Bob Munson

Recap Of 11/13/2019 28 Board IMP Individual

Only 4 double digit swings today with a different theme than usual.  One was a slam decision, one was a part score ‘battle’ that ended poorly when the same team declared at both tables with neither contract successful, but the other two were a different theme than normal.  For both of these hands, the defense was able to defeat the contract at one table, while the other table had a critical shift in the middle of the hand that allowed declarer to make the contract.

 
1
None
North
N
Bob
QJ8
K1076
842
J85
 
W
Gary
1073
A832
A53
A63
9
E
Bruce
AK52
954
KJ7
K107
 
S
Mark R
964
QJ
Q1096
Q942
 

 

W
Gary
N
Bob
E
Bruce
S
Mark R
Pass
1
Pass
1
Pass
1NT1
Pass
3NT
All Pass
 
 
(1) Most play that a 1S rebid here shows an unbalanced hand, or at least 4 clubs
W
Tom
N
Cris
E
Dan
S
Mark M
Pass
1
Pass
1
Pass
11
Pass
3NT
All Pass
 
 
(1) Decided to show his 4 spades

Here both tables arrived in a reasonable 3NT with 26 HCP and stoppers in every suit, but at our table East declared with South on lead, while our teammates had West declare with North on lead.  With East holding the minor suit tenaces (and West having no tenaces), it proved better for East to declare.  Three out of four hands at the table are 4-3-3-3 which make it quite challenging (for both sides) to find their necessary tricks. 

The cards are sufficiently friendly that, at my table, South must lead a heart at trick 1 or else declarer, if they play accurately, can make the hand (albeit some amount of double dummy play required).  Many years ago, I believe from the game of whist, a ‘rule’ was established: “4th from longest and strongest.”  For the opening lead on this hand, in my opinion, a minor suit looks very wrong, but either major might work (as I said, on this deal, only a heart lead beats it, double dummy).  South reasonably chose the 9 for the opening lead.  To make the contract against best defense, declarer must duck the first trick, or else win trick 1 and continue  spades (establishing their 8th trick) .  Any other continuation provides an opportunity for 5 tricks for the defense.  At the table, East won the first trick and led a heart, ducking South’s J.  Now, to defeat the contract, South must continue a major, but at the table they shifted to a diamond at trick 3 which brought declarer’s trick total to 8.  Now, when declarer ducks a spade, they have their 9 tricks (3+1+3+2).  If South had continued with a major suit after winning the J, declarer could/should be defeated.  Since I had to hold onto my 4th heart, I had to let go of a club on the 13th spade.  South let go of a club on the 13th spade and another club on the third round of hearts, so declarer found 10 tricks, making us -430.

Looking at all of the hands, it is easy to see some of the successful defensive options.  I should point out that the defense is not all that easy for South.  Yes, they can get out with a major as they win the first heart trick.  But, when their majors run out, they need North to take them off the end play by playing the K (crocodile coup if a small heart is led from dummy) on the Q.  If I had held the J instead of the J, the diamond switch would have worked wonders.  I cannot overtake in hearts the first time hearts are led (at trick 2) and still beat the hand – South must be allowed to win at that point and continue a major suit.

Our teammates, playing from the other side with West as declarer, had a more challenging path to 9 tricks.  Here, if North leads a small club or diamond or small heart, the defense should find 5 tricks.  An opening spade lead by North puts declarer on a potential path to 9 tricks – the same opportunity that our East declarer had after the spade lead by South at our table.  The actual heart lead left declarer with no options.  South won the first 2 tricks with the J and Q, and then North won trick 3 with the J.  But, by ducking a spade, declarer is up to 8 tricks (9 if hearts split 3-3, or the diamond finesse works).  After North’s J held trick 3, North led a diamond and declarer finessed the J, losing to the Q.  So the defense won the first 4 tricks and still had a club to come for down 1, -50 to go with our -430, lose 10 IMPs.

 
4
Both
West
N
Bob
96
AJ9654
AKQJ8
 
W
Gary
K987532
7
Q8
953
7
E
Bruce
AQ1064
KQ42
7
1064
 
S
Mark R
J
AJ10853
K1032
72
 

 

W
Gary
N
Bob
E
Bruce
S
Mark R
Pass
1
1
2
4
5
Pass
5
Pass
6
Pass
Pass
6
Pass1
Pass
Dbl
All Pass
 
 
 
(1) Confirming void in spades, hoping partner can bid the grand!

