M/Bruc
N
Cris/Gary
E
Bob/Tom
S
Mark R/Dan
1
Pass
2
Pass
2NT
Pass
3
Pass
3NT
Pass
41
All Pass
 
(1) Completing the description of game values, 5 spades, 6 clubs

Once more, the identical auction at both tables resulted in the same contract, but different opening leads.  I reasoned that North might be 5=2=0=6 with 2 heart losers that might be discarded on diamonds unless hearts were cashed immediately, so I started with the A.  Partner gave a suit preference signal for diamonds and I foolishly led my 5th best diamond (why not play the J?!?!? to make certain declarer plays a high diamond from dummy).  Declarer played low on my 2 lead and partner was forced to play the A.  When a club came back, declarer, banking on a 3-2 trump split, simply played the A, cashed the AK and led to the Q.  With trump out, there were 5 top red tricks to cash in dummy, so all of the club losers could be discarded, declarer scoring 11 tricks.  Had I played a high diamond, declarer would still have 10 tricks, so with that start to the defense (and spades splitting), there was no way to defeat the contract.

The player holding my hand at the other table heard the same bidding, but selected a trump for their opening lead.  Declarer won in hand and, in hindsight, could not see anything wrong with leading a heart at trick 2 (seems right to me).  If East wins, 3 heart discards are established in dummy (and the defense must immediately cash a diamond trick or the diamond loser will be discarded on hearts).  If West wins the heart lead, only 2 heart discards are established, but the defense must now cash their diamond trick or lose it.  West did not have the A, but if they did, once they won that trick, they would have to cash the A (on air) or lead to East’s A.  Whoever has the A, the KQ will both remain for 2 more discards.  Counting tricks (if trump split 3-2), declarer would have 5 trumps, at least 4 red winners in dummy, and the A for at least 10 tricks.  I don’t know if the trump lead (reducing club ruffs in dummy) got declarer’s mind on club ruffs to establish his club suit, but in any case, declarer led a small club at trick 2 and subsequently the defense had 4 tricks and declarer was down 1.

Another option for the defense is to duck the A, losing the heart trick but depriving declarer of 3 discards.  That defense seems to have no future, because declarer can just lose a diamond and 2 clubs.

If clubs had been 3-2 and East held 4 trumps, the line of play chosen (small club at trick 2) would be the way to make the hand, since you can ruff the 3rd club high and still have the AKJ to draw trump (ruffing a red card low to reach your hand, draw trump and claim).  Perhaps leading the A at trick 2 is a better way to pursue this attack.  When the K falls, revisit your options (abandon hope of 3-2 clubs and revert to hearts – you will likely still only lose 3 tricks).  On this deal, a small club at trick 2 didn’t work.  We were -650 and our teammates were -100, lose 13 IMPs.

 
19
E-W
South
N
Bob
8542
AKJ1075
1083
 
W
Gary
AK1076
AJ85
Q6
J7
Q
E
Bruce
Q9
KQ1092
82
Q642
 
S
Mark R
J3
7643
943
AK95
 

 

W
Gary
N
Bob
E
Bruce
S
Mark R
Pass
1
4
All Pass
 

 

W
Tom
N
Cris
E
Dan
S
Mark M
Pass
1
3
Dbl
4
4
5
Pass
Pass
Dbl
Pass
Pass
5
Dbl
All Pass
 
 

I had a ‘normal’ weak jump overcall of 3 (favorable vulnerability but I think this hand has enough playing strength even with unfavorable vulnerability).  But, I decided a 4 bid might create more problems for the opponents (either push them into a heart contract that would fail on the bad trump split or get the auction high enough fast enough that they don’t venture into hearts).  Had the opponents reached 4 over my preempt, I’m guessing my partner would have taken out insurance to reach a 5 “save” (possibly bidding a lead directing 5 along the way in case the opponents persisted to 5).  But, no “save” was necessary since my bid ended the auction.  On top of that, partner held a magical hand that allowed 10 tricks in diamonds!  When my opponents never led trump, I could ruff 2 spade losers in dummy to score a total of 8 diamond tricks and 2 clubs for 10 total tricks, +130.

At the other table, needing 11 tricks in 5 (not possible unless the QJ were with East) the opening lead of the K was ruffed and declarer switched to spades (needing spade ruffs in dummy).  East hopped up with the Q and led trump.  When declarer led spades again, West won and led another trump, so only 1 spade ruff was going to be possible.  The power of the 1098 meant that 3 tricks could be available in clubs (finesse twice) to reach 10 tricks.  Declarer finessed on the first club lead (required to find 11 tricks), losing to the J.   But they opted to play the AK on the second and third rounds of clubs, so that left a spade to lose in the end for down 2.  Our teammates were +300 and our +130 provided 10 IMPs.

 
25
E-W
North
N
Mark R
Q74
102
J5
AJ9762
 
W
Dan
AJ108
Q
K1073
K853
Q
E
Bob
K95
AKJ863
Q64
4
 
S
Tom
632
9754
A982
Q10
 

 

W
Dan
N
Mark R
E
Bob
S
Tom
Pass
1
Pass
1
2
Dbl1
Pass
3
Pass
4
All Pass
(1) Showing 3 card spade support

 

W
Gary
N
Cris
E
Mark M
S
Bruce
Pass
1
Pass
1
Pass
2
Pass
3NT
All Pass
 
 

Every once in awhile a hand comes up where I played sooooooo poorly that I really don’t want to put it in the blog for public consumption.  To date (I’ve been doing this blog for 6 1/2 years), I have resisted the temptation (that is, all of my bad hands have been published for all to see).  Today I am tempted again (to leave out this hand).  But, there are two lessons in this hand worthy of viewing, so here goes…

The auction at the other table quickly arrived at 3NT and there were 9 easy tricks after the club lead.  Declarer took their 9 tricks and that was that.

I wasn’t sure what partner’s 3 bid was asking, but I correctly concluded that he only held 4 spades, had game values, and possibly wanted to hear me bid NT if I had a club stopper.  Of course I didn’t, but I had a sufficiently robust heart suit that I proceeded to 4 (thinking a 6-1 fit will play better than the 4-3 spade fit).  Partner’s Q was a welcome sight.  It looked like I could easily score 3+6+1+0 and make my contract as long as trumps were not 6-0 or 5-1.  I ducked the opening club lead and ruffed a club at trick 2.  I led to the Q and had to return to hand to finish drawing trump.  The obvious (and only sure way) to reach my hand was a spade to the K.  But, not just any old spade – due to holding both the 9 and 8, I could (and did) lead the J to the K and later, I would have the 9 that I could lead (playing the 8 underneath the 9) and retain the lead in hand for a third spade lead.

When trump were 4-2, I had to lead 3 more rounds of hearts to fully extract the opponents trumps.  Discards from dummy were awkward, so I decided to throw away 3 diamonds.  Now I led the 9, which won.  I had budgeted to lose 1 spade, 1 diamond and 1 club – 10 tricks.  Perfect.  But wait!  I haven’t lost a spade.  I can make 11 tricks if I take 1 more spade finesse!?!?!!??!  Mark Ralph, sitting North, knew 100% from the bidding that I had 3 spades, and watching me carefully unblock the J, could see that I was set up for the sucker play of him ducking my 9.  Obviously, on the third round of spades I can simply win the A (spurning the finesse) and get my 10 tricks.  When the Q drops, I have 11 tricks – an undeserved overtrick.  But, I wasn’t counting tricks (when you are in a vulnerable game – it is always good to count tricks…when you have all you need, TAKE THEM!).  I finessed the 10 on the third spade lead and my 10 sure tricks dropped to 9 when I only scored 2 total spade tricks.  Down 1.  Taking a finesse for the overtrick is simply losing bridge.  Nice play by Mark to find the duck of the Q, but terrible play by me to fall for it.

We were -100 and our teammates were -600.  Instead of winning 2 IMPs (by playing the A), we lost 12 IMPs.  Sorry teammates.

Defensive lesson – if you can see declarer has a 100% certain line for his contract if you take one action, look for another action that may lead him down a losing path.  Declarer lesson – when you have your contract made, make it.  When will I ever learn?

 
27
None
South
N
Mark R
542
1065
Q63
A853
 
W
Dan
6
AKJ9
K842
Q976
5
E
Bob
AQJ8
Q43
105
KJ104
 
S
Tom
K10973
872
AJ97
2
 

 

W
Dan
N
Mark R
E
Bob
S
Tom
Pass
1
Pass
1
Pass
1NT
Pass
3NT
All Pass

 

W
Gary
N
Cris
E
Mark M
S
Bruce
Pass
1
Pass
1
Pass
2
Pass
4
All Pass

At my table, West looked at his hand and saw a 1 opening bid.  When I responded 1 he rebid 1NT.  I have heard players tell their partner to ‘never’ rebid 1NT with a singleton.  Personally, I have found that (rebidding 1NT with a singleton in partner’s suit) to be the least of evils on many hands and I like my partner’s choice on this hand.  I really don’t like starting with 1 and rebidding 2.  Partner will expect 9-10 cards in the minors with that start, not 8.  Anyway, I had a balanced game hand so I had an easy raise to 3NT.  No opening lead appeals, so North decided to try the unbid major which turned out to be declarer’s strongest suit.  Knocking out the A provides 8 top tricks and when North shifted to diamonds after winning the A, declarer was up to 9 tricks (1+4+1+3).  South won the A and returned the J as declarer won the K and North pitched the Q (unblocking hopefully).  In the end, South discarded down to a singleton K, hoping that declarer would take the ‘obvious’ spade finesse and that diamonds would cash for the setting tricks.  Unlike my play on the prior hand, declarer did not finesse in spades, so they had 11 tricks when the K went under the A.

At the other table, West, looking at their robust heart suit, albeit 4 long, decided that 1 was the best way to start the bidding.  Soon E-W were in the heart game.  Double dummy, no lead or defense can defeat 4, but the declarer needs their guessing shoes on.  Sorry, but I don’t know the defense nor line of declarer play, but when the dust settled, declarer had only found 9 tricks and ended up down 1.  Since North has no entry to provide a second club ruff, the defense has trouble finding 4 tricks, double dummy.  So, with the A onside, and solving the 2-way guess for the K (finesse or ruffing finesse), declarer can manage 10 tricks against any defense.  3NT, proved to be a much easier contract than the 4-3 heart fit.   With our teammates beating 4 for +50 and our +460, we were able to win 11 IMPs.

 

 

Recap Of 7/15/2019 28 Board IMP Individual

For the 5 big swing hands today, bidding judgment was one factor that helped create the swings, but leads/defense and declarer play also played very significant roles.  In 4 out of 5 cases, improved defense/declarer play would reduce or eliminate the swing, and in one case create a swing the other way.

 
5
N-S
North
N
Manfred
9865
QJ864
A952
 
W
Jerry
AKQJ32
A53
K
763
4
E
Ed
107
Q86
A1093
KJ108
 
S
Bob M
4
KJ109742
752
Q4
 

 

W
Jerry
N
Manfred
E
Ed
S
Bob M
Pass
Pass
3
3
Pass
3NT
All Pass

 

W
Jack
N
Dan
E
Bob P
S
Chris
Pass
Pass
3
3
Pass
4
All Pass

The bidding started the same at both tables, but at my table, East decided to take a shot at 9 tricks in 3NT while East at the other table raised to the spade game.  The way the cards lie, the same 11 tricks are available in both contracts, but declarer needs to play more carefully in spades.

Playing spades, there are a number of routes to 11 tricks, but the easiest, after the Q lead, is to win the K, draw 4 rounds of trump (pitching a heart and a diamond) and lead a club to the 10.  South will win their Q, but will be forced to lead a heart around to the Q, a club into the KJ8, or a diamond into the A10.  Depending on which suit they return, declarer will score 11 tricks in various ways – the defense has no answer.  Both North and South are subject to endplays that will help declarer once they win their club tricks, so the declarer only loses 2 clubs and wins the rest.  At the table, declarer was uncertain about their dummy entries and wanted to make sure that they got a discard on the A, so after winning trick 1 with the K, they cashed a high spade and entered dummy with the 10. Then they cashed the A, taking a heart discard.  At this point, 11 tricks are still possible, but not easily.  At the table, declarer continued with a heart to the A, ruffed by North.  North then led a club, finessed to South’s Q.  South cashed the K and led another heart, ruffed high by declarer.  But declarer still had to lose the A for down 1.

On lead against 3NT, I felt certain that a heart lead would surrender an unnecessary trick, so, since spades hadn’t been raised, I started with a spade, hoping partner could get in and attack hearts.  Declarer simply won the spade lead in dummy, lost the club finesse at trick 2 and when I shifted to a diamond, declarer won with the K and led another club.  Partner played the A and declarer had a high club and the A as discards for dummy’s heart losers, so 6+1+2+2 to reach 11 tricks.  We were -460 and our teammates were -50, lose 11 IMPs.

 
12
N-S
West
N
Dan
96
J972
A10972
Q6
 
W
Ed
K1082
1063
J
K9875
Q
E
Bob M
AJ73
AKQ5
Q863
10
 
S
Jack
Q54
84
K54
AJ432
 
W
Ed
N
Dan
E
Bob M
S
Jack
Pass
Pass
1
Pass
1
Pass
3
Pass
4
All Pass
 
 

 

W
Manfred
N
Bob P
E
Jerry
S
Chris
Pass
Pass
1
Pass
1
Pass
41
Pass
4
All Pass
 
 
(1) Splinter game raise of spades, short clubs

Similar bidding arrived in the same contract at both tables.  I didn’t think I was strong enough to force game (either bidding 4 directly or via a splinter raise to 4).  The player with my hand did try the splinter, but still they ended up in 4 like us.  Do you think this is worth a game splinter?

At our table, partner received the opening lead of the Q which was won with the A.  Back came the 8 covered by the 10, J and Q.  When partner led a small diamond off dummy to his J, North won the A and continued with another heart.  Declarer won the A and continued with a small diamond.  South rose with the K which was ruffed.  Now, as long as trump break 3-2, partner could (and did) cash the high spades.  After that, everything was high with the defense only allowed to score their outstanding high trump (Q) whenever they wanted (one red loser in dummy would go on the K, the other red loser could be ruffed).  Declarer lost 2 aces and the Q, but they could score 6+3+1+1 (-1 for the Q).

At the other table, the opening lead was a small heart.  Declarer could duck the opening heart lead to their 10 (since the lead was away from the J), but that could be very dangerous, losing a trick they could not afford to lose.  So, they won the A and led a small diamond to the J and A.  Back came the 10, covered by the Q and K which was ruffed.  Had declarer not covered the 10, the K would eventually ruff out (allowing the Q to be a trick).  Still 10 tricks were available if declarer continued along cross ruff lines from this point forward.  There is danger of overruffs, but LHO has to follow to red suit leads from dummy (can’t overruff declarer) and RHO has to follow to club leads (can’t overruff dummy).  Declarer can score 2 hearts, a club, and 7 trump tricks.  

However, at the table, after ruffing the K, declarer led a spade to the J and Q.  East returned a spade and declarer led dummy’s singleton 10.  East won the A and continued with a diamond (his last spade would be a better defense at this point).   Declarer could ruff that (with his last trump), cash the K, ruff a club and draw the last trump, but when hearts failed to break 3-3, 9 tricks was the limit.  That made our teammates +50 to go with our +420, win 10 IMPs.

