Bob Munson

Recap Of 9/26/2018 28 Board IMP Individual

Here we are again, 2 days later, playing again with a mostly different group (while watching the fascinating bridge in Orlando and reading the incredible research by Avon on Bridgewinners).  Six double digit swings today: 3 slams, a game, a wrong game and…a hand that will go unreported (no, I was not involved in the swing).  Three of the swings came the first round

 
1
None
North
N
Nick
Q10
AKQ8
AK1085
92
 
W
Bob M
93
109654
J743
103
9
E
Tony
AJ76542
2
962
K8
 
S
Mark M
K8
J73
Q
AQJ7654
 

 

W
Bob
N
Nick
E
Tony
S
Mark M
1
1
2
Pass
2
2
3NT
All Pass
 
 
 

 

W
Tom
N
Gary
E
Mark R
S
Bruce
1
3
3NT
Pass
4NT
Pass
6
Pass
6NT
All Pass
 

The result was all in the bidding, but who got the favorable result depending on the location of the K (if offside, a big swing goes the other way).  After the 1 overcall at my table followed by a rebid of 2, one might think the club finesse would be successful (what are they bidding/rebidding on?  Nothing but the AJ long?).  At the other table, an immediate 3 overcall propelled them to slam when 3NT was raised invitationally to 4NT and the slam invite was accepted.  Note that North corrected the slam from 6 to 6NT where no surprise ruff could doom the slam.  On the other hand, had the K been offside, 6NT is down 4 instead of down 1 in 6.  But, at 50 per trick, a small price to pay to insure no ruff.

North seems to have enough in reserve to try the same invitational raise to 4NT at my table, but 3NT was passed out.  Normally all jumps in NT show extras (there is no ‘fast arrival’ that declares ‘no slam interest’ implied after a jump in NT), so it seems that this jump (3NT over 2) should show extras.  Complicating the understanding of who holds extras is the fact that 2 wasn’t game forcing, and partner did reverse, albeit after a 2/1 in competition.  Many play that no extra values are shown by a reverse after 2/1 game force (I still think it shows some extra values, but many do not).  But with the intervening spade bid, I’m not sure all have discussed this particular case – how many extras are shown by the 2 reverse when 2 was not game forcing?  In any case, -490 vs. +990, win 11 IMPs.

 
3
E-W
South
N
Nick
64
AQJ74
Q82
743
 
W
Bob M
AQJ3
10
J64
AK1096
6
E
Tony
10
K96532
A1075
Q2
 
S
Mark M
K98752
8
K93
J85
 

 

W
Bob M
N
Nick
E
Tony
S
Mark M
2
3
Pass
4
Pass
Pass
Dbl
All Pass
 

 

W
Tom
N
Gary
E
Mark R
S
Bruce
2
3
Pass
3
Pass
3NT
All Pass
 
 

Here, I almost overcalled 2NT, but fearful of hearing 4 I decided to simply overcall 3 and await developments.  What developed was 4♥ from partner!  I knew we were in trouble when North doubled.  On the diamond lead (and with the spade finesse and 3-3 clubs), declarer has 7 tricks in the side suits (2+-+2+3).  It seems like it might be possible to score 2 trump tricks even with those spots.  Indeed, double dummy shows 9 tricks are possible, but when the dust settled, we were down 2.  Very little IMP difference though, since we belonged in 3NT.  Double dummy, best defense allows 10 tricks in NT.  It helps with both minor suits splitting 3-3, but assuming that suits will break 3-3 is usually not a reliable source of tricks.  It is far from clear what the best defense is, or what the best offense is in the 3NT contract.  At the table against 3NT, the opening lead was partner’s suit.  The 10 won the first trick in dummy and, fearful of entry problems, declarer led a club to the 10!  I don’t know the rest of the play, but the result was 10 tricks, -630 for our teammates to go with our -500, lose 15 IMPs.  I think 3 is forcing over my 3♣.  Partner will find your way to 4 if that is the right destination, and if they correct to 3NT after bidding ‘only’ 3, live with it.

 
4
Both
West
N
Nick
A752
KQJ1063
2
AQ
 
W
Bob M
Q983
A8
J543
K54
6
E
Tony
KJ64
742
AQ8
863
 
S
Mark M
10
95
K10976
J10972
 

 

W
Bob
N
Nick
E
Tony
S
Mark M
Pass
1
Pass
Pass
Dbl
RDbl
1
2
Pass
2
Pass
3
Pass
4
All Pass
 

 

W
Tom
N
Gary
E
Mark R
S
Bruce
Pass
1
All Pass
 

To balance or not to balance?  If this hand were given to a poll to a large enough audience, I’m sure there would be votes for pass, double and even 1NT.  I chose to balance with a double and soon, rather than defending a lowly 1 partscore, we were defending game and, instead of a bidding problem, it became an opening lead problem.  There are two actions in bridge that are so totally demoralizing that it is hard to overcome:

  1. Doubling a hopeless contract only to have them run to a contract that is cold, or even worse, tell them how to play the contract that would never make, but because of your double they can now play double dummy and make it
  2. Balancing a partscore contract into a making game contract