 

W
Tom
N
Cris
E
Dan
S
Mark M
Pass
1
1
2
4
5
Pass
5
All Pass
 
 
 

Here, the first 8 calls were the same at both tables.  As North, I felt I had too much playing strength to stop in game.  Partner did make a free bid at the 2 level, and I suspect partner has very few HCP in spades and I know they have zero HCP in clubs.  If partner has the AK and KQ, 7 will be cold.  If he has just the A and K (he did), 6 should have play.  And if he only has the K and the Q (what was he doing bidding 2 on a 5 count?!), there is still a chance (with some finesses) that 12 tricks can be found.  So, it seemed worth a shot.  Bidding the slam prompted West to save in 6 which did save them a few IMPs vs. the slam that was going to make.  But when slam wasn’t bid at the other table, we were still able to pick up 10 IMPs, +1100 vs. -620.  There was nothing to the play at either table, with 5 top tricks to cash on defense vs. 6, and 12 tricks to cash on offense in 5/6.

 
9
E-W
North
N
Mark R
K10983
Q8754
K4
K
 
W
Dan
652
J962
2
A10753
A
E
Bob
J7
K
AQ108753
Q84
 
S
Tom
AQ4
A103
J96
J962
 

 

W
Dan
N
Mark R
E
Bob
S
Tom
1
3
4
All Pass
 
 
 

 

W
Gary
N
Cris
E
Mark M
S
Bruce
1
2
31
Pass
3
Pass
4
All Pass
 
 
 
(1) Limit+ spade raise

A slightly different auction resulted in both tables playing 4 with the same A lead at trick 1 followed by the lead of the 3 which was ruffed by West at trick 2.  The 3 looks like a suit preference for clubs (it was), but my partner cashed the A prior to leading another club at trick 4.  That was 3 tricks for the defense and a heart still had to be lost, for down 1.  At the other table, West tried the effect of under leading the A, so declarer was able to not lose any club tricks and with just the 1 heart loser remaining, that meant 10 tricks were scored for +420 and +50 to win 10 IMPs.

 
20
Both
West
N
Cris
1063
1095
AK6
A1094
 
W
Dan
K
Q8743
Q8532
76
7
E
Bruce
QJ84
A6
74
KQJ32
 
S
Bob
A9752
KJ2
J109
85
 

 

W
Dan
N
Cris
E
Bruce
S
Bob
Pass
Pass
1
1
Dbl
RDbl1
1NT
Pass
Pass
3
All Pass
 
(1) Relay to clubs showing: 1 – clubs, or 2 – desire for a club lead, or 3- invitational spade raise

 

W
Mark M
N
Tom
E
Mark R
S
Gary
Pass
1
Pass
1
Dbl
Pass
1NT
Dbl1
2
Pass
Pass
Dbl2
All Pass
 
 
 
(1) Penalty
(2) Penalty

Here both sides have 20 HCP – whose hand is it?  Both sides have stoppers in every suit.  But, there aren’t a lot of tricks nor places to play.  There were many questions of bidding judgment that created problems all around.

  • Should North open the bidding in second seat with their 3 quick tricks (but 4-3-3-3 and 11 HCP)?  One did, one didn’t.
  • If North passes, and East opens 1 does South have a vulnerable 1 overcall?
  • If South does overcall, how does North handle their hand (strong in the context of having passed)?
  • If North redoubles (whatever it might mean after 1-1-X) and West bids 1NT-P-P – now what?  A penalty double by North in this position would work well to push the board, but is that even feasible?  Could partner read it – a passed hand now trying to penalty double 1NT when all partner did was overcall?
  • Almost all partnerships that play in this game have a rule: if partner forces the bidding to a certain level and strain, whether the next hand bids or not, returning to the level/strain that was forced shows the weakest hand possible (that is, I could bid 2 over 1NT to show a weak overcall whereas pass would show a stronger hand).  Does that ‘rule’ apply here?  I didn’t think so.  Anyway, this is a useful rule that all should have some agreement about what subsequent bidding shows.
  • After passing as dealer, does West have a reason to enter the auction (vulnerable) showing their 5-5 in the red suits after North opens 1 and South bids 1?  West thought so when that auction occurred at the other table.
  • Once North opened the bidding at the other table, South had their doubling shoes on, making a penalty double of both 1NT and 2.  Double dummy, both contracts are down.  Those 40 point part scores provide some of the safest penalty doubles in bridge, since, even if you allow it to make, that still leaves them short of game.

For what it is worth, I don’t have a strong opinion about any of the questions posed above – do you?  Each is a tough bidding judgment decision.  Clearly, on this deal, I can answer each question with clarity, since I can see all of the cards.  But, for a different layout of the cards, different answers will prove effective.  I certainly did not have to overcall 1.  I like bidding the boss suit whenever I can, since it can move the opponents to the 2 level sooner than they might want to (and, here, they don’t want to play at any level).  Anyway, when my partner did not open I did overcall 1 and partner (quite reasonably) felt they had some ground to make up at their next turn to bid to show their values.  As you see, we arrived in 3♠ and I needed to play/guess way better than I did to find 8 tricks (that were available double dummy).  I had to duck the opening club lead (I did), and when East shifted to a heart at trick 2, I had to go up with the K (but, instead I played a small heart, allowing another club lead by West).  The heart return was almost forced (spades, diamonds and clubs are unattractive and partner implied hearts).  After West won the Q, the second club lead crippled my hand.  I won the A, then played a spade to the A and a spade to the 10.  East won and started playing clubs.  I needed to discard my KJ on clubs to hold it to down 2.  When I ruffed the club, I was down 3!  I only scored 3 spades 2 diamonds and a club.  Going back to trick 2, had I gone up with the K, I am MUCH better placed because West never gets on lead and the power of the A109 remaining in dummy provides protection against being tapped out.  East has no effective leads – all suits help declarer.  Since it was a third seat opening bid, I was clueless about how much playing strength to attribute to the East hand.  In short, I got the heart suit way wrong.  But, whether I played for down 1, down 2 or down 3 barely changed the IMP result.