 
13
Both
North
N
Bob M
983
K73
KQ1096
65
 
W
Bob P
AKJ7542
J96
3
104
K
E
Manfred
Q10
AQ542
J87
J82
 
S
Jack
6
108
A542
AKQ973
 
W
Bob P
N
Bob M
E
Manfred
S
Jack
Pass
Pass
1
3
All Pass
 
 

 

W
Jerry
N
Dan
E
Chris
S
Ed
Pass
Pass
1
3
Pass
Pass
4
Pass
51
All Pass
 
(1) If partner can try for 10 tricks on his own, I must have help for the 11th trick

Here, with everybody vulnerable, the bidding started the same at both tables, but at one table, South balanced/reopened with 4 after the 3 preempt, while the other table passed it out and let West play 3.  North, with some decent values, decided if partner can contract for 10 tricks on his own, then his hand should offer a play for 11 tricks, so he raised to the 5 game.

There wasn’t much to the play in 3.  Declarer had to guess if the K was doubleton or the 10 was doubleton (lead the J and smother the 10).  He guessed right, so there were only 3 minor suit winners for the defense, declarer won 10 tricks, so we were -170.

West led the A against 5 and had a difficult choice at trick 2.  If declarer bid 4 with Q6 (and partner had the singleton 10), it would be necessary to cash the K at trick 2 or it was likely they would never get it.  If declarer had a singleton spade, it would be necessary to switch to hearts and hope to find 2 red tricks to defeat 5.  Or, switch to diamonds, hoping for a ruff.  When West continued at trick 2 with his high spade, declarer had 11 tricks (5 diamonds and 6 clubs), so our teammates were -600, lose 13 IMPs.

Does South have enough to compete over 3?  One South thought not, the other ended up in the game which could be beaten but wasn’t .  Defense is tough.  Anyway, results aside, I think the two passes after 3 suggests that North has something (but nothing convenient to bid) and competing further would likely be a net gain for South.

 
23
Both
South
N
Jack
AKQ10765
K10
108
92
 
W
Chris
2
4
KQ1083
K97542
A
E
Bob M
83
A92
AJ654
A63
 
S
Jerry
J94
QJ87653
7
QJ
 

 

W
Chris
N
Jack
E
Bob M
S
Jerry
2
Pass
2NT
Pass
31
Pass
3
Pass
4
All Pass
 
 
 
(1) Bad suit, bad hand

 

W
Bob P
N
Dan
E
Ed
S
Manfred
2
Pass
2
Pass
3
Pass
4
Pass
Pass
4NT1
Pass
5
All Pass
(1) Pick a minor

Here again, there was similar bidding (but not the same), to arrive in 4 at both tables.  However, West at the other table viewed their limited defensive prospects (hearing NS bidding both majors) and decided to compete with 4NT, asking partner to choose a minor.  This worked spectacularly well when partner not only held a minor, but also 3 aces!!  When the defense failed to cash the A at trick 1, 13 tricks were easily scored by drawing trumps and running the club suit to pitch all spade losers.  How often are you cold for slam (assuming 2-2 clubs) and either never enter the bidding, or enter the bidding for the first time after several rounds of opponents bidding to a major suit game?

After the opponents open a weak two, I like to use an immediate 4NT as ace asking (not unusual for the minors).  Bid 4 of the major that was opened to show a minor suit hand.  With both sides vulnerable, there is certainly risk in coming in – either immediately (4 over 2) or delayed (4NT over 4).  But, as you see, there was risk in not coming in!  I’m sure you have heard “6-5 come alive” and this hand is an example of where that bridge ‘rule’ came from.  The balancing bid of 4NT does not come with a Lloyd’s of London money back guarantee, but I like it.  What do you think?  Also, what do you think of the “weak 2 opening bid”?  Both tables bid it.  I suspect many would – it is often helpful to jam the auction and leave the opponents guessing what to do.  Our opponents guessed right and we didn’t.

I failed to provide a heart ruff for partner, so we just got our 4 top tricks for down 1, +100.  With our teammates -640, we lost 11 IMPs.

Balancing with 4NT was a really big bid.  Could/Should West bid immediately over 2?  I don’t think any bid is available to describe this hand (2NT, 3NT are both natural, 4NT gets really high if you play that as unusual (vs. ace asking).  A 4 bid is available to show both minors, but that, too, gets high fast.  Anyway, assuming pass the first time is right, there is another option to enter the auction.  At both tables, at West’s second turn to bid, 3NT was available.  Having failed to bid 3NT previously, it seems as though this would unequivocally show both minors…just what you have!  And, if North then bids 4 as expected (at one table), partner is involved in the decision to go to the 5 level (and the 4 bid takes you “off the hook” assuming it comes).  Waiting to bid 4NT is quite unilateral and whenever partner can contribute to the decision, it is almost always a good idea.

 
26
Both
East
N
Dan
A
985
J1094
Q7654
 
W
Bob M
Q10976
KJ106
82
32
8
E
Jerry
853
Q42
AK753
98
 
S
Bob P
KJ42
A73
Q6
AKJ10
 

 

W
Bob M
N
Dan
E
Jerry
S
Bob P
Pass
1
Pass
31
All Pass
 
(1) Inverted minor, preemptive

 

W
Jack
N
Ed
E
Chris
S
Manfred
Pass
1
Pass
3
Pass
3NT
All Pass
 
 
 

Most tournament players play a system of “inverted minors” where 1m-2m shows either game or invitational+ values, and 1m-3m is “preemptive” – but there is a serious problem with that.  Some have developed other tools to deal with that problem after partner opens 1m:  use a jump to 2 to show a minor suit “mixed raise” (7-9 points, less than invitational) and use 3m to show a junk raise (less than a mixed raise) – suggesting that partner should not venture onward if they had 18-19 points, too much to open 1NT.  Here neither table had this tool available, so both tables treated their hand as a preemptive raise in clubs.  At our table, the auction ended at 3 (the par contract as the cards lie) making 10 tricks on any lead – we started with 3 rounds of diamonds, ruffing the third, but those were our only tricks and no other defense does better.

Note: if you had the potential to show two types of raises: mixed raise and preemptive raise, this would clearly be a mixed raise, and partner would automatically proceed to 3NT with their balanced 18 HCP.  It just turns out that the hands don’t mesh well – slow diamond tricks with insufficient major suit stoppers, but that happens sometimes.

The defense against 3NT is a somewhat unique situation.  Best defense will always beat 3NT, whether the defense starts with spades or hearts.  But, if they start with spades, they must later revert to hearts.  If they start with hearts, they must revert to spades.   What do I mean?

A normal 10 (top of interior sequence) was led against 3NT.  Declarer wins the A and starts playing diamonds.  East wins the K and would normally continue spades (partner’s lead).  Declarer would normally finesse the J, losing to the Q and, at that point, spades are not set up, but with no entry available to West’s spades, stop playing spades and revert to hearts.  Declarer still has another high diamond to knock out, and the defense needs to establish heart tricks while they still hold the A.  Continuing spades after winning the Q would be futile – it would establish the spade suit, but East would have no more spades to lead after they won the A.

Conversely, if the defense started with hearts, declarer must duck twice, allowing the defense to score the first two heart tricks.  Hearts are not yet established, but to defeat 3NT, the defense must now switch and attack spades!  When diamonds are led, win the first diamond lead and continue to attack spades and the defense will be able to get 5 tricks before declarer scores 9.  Declarer starts with 8 tricks, but careful defense will hold him to 8 tricks.

At the table, the opening 10 lead was won by the A and a diamond was led.  East rose with the K (as declarer dropped the Q) and continued spades.  Rather than finessing the J, declarer rose with the K (hoping the other diamond winner was with West).  When declarer continued with the 6, East inexplicably ducked and declarer claimed their 9 top tricks –  2+1+1+5.  Had East won the second diamond lead, a spade lead through declarer’s J4 would allow West to score 3 more spade tricks and defeat the contract.

So, we were -130 while our teammates were +600, win 10 IMPs.

Good luck and have fun in Vegas.  I hope to see you there.

 

Recap Of 6/19/2019 28 Board IMP Individual

Bidding judgment determined all 4 of today’s swing hands.

 
12
N-S
West
N
Cris
863
AJ754
A
J982
 
W
Mark M
A94
Q832
K963
73
Q
E
Bob
QJ752
10
J842
K106
 
S
Mark R
K10
K95
Q1074
AQ54
 
W
Mark M
N
Cris
E
Bob
S
Mark R
Pass
Pass
2
Dbl
3
4
All Pass
 
W
Bruce
N
Gary
E
Tom
S
Dan
Pass
Pass
Pass
1
Dbl
1
1
Dbl1
Pass
32
All Pass
 
(1) Showing 3 card heart support
(2) Inviting game

First the bidding at my table:  I certainly usually take the opportunity, when in third seat, to make some sort of reasonable noise rather than passing and letting fourth seat take the first bid of the hand after seeing 3 passes – especially when not vulnerable vs. vulnerable opponents as it was here.  Given that philosophy, I was never going to pass.  My question, as East, was whether to open 1 or 2.  Preempts often present problems, but sometimes the presumed strength shown by an opening 1 bid can deflect the opponents from their best spot.  I flipped a coin and opened 2.  South has a routine (if flawed) double – flawed since partner expects to see 4 of a major when the other major is doubled.  Still sometimes you have to double spades when you only hold 3 hearts.  My partner, over the double, had a routine bump to 3 to continue to block the opponents bidding, and it was now up to North.  They didn’t have the greatest hand, but still with some nice shape including two aces, 5 trump and a singleton, they didn’t want to miss their vulnerable game, so they tried 4 which ended the bidding.

At the other table, South got to open in fourth seat after seeing 3 passes.  They started with 1♣ and West, who had passed originally, decided that they had enough strength and shape, as a passed hand, to make a takeout double.  The double can be an excellent way to enter the auction and compete for the partscore, but it can also backfire by telling the opponents how to play the hand.  North bid their heart suit, East showed spades, South showed 3 card heart support and East passed.  North thought (and so do I) that they only had enough values to invite game, so they jumped to 3.  Finally South, concerned about a possibly worthless K, decided they didn’t have enough  to go on to game, so they languished at the 3 level.

Looking only at the NS cards, this doesn’t look like a game you want to be in (when the A is behind the K).  But, on the lie of the cards, there are always 10 tricks due to the well placed club honors (K10 with East).  On this deal, declarer has two routes to 10 tricks – bring in the hearts and clubs with no losers, losing 3 spade tricks.  Or, more naturally, ruff a spade in dummy creating a heart loser, and then bring in clubs for no losers.  When the Q opening lead was ducked, I continued at trick 2 with the 2 suggesting to partner that after they won the A, a club return was safer than anything else (and hoping they had some spots to allow an eventual trick in clubs).  Declarer won the Q over my 10, cashed the K, finessed J, ruffed their spade, crossed to the A, cashed the A and then led the 9, taking a finesse against my K.  When that held, the only trick left for the defense was a power trump trick.  At the other table, after West’s takeout double of 1, North started clubs themselves by leading the J and later finessing against the 10 for the same 10 tricks, but with no game bid, we were -620 while our teammates were +170, lose 10 IMPs.

Back to the bidding – might NS have missed their game if I pass instead of opening 2?  If I open 1, will they miss game?  Did the passed hand double by West (at the other table) prevent NS from reaching game?  As noted, this is not a great game to be in once the A is over the K, but it has the advantage of being vulnerable and unbeatable.

 
17
None
North
N
Dan
92
Q1092
K10
97432
 
W
Bob
1083
A754
QJ752
A
2
E
Gary
AKJ5
KJ86
94
J65
 
S
Mark M
Q764
3
A863
KQ108
 
W
Bob
N
Dan
E
Gary
S
Mark M
Pass
1
Pass
1
Pass
1NT
Pass
21
Pass
22
Pass
23
Pass
34
Pass
45
Pass
Pass
Dbl6
All Pass
 
 
 
(1) XYZ – forcing partner to bid 2D, after which I clarify my intentions
(2) As requested
(3) Showing a hand with 4 hearts and invitational values
(4) Confirming heart support and returning the invitation back to me
(5) Accpeting the invite
(6) Thinking the bad split and poorly placed cards will spell trouble for declarer

 

W
Bruce
N
Cris
E
Mark R
S
Tom
Pass
1
Pass
11
Pass
2
Dbl2
RDbl3
Pass4
Pass
Pass5
(1) Bypassing diamonds to show the 4 card major
(2) Thinking that he is showing 4=1=4=4 takeout of hearts
(3) Telling partner the hand belongs to our side
(4) Choosing to not take action
(5) Thinking that partner desires to defend 2HXX

Wow, what a hand, what a result.  Lots of different bidding choices showed up here.  Playing 5 card majors, everyone in the East seat opens 1.  South might have opened a minor themselves, but really they have nothing to bid over 1, so they pass.  West can bid up the line (my choice of 1) or bypass the diamonds and show their 4 card major (the choice at the other table).  North passes and East has a choice for their rebid: start showing their 4 majors (which I would do), or show their balanced hand and point range with 1NT (which was my partner’s choice).  Now, even though I considered this hand worth an opening bid, I wasn’t ready to force to game with no known fit.  I could bid 2 (which would be a game force, since it is a reverse by responder), raise to 2NT inviting game there, or show an invitational hand with 4 hearts which was my choice.  When partner raised, I decided I had enough for game and continued to 4 which was passed around to South who entered the auction for the first time with a (Lightner) double, suggesting a club lead would be a good start to the defense.  With all of the prior passes by South, I was a bit shocked at the double and didn’t know how to interpret it – what cards did he hold besides strong clubs?

Next let’s look at the bidding at the other table.  As mentioned before, the West player with my hand responded 1 which his partner raised to 2.  South now doubled, since they had a classic 4=1=4=4 takeout double of 2 – they couldn’t bid the first time due to their length/strength in clubs, but when they heard the raise to 2, they could show their shape and values via a takeout double.  West, with a reasonable hand thought they had a chance to make 2 so they redoubled to let partner know that the hand belonged to EW.  Maybe partner raised with only 3 card heart support and the best EW result would be defending whatever contract NS landed in.  North, given a choice of clubs, diamonds and spades had a clear preference for clubs, but decided to pass.  However, if South’s double was simply a takeout of the other two unbid suits (clubs having been bid do not count as an option), then North has very little to choose between spades and diamonds.  If EW stop off to defend 3X, down 1 is the best they can achieve for +100, so they will do better by bidding more if NS do bid clubs.  Anyway, East has no reason to bid over 2XX, and it was now up to South.  South would like to re-redouble asking partner to please chose a suit, but since that bid is not allowed, they had to start choosing suits themselves, or assume that partner knows best and wants to defend 2XX.  So South passed and 2XX was the final contract.  Clearly North needed to take a view that clubs were part of the takeout and bid clubs, or else South needed to take a view that North has nothing worthwhile in diamonds or spades, so maybe clubs will be the best spot.  Both North and South cannot afford to pass – someone must bid clubs.