I’m currently reading a great book by Michael Lewis: The Undoing Project (aren’t all of his books great?) and it talks about decision making as well as ‘hindsight predictions’ (after you know what happens, you can go back and find all of the data that pointed to the fact that that was what was going to happen).  ‘Predicting’ things that have already happened is a pretty exact science.  So, as I write my blog, I make a serious attempt to not be a results commentator, but just assess what it seems like the right bridge answer is to the problem at hand.  Having said that…

It seems like hands that pass a 1-bid and then liven up later in the auction have been upgraded due to some helpful ruffing values (including in a newly found fit, but here the ‘fit’ remained the heart suit).  The upgrade can’t come from HCP, since they were staring at them when they chose to pass the first time.  If dummy has ruffing values, perhaps cutting them down with a trump lead is right?  Clearly this comment is based upon results and I apologize if it is off base, but I think I will use that ‘rule’ in the future if a trump lead makes any sense at all with the hand that I hold.  Here, a trump lead makes a 2-trick difference, win 9 IMPs vs. lose 10 IMPs.  Would you find a trump lead?  Should partner have found a trump lead?  Should I have not balanced?  How bad can it be to balance when the opponents hand you 9 IMPs… but instead they scored 10 IMPs.  As you see, 1 was passed out at the other table and, without a trump lead, declarer produced the same 10 tricks.  So we were -620 while teammates were +170, lose 10 IMPs.

If East had bounced to 2 over the redouble, might that have precluded getting to game?  We will never know.

 
13
Both
North
N
Nick
A8
AQ1085
AK10652
 
W
Gary
KQ7542
Q1094
2
Q4
10
E
Bob
1096
AJ32
J763
J7
 
S
Tom
J3
K8765
K94
983
 

 

W
Gary
N
Nick
E
Bob
S
Tom
1
Pass
1
2
3
Pass
3
Pass
4
Pass
5
All Pass
 
 
 

 

W
Bruce
N
Mark M
E
Tony
S
Mark R
1
Pass
1
1
2
Pass
3
Pass
3
Pass
4
Pass
4
Pass
5
Pass
6

Here dealer has a 3 loser hand which often means a 2 opener, but 5=6 in the minors is REALLY awkward starting with 2.  Therefore, both tables began with 1.  Like the last slam, once more the opponents intervened with a spade bid – a preempt at one table and a simple 1 overcall at the other.  This time the preempt resulted in the slam being missed, while the simple overcall produced a slam that was bid and made.  After a normal spade opening lead, with friendly trumps splitting 2-2, 13 tricks become available if diamonds behave.  But, the 4-1 diamond split forced a ruff to establish diamonds leaving no trump in dummy to take care of the losing spade at trick 13.  So, 12 tricks were scored at both tables, -620 vs. our teammates +1370, win 13 IMPs.

Should these cards be in slam?  If trump are 3-1, life is not good but there are chances.  If the long trump hand also holds exactly 3 diamonds, the spade loser can be discarded before the long trump can ruff in, so 12 tricks will score.  Or, if West has a singleton honor, the K is in dummy for an entry for a restricted choice finesse if you want to go that route.  So it isn’t impossible to land 12 tricks even with trump 3-1, but then diamonds must behave.  Should the preempt have disrupted the slam auction?  Opener’s 3 rebid/reverse shows a very strong hand, since partner must return to the 4 level to support the first bid suit.  Still, by my calculations, this is less than a 50% slam, so not to worry about missing it.  Most bad trump splits will send the double digit IMPs to the defenders rather than the slam bidders.

 
23
Both
South
N
Mark R
10
4
A1092
AQ97632
 
W
Bob
KJ5
Q1092
KJ4
J105
10
E
Mark M
Q7432
J875
643
8
 
S
Gary
A986
AK63
Q87
K4
 

 

W
Bob
N
Mark R
E
Mark M
S
Gary
1NT
Pass
21
Pass
2NT2
Pass
3NT3
All Pass
 
(1) Using 4 suit transfers, this is a “transfer” to clubs, asking partner to bid 3C if they like clubs, otherwise bid 2NT
(2) Showing they ‘don’t like clubs’
(3) Giving up on higher aspirations
W
Bruce
N
Nick
E
Tom
S
Tony
1NT
Pass
21
Pass
32
Pass
33
Pass
3NT4
Pass
45
Pass
46
Pass
57
Pass
58
Pass
69
All Pass
 
(1) Using 4 suit transfers, this is a “transfer” to clubs, asking partner to bid 3C if they like clubs, otherwise bid 2NT
(2) Showing they ‘like clubs’
(3) Showing second suit
(4) Not certain of partner’s strength – most of the values are in the majors
(5) Minorwood, key card for clubs
(6) 0 or 3 key cards
(7) If zero, we are too high already
(8) No, I had 3, cue bid
(9) Completing the slam auction

One more slam to end the day.  A similar auction to start both tables.  One table said ‘I don’t like clubs’ and the auction quickly ended in 3NT.  But the other table judged Kx was enough to say ‘likes clubs’ and when diamonds were bid to show a second suit, nothing can stop the NT bidder from proceeding to slam – their AKA in the majors will take care of side suit losers and their minor suit fillers should be enough to handle those suits.  Note that, whenever missing KJx(xx) and you hold A109(x) in one hand and Qx(xx) in the other, the percentage play is to lead the Q unless you have inside information about the lie of the cards.  Both tables did lead the Q after trump were drawn and when it was covered by the K, it was time to claim 12 tricks.  Yes, 25% of the time the KJ(xxx) will be offside and you will lose 2 tricks (when you could have lost only 1 trick by leading to the A and back to the Q).  But a 75% slam is a mighty fine contract and both declarers played it correctly.

So, what does it take to ‘like clubs’?  My system notes with 4 different partners is specific: Axx, Kxx, Qxx or xxxx.  Should the answer to ‘like clubs?’ be up to the players judgment as each hand arises?  One hand should not prompt system changes, but I definitely want to discuss this issue with those 4 partners.  That is, is Kx with 2 more side aces enough to respond ‘like clubs’?  It turns out the key to the slam was not the K (wasted, useless) but the 109.  When partner bids 2 to transfer to clubs, there are basically 3 possible hand types (with a 2 suited minor hand being a fairly distant 4th possibility).

  1. Weak, intending to play 3.  With this hand (Kx), bidding 3 has the advantage of the NT opener declaring the hand (often good, but not always best), but other than that, the final contract will always be 3 regardless.
  2. Invitational to 3NT.  Holding 2 aces as well as Kx, it seems that, if partner wants to invite 3NT, we likely want to accept that invitation.  Otherwise, he might sign off in 3 when 3NT is cold?
  3. Invitational to 6.  Again, the Kx with 2 outside aces is extremely ‘slam positive’ and when partner bids diamonds, your Q87 are good cards.

Here, the winning call was ‘like clubs.’  If North had been 4=6 instead of 4=7, the K comes very much into play  and saves the day.  But still the critical 109 is what makes the slam 75% rather than 50%.  If this hand were submitted to a poll of ‘4 suit transfer partnerships’ I feel certain there would be votes both ways (like and don’t like).  I’m not sure what the right long term answer is, but I am certain on this hand that ‘Kx’ qualified for ‘like clubs’!  The slam was safely bid in clubs (a spade lead will defeat 6NT), so our teammates were +1370 while we were -690, win 12 IMPs.

Recap Of 9/24/2018 28 Board IMP Individual

The trend, lately, has been a mix of leads, defense, declarer play and bidding all involved in determining the large swings and today was no exception.  There were 5 double digit swings.

 
6
E-W
East
N
Nick
93
Q95
Q842
K1052
 
W
Mike
J8642
K7
9763
Q8
A
E
Jerry
K5
AJ1084
AJ
A943
 
S
Bob M
AQ107
632
K105
J76
 

 

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

 

W
Steve
N
Bob E
E
Ed
S
Chris
1
Pass
1
Pass
2NT
Pass
3NT
All Pass
 
 

I thought this was a tough opening lead problem given the auction at my table.  I pictured declarer holding 1=5=3=4 with a possible singleton K.  I pictured that with 2=5=2=4, declarer would be too weak in diamonds to offer NT as  a place to play.  So, down went the A as my opening lead, presenting declarer with his impossible 8th trick.  This was a hand for passive leads – choose to lead any heart, any club or even a diamond that is not the 10 and you will beat 2NT.  There are only 7 tricks unless the defense gives declarer the 8th trick.  I did.  With clubs being bid on my right, the only other lead I considered was the small diamond.  Sometimes, to avoid blockage with a 3 card holding, I will lead the middle card from H10x or H9x (hard for partner to read, but necessary to avoid blockage) but here, due to the 9 in dummy, if I had chosen the 10 for an opening lead would have been just as unsuccessful as my actual A, providing declarer with their 8th trick (0+5+2+1).

Meanwhile, on a different auction, our teammates arrived in 3NT.  Here, South had not heard a club bid, so they ended up making the best opening lead of a small club.  Declarer beat the 10 with the A at trick 1, crossed to the K, and then took the finesse against the Q.  As declarer cashed their 5 heart tricks, South needed to find 2 discards, choosing a spade and a club(!?).  Declarer then led a club to the J, Q and K and back came a diamond.  Declarer won the A, cashed the 9 (the 8th trick for declarer), whereupon South discarded a diamond.  Now declarer exited with the K, allowing South to cash their AQ and K, but at trick 13, they had the 10 left to lead to dummy’s J, making 3NT.  So we were -120 while our teammates were +600, win 10 amazing IMPs.