I often point out areas that you should definitely discuss and be in sync with  partner and the lesson on this hand involves passing the business redouble (a support redouble and a SOS redouble involve different decisions).  There are only two possible messages sent by the pass, and only one can be what partner intended:

  1. I have nothing to say, no preference for your suggested suits, so you choose
  2. I think they are in trouble and I want to sit for and defend this redoubled contract 

So, be sure to know your partner’s intentions.

Now, on to the play of the hand.  The declarer at the other table knew where the heart length/shortness was located.  I knew it was possible that when South finally doubled when we got to 4 that the double was due to shortness that would create a challenge to a hand that could only invite game.  Perhaps, on an auction that sounded more powerful, they would not have doubled.  Still, if the opponents are going down 2+ tricks, doubles can pay handsomely and the cost, if the opponents make it, is not that great as long as there are no overtricks.  In any case, South judged that there would be problems and doubled.  I knew they had good clubs, but I had an answer for that problem with my singleton A.  I could win the first club lead and ruff the rest, so no problem.  My problem was how to find 10 tricks.  I needed to establish diamonds (or find successful finesses in spades and hearts).  I needed to lead diamonds from dummy (twice), and since I felt South had hearts, I started with a heart to the K and a diamond up, disappointed to lose to the K in North.   They continued clubs which I ruffed, then a spade to the A and another diamond to the A.  South continued with their remaining high club, forcing me to ruff again.  Double dummy, the best I could ever do was to win 9 tricks, and I was still on track for 9 tricks at this point (in spite of getting hearts wrong) if I continued with the J.  When I continued, with a small diamond ruffed in dummy (establishing diamonds), North was able to discard their remaining spade and I was running out of tricks.  I could cross to my A and now lead the J, but North could ruff small, allowing my J to score, but then I had no trumps and they still had the Q and good clubs (so I never got to enjoy my K).

The way I played it, if South had held 3 hearts to the Q, they would have the only outstanding trump, they would have to follow to my J lead and then it didn’t matter what they did on my last diamond, since I would discard both losing spades on the diamonds.  At trick 12, I would have the K and J in dummy, and the only trick that South could score in the last 4 cards would have been their high trump.  But, that wasn’t how the cards lay.

You would think, if you KNOW that South is short in hearts and North is long in hearts, that the play might be much easier.  I have tried lots of options (playing the hand double dummy on my computer, including starting hearts with a small heart to the 6 – truly a double dummy play), and scoring 9 tricks is still not so easy against best defense!  I don’t know how the play/defense went at the other table.  In any case, the declarer playing 2XX managed to score 9 tricks.  The overtrick for making 9 tricks instead of 8 in a 2 contract is, of course, 30 points.  However, redoubled vulnerable overtricks payout 400 points!  Plus the game bonus, plus, plus plus.  Bottom line, our teammates were -1240 while we were -300 to lose 17 IMPs!

 
23
Both
South
N
Mark R
10932
KJ84
A753
10
 
W
Dan
AKJ7
72
KQJ86
Q9
A
E
Bob
Q85
5
109
KJ87542
 
S
Tom
64
AQ10963
42
A63
 

 

W
Dan
N
Mark R
E
Bob
S
Tom
2
Dbl
4
5
All Pass

 

W
Gary
N
Cris
E
Mark M
S
Bruce
2
Dbl
4
All Pass
 

Here, there was pretty simple bidding with the same 3 (pretty automatic) bids to start the auction at both tables. However, some players would consider South too strong for a weak 2 bid and open 1.  At the other table, those 3 bids ended the auction.  However, in 4th seat, I had no prospects of defense against 4 so I did what partner asked me to do with his takeout double – I bid my best suit.  South, with 2 aces providing much better defense than they might have had for a weak 2 opening bid, might have doubled, saving a couple of IMPs (but if the opponents have a heart void, it would reduce his defense to 1 trick, so the penalty double isn’t exactly automatic).  The play in 4 was straightforward, with 10 winners and 3 losers.  The play in 5 was also straightforward, with 3 aces to lose, but 10 tricks after that.  So, we were -100 while our teammates were +620, win 11 IMPs.

 
25
E-W
North
N
Cris
Q54
753
J943
1042
 
W
Bob
KJ9732
AK642
Q2
2
E
Tom
108
Q9
K10875
J765
 
S
Gary
A6
J108
A6
AKQ983
 
W
Bob
N
Cris
E
Tom
S
Gary
Pass
Pass
3NT
4
Dbl
All Pass
 

 

W
Mark R
N
Mark M
E
Dan
S
Bruce
Pass
Pass
2NT
All Pass
 
 
 

After 2 passes, how do you open the South hand.  Some might see a good hand with clubs and start with 1.  Counting a point for both the 5th and 6th club, your 18 HCP can get up to 20 points and start with 2NT (which is what happened at the other table).  At my table, they play ‘gambling 3NT a la Meckwell’ in 1st/2nd seat which shows a long solid minor with an outside ace or king.   But, in 3rd seat, a 3NT opening bid is … ‘tactical’ – as you can see, as West, I had great interest in just what was shown by the 3NT opening bid.  I had no clue what was right.  The opponents have no obligation to describe their hand, only their systemic agreements about what bids mean.  I was told it shows a good hand that is not confined to the restrictions of ‘one ace or king outside’ that applies to a first or second seat opening.

So, what does West do over 2NT?  Over 3NT?  I think whatever system you play over 1NT should also be played over 2NT.  Why not?  It doesn’t come up often, but since you have a system available, it seems you should use it.  If, over 1NT, 2♣ would show majors, then bid 3 over 2NT; if 2 shows majors over 1NT, then bid 3 over 2NT.  Anyway, the player with my hand, noting the vulnerability, elected to pass over 2NT and after a heart lead, the defense cashed 5 heart tricks.  Then a spade continuation allowed declarer to knock out the J and score the rest of the tricks for down 1.

Since 3NT opening bids can be all sorts of hands, I don’t think continuing the philosophy of using the same system over 2NT that you use over 1NT can be extended to include 3NT opening bids.  I briefly considered bidding 4♣ as a surrogate for Michaels – hoping that partner would not take 4 as natural and would bid their best major.  So, if partner held 5 hearts and no spades, my 4 call would not have been a success.  Eventually I decided upon the safety of the extra trump with spades being trump and, using 6-5 come alive mentality, bid 4.  I bought a fantastic dummy, with partner’s spade spots filling in my gaps and Q9 allowing me to establish hearts (and if someone overruffs hearts on the third round, they are using one of the 2 natural trump tricks they have.  When hearts proved to be 3=3, it was time to draw trump and claim…well, not so quickly.  I still held 5 trump, but when I led the 10 off of dummy and South played low, I had to choose whether to play the K (assuming South held the A) or duck the 10 (assuming South had the Q).  What did South hold to open 3NT?  What did North hold to double 4?  I was still thinking more ‘gambling 3NT’ than power.  I needed to play the K (to make the hand, double dummy), but ducked the 10, losing to the Q.  Now, the defense has the upper hand, but only if they continue tapping me out in clubs to make me lose control of the hand.  I still have 4 trump, but the tap  after winning the Q reduces me to 3, and when I knock out the A I’m down to 2 trump.  One more club tap (after winning the A) leaves me with 1 trump to draw the last trump, but then I must establish my diamond trick and when the opponents win the A, they can cash a club at trick 13 while I follow suit with my winning diamond.  However, North continued with a diamond after winning their Q and I was back in control.

So, I was lucky to catch such a great dummy and lucky to misguess spades and still survive.  It seems that when I ignore 6-5 come alive advice, I regret it.  The trouble with using any sort of simulation to determine the wisdom/foolishness of bidding over 3NT depends upon defining a very vague notion of just what do you expect the 3NT bidder to hold.  I didn’t know during the bidding and I didn’t know during the play.  If North and East (both passed hands) exchanged their hands (so that the North hand was my partner and the East hand became the North hand), I would lose only 1 spade instead of 2, but I would also lose a heart and 2 diamonds.  Still, that would be a good save against the 9 tricks NS could score in their 3NT contract.  Warning: just because the 4 bid worked on the actual deal and the modified deal with North and East switching hands, it is not an attempt at proving it was a good bid, the right bid, …  Note also that getting partner to choose a major would likely result in an unsuccessful heart contract.

By my judgment, it is impossible to determine the ‘right’ bid in these situations.  Certainly some would view 4 as foolish, all would view the result as lucky, but, it turned out, my bid worked, scoring +790 while our teammates were -50 to score 12 IMPs.

 

Recap Of 5/20/2019 28 Board IMP Individual

Today there were 6 double digit swings, 3 of them fell into declarer play problems (with leads and defense also playing a factor), with bidding judgment the source for the other 3 big swings.

 
3
E-W
South
N
Bob E
KJ82
A752
A63
874
 
W
Chris
Q103
QJ1063
74
KJ6
Q
E
Bob M
5
K984
KJ52
Q1098
 
S
Jerry
A9764
Q1098
A532
 
W
Chris
N
Bob E
E
Bob M
S
Jerry
1
Pass
2NT
Pass
3
Pass
3
Pass
41
Pass
42
Pass
43
Pass
4
Pass
6
All Pass
 
 
 
(1) Cue bid
(2) Cue bid
(3) Cue bid – showing a void
W
Manfred
N
Dan
E
Mike
S
Gary
1
Pass
2NT1
Pass
32
Pass
43
Dbl4
4
All Pass
 
 
 
(1) Jacoby 2NT spade raise
(2) Heart shortness
(3) Cue bid
(4) requesting diamond lead

Both tables used traditional Jacoby 2NT in support of spades, finding heart shortness.  At my table, North then bid 3 to indicate a hand that could be slam suitable (it is minimum in high card, but it does have 3 key cards).  The 3 bid initiated a series of cue bids (4-4-4) with North indicating they had nothing more to say when they next bid 4.  They have a nice fit, all suits controlled, now what?  South decided that there would be 12 tricks available and bid the slam.  After partner’s heart lead, declarer had chances.  All he needed was to find trumps 2-2, diamonds 3-3, K onside and he would be there: 7+1+3+1.  He got the K onside, but that was all.  So, eventually he lost a trick in every suit but hearts for down 2, +100 for our side.

Our teammates cue bid diamonds after hearing heart shortness.  When that was doubled, South looked at their minimum values and, based on the bidding, one sure diamond to lose, so they were not seeing a route to 12 tricks with their minimum HCP so they simply signed off in 4, ending the auction.  When that contract came home, they were +420 to go with our +100 for 11 IMPs.  When you are at the 3 level in a game forcing auction, it is good to have agreements about what subsequent bids imply.  Many play a ‘fast arrival’ approach that suggests limited/no controls in unbid suits and zero slam interest.  Partner may proceed at their own peril.  I think North is too strong to immediately sign off in 4 over 3.  But whether they bid 3 waiting (the bid chosen at our table), 3NT non-serious slam try, or 4 cue bid of their cheapest control (chosen by our teammates) is somewhat a matter of style, judgment and bidding agreements.  Always good to have bidding agreements.  Here, I guess South just fell in love with his hand.

 
4
Both
West
N
Bob E
AQ83
1085
Q3
K1052
 
W
Chris
742
J9
K9542
AQ7
4
E
Bob M
1096
K743
107
J983
 
S
Jerry
KJ5
AQ52
AJ86
64
 
W
Chris/Manfr
N
Bob E/Dan
E
Bob M/Mike
S
Jerry/Gary
Pass
Pass
Pass
1NT
Pass
2
Pass
2
Pass
3NT
All Pass
 

Both tables had the same auction with the same lead.  Now to find 9 tricks.  When the Q holds the first trick, you certainly have 4+1+2+unknown opportunities in clubs as well as potential for additional diamond and heart tricks.  This hand was about the play (and defense).

At my table, I followed with the 7 at trick 1, showing count and saving the 10 which may be useful.  Declarer played a heart to the Q (noting the fall of 9) and cashed 4 spades.  On the last spade, I played the 9, declarer pitched a fateful diamond while partner played their 2 (confirming a 5 card suit – often when forced to discard from the suit of your original 4th best lead, you want to play your original 3rd best (if the spot doesn’t cost you), leaving declarer in the dark as to whether your initial suit was 4 long or 5 long).  Next declarer led a heart, thinking a bit about ducking, but eventually played the A, dropping the J.  Declarer had a plan.  He decided my 9, in theory, showing nothing in clubs had been a false card ploy to deceive (and that I actually held the A), so all he had to do was strip the last diamond out of my hand (by cashing his A) and lead hearts.  He had taken the first 8 tricks and needed 1 more.  I could cash two hearts (the K7), but would be forced to lead away from my presumed A, giving him his 9th trick in dummy with the K.  This would have worked quite well as the cards lie if he had kept all of his diamonds.  Yes, my spades, hearts and diamonds would be gone, forcing me to lead clubs.  If I had the A, his plan worked.  But if my partner had the A, his plan also works…as long as he keeps all of his diamonds.  Partner would be forced to either cash the K and lead a diamond to his J for his 9th trick, or lead a club to the K in dummy for his 9th trick.  As it was, we took the last 5 tricks, 2 hearts, 2 diamonds and a club.  So we were +100.

Meanwhile, our teammates (also playing 3NT by South) won the Q at trick 1 while my hand followed with the 10 (upside down attitude).  Declarer continued with a heart at trick 2, ducked around to West’s 9 (a better way to come closer to assuring 2 heart tricks – but complicating getting those 2 tricks), and West exited with a safe spade.  Declarer cashed four spades (keeping all his diamonds, and so did West, both players pitching a club).  Next declarer led a heart to the A, dropping the J and continued with a heart to the 10 to force out the K, establishing the Q for the second heart trick.  On this trick West pitched the Q, still keeping all his diamonds, thinking that the 10 played by East at trick 1 promised 3 diamonds and that declarer started with AJ6.  My hand (East) won the K and continued with their remaining diamond (7) which was covered with the J and K.  Nine tricks have been played (4 spades, 3 hearts, 2 diamonds) with dummy (North) following suit to all 9 tricks, leaving dummy with the 4 clubs they started with.  During those 9 tricks, declarer won 6 and lost 3, and he needs 3 more out of the last 4.  Declarer has a high diamond and high heart in their hand, but no way to get to them without help from the defense.  But with hearts and spades gone, West was down to leading diamonds (into declarer’s A8) or their now singleton A.  If East had started with 3 diamonds, a diamond lead at this point leaves declarer with only 2 more tricks (high red cards) – the defense will score the last 2 (high minor suit cards) for down 1.  Had West discarded 1 diamond and 1 club, the defense can abandon diamonds and score (at least) 2 club tricks for down 1.  West led diamonds after winning the K, allowing South to score their A8 as well as the Q.  That brought declarer’s total to 9 tricks for +600 to go with our +100 to win 12 IMPs. 

At trick 9, if West had kept the AQ (pitching 1 diamond and 1 club), declarer must not finesse in diamonds but use this opportunity to gain access to his red winners.  If declarer goes up with the A, and cashes the Q, West has no effective answer.  On the heart lead, they can throw their Q, but then must surrender a trick to the J at trick 13.  If they throw a diamond on the Q, they must surrender a trick to the K at trick 13.  Declarer must end up relying upon the A being onside.

So, which diamond spot to play at trick 1 turned out to be critical (and, at our table, which diamond spot to discard was also critical – when West played their original 5th best diamond, declarer could be 100% certain that diamonds were 5-2).  I have always heard ‘if you can’t beat the J at trick 1, your attitude is already clear, give count.’  Here dummy didn’t play the J, but the Q.  So do I give attitude with the 10 or count with the 7?  It isn’t so much what I mean by the card I play, but rather how partner interprets what I play.  I thought that the 10 might be important/useful in the diamond suit, so I saved it.  But rules (known by and followed by both players) can be really useful.  Partner needs to be able to read your cards in order to have the most effective defense.  Of course declarer can read your cards too, and draw their own conclusions.

 
7
Both
South
N
Bob M
87
AKJ105
J1086
Q7
 
W
Dan
AQJ103
62
A97
1064
K
E
Manfred
K95
Q973
KQ
KJ98
 
S
Jerry
642
84
5432
A532
 
W
Dan
N
Bob M
E
Manfred
S
Jerry
Pass
1
Pass
2
Pass
2
Pass
4
All Pass
W
Mike
N
Bob E
E
Gary
S
Chris
Pass
1
Pass
1NT1
Pass
2
Dbl
RDbl2
2
2
Pass
4
All Pass
(1) Forcing
(2) Offer to play

With most regular partners, I lead (Rusinow) K from AK.  This was not my regular partner, but somehow I still led the K.  When I saw dummy, I shifted to diamonds.  Declarer won, drew trump and led the 10.  I made a reflexive cover play of the Q (seeing dummy, that is impossibly bad –  playing the Q can never be right!), partner won his A, I got my A and declarer had their 10 tricks, -620.  Due to my weird K (accidental) lead, declarer wasn’t sure where the A was, so he had no assurance that he could obtain a club discard on the Q, so he was looking for the Q to be onside.  It was.

At the other table, the defense cashed both hearts prior to shifting to a diamond.  Declarer drew trump and, with the Q available in dummy for a club discard, they led a club to the…K!  The defense cashed their 2 club tricks to go with their 2 heart tricks for down 1.  North had doubled at his second bid, indicating values (and red cards), but North did pass the first time over 1 (as did I).  North holds a strong heart suit, but I think, with both vulnerable, the hand and suit are not strong enough to come in the first time.  Some thought West should get the club guess right based on North not acting the first time. Holding xx AKJxx Jxxx Ax – after the forcing NT by East and 2 rebid by West, this is a routine double (the hand may belong to us).  Is this enough to make an offshape double over 1?  A 2 overcall of 1?  You be the judge.  If the hand shown had to bid the first time (if they were that strong including the A), then they cannot hold the A.  If someone holding that hand might pass over 1, then the club play is a total guess.

Bottom line, I gave declarer no guess, and our teammate got the club guess wrong.  We were -620 and teammates -100, lose 12 IMPs.

 
8
None
West
N
Bob M
J5
A1054
KQJ7
KJ5
 
W
Dan
Q1098
92
853
AQ64
9
E
Manfred
76
KQJ873
109832
 
S
Jerry
AK432
6
A109642
7
 
W
Dan
N
Bob M
E
Manfred
S
Jerry
Pass
1NT
21
32
Pass
3NT
Pass
4
Pass
5
Pass
63
All Pass
 
 
 
(1) Single suit
(2) Taken as Stayman
(3) !
W
Mike
N
Bob E
E
Gary
S
Chris
Pass
1NT
3
3
Pass
3NT
All Pass
 

Our bidding certainly got us to an excellent contract that had some chances even if my diamonds were not so strong (if we find 3-3 spades or 2-1 diamonds, that would have helped a lot, not to mention if my KJ were the A).  As it was, my high diamonds meant the opponents did not have them, so they could be squandered with ruffs and allow declarer to get back to their hand (ruffing high) and still be able to draw trump.  I like the first 5 bids by our side, up through 5, and I like partner’s raise to 6, but I think that bid may be less clear cut/automatic.  Bottom line, partner has a powerful playing hand with controls in all 4 suits and made a reasonable assumption that my hand would provide some useful fillers.  At the other table, the 3 got the auction higher faster, but actually it produced an auction quite similar to the one at my table.  As it was, South could have advanced  to 4 over 3NT and seen what partner did, just as my partner did.  If partner bids 4NT, give up, but if North raises diamonds, South’s playing hand definitely offers opportunities for slam.  Against 3NT, after a 9 lead, declarer cashed their 9 tricks making their contract.  The 9 was also led against 6, but all declarer had to do was draw 1 round of trump, noting that trump are 3-0, and get 2 spade ruffs to establish spades, and then draw trump losing a club at the end.  So we were +920 vs. -400, win 11 IMPs.

 
12
N-S
West
N
Gary
J64
A7543
5
AQJ9
 
W
Bob M
A95
K
KJ109
K8654
J
E
Dan
Q1032
106
Q87632
3
 
S
Chris
K87
QJ982
A4
1072
 
W
Bob M
N
Gary
E
Dan
S
Chris
1NT
21
2NT2
33
All Pass
 
 
 
(1) Clubs and a major
(2) Systems on over 2C, so this was a transfer to diamonds
(3) Pass or correct, I like your major, whichever you have
W
Manfred
N
Bob E
E
Jerry
S
Mike
1
1
Dbl
4
All Pass
 
 
 

I’m not especially proud of the 1NT opening bid that I chose.  It could certainly backfire, but here the result was spectacular.  Yes, if partner responded 1 to my 1 opening bid, 1NT is a reasonable rebid.  Still I give myself a point for the 5th card in a suit (many only do that with a quality suit – this certainly fails that hurdle, since the opponents took 4 club tricks in their heart contract!).  1NT can act as a preemptive bid making the opponents auction awkward.  Many varied tools have been developed to try to get in and compete when the opponents open 1NT, since it seems the bad guys are doing it more and more.  Here North, using Meckwell, opted to show clubs and a major, East transferred to diamonds, and South thought their majors were good enough to compete to 3 (as pass or correct to spades, if the major isn’t hearts).  North had to guess whether to try for the vulnerable game and ultimately decided to pass.  At the other table, after my hand opened 1 and North overcalled 1, South bounced to the heart game.  With both rounded kings onside, 11 tricks were easily scored at both tables.  We were -200 while our teammates were +650, win 10 IMPs.

In the bidding, knowing partner has 6 diamonds, my 4 strong diamonds suggest we have a good non-vulnerable save against their vulnerable game.  We do, since we just lose 1 trick in each suit (-300 vs. -650).  But, no sense in prodding them into game if they are willing to play a partscore.

 
19
E-W
South
N
Bob E
1063
J
KJ1072
Q1096
 
W
Bob M
2
852
Q93
KJ8732
10
E
Mike
AK85
AKQ3
A64
A5
 
S
Dan
QJ974
109764
85
4
 
W
Bob M
N
Bob E
E
Mike
S
Dan
Pass
Pass
2
Dbl
Pass
2NT1
Pass
3NT2
All Pass
(1) lebensohl relay to 3C
(2) Unwilling to play only 3C
W
Jerry
N
Chris
E
Gary
S
Manfred
Pass
Pass
2
Dbl
Pass
31
Pass
32
Pass
3NT3
All Pass
 
 
(1) Showing values in the context of lebensohl
(2) Checking on a 2nd stopper in diamonds
(3) Yes, I have a diamond stopper

Similar auctions (but certainly not the same) resulted in the same contract by the same declarer at both tables.  At the other table, the J♦ was led, handing declarer their 9th trick.  In the end, North kept both the Q and 10, so when a diamond was led, declarer also scored the J at trick 13 for 10 tricks, -630 for our teammates.  After a club lead, I struggled (more on that later).  I have probably played this hand more than 80 times since Monday afternoon, using DDS – Double Dummy Solver, available for free (donations encouraged – I did) at http://www.bridgecaptain.com/downloadDD.html.  This program shows you, at each hand’s turn to play, the cards that will result in making the contract or which cards will lead to down 1, 2, … or which cards will lead to +1, 2, … overtricks if everyone plays double dummy from that point forward.  Some think using double dummy programs are cheating, but for me, it is a great learning tool.  Variations in the play (what might have happened if the defense did this or declarer did that) are fascinating and eyeopening.

What about the bidding?  All players in the group play a 2NT lebensohl relay after a double of a weak 2 opening bid.  If a bid is freely made at the 3 level, values are shown (typically 8+ HCP).  I judged that I did not have those values – a doubtful Q, so even though I had a 6 card suit, I bid 2NT as a relay to clubs.  The player holding my cards at the other table thought they were too good for 2NT, so they bid a ‘value showing’ 3♣ in response to the double.  Their partner checked for a diamond stopper besides the one (A) they held and holding Q93, West was happy to oblige by bidding 3NT.  My partner, dealing with my lebensohl 2NT but holding 7 solid tricks decided taking the relay to 3 was too wimpy, so they bid the NT game – I could hold the J and Q – definitely weak values, but those cards would create 9 tricks in NT.  3NT is a pretty good contract (“cold” on any lead – double dummy).  Where there are 8 tricks, there must be 9.

What do you lead against 3NT?  I have found that when your side bids, and the opponents, hearing your bid, go ahead and try 3NT, they are (more often than not) prepared for a lead in your suit and a ‘sneak attack’ lead is indicated.  The sneak attack is any lead other than your suit – here I thought the 10 was unlikely to be from Q109 and that North was trying to hit their partner’s suit.  So, I went up with the A at trick 1 and continued clubs with South showing out.  Darn!  Now what?  Plan the play. 

I made a (too) hasty plan that assumed North was 6=4 in the minors and had only 3 major suit cards.  If he, did, all I needed to do was extract those major suit cards and then lead a diamond.  Due to my 9, I had a 100% endplay against North after stripping him of his major suit cards (cover whatever South plays).  I was home!  So, I started to eliminate those ‘3’ major suit cards and crossed to the A and then played the  K – at this point, double dummy, it is no longer possible to achieve 9 tricks.

There are a number of ways to make the hand with this precise layout of the cards, but the ‘obvious’ one (duck a spade to ensure I can extract all of North’s major suit cards) becomes more double dummy than you might imagine.  Let’s say after winning the A and K, I lead the 2 and duck it.  Seems reasonable, and that is the play that I felt like I needed to have done at the table after the hand was over.  South wins the spade and leads his partner’s diamond suit through my Q and, to make the hand, I must:

  1. Win the A (no other card allows 9 tricks)
  2. Cash the AK (no other card allows 9 tricks)
  3. Lead the 3 to Norths singleton J (no other card allows 9 tricks!)
  4. North now must allow my J or Q to score a trick and that will be my 9th trick

But, there are other ways to make the hand.  At the table, I led the heart at trick 3 and saw the J.  I could (must) revert to spades, playing 3 rounds (losing control of spades, but extracting all of North’s spades).  If, after winning the A, I duck a spade prior to cashing the AK, I can no longer make the hand.  This is what I was talking about when I said I could learn things from DDS.

My plan (100% certain to make the contract) was the right thinking – but I needed to include in the plan the potential that North was 3=1=5=4 and then find the right timing.  

There are so many variations on the play and defense (more than you can imagine), but they mostly come down to getting North down to all minor suit cards.  I didn’t bother discussing South’s discard at trick 2.  What does South play at trick 2 when they cannot follow to the club lead from dummy?  The actual play was the 4, but a heart discard will give declarer much greater problems.  If South discards a heart at trick 2, the only way to now bring in 9 tricks is:

  1. Win the K (no other card allows 9 tricks)
  2. Lead the 2 (no other lead allows 9 tricks)
  3. Duck the first or second spade (if you play AK and another spade it does not work)
  4. Win the A after South plays a diamond through (no other card allows 9 tricks)
  5. Cash the remaining high spade(s) AK (no other card allows 9 tricks)
  6. Lead the 3 to Norths singleton J (no other card allows 9 tricks!)
  7. North now must allow my J or Q to score a trick and that will be my 9th trick

The line of play to make the hand that is closest to ‘not double dummy’ is to win the A and K (noting the discard of a spade), and then lead a heart and notice the J (assume it is a singleton) and then lead A, K and another spade.  That works on this lie of the cards, but this line fails if North had been 2=2=5=4 or 2=1=6=4.  Since I (incorrectly) ‘knew’ they were 2=1=6=4, I never thought about 3=1=5=4.  If South discards a heart on the club at trick 2, only double dummy play can bring it home with this lie of the cards.

You may be getting tired of all of these double dummy plays, but I have just a few more observations, for what they are worth.  To make the hand (double dummy), I did not have to play the A (as table talk/post mortem suspected at the time).  In addition, after choosing to win trick 1 with the A, 12 cards remain in dummy and, with double dummy play, I can lead any one of 11 of them and still score 9 tricks – the only fatal lead at trick 2 is cashing the A (a crazy bad play).  After leading the A, I will be unable to score 9 tricks, double dummy.  Any other card gives me a chance.  Given how complex this layout is, I feel much less embarrassed about failing to bring home my 9 tricks in 3NT.  I congratulate Bob on his sneak attack club lead.

One last epilogue – had North been 2=2=5=4, my play (cashing AK in both majors) works, but ducking a spade at trick 3 does not.  Bridge is a tough game.

 

Recap Of 5/8/2019 28 Board IMP Individual

Wow – today we had 8 double digit swings.  Not one of them was the standard 10 IMPs which usually come from a non-vulnerable game that was bid/made at one table, down one at the other or else a vulnerable game bid/made at one table, while not bid at the other.  Today, bidding judgment played a big role over and over: bid too much, bid too little, slams, as well as leads, defense, revokes – it was all there.

 
4
Both
West
N
Bruce
KJ104
863
KQ62
K4
 
W
Tom
9
AJ107
J753
A1062
J
E
Mark M
8732
Q53
A104
J75
 
S
Bob
AQ65
K92
98
Q983
 

 

W
Tom
N
Bruce
E
Mark M
S
Bob
Pass
1
Pass
1
Pass
2
Pass
Pass
Dbl
Pass
2NT
Dbl
RDbl1
Pass
3
Dbl
Pass
Pass
RDbl
Pass
3
Pass
Pass
Dbl
All Pass
 
 
 
(1) SOS – run – anywhere

 

W
Mark R
N
Cris
E
Gary
S
Dan
Pass
1
Pass
1
Dbl
21
Pass
4
All Pass
 
 
 
(1) Showing 4 spades in the context of support doubles

You can see the difference in bidding judgment on this hand.  Yes, I took a conservative view that worked.  Was that right, in principle?  Hxx and Hxxx ‘points’ are substantially overvalued.  Honors are worth more when they are paired.  I had no points in the suit that partner opened, so at least one of my honors had a potential of not being worth very much.  At least that was my thinking when I did not advance past 2.  At the other table, the bidding allowed the South player with my hand to know their partner held 4 trump and an opening hand.  For them, that was enough to bounce to game.  I could have certainly tried a natural 2NT, or possibly a spiral bid (asking about the length of partner’s trumps and the size of their hand), but I wanted to protect the plus score.