Here is what “Lead Captain” has to say about the choice of opening lead.  I don’t present this for vindication, just for your information.  And, the description I used for dummy/declarer is based on the auction at my table (arriving in 2NT), not the auction at the other table which arrived in 3NT without bidding clubs:

I’m not surprised, from a double dummy standpoint, that the A is the best lead because, double dummy, I would always get the shift right.  At the table, not so much.  Here, the 2 top leads (A and 10) are the two leads the present declarer with their 8th trick.  As readers of the blog know, I continue to believe that Lead Captain (for specific hands) and David Bird’s books (for general principles) provide the best available information for leads.  But, the chosen lead won’t always be the best on a given deal.  As noted previously, the 10 must be considered (vs. the 5) due to potential suit blockage.  The 10 barely beats out the 5 using Lead Captain analysis, but it does come out ahead of the 5 and the second best lead.

 
7
Both
South
N
Nick
10
AJ9
AJ75
AK843
 
W
Mike
AKQ64
K3
Q104
765
A
E
Jerry
8532
10642
K962
2
 
S
Bob M
J97
Q875
83
QJ109
 

 

W
Mike
N
Nick
E
Jerry
S
Bob M
Pass
1
Dbl
2
3
3
4
4
Pass
Pass
Dbl
All Pass
 

 

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

Notice the bidding at the two tables was sort of similar, but not really.  At both tables, N-S competed to 4 but the path to get there was quite different.  At my table, 1X was only raised to 2.  Personally, with this East hand, I would jump 3 as they did at the other table, showing the 4 trump and preemptive values.  The singleton club with 4 trump proved quite valuable.  Over 2 I decided partner wanted to hear me bid and I sure wasn’t broke, so with modest values I decide to enter the auction with a bid of 3.  West continued with 3 and partner raised me to 4.  With maximal doubles, the 3 bid should simply be competitive, not a game try, but… East decided to venture on to 4 and North decided to make a penalty double.  My sterile distribution kept me from considering bidding 5 but, as you can see, with the doubleton K in the slot, 5 will deliver 11 tricks for the vulnerable game bonus for N-S.  Should partner have offered 4♣ over 3or tried 5♣ over 4?  Beats me. I doubt that I would have if I held the North hand, since a 4 bid discourages hearts and likely promises a much better club suit.  But 4 rather than 4 would likely have worked here, getting us to 5.

This hand is (sort of) another opening lead problem, but better defense can overcome the unfortunate start.  Often, when people are dealt any AK in a suit, leading a high card becomes a semi-automatic lead to start the defense.  Here, in the post mortem after the hand was over,we were thinking that the only leads that allow 4 tricks for the defense would be to start with a small club (impossible to find that play!) or a neutral spade lead (in fact, a neutral spade lead allows us to defeat the contract 2 tricks if partner (North) later tries to give me a diamond ruff).  By starting with a spade, South can gain the lead when a club is played (declarer must play clubs early in order to ruff his club losers in dummy prior to drawing trump).  When South wins declarer’s club lead, they can push a heart through the Kx, allowing the defense to score 0+2+1+1 for down 1.  As the cards lie, the only lead that allows 10 tricks against 4 is a heart lead.  North did not try that!  But, once they started with a high club, the only entry to my hand was lost.  Still, the diamond suit provides additional opportunities for both the defense and declarer.  There are some obscure double dummy plays to beat it, but the easiest way is a traditional holdup play.  That is, resist the temptation to place your A on the Q.  Instead, simply duck 2 diamonds, win the 3rd round of diamonds, and then lead a club.  Declarer is left with 2 heart losers in the end, since the 4th diamond in dummy can’t be reached to discard the losing heart.

The actual play was A led (I played the Q, promising the J), then a small club ruffed (I played the J, thinking I was showing partner that my remaining count was an odd number (3 remaining) and showing him that I held J10x at that point.  Is it possible those plays confused partner?  I was trying to help!  Declarer played a spade to hand to ruff their last club, then another spade to hand and one more to finish drawing trump (on the spade leads North pitched a diamond(?) and a heart, keeping his clubs).  Declarer played the Q and North won the A (duck is necessary to defeat the game).  North continued with clubs as declarer ruffed.  Now the 10 was led and ducked all around, then a diamond to the 9 and then the K to pitch one heart loser.  So, in the end, the defense scored their 3 aces and declarer took the rest.

The defense is a bit double dummy to achieve down 2.  An initial small diamond or trump lead is the necessary start.  When partner wins their club, they lead a heart through.  If North’s opening lead is a small diamond (impossible with this holding), they now simply provide partner a diamond ruff to score 1+2+1+1.  If the opening lead was a more likely trump and South, after they win a club, leads the heart through declarer’s Kx, North must not cash the setting tricks, but pursue a diamond ruff to achieve down 2 by underleading the A.  This defense is possible, but only if North determines partner’s shape as 3=4=2=4.  After the small diamond continuation, if declarer draws trump, they can’t get all of their clubs ruffed.  If they don’t draw trump, South gets to score a diamond ruff.  Either way, 5 tricks for the defense, +500.  Instead, -790.

At the other table, our teammates put maximum pressure on N-S with the jump to 3 and when that was passed around to North, they repeated their takeout double.  South, reasonably, didn’t consider 4/5 but instead bid their 4 card heart suit and bought the contract.  The doubleton Kx in the slot is great in the heart contract too, but not good enough to score 10 tricks.  In fact, even scoring 9 tricks is quite a challenge after two rounds of spades.  It turns out the actual defense was a high spade followed by a club shift.  Declarer won in hand, finessed the J and then cashed the A and 9.  When they tried to enter their hand with a club to draw the last trump, East could ruff and cash 2 spades for down 1.  The losing diamond goes on the last winning club in dummy.

After a start of 2 high spades, the only way for declarer to reach 9 tricks is to allow the opponents to win the first 2 spades and ruff the 3rd spade (so that now you no longer have spades, severing the defensive communication).  Now cross to the Q, heart to the J, then the A.  But, North has no more hearts, so you can’t draw trump (and you can’t get to your hand to draw trump).  When you play a club, East ruffs and leads diamonds.  You must win West’s Q with dummy’s A and continue with the J so that West can’t gain an entry and provide yet another club ruff for East (which is why declarer can’t ruff the high spade at trick 2).  Bottom line, our teammates scored 4 tricks, +100 to go with our -790 to lose 12 IMPs.

 
9
E-W
North
N
Jerry
AJ92
AJ6543
J9
7
 
W
Bob E
654
K1082
K542
KJ
2
E
Steve
1073
Q
10873
A6532
 
S
Bob M
KQ8
97
AQ6
Q10984
 

 

W
Bob E/Ed
N
Jerry/Nick
E
Steve/Chris
S
Bob M/Mike
1
Pass
2
Pass
2
Pass
2NT
Pass
3NT
All Pass
 

This hand had identical auctions and identical leads at both tables.  And, it is all over at trick 1.  Certainly the opening lead could have been from 10xx2 rather than Kxx2, but I didn’t want to be in my hand – I need to get going on clubs.  So, at trick 1 I played the J and, the way the cards lie, I can not be defeated.  At the other table, when the 9 was covered by the 10 at trick 1, the contract can no longer be made.  I was looking for 4+1+2+2, but to do that, I had to lose 3 club tricks and I wanted to start losing them to West (where he cannot successfully lead diamonds).  If I’m losing 3 clubs, I cannot lose 2 diamonds.

At trick 2 I ran the 7 losing to the J (fearful that they might allow the 7 to win, I almost overtook the 7 with the 8 which would have left me with only 1 club trick!).  But, with the friendly singleton Q coming down, I still could have managed 9 tricks if I timed it just right (4+2+2+1) even if I had overtaken the 7.  When West won the J, no exit is effective.  They tried a spade which I won and continued clubs.  West won the K and continued spades.  I won the spade in hand and forced out the A.  When a diamond came through, I could win the A and cash my 9 tricks.  Double dummy, no lead beats it, but it is necessary to win the J at trick 1.  When the dust settled, our teammates achieved down 2, +100 to go with our +400, win 11 IMPs.

 
21
N-S
North
N
Mike
QJ6
Q86
974
QJ62
 
W
Bob M
109
AK5
AK
AK10854
4
E
Chris
A873
1032
QJ8532
 
S
Steve
K542
J974
106
973
 

 

W
Bob M
N
Mike S
E
Chris
S
Steve
Pass
2
Pass
51
All Pass
 
 
(1) Well, I was going to open 2C, but now what? See below
W
Jerry
N
Nick
E
Ed
S
Bob E
Pass
Pass
Pass
2
Pass
2
Pass
2NT
Pass
31
Pass
3NT2
Pass
43
Pass
44
Pass
65
All Pass
(1) Table discussion confirmed ‘regular Stayman, not puppet Stayman’
(2) Indicating a desire to play 3NT hoping partner covers spades (rejecting the normal reply of 3D)
(3) First bid of a natural suit
(4) Not sure if 4D was a transfer, so ‘accepting’ in case it was a transfer
(5) Thinking 4H was a cue bid, going for the slam

This hand was bid poorly at both tables (if I say so myself), but more poorly by me!  As I’ve said before, we allow table talk with unfamiliar partners, so I should have inquired about preempter’s key card (4 bid over any opening preempt with responses: 0, 1, 1+Q, 2, 2+Q).  I can still construct weak 2 bids that offer no play for slam, even if trump divide evenly and partner has “1+Q”.  But, I think, had I asked and found one ace plus the Q, I can pretty much count 11 top tricks.  Partner could have another Q or clubs are very likely to ruff good or possibly a spade ruff could bring the total to 12.  I have no problem with my partner’s weak 2, but I failed to see what bids I could make that would learn what I needed to know, so I just jumped to the terrible bid of 5.  My bad.  But at least neither table arrived in the challenging 3NT, but does manage to score 9 tricks on this lie of the cards.

The auction at the other table, annotated above, got to the right spot even if they were not exactly on the same wavelength.  I don’t know the details of the play, but I was told “played it safe for 6” since they were in slam.  Assuming a spade lead won and cross to the A, as long as clubs aren’t 7-0, it seems pretty safe to ruff one low.  Then cross to the K and ruff a club high.  Draw trump and claim, 13 tricks.  That is what my partner did for +440.  Our teammates were -920, so we ‘only’ lost 10 IMPs.