As a passed hand, it seems like West could double 1 as was done at the other table.  When West heard my pass of 2, they had the perfect shape for a balancing reopening double and reason to believe they could compete for the part score.  That left East with a problem – they can’t really pass 2X and they have nowhere to play that appeals.  With double dummy play/defense, 2NT, 3 and 3 all are down 1 (and 3 is down 2).  East’s bidding plan was to bid 2NT, and when that got doubled, redouble to say ‘partner, you choose’ but that plan was foiled by partner, who made their own redouble!  So, East had to start bidding 3-card suits up the line.  When 3 was doubled, they redoubled and when partner ran to diamonds (the suit that my partner opened!), they decided to quit trying to find a suit and just play 3X.

In the play of diamonds, the defense is entitled to 5 tricks on any lead (except the 6, which would actually allow the contract to make!).  The defense started with 2 rounds of spades, ruffed by declarer.  Declarer led a diamond to the Q and A and then successfully finessed in hearts and cashed 3 rounds of hearts.  That brings their total to 5 tricks with a certain trump trick yet to come as well as the A.  Declarer led the 13th heart and can score 2 trump tricks and achieve down 1 if they ruff their heart winner, but they discarded a club instead of ruffing up with the 10 (which is sure to win, since North had opened diamonds and split their honors when diamonds were led).  So I ruffed the heart and…erred by allowing declarer another spade ruff with a small trump while they still remained with the J and the 10x in dummy for another trick.  So, declarer got back to down 1.  But, if I had led a club, declarer has no answer.  Looking at the J7 in dummy, I hated to lead from my Q, but I needed to.  If declarer ducks my club, partner can draw trump.  If declarer wins my club, nothing they lead after that can get more than 1 more trump trick – we have all black winners.  So, the +500 that became available went back to only collecting +200.  Was that dangerous to double a vulnerable part score at IMPs, possibly giving them a game (when they were only down 1)?  I think it was dangerous not to double, but that is just my view.

Meanwhile, the South player with my hand at the other table had trouble finding 10 tricks in spades.  When both red aces lay over our red kings, there really are only 8 tricks possible in spades – a trick in each minor and 6 trump tricks.  I suspect declarer drew 1 too many rounds of trump and, in the end, only found 7 tricks for down 3, so our teammates were +300 to go with our +200 to win 11 IMPs.

 
5
N-S
North
N
Cris
10863
K
K97642
97
 
W
Mark M
AQ92
10963
QJ1032
Q
E
Bob
K754
A5
AJ8
AK54
 
S
Mark R
J
QJ8742
Q1053
86
 

 

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

 

W
Bruce
N
Gary
E
Tom
S
Dan
Pass
2NT1
Pass
3
Pass
3
Pass
6
All Pass
 
 
(1) 20-21

This hand was interesting for bidding judgment, play and defense.  Starting with North, as dealer, do they have a suitable opening 2 bid, vulnerable against not, with a shoddy suit and a side 4 card major?  The North player at my table decided they did, so they opened 2.  I considered 2NT, but was definitely too strong, so I started with a double.  South raised to 3 and my partner bid 4 asking me to choose a major.  I certainly have (much) more than a minimum takeout double of 2 and undoubtedly should have found some bid other than naming my major with a simple 4 (perhaps bid 5 or even 6?).  My partner passed 4, but as he put dummy down, he indicated that he too had extra values that he hadn’t shown, so we were both fearful that a slam had been missed.

Meanwhile, at the other table, North did not open the bidding, so East got to open.  Playing 20-21 point 2NT opening bids, does the East hand warrant an upgrade?  K&R Hand Evaluator comes up with 19.55 (round up?) – http://www.jeff-goldsmith.org/cgi-bin/knr.cgi?hand=k754+a5+aj8+ak54

Anyway, East did open 2NT, and the auction proceeded rapidly to slam.  Now to find 12 tricks.  There was no bidding at the other table to warn the declarer about potential foul splits.  This is an excellent slam if trump are 3-2 with 12 easy tricks (5+1+1+5) – no finesses, no problem.  When trump were 4-1, there was a problem.  I think the actual play to score 12 tricks is quite double dummy (if you start by drawing trumps) and not that likely to be found unless declarer has a long time to analyze information as it becomes available and takes considerable time and effort to play the hand.  To score 12 tricks on the actual heart lead, declarer must play only 2 rounds of trump (winning the AQ in dummy) and then score 2 diamond ruffs in dummy by crossing to hand in clubs (but at least 1 round of ‘crossing to hand’ involves leading a high club from dummy and overtaking in order to unblock clubs (assuming they break 2-2) so that the 3 can later be led to the 4 to draw trump!).  After the last diamond ruff, the small club from dummy leaves North with no answer.  If they ruff, declarer can win any return, draw trump and claim (winning the A and good clubs).  If they don’t ruff, declarer wins the club lead and plays both trumps, eliminating the threat of a club ruff (of course this only works if the K was a singleton, placing north with 4=1=6=2).  With only diamonds left, North must lead to East’s A and their remaining club allows an entry to the established clubs in dummy so that they can pitch their heart loser on the 13th club at the 13th trick.  But, that is not how the play went at either table.

Bruce pointed out an easier plan to make 12 tricks (after reading my first draft).  The plan above assumes that, after winning the heart lead, you play trumps at trick 2 (learning about the 4-1 split).  But, there is zero risk to ruff a diamond at trick 2 and then play AQ.  If trump are 3-2, you can draw trump and claim.  If trump prove to be 4-1, cross to hand in clubs to ruff your last losing diamond.  Cross to hand again in clubs: if North ruffs, hope that North is 4=1=7=1.  If they follow suit, win the club and play 2 more rounds of trump.  They must win and lead diamonds (assuming North started with a singleton heart).  With both losing diamonds ruffed in dummy and the heart discarded on the 13th club, you have 12 tricks.  This line of play (ruff a diamond at trick 2), eliminates the non-obvious requirement to lead a high club as you cross to hand, unblocking clubs so that the 3 can lead to the 4.

At my table, due to the 2 opening bid, South found the Q opening lead (although it made no difference which diamond they chose).  I ruffed and played the AQ.  Since I retained both red aces, I was in great position to get the ‘5+1+1+5 tricks’ mentioned at the start, although not as initially expected (that is, initially I thought 3 top trumps and 1 ruff in each hand, the classic ‘extra trick’ to get 5 tricks out of a 4-4 trump holding).  Instead, I can get 2 diamond ruffs in dummy to go with my 3 top trumps.  So, I crossed to my hand in clubs, ruffed my J, and then crossed again in clubs (if they ruff, my club trick count goes down by 1, but my trump trick count goes up by 1).  Now I should play 2 rounds of trump (giving North their natural trick) and claim.  Only I didn’t – big blind spot (my ‘blind spot’ was based on the usual technique of ‘leave the high trump outstanding so that you still have a trump after they ruff’ – but it doesn’t apply when you have all suits controlled, a suit to run and cannot afford an untimely ruff).  Anyway, I just kept playing clubs.  Now, if North simply ruffs the 4th round of clubs, my 13th club is inaccessible and I only have 11 tricks.  But, North ruffed the 3rd round of clubs and I was back to 12 tricks.  But I wasn’t in slam, so the tricks made no difference.

Let’s move over to the play in the slam.  With no diamond bid from partner, South found the normal lead of the Q which went to the K and A.  As mentioned previously, 12 tricks are available on any lead, but not easily.  Declarer erred by drawing 3 rounds of trump, leaving the high trump outstanding.  They then started playing clubs.  North was down to their high trump and all diamonds.  Since they were counting points (declarer had shown 20-21), they ‘knew’ that, in order to reach 20 HCP declarer had to hold the AQ, so a simple finesse would allow declarer to win 2 diamonds when North is forced to lead a diamond after ruffing a club.  The way to avoid that finesse is to never ruff!  So, they didn’t ruff the 3rd round, 4th round or 5th round of clubs.  They let declarer cash all of their clubs and pitch the heart loser.  If North ruffs any club, both of declarer’s trumps will become tricks, so the defense will only score the high trump and a diamond at the end, down 1.  If declarer did have the Q, there is nothing the defense can do.  Declarer will make 12 tricks when they finesse the diamond after North leads one.  Discarding on all of the clubs allowed declarer to score both of their trumps separately, and the diamond loser that they actually held was doubly lost as it was covered by South’s  Q and ruffed by North’s high trump at trick 13.

So, not the best offense, defense or bidding on this hand.  We were +480 and our teammates were -980, lose 11 IMPs.  6 is an excellent slam and we should have gotten there even after the opening weak 2.  Making 6 is certainly easy after the diamond lead that I got – take 2 diamond ruffs as you draw 2 rounds of trump and then re-enter hand to play 2 more rounds of trump.  With all suits controlled, 12 tricks (5+1+1+5).

 
6
E-W
East
N
Cris
82
K1043
Q5
K10863
 
W
Mark M
AK943
AQ5
864
A5
2
E
Bob
QJ76
76
AK9
QJ97
 
S
Mark R
105
J982
J10732
42
 

 

W
Mark M
N
Cris
E
Bob
S
Mark R
1
Pass
1
Pass
2
Pass
31
Pass
3NT2
Pass
6
All Pass
 
 
(1) Spiral ask – 3 trump or 4? min or max?
(2) 4 card ‘max’

 

W
Bruce
N
Gary
E
Tom
S
Dan
1
Pass
1
Pass
2
Pass
2NT1
Pass
32
Pass
4
All Pass
 
 
(1) Spiral ask? 3 trump or 4? min or max?
(2) 4 card ‘min’

The bidding was nearly identical until it came time to call the East hand ‘minimum’ or ‘maximum’.  I judged it ‘maximum’ and my partner quickly ended the bidding with slam.  My counterpart holding my hand at the other table judged ‘minimum’ and his partner reasonably signed off in game.  Which is it?  Min or Max?  Relying on K&R Hand Evaluator, not available at the table, I learn that this hand comes out at 11.85!  While I’m shocked (I thought that with the K supported by the A and with both queens supported by jacks), that the honor combination moved the evaluation closer to 14 than 12.  I have know ‘forever’ that queens are overvalued, and the proper evaluation of this hand will help me evaluate better next time.

Still, we did reach a reasonable slam.  As long as trump aren’t 4-0, there are 12 easy tricks if the heart finesse wins.  If the heart finesse loses there is a chance in clubs (to dispose of your diamond loser).  First the club finesse must win, but also the 10 must be doubleton or tripleton so that the 9 is established for your diamond discard.  So, the slam is a little better than 50%, which is certainly enough to bid a slam, but with both finesses losing, there was nothing to the play.  Both tables scored 11 tricks, so we were -100, our teammates were -650, lose 13 IMPs.

Epilog – there are lots of flavors of ‘spiral asking bids’.  Some always start with 2NT as the asking bid whether trump is hearts or spades.  There is a ‘Dutch Spiral’ that has gotten a lot of press on Bridgewinners.  With most of my current partners, we are using 2NT as natural (always) and the next higher suit (2 over 2; 3 over 2) is the asking bid.  But, in addition to agreeing what the asking bid is, there are a variety of responses out there, so if you decide to play ‘spiral’ it is best to confirm with partner what all of the bids are.  Spiral also works best if you know how to evaluate a hand as min or max which I failed on this occasion!

 
11
None
South
N
Bob
K10
AJ4
K9873
AQ2
 
W
Gary
QJ7653
1082
65
KJ
A
E
Bruce
2
Q97653
10
109876
 
S
Mark R
A984
K
AQJ42
543
 
W
Gary
N
Bob
E
Bruce
S
Mark R
1
2
3
Pass
3NT
Pass
4NT1
Pass
52
Pass
6NT
All Pass
 
(1) Intended as quantitative
(2) Answering 2 with the queen

 

W
Tom
N
Cris
E
Dan
S
Mark M
1
2
3
Pass
3NT
Pass
4NT1
All Pass
 
(1) Intended as quantitative

Identical bidding at both tables to get this auction started.  I don’t like either auction, since, if diamonds are trump, 12 tricks are there on any lead with the club finesse available for all 13 tricks.  The preempt gummed up the works, which preempts are intended to do.  There simply isn’t room for opener to describe a real diamond suit.  At my table, when partner answered key cards to my intended natural/invitational 4NT, I still didn’t know what to do.  They could have been 4=4=3=2 and produced the same auction.  Even though I have a nice hand, my 3 bid aleady showed a decent hand and slam will take a perfect fit or extra values that partner could not conveniently show.  Bottom line, we wandered into 6NT and thanks to the power of the 10 and 9 (and the club finesse), 12 tricks were easily there (3+2+5+2).  The same 12 tricks were there in the 4NT contract, so we were +990 vs. our teammates -490, to win a lucky 11 IMPs.

The hand belongs in a diamond slam.  But I haven’t figured the auction that sensibly gets there, perhaps some readers can help?  Obviously you can just sit there and bid 6 like I bid 6NT, but I’m looking for an auction that can knowingly bid 6.

 
12
N-S
West
N
Bob
K
AJ10
AKQ943
J62
 
W
Gary
J1096
8743
AQ953
A
E
Bruce
AQ75
K952
76
K108
 
S
Mark R
8432
Q6
J10852
74
 

 

W
Gary
N
Bob
E
Bruce
S
Mark R
Pass
1
Dbl
2
2
4
Pass
Pass
4
Pass
4
All Pass
W
Tom
N
Cris
E
Dan
S
Mark M
Pass
2NT
All Pass
 

When I was 2nd seat, Vulnerable vs. not, I actually considered a 2NT opening (18 HCP plus a point for the 5th and 6th diamond = 20 – perfect!).  Only possessing nothing to stop 9-10 black suit winners convinced me to start with 1.  At the other table, North did start (and end) the auction with 2NT.  Who/how does E-W enter the auction after that start???  Now it came down to the lead.  David Bird instructs passive leads into a powerful 2NT opening hand.  Lead Captain didn’t have a lot of differentiation between the different choices – clearly the best lead will depend upon what partner and declarer hold in the various suits and you have no way of knowing.  Lead Captain has 2 ways of expressing the value of a lead: % set (how often the contract goes down with that lead) and # tricks (the average number of tricks that lead will produce for the defense over 5000-10,000 deals).  For IMPs, %set is all that matters (you don’t care how much they go down – well OK, you do a little), but you want to beat the hand.  By the definitions that I inserted into the hands, Lead Captain chose a A (60.3%) as its first choice (allowing a 4 trick set), a small heart (59.6%) as their second choice (giving declarer their 8th trick), and a passive diamond (55.8%) as the third choice (the actual choice that East made at the table).  Declarer won the diamond lead and played another diamond at trick 2.  East, who was thinking about something else, played the 2, showing the K.  They then noticed that they still held a diamond to follow suit, so they corrected the revoke, but the 2 was on the table.  So, at trick 3, declarer led a heart, East played their 2, and declarer had found their 8th trick!  Without the revoke, no line of play can get more than 7 tricks.