Actually, if clubs had been 7-0 or 6-1, the only way to 12 tricks was a spade ruff which risks going down when trump are 4-1.  So it seems that hoping for clubs no worse than 5-2 is the safest play to make 12 tricks and when clubs turn out to be 4-3, all 13 tricks are there.

 
22
E-W
East
N
Mike
9
Q1063
QJ1073
872
 
W
Bob M
K
AJ852
A82
Q1096
A
E
Chris
J74
K74
K964
KJ4
 
S
Steve
AQ1086532
9
5
A53
 

 

W
Bob M
N
Mike
E
Chris
S
Steve
Pass
1
Dbl
2
Dbl
2
Pass
Pass
Dbl
Pass
Pass1
Pass
(1) See below

 

W
Jerry
N
Nick
E
Ed
S
Bob E
Pass
1
2
Pass
21
4
Pass        
Pass
Dbl
All Pass
(1) Heart raise, invitational values

I like to have a 6 card suit, or else a MUCH stronger 5 card suit to overcall vulnerable at the 2 level, so double seemed, to me, to be automatic at my first turn.  North decided to show their diamond suit (non-forcing after the double) and partner doubled.  I took that as ‘good diamonds, they cannot make 8 tricks in diamonds’ (he was right).  South, walking the dog, bid a gentle 2 and I couldn’t find a bid, so I passed.  Partner balanced with a double and there we were.  I agonized a long time before passing, but I pictured partner with weak clubs and hearts, strong spades and diamonds, possibly QJTxx Qx KQxx xx or the like.  If so, they cannot make their contract, and we have no suit to play at the 3 level.  So, I passed!  However, if this is precisely what partner held, 2NT should make.  Being wrong about 2 going down can be really costly, and it was.  Partner just thought he was showing convertible values with nothing to bid – suggesting that I bid or pass depending on my defense and he would be happy either way.  If dummy is short in spades, and partner is short in spades, declarer may have a lot of spades (he did). 

Basically partner made a DSI double, I have values, you have values, do something intelligent but it wasn’t very intelligent when I passed!.  Clearly I thought he had better defensive values against 2.  When we failed to goad South into bouncing to 4♠, we were destined to lose a lot on this hand in any case, since no 3 level contract makes.  But, I might have gotten a 3 bid out of South if I had bid something.  Anything!  If I chose 2NT, I’m looking at down 3 vulnerable on a likely spade lead, so that won’t gain many IMPs.  But, if I bid anything, it might prompt North to bid again.  Who bids ‘only’ 2 with an 8 card suit?  Nice bid Steve!

There was a different auction at the other table.  My West hand did overcall 2♥ rather than double.  When East took the overcall seriously and showed heart support with invitational values with the 2 cue bid, E-W had already gotten too high.  However, South saw his 8 card spade suit and bounced to the ill-fated game which was doubled.  There were the same 8 tricks in the spade contract at both tables, which meant our teammates were -300 and we were -470, lose 13 IMPs.

 

 

Recap Of 8/27/2018 28 Board IMP Individual

Today there were only 4 boards that created double digit swings – the first one didn’t happen until board 19 and then they came in a flurry.  Leads, defense, declarer play and bidding all came into play.

 
19
E-W
South
N
Manfred
K93
A6
J764
AKJ5
 
W
Bob
Q752
Q1094
Q852
6
Q
E
Jerry
AJ864
J85
Q10742
 
S
Jack
10
K732
AK1093
983
 

 

W
Bob
N
Manfred
E
Jerry
S
Jack
Pass
Pass
1NT
21
Dbl2
23
Pass4
25
36
37
3NT
All Pass
 
(1) Clubs and a higher
(2) Stayman
(3) What is your higher suit, I don’t like clubs
(4) No 4 card major
(5) My other suit is spades
(6) Natural forcing
(7) I have spades too

 

W
Chris
N
Dan
E
Chuck
S
Tom
Pass
Pass
1NT
21
Dbl2
23
Pass
24
35
Pass
3NT6
All Pass
 
(1) Clubs and a major
(2) Stayman
(3) What is major, I don’t like clubs
(4) Major is spades, not hearts
(5) I want to try 3NT if you can stop spades
(6) I have a spade stopper

This auction here at both tables, while not identical, established the same ‘known’ conditions.  That is, declarer held a strong notrump, dummy had game values, opening leader held both spades and clubs, and the partner of the opening leader didn’t have clubs.

At my table where I had supported spades, partner led his fourth best spade and declarer won the K and led a diamond, hoping to bring in that suit.  When East showed out of diamonds, declarer knew that losing a diamond would result in the defense cashing 4 spades to defeat the contract.  Declarer hoped for some miracle to happen after cashing 1+2+2+2, but the rest of the tricks went to the defense, down 2, +100 for our side.

Our teammate, declaring at the other table, received the opening lead of a heart (partner ‘bid’ hearts and had no chance to support spades).  Opening leader was trying to make sure that declarer could not enjoy their spade stopper by retaining all of their spades over declarer.  Double dummy, any heart or any spade opening lead will defeat 3NT, but that is not what happened.  Declarer won the A, and lost the Q.  West then led the Q, covered by the K and A and East continued with hearts.  Declarer won the K and, on the run of the diamonds, the East defender held onto his J8 over declarer’s 9, but successful defense required throwing all of the low spades and holding onto the last heart (not the J!).  In the 5 card ending, East needed to hold J5QT7, not J8QT7.  By holding onto all black cards, East was subjected to a black  suit end play.  From the bidding, declarer knew East held spades and clubs.  Declarer could lead 3 rounds of clubs forcing East to surrender trick 13 to the 9, or declarer could lead spades, forcing the defender to give a trick to the J at the end.  So declarer could score 1+2+4+2 or 0+2+4+3 to reach 9 tricks.  By retaining a heart, East has an exit card to lead to partner’s heart winners, scoring 2+2+1+0 for the defense.  With the end play, declarer was able to reach 9 tricks, making 3NT for +400 to go with our +100, win 11 IMPs.

 
21
N-S
North
N
Chuck
A76543
J2
KJ5
A5
 
W
Manfred
KQ9
K4
A863
KQ87
5
E
Bob
J102
A109875
10
J32
 
S
Tom
8
Q63
Q9742
10964
 

 

W
Manfred
N
Chuck
E
Bob
S
Tom
1
Pass
Pass
Dbl
Pass
3
Pass
3NT
All Pass
 
 

 

W
Jerry
N
Dan
E
Jack
S
Chris
1
Pass
Pass
Dbl
Pass
2
Pass
2NT
Pass
4
All Pass

Bidding judgment determined the final contract.  Looking only at the East-West hands, 4 would appear to be far preferred (vs. 3NT), with 10 tricks easy as long as spades were 5-2 and hearts 3-2.  Our teammates were defending 4 and led their singleton spade, got their ruff when North continued with the suit preference 3, so South ruffed, returned a club to partner’s A and received a second spade ruff to take the first 4 tricks.  Declarer had the rest, but that was down 1, +50.  In spite of having a potential natural trump trick (via Qxx), the old rule ‘if you have a singleton, lead it’ worked well here.

I liked the texture of my heart suit enough to jump to 3 over partner’s balancing double.  But, perhaps unwisely, decided to just sit when partner bid 3NT.  The defense can defeat 3NT leading any card (but the 2), but that isn’t what happened.  The opening spade lead was won by the K and declarer decided to try the K which was won by North with the A.  North then cashed the A (error) and the contract could no longer be defeated assuming best play by declarer.  After cashing the A, North shifted (too late) to 5.  Declarer ducked that and ducked the diamond return to the J, rectifying the count (now the defense has 4 tricks).  At this point, declarer only has 7 top tricks (2+2+1+2).  But there is no continuation by North that is effective.  South is caught in a 3 suit progressive squeeze that produces 2 additional tricks!  At the table, North continued with the J.  On the A, South was able to throw an idle diamond.  But, after that, South’s 3rd heart, 4th diamond and 4th club are all critical to protecting those suits.  West won the K in hand and played the 9 to the J in dummy.  South’s discard (they threw a diamond) allowed that suit to be established.  And after running clubs and diamonds, in the 2 card ending, dummy has A10 and declarer has 48.  If South keeps both of their hearts, declarer’s 8 is good.  If South keeps the 10, dummy’s hearts are good.

After winning the A at trick 2, only a diamond continuation by North can defeat the contract.  After, say, 3 rounds of diamonds by the defense, West will win the A on the third round and will likely continue with Q which North must duck!  Ducking the spade establishes the spade suit and prevents declarer from rectifying the count.  It was the third round of spades that crushed South in the progressive squeeze.  But, if North ducks their A, declarer cannot play 3 rounds of spades.

Tough hand.  So, my partner was able to bring in 9 tricks in 3NT for +400 to go with our teammates +50, win 10 IMPs.

 
23
Both
South
N
Chuck
A6
53
KQ10932
1053
 
W
Manfred
KQJ104
KQ1082
A94
A
E
Bob
82
AJ74
A8765
K2
 
S
Tom
9753
96
J4
QJ876
 

 

Manfred
Bob
1
2
2
3
41
42
4NT3
54
5NT5
66
77
Pass
(1) Cue bid
(2) Cue bid
(3) RKCB
(4) 2 key cards
(5) King ask, showing all key cards
(6) Club K
(7) Miscounting aces

 

Jerry
Jack
1
2
2
4
All Pass
 

Many players employ a ‘fast arrival’ approach to bidding which states that a jump to game (in a suit contract) when already in a game forcing auction shows minimum values and, usually, very soft cards that will not be helpful for slam.  The auction started the same at both tables, but for my rebid, since I was already in a game forcing auction, I opted to raise to 3 in order to give partner room to explore.  I was certainly minimum, but what values I had offered promise (AAK).  After the cue bids and RKCB auction, partner had a miscount on aces (or, instead, convinced himself that I would not show the ace that I already showed in the auction – therefore, I must have 2 aces in addition to the diamond ace).  So he contracted for the grand slam when 12 tricks were the limit.  There was nothing to the play of this hand, all was in the bidding.