Back to the auction at our table.  East had a routine takeout double of my 1 opening bid.  Partner made a gentle raise to 2 (I doubt that a preemptive raise would have helped keep the opponents out of game – perhaps pass would help?) and West bid 2.  With no spade stopper, NT did not appeal for my second bid.  But, it appears we likely have the majority of the HCP (we did), so it felt like I should compete somewhere.  Had I chosen 3 we might have been able to defend 3.  Instead, I bid 4 and West reopened with 4 which East corrected to 4.  There is no lead or defense that can beat 4 and, in fact, amazingly, there is no lead or defense to defeat 5 in spite of the defense holding the AQJ10x!  Against 4 declarer ruffed the opening diamond lead, drew 3 rounds of trump, crossed to the K and drew the last trump and then ran clubs for their 10 tricks.  That left us -420 while our teammates were -120 to lose 11 IMPs.  We are still losing 8 IMPs even if they beat 2NT a trick (and losing 1 IMP even if the beat 2NT 4 tricks!), but, with 2NT down 1, at least this hand would not have made an appearance in the blog!  Against 2NT, the A is an incredibly effective lead on this deal, but it can sure quickly give declarer a trick and a tempo on many other hands.  What a hand.

 
14
None
East
N
Dan
K
A43
AK9763
1093
 
W
Bob
QJ7653
107
42
A76
K
E
Gary
82
KQJ8653
KQ42
 
S
Mark M
A1094
9
QJ1085
J85
 
W
Bob
N
Dan
E
Gary
S
Mark M
1
Pass
1
2
2
3
Pass
3NT
All Pass
 

 

W
Bruce
N
Cris
E
Mark R
S
Tom
4
All Pass

Another wild hand.  As dealer what should East open, nobody vulnerable?  One table decided to start the auction at 4 and it ended there.  At my table, partner started low.  As you can see, partner hoped that his best chance for a plus was using his clubs and hearts and my spades to prevent 9 tricks in NT, so when the opponents reached 3NT, he passed.  It turns out competing further to 4 would have worked better, since there are always 9 tricks in NT for N-S and always 10 tricks in hearts E-W (since clubs split 3-3).  Nothing to the leads, play or defense here at either table, it was all in the bidding judgment.  We were -400 and our teammates were -420, lose 13 IMPs.

But, going slowly might have worked – if East bids 4 over 3NT and can buy it for 4 (and not have the opponents compete to 5).  The opponents might think that, having contracted for 9 tricks in NT that it is more likely to score 4 tricks against the 4 contract than 11 tricks in diamonds.  At the other table, going fast might have failed.  North, who appeared to have substantial defense against 4, did not feel like contracting for 11 tricks in 5♦ (turn a probably plus into a probably minus).  Had North balanced with 5, East has to find the improbable lead of three rounds of their KQxx suit instead of starting with their KQJxxxx suit, or else the diamond game will come home.  I don’t know about you, but I don’t think I would find a club lead if I were East defending against 5.  But, I must say it is hard to get to 5, either the slow way (after first trying for the 9 trick NT contract and then bidding 5♦ over the opponents 4) or the fast way (balancing over the 4 opening bid).

Should North balance over 4?  Should East open 4?  Bob Richardson, author of Lead Captain, is working on a program called ‘Bid Captain’ – so here is a data point to add to the program.  Would Bid Captain balance with 5 after the 4 opening bid, or pass and go for a defeat of 4?

 
22
E-W
East
N
Cris
A10764
9762
863
K
 
W
Bob
KJ852
AQ95
J972
Q
E
Tom
9
AKQJ
K104
A8543
 
S
Gary
Q3
108543
J72
Q106
 

 

W
Bob
N
Cris
E
Tom
S
Gary
1
Pass
1
Pass
2
Pass
3
Pass
3NT
All Pass
W
Mark R
N
Mark M
E
Dan
S
Bruce
1
Pass
1
Pass
2
Pass
6
All Pass
 
 

Another slam decision.  The auction started normally enough at both tables and West had to find a bid over the 2 reverse.  Often I will show my 5th card in my major, but that is not played as game forcing, so I chose to bid 3 which is game forcing and let’s partner know about the fit (do you and partner have an agreement about what forces to game after a reverse?  you should).  If partner has 3 spades to go with his 4 hearts and 5 or more clubs, I will hear about it next round.  When partner next bid 3NT, it virtually guaranteed that he was 1=4=3=5 with the K.  So, playing in clubs, we have no heart losers, no diamond losers, but very likely a spade loser and the issue is how many of partner’s points are concentrated in clubs (to ensure no club loser) and how many points are wasted/useless in hearts.  Perhaps I should pull 3NT to 4 which should be key card for clubs.  But, I still won’t really know if one key card being shown by partner is the A or the K!?!  With the AKQ, the club slam could be cold, or at least playable.  Missing any one of those (assuming a spade loser) and the slam will be dicey or hopeless.  On top of that, the 10 could be a critical card.  So, I decided to go quietly.  After the Q lead, 11 tricks were straightforward in our 3NT contract.

At the other table, the player holding my hand had an answer for responding to the reverse – bid 6!  It could have worked if partner had the right cards.  He didn’t have the right cards.  In fact, if the defenders clubs were switched, there would have been 2 club losers to go with the spade loser and you can’t even make 5.  Slams pay well when they come home, but we were +660 while our teammates were +100 to win 13 IMPs.

 
23
Both
South
N
Cris
10975432
8
53
A75
 
W
Bob
8
KJ9764
974
Q63
8
E
Tom
AK6
532
AJ102
1042
 
S
Gary
QJ
AQ10
KQ86
KJ98
 

 

W
Bob
N
Cris
E
Tom
S
Gary
1
2
Pass
3
Pass
Pass
3
Pass
3NT
Pass
Pass
Dbl
All Pass

 

W
Mark R
N
Mark M
E
Dan
S
Bruce
1
Pass
1
Pass
2NT
Pass
4
All Pass
 

Without the 2nd seat preempt, the auction at the other table was quite straightforward (as you can see from the auction listed second).  With both vulnerable, I was in second seat after South opened 1.  I certainly didn’t like the broken heart suit, and it was possible I would go for a large number, but bridge is a bidder’s game, so I entered the auction with 2.  North has an easy 1 response if West passes or bids 1, but 2 over 2 shows more values than this, and perhaps he will get another chance to bid, so North was forced to pass at their first turn.  When 3 came around to North, they balanced with 3.  South, who had had a 2NT rebid that they never got to show, decided that their spade fillers (and the potential for 3 heart stoppers) would allow NT to play better than spades, so they bid 3NT.  Playing NT, there won’t be a heart lead through their tenace, but in 4 the heart lead is coming right through the AQ10.  My partner, perhaps expecting more for my vulnerable 2 call, elected to double 3NT!?!?  Wow.  We are in trouble.  If the opponents now run to 4 we have no defense and we are going -790.  But both North and South decided to sit for 3NTX.  As long as I don’t lead a heart against 3NT, declarer will be held to 7 tricks.  My actual spade lead was won with the K and I won the heart shift with the J.  At this point I can surrender club tricks or diamond tricks, but as long as I don’t lead hearts, declarer will only have 7 tricks.  I chose clubs (declarer did bid diamonds and I have help in clubs if partner has any values there).  That gave declarer the whole club suit for 4 tricks, but he can only manage 1 in each of the other three suits, so only 7 tricks for declarer.  We were +500 while our teammates were +620 in their unbeatable 4 contract to win 15 IMPs. 

Had partner not doubled, we would ‘only’ win 13 IMPs.  But, the double had the chance to lose 5 IMPs (net loss of 18-20 IMPs) if the opponents ran to 4 and we doubled that.  Although doubles can pay handsomely… warning: do not double if the opponents can run to a making contract – just sit and take your known sure plus.

 

 

 

 

 

Recap Of 4/8/2019 28 Board IMP Individual

Today we had 4 double digit swings – 2 slam hands and the other 2 varied bidding decisions.

 
6
E-W
East
N
Ed
A85
AQ7532
A8
85
 
W
Chris
QJ1074
J109
53
AJ10
5
E
Mike
96
84
Q97642
962
 
S
Bob
K32
K6
KJ10
KQ743
 

 

W
Chris
N
Ed
E
Mike
S
Bob
Pass
1NT
Pass
41
Dbl2
4
Pass
43
Pass
54
Pass
6
All Pass
 
(1) Texas Transfer to hearts
(2) Requesting diamond lead
(3) ?
(4) ?

 

W
Jerry
N
Manfred
E
Gary S
S
Dan
Pass
1NT
Pass
21
Pass
2
Pass
42
All Pass
 
(1) Jacoby transfer
(2) Slam invitational

Most people who play both Texas and Jacoby transfers over 1NT opening bids use those tools to describe various hands with 5 or 6 card majors.  Typically, if all you want to do is play 4, you need to bid (Texas transfer) 4 and pass when partner accepts the transfer by bidding 4.   But, if you want to invite slam with a 6 card suit, you can start with (Jacoby transfer) 2 and when partner accepts the transfer by bidding 2, you can bid 4 showing a slam invitational hand with 6 trump.

Another way to invite slam with a suit that is only 5 long is to first use Jacoby transfer and then bid 4NT (4 NT is NOT key card, but a quantitative raise showing slam invitational values that includes a major suit that is only 5 long).

Here, North had a suit that was 6 long and wanted to invite slam – but they have a problem.  Partner has at most 1 ace and may not be encouraged to move beyond game.  At the other table the opponents, who were holding our cards, did start with a Jacoby transfer and then invited slam with a raise of 2 to 4, but they played it there when the invitation was declined.

At my table, partner decided to bid (Texas transfer) 4 which got doubled.  My system notes with most partners discuss “if a Jacoby transfer is doubled”…but, looking at my notes, the notes don’t cover “what if a Texas transfer is doubled?”  I think the same principle should apply.  That is, if the Jacoby (or Texas) transfer is doubled, you accept the transfer as long as you know you will have 8 trump and you DO NOT HAVE two fast losers in the suit that was doubled (here, that means you hold the A or K).  Partner can always redouble to re-transfer, but meanwhile partner can know if you are exposed (or not) in the suit that was doubled.  After I bid 4 my partner bid 4.  OK, what does that mean?  We had some table talk (perhaps it is exclusion key card showing a spade void; perhaps it is kickback asking key cards via 4 rather than 4NT; perhaps it is a cue bid checking on a club control?), but eventually we decided it wasn’t really fair to ask – if partner chooses to make a murky undefined bid, do your best to figure it out).  So, I did the best I could by bidding 5.  It was my longest strongest suit, it might show partner a club control, and it also answered 1 key card in case partner was playing 0314 key card with his 4 bid!  So, however partner took my bid (and however he intended his bid), I had it!  Partner assumed that I would not have accepted the transfer (after 4 was doubled) unless I had some interest in hearts – I could always wait and let him bid 4 or redouble to re-transfer.  So, he decided to just bid the slam over my .  After the diamond lead, it was all over when trump were 3-2, since a diamond winner allowed me to get rid of the spade loser in dummy.

Doubles to help partner on the opening lead can be very good.  Here East had nothing in any suit but diamonds and feared partner might blow a trick if they led a non-diamond on opening lead, so they doubled.  If West leads a spade, things are a bit more touchy.  If clubs don’t set up, you can always fall back on a diamond finesse.  Declarer will always arrive at 12 tricks with this friendly layout.  So, we were +980 vs. teammates at -480 to win 11 IMPs.

 
10
Both
East
N
Manfred
J8
10
Q9862
87654
 
W
Mike
653
J976
K53
KQ10
K
E
Bob
A1094
K832
AJ
A32
 
S
Jerry
KQ72
AQ54
1074
J9
 

 

W
Mike
N
Manfred
E
Bob
S
Jerry
1NT
Pass
3NT
All Pass
 
 

 

W
Chris
N
Dan
E
Ed
S
Gary S
1NT
Dbl1
22
Pass
2
Pass
4
All Pass
 
 
(1) Meckwell showing one minor, both majors or good hand with spades!?
(2) Stayman

Here I was playing with a semi-regular partner where, after my strong 1NT opening bid, 2 could be a Stayman start to an invitational sequence heading towards 2NT with or without a 4 card major; 3 would be game forcing puppet Stayman which would allow us to find a 5-3 spade fit or a 4-4 heart fit.  But, partner elected to make an aggressive 3NT call (9 tricks might be easier than 10) and we played it there.  Lucky.  At the other table, they deployed Stayman, found the 4-4 fit in hearts and wound up with 7 tricks, down 3, +300 for our teammates.  Double Dummy there are 9 tricks available to declarer in hearts, but the poor split and some unlucky guesses only produced 7 tricks.

Playing 3NT, I had to find a way to win 9 tricks after the opening lead of the K.  I ducked, of course, and North decided that the 8 played by South would make a spade continuation safe, so at trick 2 they led a small spade to the J and A.  I continued spades at trick 3, establishing my second spade trick – I was going for 2+2+2+3.  I had five top tricks in the minors (with a possible 3rd trick in diamonds), and with that start, I was up to two spade tricks.  If I could find either the Q or the 10 with my RHO, I would be able to force 2 heart tricks.  When North won the Q at trick 4, they led a heart.  The club and diamond suits did not look appealing to North at the start, and after seeing dummy and seeing the first 2 tricks, the minors still didn’t look appealing.  As it turns out, double dummy, no defense can defeat 3NT. 

So, at trick 4, when I captured the 10 with the K, I had the power to keep leading hearts, losing 2 more tricks in hearts, but winning a second heart and get me to 9 tricks.  The vulnerable game scored +600, so we won 14 IMPs.

I don’t think I would have bounced to the 3NT game if I had held partner’s (West’s) hand.  It can be useful to check on major suit fits.  But, bidding 3NT sure worked for this hand.

 
16
E-W
West
N
Bob
J85
A9872
J10754
 
W
Gary S
AQ
QJ9432
Q53
AK
4
E
Ed
K109743
K5
KJ10
86
 
S
Jerry
62
A10876
64
Q932
 

 

W
Gary S
N
Bob
E
Ed
S
Jerry
1
2NT1
32
53
54
All Pass
 
 
(1) Unusual for the minors
(2) Showing an invitational hand in spades
(3) Advance save, hoping to push
(4) Going for the vulnerable game

 

W
Chris
N
Manfred
E
Dan
S
Mike
1
2NT1
32
Pass
4
All Pass
 
 
(1) Unusual for the minors
(2) Showing an invitational hand in spades

The bidding started with the same three bids at both tables, but with the favorable vulnerability, my partner decided to push them level higher by immediately bouncing to 5.  West had some texture to their long heart suit and wasn’t sure how long/strong partner’s spade suit would be.  As it turns out, there is no defense to stop 11 tricks in spades, but the 5-0 split in hearts left declarer with only 10 tricks at both tables, losing the 2 red aces plus another heart trick.  That mean down 1 for us, +100 to go with +620 for our teammates, win 12 IMPs.

Once again, there was nothing to the play, it was all in the bidding.  Several lessons are available from the bidding.  Preempts work – they create problems and make the opponents guess.  Sometimes it is best to take the plus score that has been offered (5X would likely have scored +500) rather than risk a speculative bid at the 5 level (“The 5 level belongs to the opponents”?).  Arriving at a 5 contract was barely possible, but highly unlikely…unless South got greedy and doubled the 5 contract!  The extra 100 points gains 1 IMP, but if your double causes them to run to 5, the 12 IMPs you were winning by defending 4 without a double just became a 1 IMP loss.  There aren’t too many rules in bridge that have the words “always” or “never,” but I think it is safe to say “never double the opponents in a contract where they will fail if it is possible for them to run to a higher level contract that will succeed.”  You will turn a small (or even possibly large) win into a loss – this is losing bridge (and you might lose a partner along with it).

Another ‘lesson’ from the bidding revolves around the spade suit and Uvs.U.  Most players play that a 2NT overcall of an opening bid shows 2 suits (some always the minors, some the two lowest unbid).  On this hand, 2NT (known as “Unusual NT” bid at both tables) was clearly showing clubs and diamonds.  The side that opened the bidding can use the two known suits (+) shown by the opponents to create some useful bids for their side to show the other two suits (+).  This is known as “Unusual vs. Unusual” aka Uvs.U.  But, as is often the case, there is reasonable ground for reasonable agreements (disagreements) over what various choices mean, so be sure to discuss this with your partner.  When the two suits known to be held by the opponents are clubs and diamonds, some people play that cue bidding the lower suit (clubs) always shows a limit raise in partner’s suit while others play that cue bidding the lower suit always shows the lower suit (hearts).    Here, since West opened hearts, both ‘agreements’ would have the same meaning.  What about the 4th suit – spades?  There are two ways to show spades – one by bidding 3♠ and one by bidding 3.  Which is stronger?  Here again, there are different agreements, so you must discuss and agree with partner.  Some play that one bid is “less than invitational” and the other bid is “invitational or better.”  The ‘common’ understanding, used at both tables, was that 3 would be strong and game forcing, while 3 would show spades with invitational values.  I think this hand is about as close to prototypical that you could get for an invitational spade hand.  A suit that is 6 long, 10 HCP, doubleton support for partner’s initial heart bid.  Perfect. 

So, why didn’t E-W arrive in 5 that makes instead of 5 that did not make?  Well, the N-S bidding does not offer any clue into which suit is breaking 5-0!?!?! Very unlucky for E-W.  Had the hearts been 4-1, a ruff would likely beat 5 but you can score 11 tricks in hearts (by finessing for the 10).  But when the opponents have modest values and compete for a high level contract, it is often because they have some distributional values to make up for their lack of HCP.  So, beware – bad breaks will be lurking (if North is 5=5 in the minors as advertised, it is not possible for both majors to break 3-2 – it simply can’t happen).  Rather than guess, just double and collect what you can.

 
19
E-W
South
N
Dan
Q2
75432
95
A1092
 
W
Bob
AK1073
Q
K1032
J86
4
E
Gary S
64
AKJ106
AQ64
K4
 
S
Mike
J985
98
J87
Q753
 

 

W
Bob
N
Dan
E
Gary S
S
Mike
Pass
1
Pass
2
Pass
2
Pass
3
Pass
4
Pass
4NT1
Pass
52
Pass
6
All Pass
(1) Key card for diamonds
(2) 2 key cards without the diamond Q

 

W
Ed
N
Manfred
E
Jerry
S
Chris
Pass
1
Pass
2
Pass
2
Pass
2NT
Pass
3NT
All Pass
 
 

Here again, the first 3 bids were the same, but my partner’s second bid showed his second suit.  It was easy to raise diamonds (although I considered bidding 3 and supporting with the singleton Q).  Usually honor doubleton is expected when you provide delayed support to a known 5 card suit.  Anyway, partner proceeded with key card and soon we were in the diamond slam.  It was easy to score 12 tricks – the hearts were so strong that it was not necessary for the A to be onside as long as trumps broke 3-2 (2+5+5+0).  Fits that are 4-4 usually produce a 5th trick via a ruff in each hand – sometimes even a 6th or 7th trick can be scored with extra ruffing.  After the actual club lead, declarer won trick 2 with the K and simply needed to draw trump and claim the balance of the tricks, scoring +1370.

The other table stopped in a safe 3NT contract.  When the 3 was led, North inserted the ♣9 which was won by the K.  Declarer ran their red suit winners and, uncertain about the club situation, South abandoned spades and declarer was able to score all 13 tricks.  Still -720 for our teammates along with +1370 for our diamond slam allowed us to score 12 IMPs.

What about the bidding?  Certainly a lot of players, for purposes of opening bids, are treating many hands that are 5-4-2-2 as balanced and opening 1NT when they are in range in terms of HCP.  But, that is for opening bid purposes.  Also, in the second round of bidding in game forcing auctions, jumps in NT should show extras (“not fast arrival”) so that a 2NT rebid by responder (who already made a 2/1 game forcing bid) should show a minimum (13-14 HCP) so that a jump to 3NT would show 15-17 HCP.  With more than 17 HCP, you can start with 2NT, but then you must bid again after partner raises to 3NT.  Here with 17 (plus the strong 5 card suit upgrading to 18), if they are going to rebid NT, East probably should either jump at their second bid or else bid further after partner raises to 3NT, depending on how they evaluate their hand.  East chose the 2NT bid in order to become declarer and protect the K on the opening lead.  But, in the end, West, who had opened the bidding, never knew that East had extra values nor that they had a second suit in diamonds.  Right siding the contract can be a useful tool in constructing the auction/making your bidding choices.  But, here, if partner raises 2NT to 3NT, with extra values and an awkward auction, what should you bid?  What would a 4 bid show?  I think just bidding naturally (3) for East’s rebid was easiest, best and certainly worked well on this hand.  The diamond slam is far superior to NT or hearts (even though they all make on this hand).  In diamonds, if trump are 3-2 (67.8% of the time), you can reach 12 tricks without the A onside.  In both hearts and NT, you cannot reach 12 tricks without finding the A onside.  Well, in hearts, you have one slim extra chance: with trump 4-3 and spades 3-3, you can ruff spades good for club discards.

In an email exchange with Jerry (who was East and bid 2NT), I learned that, in his regular partnerships, he plays 3NT as the weak hand (minimum game hand, a type of “fast arrival” treatment that I have never heard of) and uses 2NT for all ‘extra value’ hands.  If his partner knew this, he could have offered his 4 card diamond suit at the 3 level and perhaps proceeded to slam – who knows?  As it was, West was minimum with a little help everywhere and simply raised 2NT to 3NT ending the auction.

So, on all of the hands, bidding determined the result.  Lead, defense and declarer play had little impact on the final IMP result.  And all 4 swings went my way, although in each case it was my partner’s decision that created the good result (not mine).  

  • Board 6 – moving past 4 
  • Board 10 – bidding 3NT and not checking on the majors
  • Board 16 – taking the save in 5 and making the opponents guess at the 5 level
  • Board 19 – bidding their second suit propelling us into the excellent diamond slam

Recap Of 4/3/2019 28 Board IMP Individual

Today’s game only had 2 double digit swings (with a fair number of opportunities that failed to materialize).  Both were slam hands – see how you might bid these with your favorite partner/systems.

 
2
N-S
East
N
Bob
J864
43
543
Q1096
 
W
Gary
Q95
AQJ9
J8
A743
3
E
Bruce
AK32
K862
A9
KJ8
 
S
Jack
107
1075
KQ10762
52
 

 

W
Gary
N
Bob
E
Bruce
S
Jack
1
21
22
Pass
33
Pass
34
Pass
4NT5
Pass
56
Pass
5NT7
Pass
6NT8
Pass
79
All Pass
(1) Weak
(2) ?
(3) Forcing, often Western asking for a diamond stopper, but here clearly heading for a heart contract
(4) Punt, not willing to go past 3NT, waiting to see what partner’s intentions are
(5) Key Card
(6) Showing 2 aces and the heart Q
(7) Letting partner know that they possess all key cards and asking about kings
(8) Apparently still not sure how strong partner’s heart support is, so deciding to attempt slam in NT
(9) Not comfortable that there are 12 tricks in NT, so maybe there will be 13 tricks in hearts

 

W
Tom
N
Cris
E
Mike
S
Mark M
1
31
Dbl2
Pass
43
Pass
44
All Pass
 
 
(1) Weak!
(2) Negative
(3) Force partner to pick a major
(4) Bidding the only 4 card major they hold

Diamond preempts over 1 opening bids are notorious for creating problems for the responding hand.  Although I had numerous comments in the bidding diagram, I will spend a bit of time on the struggles at both tables.

At my table, my partner bid (only) 2 and the opponents ended up in a confused auction that eventually landed in the hopeless (as the cards lie) 7 grand slam.  Many people play that a negative double after an auction that starts 1-(1)-X shows exactly 4=4 in both majors, but some play it shows at least 4 in each major with possibly more.  However, 1-(2/3)-X is different.  West doesn’t have the luxury of confining the specific meaning of the negative double to guaranteeing that they are 4 long in each major – the double shows values which will usually include at least 4 cards in at least 1 major, but partner doesn’t always know precisely what you hold.  For me, I would use the negative double with both auctions, even though West only held 3=4 in the major suits.  At my table, over 2, West elected to freely bid their heart suit even though it was only 4 long.  East cue bid 3 showing a strong hand and, at least temporarily asking for a diamond stopper.  West denied the diamond stopper and stalled with a 3 bid (interpreted by West as a hand that was 4=5 in the majors.  So, East launched into Key Card for hearts.  Upon hearing that partner had the two missing aces as well as the Q, East checked on kings via 5NT (advising partner that all key cards were held) hoping that there might be a grand slam and…West ‘signed off’ in 6NT!  East was wrong when he decided 12 tricks would not be possible in NT, and when he tried to put partner in 7, they were not able to find 13 tricks playing in hearts.  The hands were too flat, too balanced (however a 3-2 trump split and a 3-3 spade split and a club finesse would have been enough to find 13 tricks in hearts- but it was not to be).

What about 6NT?  Since North holds the 4th round stopper in both black suits, declarer can duck a diamond lead (or win any lead, then duck a diamond) and then run 5 red winners.  The remaining 7 cards for declarer will be 4 spades in dummy along with 3 clubs, but 4 clubs in declarer’s hand along with 3 spades.  North is unable to hold 4 cards in BOTH black suits, so they will be squeezed – establishing the 4th card for declarer in whichever suit North abandons (assuming declarer takes the club finesse).  So, 12 tricks were available playing in NT.

Our teammates faced a 3 preemptive overcall and didn’t find the sequence to advance to slam.  West started with a negative double (as I would) and heard partner come back with 4.  East’s 4 bid allows them to not be forced to choose a major in case partner, under pressure, didn’t have both majors.  Since East has both majors, he is happy to let West choose.  But, when West chooses, they are now at game, having mentioned hearts for the first time at the 4 level.  Both East (who could advance beyond partner’s 4 bid) and West (who made the 4 bid) could have bid more.  But neither had a huge amount extra.  Since East would probably bid the way they did with one less ace, they probably need to take another bid.  But bid what?  A 5 bid would say ‘partner, bid 6 as long as you don’t have 2 fast diamond losers’ – not the key question for this slam.  Key Card would likely have worked, but that is a bit unilateral in case partner was stretching to make the negative double of 3.  I think, what you really want, is a quantitative invitational bid which says: ‘partner, if you have any extra, anything in reserve, for your bidding thus far, bid slam.’  Perhaps that ‘slam invite bid’ is 5?  A 5 bid would confirm that a diamond stopper is not the issue, but invite slam if partner has any reason to move onward.  Some may look at the East hand and say they simply have to drive to slam.  Some may look at the West hand and say they have to bid more than 4.  What do you think?

And, what do you think of the diamond preempt?  Second seat is a really dangerous place to stick in a vulnerable preempt vs. non-vulnerable opponents.  There were no singletons, so many might fear making any bid at all.  I like to bid 2 over 1 whenever possible.  Here, I can simply call the 3 bid bold!

Anyway, our teammates thought they lost 11 IMPs when they did not bid the small slam, but in fact we won 11 IMPs when the grand slam went down.

 
22
E-W
East
N
Bruce
1065
10976
1073
1042
 
W
Tom
AK732
AKQ5
J854
 
K
E
Mark M
Q9
J3
AK96
A9875
 
S
Bob
J84
842
Q2
KQJ63
 

 

W
Tom
N
Bruce
E
Mark M
S
Bob
1
Pass
1
Pass
1NT
Pass
21
Pass
32
Pass
33
Pass
3NT4
All Pass
(1) XYZ – game forcing checkback
(2) Showing the diamond suit
(3) Values in hearts
(4) Unwilling to go higher, not knowing of a fit

 

W
Jack
N
Cris
E
Gary
S
Mike
1
2
2
Pass
2NT
Pass
3
Pass
3NT
Pass
41
Pass
42
Pass
53
Pass
64
All Pass
(1) Forcing cue bid, slam interest, little interest in NT
(2) Honor doubleton, offer to play
(3) Finally supporting diamonds
(4) If there’s 11 tricks, there must be 12

The slam bidding (by our teammates) was simplified somewhat when East (as dealer) opened the bidding with 1 in spite of a decent (and longer) club suit.  After the 2 overcall, West could be pretty sure that all of his cards were working (and that it was likely that partner’s cards were also working).  I don’t know the best way to bid these two hands, but our West teammate bid his hand sufficiently strongly that, in the end, East simply raised the 5 game bid to the 6 slam.  There were lots of choices for which strain to play – all options but clubs were in play.  The cards lay so friendly for declarer that 13 tricks were available in clubs, hearts, spades and no trump, but clearly you don’t want to get past a small slam.  Only the diamond slam offers a high percentage chance to make (all 3-2 diamond splits and some 4-1 splits will find 12 tricks).  So, congratulations to our teammates who bid the diamond slam.  In the actual play, declarer won the heart lead, cashed a high diamond, and then led small to the J, losing to the Q.  This will make anytime diamonds are 3-2 (and no ruff), but it will also pick up a 4-1 trump break with LHO.  It also picks up 4-1 break with singleton Q, but since the Q didn’t drop, you know that parlay isn’t coming through for you.

At my table, after East opened 1 there was no opposing bidding.  By raising the artificial 2 to 3, East showed a hand with less than 3 spades, less than 4 hearts, and exactly 4 diamonds.  Next, 3 showed strong hearts, but East didn’t know if West was simply confirming heart values for NT when they were 2=2 in the minors, or if the 3 call represented diamond interest, so they retreated to 3NT.  West, on the other hand, didn’t know if East had relatively weak diamonds with wasted strength in clubs (in which case 3NT was likely the limit of the hand), or strong diamonds (that he actually had).  I think West can make one more move, bidding 4 over 3NT (I think that should show exactly 5=4=4=0).  Then, if partner bids 4NT – that would be (I think) to play.  But, if partner moves on with diamonds, bid the slam.  Slam isn’t cold, but it is a good slam where, if you could look at both hands, you would always want to be in 6.

I think the general tendency is to open 1 all (or almost all) times when you are 4=5 in the minors.   How do you bid reach the good diamond slam after a 1 start?  I think there are 2 ways.  Either West can raise 3 to 4, or else West can bid just like they did at our table, but continue with 4 over 3NT, showing a slam positive hand that is almost certainly 5=4=4=0.  East, with their major suit helpers and minor suit controls should be able to envision slam and just bid it.

There was not much in the play – 13 tricks in 3NT made our score -720 while our teammates scored +1370 in 6, winning 12 IMPs.

Recap Of 3/4/2019 28 Board IMP Individual

There were 5 double digit swings in the game on Monday with a number of other hands that might have been a large swing if the right opportunities had been found.