At the other table, the combination of fast arrival plus partner bidding the suit of their void prompted West to give up on slam and simply play game.  The same 12 tricks produced -680 with our -200 (we were doubled), lose 13 IMPs.

Since a club will almost certainly be led against a heart slam, West has to worry about the defense establishing a club trick before it can be discarded.  Partner did bid 2/1 game force.  They could hold AK to take care of both club losers.  Or the K.  Or the AQJ and a ruffing finesse.  Still, it wasn’t clear from the bidding that the small slam would be cold.  Small slam still seems sufficiently promising to give it a try.

 
24
None
West
N
Chuck
AQ543
KJ96
42
A2
 
W
Manfred
K7
42
KJ10963
QJ9
A
E
Bob
10986
A105
A875
85
 
S
Tom
J2
Q873
Q
K107643
 

 

W
Manfred
N
Chuck
E
Bob
S
Tom
2
2
4
Pass
Pass
4
All Pass
 

 

W
Jerry
N
Dan
E
Jack
S
Chris
2
Dbl
4
5
All Pass
 
 
 

Here, playing weak two bids, the dealer (West) has an automatic 2 bid.  North must formulate a plan.  One player offered a double (without perfect shape/support for all suits) and another just bid their longest suit.  East, at both tables, bounced preemptively to 4 and South had to figure out what to do.  With excellent support (but modest values) for both unbid suits (after the spade bid), South might try a responsive double (showing hearts and clubs)?  But, the responsive double after partner doubled won’t work – that implies some spade tolerance.  Should South focus on his major (hearts) or his long suit (clubs)?

At the table where North doubled, South tried bidding their longest suit.  The 11 tricks required for 5 came up short when two aces and a trump trick had to be lost.  At my table, South passed 4 around to North who reopened with 4.  South was VERY happy with that, and that ended the bidding.

After my A won trick 1, I had to find a continuation at trick 2.  This is a basic defensive position that occurs extremely frequently.  That is, dummy has a long threatening suit (clubs), so it is time to attack potential late entries (diamond ruffs)…NOW!  Clearly, the best continuation at trick 2 was a diamond.  Instead, I lamely tried a club (after which 11 tricks are cold).  Declarer won the A, led the J which was ducked (making life even easier for declarer), then a small heart which I won with the A.  Declarer ruffed the (belated) diamond return, cashed the K, ruffed the clubs good with the K, then a heart to the Q to draw trump and run clubs.  In the end, they took the spade finesse (risking the contract!) to make 11 tricks.

There are always 10 tricks in hearts, even with the diamond continuation at trick 2, but it is much more difficult.  Declarer must ruff clubs good, as they did at my table.  They can even ‘guess wrong’ and ruff with the 9, allowing an overruff with the 10, but they must not ruff with the 6 (if they did, my hand can discard a diamond and declarer quickly loses control of the hand).  But, interesting (to me), if they do ruff with the 9 and my hand does not overruff, there is only one continuation to make the contract – that is to lead their 6 and finesse dummy’s 7, playing me for the 10 that I did not overruff with!  Any other line of play leads to defeat with best defense.

Essentially all successful lines of play (after the best defense of a diamond continuation at trick 2) rely upon my hand (East) holding the 10 and partner (West) holding the K.  We did hold those cards, so the game can always make.  But, the job of the defense is to make declarer’s life tough, and I failed miserably on this hand when I did not lead diamonds at trick 2.

So, with 5 down 1, our teammates were -50 to go with our -450, lose 11 IMPs.

The big hands of the day involved lots of defensive issues with some bidding, leads and declarer play thrown into the mix.

 

Recap Of 8/8/2018 28 Board IMP Individual

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

 

 

Recap Of 7/18/2018 28 Board IMP Individual

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

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

 

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

 

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

What would you lead?

Here are the results from Lead Captain.

 

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

W
Manfred
N
Tom
E
Bruce
S
Dan
4
All Pass

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

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

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

 

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

 

Manfred
Mark M
1
1
1
2NT
3NT
All Pass

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

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

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

S
South
A743
QJ973
2
973

And you heard this auction

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

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

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

Recap Of 6/11/2018 28 Board IMP Individual

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Recap Of 5/2/2018 28 Board IMP Individual

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

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

 

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

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

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

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

Using that tool resulted in this:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Epilogue…There are many lessons from this hand.

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

Recap Of 2/26/2018 28 Board IMP Individual

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

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

 

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

 

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

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

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

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

Would you open?  Would you stay out of game?

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

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

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

Recap Of 2/14/2018 28 Board IMP Individual

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

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

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

On the other hand, if partner held:

W
Cris
J102
AKQ
QJ1032
QJ

 

 

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

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

 

Recap Of 2/8/2017 28 Board IMP Individual

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

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