 
1
None
North
N
Gary
KJ987
K5
J94
1076
 
W
Bob
1062
A103
AQ10
K952
K
E
Chris
AQ5
762
7653
AQ3
 
S
Manfred
43
QJ984
K82
J84
 

 

W
Bob
N
Gary
E
Chris
S
Manfred
Pass
1
1
2
2
3
Pass
31
Pass
42
Pass
5
All Pass
 
 
(1) Showing a heart stopper, hoping partner has a spade stopper
(2) ?

 

W
Jerry
N
Mike
E
Dan
S
Ed
Pass
1
Pass
2
Pass
21
Pass
2NT2
Pass
3NT
All Pass
(1) Showing a spade stopper
(2) Implying a heart stopper

Most players have a “Western cue bid” available to ask partner for a stopper.  It applies when 3NT is a possible contract and the opponents have bid only 1 suit.  A cue bid in that suit is typically a request for partner to bid 3NT if they possess a stopper.  However, the structure is different when the opponents have bid or shown 2 suits.  When that is the situation, and you are able to probe for a 3NT contract, the suit you bid is SHOWING a stopper, and implicitly asking for a stopper in the other suit that has been shown by the opponents.  While this treatment is standard, it is not necessarily what your partner plays, so be sure to be in sync with whatever understanding your partner has.  My teammates at the other table passed throughout and therefore didn’t present the same bidding situation that we faced.  The players with our cards easily arrived in 3NT (which, by the way, is not such a great contract).  I was trying to head to 3NT with our cards when I showed my heart stopper, but partner persisted in clubs and we ended up needing to find 11 tricks in 5.  “All” we need (for 11 tricks in clubs) is 3-3 clubs, spade finesse on, 3-3 diamonds, and the KJx with South.  Almost all of those conditions were met, but when the J was with North, 10 tricks was the limit in clubs and the same 10 tricks were available in NT, so we were -50 while our teammates were -430, lose 10 IMPs.

Many of the conditions necessary to make 11 tricks in clubs were also required in order to achieve 9 tricks in 3NT, and even one more – the long hearts must be with South.   Declarer starts with 6 top tricks.  They can get 1 more with 3-3 clubs and one more with the spade finesse, but a losing diamond finesse would go into the hand with long hearts.

What about the bidding where the N-S opponents passed?  After an inverted minor (1m-2m shows invitational or better values with support) many players use a structure that starts by showing major suit stoppers after the raise.  Of course 1-2 is not the same thing.  Partner has not shown support and partner has created a game force, not an invitational bid.  In any case, with no opposing bidding at the other table, East heard the 2 bid and proceeded to start showing major suit stoppers by bidding 2.  Some would play this shows a real suit (4 long) and some would play this also shows extra values (not a full reverse, but not a dead minimum opening bid).  I’m not suggesting there is a ‘right’ way to play it, but I will suggest that you and your partner have some understandings of what subsequent bids show after an auction begins 1-2.

What about the bidding where the N-S opponents bid?  Both North and South have extremely modest values.  Still, had they passed throughout, we would likely have arrived in the 3NT contract that was bid at the other table.  Bidding has risks – you may steer the opponents away from a contract which would have failed if left to their own devices.  You may be doubled.  You may tell them how to play the hand.  Still, those risks come with rewards.  You may buy the contract, direct the  lead or you may throw a monkey wrench into the opponent’s auction and send it off the rails into a hopeless contract.  That is what happened at our table.

 
9
E-W
North
N
Ed
J8643
K9742
Q10
J
 
W
Chris
Q10
Q853
AK4
A964
3
E
Mike
AK975
10
653
Q1083
 
S
Bob
2
AJ6
J9872
K752
 

 

W
Chris
N
Ed
E
Mike
S
Bob
Pass
Pass
Pass
1NT
Dbl1
22
2NT3
Pass
34
3NT5
46
Dbl7
All Pass
 
 
(1) Meckwell showing a single minor or both majors
(2) Jacoby transfer
(3) Intended to show ‘whatever you have, I have support, just bid what you were going to bid’ (later, searching my notes with other partners, double at this point sends that message, not 2NT)
(4) Thinking my bid simply said ‘I have great minors, choose your best’
(5) Bidding what he thought they could make
(6) Foolishly competing onward, unwilling to defend
(7) I don’t think you can make it

 

W
Jerry
N
Gary
E
Manfred
S
Dan
Pass
Pass
Pass
1NT
Dbl1
22
Pass
2
Pass
3NT
All Pass
(1) Meckwell
(2) Jacoby transfer

This auction got pretty far off the rails, even though the first 6 calls were the same at both tables.  As you can see from the comments, the ever present ‘bidding agreements’ (in this situation, what does this bid mean?) entered into the final contract.  This proves the bridge maxim that merely agreeing to play a convention doesn’t come close to being ready to play it.  What if one/both partners are passed hands?  What if the opponents interfere?  What if the opponents double/redouble?  What if the opponents preempt?  There are lots of situations that are often not covered simply by saying ‘let’s play Meckwell.’

I knew it was possible that North and East both had 5 spades, giving West 2 to go with my 1.  Still, I thought it was more likely that partner had a single minor, so I wanted to compete in that minor – if it turned out held had both majors rather than a single minor, I was OK playing 3♥ since I could ruff some spades.  As noted in the comments, I thought 2NT merely said “show which of the possible Meckwell hands you held”, while partner thought I was forcing him to pick a minor.  Thinking we were on the same page, I decided to push for offense in our presumed long diamond fit rather than defend 3NT.  Obviously we didn’t have a long diamond fit, and it would have been far wiser to try to get 5 tricks on defense rather than 10 tricks on offense, even if we did have a long diamond fit and even if declarer held AQ and a double diamond stopper (with partner on lead).  I thought this hand was about competing for a partscore – I did not expect the 3NT call.  When I heard 3NT, I needed to change tactics and simply pass – not keep competing.

The comments in the bidding pretty much cover how the final contract was reached.  Double dummy, the defense can score 8 tricks for down 5, +1100.  When the defense started with 3 rounds of diamonds against the 4X contract, they were still headed for down 4, +800 if East wins the spade lead and puts the Q on the table (smothering the J and scoring 4 club tricks).  However, after winning the A followed by JQK, declarer led a spade (he had to get to dummy to finesse the 8).  The spade was covered by East and won cheaply by West with the 10.  West  can’t play clubs effectively (so down 2 is now the best possible).  However, seeing the setting trick, they now cashed the A for down 1 and declarer had the rest via a proven heart finesse.  To achieve most of the tricks to which they were entitled, East had to rise with a high spade to gain the lead when declarer led a spade.  Then put the Q on the table.  From the fall of the diamond suit, East can be fairly certain that North’s hand is 5=5=2=1.  If it is, no matter declarer’s singleton club is, the lead of the Q is certain to gain 4 tricks, but only if East gains the lead.

Playing 3NT, our teammate was looking at the (favorable) opening lead of the J.  That immediately solved all problems with 3 top spades and 2 top diamonds to go with 4 club tricks.  Double dummy there is no lead to beat 3NT, but the only route to 9 tricks (without J the lead) is by scoring 3 spades (establishing 2 spade winners for the defense) followed by leading the Q.  (well, technically, since the J will be coming down, you don’t have to cash the third spade yet, since you can reenter dummy later with a club – or, if they don’t cover the Q, cash the spade when you are in dummy for the last time.)  With only spade entries to dummy in an awkward spade suit, that line of play is unlikely to have been how declarer would have played the hand.  All the more reason for me to simply pass 3NT.  Why offer a huge minus when we are likely to go plus (assuming no J lead).  All I can say is that I made a terrible bid and came out great.

 
14
None
East
N
Gary
A98
QJ10762
32
107
 
W
Mike
72
K3
AKQ1086
Q93
9
E
Bob
QJ6
A5
J975
A642
 
S
Jerry
K10543
984
4
KJ86
 

 

W
Mike
N
Gary
E
Bob
S
Jerry
1
Pass
1
2
3
3
3NT
All Pass
 
 

 

W
Ed
N
Manfred
E
Chris
S
Dan
1
1
21
3
Pass2
Pass
53
All Pass
 
 
(1) Limit raise or better in support of diamonds
(2) Minimum balanced hand
(3) No spade stopper, great hand, no way to ask for a spade stopper at this point

Here, the choice of opening bid was clearly a factor in how the bidding progressed.  With more than half of his values in the club suit that was opened, South did not venture a 1 overcall at my table.  I will almost always open 1  when 4=4 in the minors in order to allow partner to have more room at the 1 level as well as find a club fit when that fit might not be found if I open 1.  This hand doesn’t prove anything about the merits of opening 1 vs. 1, but it worked well here. 

Anyway, with the opponents jamming the auction (in hearts at our table), partner (West) wisely chose the 9 trick contract and bid 3NT (he held a heart stopper and a source of tricks).  Meanwhile, at the other table, the opponents were jamming the auction in spades, and West needed to make a decision without having any clue that partner had a spade stopper.  West ran out of room to explore 3NT and, not unreasonably, bid the 11 trick diamond game.  East, holding a spade stopper, could have tried 3NT with their second bid, but partner did not have to have a hand nearly as strong as the one they held.  The 3NT contract could be pretty silly if partner (only) had a routine limit raise in diamonds.  Ten tricks were there for those playing NT and for those playing diamonds, which means we were +430 while our teammates were +50, win 10 IMPs.  This hand, like the first hand of the day, shows how bidding (rather than passing) can make things extremely difficult for the opponents.

 
17
None
North
N
Bob
KQ64
A94
76
AQ93
 
W
Manfred
A108
J75
Q1093
K75
J
E
Ed
J532
106
A8
J10842
 
S
Jerry
97
KQ842
KJ542
6
 

 

W
Manfred/Chr
N
Bob /Gary
E
Ed/Dan
S
Jerry/Mike
1NT
Pass
21
Pass
2
Pass
32
Pass
43
All Pass
 
(1) Jacoby transfer
(2) Second suit, game forcing
(3) Selecting the game to play

On this hand, both tables had the same auction, same lead, and same diamond continuation at trick 2.  I got it wrong, our opponent got it right.  At trick 2 I inserted the J, losing to the Q.  When a diamond was returned at trick 3, a defensive diamond ruff was threatened.  East won the A and continued with a spade to the A, followed by another diamond.  Since the defense already had 3 tricks, I needed East to hold J10x, so I ruffed with the A, finessed the 8 which lost to the J and East still had the 10 to beat my 9 to get their diamond ruff for down 2.

When Gary led a diamond at trick 2, he played the K.  He still wasn’t home – he needed to find the A onside or ruff a diamond for the 10th trick, but since both were possible (without a diamond overruff), he did score 10 tricks.

Clearly if the shape had been the same (2 diamonds with East, 4 with West) but the A and Q switched between the 2 hands, the defense can easily prevail the way they did at my table – that is, win the K with the A, lead to partner’s doubleton Q, and win the A.  Then West leads the third round of diamonds and declarer will be down 1 or 2 depending on how he handles the threatened diamond ruff.  Is it a guess which diamond to play at trick 2?  Beats me.  Is there a better line of play – deferring diamonds until later?

After the club lead, assuming hearts split 3-2, you have 5 heart tricks to go with 3-4 black tricks.  You will need at least 1 diamond trick and possibly a diamond ruff.  Perhaps finding out early if the A is onside is better?  Win the Q, lead a heart to the K, then lead a spade.  If the A is with West, they must win it or lose it (they know declarer’s clubs and that declarer can discard the last spade on A).  So, reflexively, they will probably go up with the A.  However, letting declarer win their spade and then discard dummy’s last spade may not be all that bad for the defense.  Declarer may get rid of a loser, but that doesn’t create a winner.  That still only brings them to 8 tricks (5 trump and 3 black winners).  They still have to win a diamond and ruff a diamond to reach 10.  And there is a risk of an overruff in diamonds.  Anyway, assume West does hold the A and wins it when you play a spade at trick 3, and continues spades.  You are up to 9 tricks (assuming hearts are 3-2), but you aren’t home.  You draw trump ending in hand (you still retain a spade and club winner) and you lead a diamond.  If you guess diamonds wrong, they might win and lead a black suit.  You can cash both black winners pitching 2 diamond losers, then lead your last diamond towards dummy’s remaining diamonds (honor and small diamond).  As long as one diamond honor was onside, you will prevail even if you guessed wrong the first time.  But what if they win the diamond and return a diamond?  That gives you your diamond trick, but your black winners are stranded in your hand, unreachable!  If diamonds are 4-2, your spots are such that you will lose 3 diamond tricks to go with the A for down 1.  And if you cash your black winners first before touching diamonds, the opponents have black winners to make dummy ruff and force you to lead diamonds from dummy – not good.

But, if the A had been with East (so that, when you led the heart to dummy at trick 2 and then led the spade up towards the KQ at trick 3, East wins with the A), you have some more problems.  You are going to have to win a diamond as well as ruff a diamond to reach 10 tricks.  And that is likely to be accomplished more easily if you lead diamonds early.

Bottom line, I don’t have the tools or skills to determine the ‘best’ line of play.  Depending on how suits split and where certain cards are, as well as how the defense defends, there are lots of possibilities out there.  Does anyone else know the ‘best’ line of play (without seeing all of the cards)? Suffice it to say that my diamond ‘guess’ failed and Gary’s guess worked.

 
18
N-S
East
N
Bob
A85
A105
2
QJ10942
 
W
Manfred
Q10762
J7
10763
87
2
E
Ed
J94
K962
J94
K63
 
S
Jerry
K3
Q843
AKQ85
A5
 

 

W
Manfred
N
Bob
E
Ed 
S
Jerry
Pass
1
Pass
2NT
Pass
3NT
All Pass
 
 
 
W
Chris
N
Gary
E
Dan
S
Mike
Pass
1
Pass
2
Pass
2
Pass
2
Pass
2NT
Pass
3NT
Pass
4NT
Pass
6
All Pass
 

I underbid my hand and paid dearly.  I caught partner with a moose, but they couldn’t envision my powerful hand, so they made no move towards slam.  I was a victim of point counting – looking at/counting my 11 HCP.  Knowing partner will often open hands with only 10-11 HCP themselves, I didn’t want to force game.  Still, I had 2 aces and the 109 really boosts the value of my hand from ‘invitational’ to ‘game force.’   Using the K&R hand evaluator (A85 AT5 2 QJT942), the hand evaluates to 13.50.  Clearly this is not a 2NT invitational bid, but a 2/1 game force 2 response to partner’s 1 opening.  Not to say game is assured, just that I have to bid my values and work at arriving in the best spot.  There are plenty of 1 opening bids that will not produce 11 tricks in a minor nor 9 tricks in NT with this hand, but I’m convinced that a game forcing 2 is the right call.  Gary bid 2 and had a reasonable power auction to the club slam.  With my 2NT response to partner’s 1, they had no choice but to raise to 3NT. 

With the heart lead vs. 3NT, I did not rise with the Q, so I lost a club and a heart for 11 tricks, +660.  The club slam had a convenient spade ruff in dummy (with the A), so then declarer could lead clubs losing only to the K (discarding losing hearts on diamonds).  So this hand was all about bidding with little to the play.  We were +660 while our teammates were -1370, lose 12 IMPs.

All-in-all, a pretty sad day for me at the bridge table with lots of poor choices.

 

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