Meanwhile, our teammates at the other table were competing for the partscore with the East-West cards.  With no fit (a 7-card fit in 3 suits), they had no place to play.  Double dummy, 1NT by East (which was doubled) is down 2 and 2 by West is down only 1.  But, in the play, West only found 6 tricks, so they were down 2.  South (Gary M) made some excellent decisions to start doubling the vulnerable opponents rather than bidding onward.  When the dust cleared, our teammates ended in 2X down 2 for -500 and I was -300, losing 13 IMPs on a partscore hand.  Pretty amazing. 

Bridge is a bidders game and it seems that, more often than not, success goes to those who are bidding aggressively.  This was a hand where the more you bid, the more trouble you got yourself into.  Every once in awhile, your hand records that you pick up after playing a duplicate game will show a very short list of makeable contracts, double dummy.  Here, as the cards were dealt, N-S can make 1NT or 2 and E-W can make 1.  Neither side can make a club or heart contract.

 

 

 

Recap Of 11/4/2019 28 Board IMP Individual

Apologies in advance.  You are not going to see a lot of good bridge today, but I’m just reporting what happened.  Here is a preview of things to come.  Defense played a significant role in 3 swings (see if you would have done better?).  Twice a minor suit slam was bid vs. 3NT – once a very good one to win IMPs, once not a good slam to lose IMPs.  Once a (rare) excellent minor suit game was bid vs. a failing 3NT.  There was a lead ‘problem’ – see what you would have led.  Once there was a problem with doubles (penalty? take out?) that got way out of control.  And finally, there was an awkward hand where the auction started with a 3rd seat weak 2 at both tables and it was difficult to determine where to land – but friendly cards resulted in a win for the aggressive bidders.  If you are keeping track, that is a total of 9 double digit swings!

Here we go…

 
3
E-W
South
N
Bob
4
A543
3
KQ86542
 
W
Dan
J5
J109
Q976
AJ107
J
E
Jack
A976
K7
A10842
93
 
S
Ed
KQ10832
Q862
KJ5
 
W
Dan
N
Bob
E
Jack
S
Ed
1
Pass
31
Pass
32
Pass
4
All Pass
 
(1) Natural, invitational but non-forcing
(2) Trying to improve the contract

 

W
Mike
N
Jerry
E
Mark M
S
Manfred
1
Pass
1NT
Pass
2
Pass
4
All Pass
 

Playing that 3 over 1 shows an invitational hand, non-forcing, I felt that really described my hand well and chose that option at the risk of losing the heart suit.  When partner repeated spades (non-forcing), I feared that the tricks my hand offered (possible diamond ruff, force a club trick, plus a heart trick) might produce game, so I raised to 4.  It is certainly not partner’s fault for failure to offer hearts – my 3 bid showed interest only in clubs with no side suit.  Double dummy, only 8 tricks are possible playing in spades and when partner misguessed hearts, 6 tricks were lost for down 3.  Had partner left me in 3, only 7 tricks are possible.

The player with my hand at the other table simply bid a forcing NT and when partner offered hearts, they bounced to the heart game.  Here, double dummy, 9 tricks are possible, but the defense has to find their 4 tricks.  On the opening heart lead, East could see the singletons in dummy, the length in hearts (and clubs) and concluded that if declarer had the A, there would be lots of tricks (i.e. no hope for the defense), but if partner (West) held the A, declarer will fail by losing a trick in every suit.  So, they cashed both their A and A and the hand was over for the defense.  The spade suit, which initially had holes in it, became established.  The diamond loser could be ruffed in dummy, and there was communication to draw trump and enjoy all of the tricks.  Double dummy, after winning the K, almost any continuation defeats the contract (only a trick 2 continuation of the the A or 9 allow 10 tricks).  It is safe to cash the A.  After that, it appears the safest lead is to try clubs, although any card at trick 3 but the A or 9 will leave declarer a trick short.  Of course, had declarer held the A, a club shift allows a needless overtrick, since the club suit will provide discards for everything in declarer’s hand.  I don’t know if I could have resisted the temptation to cash the A, but it was necessary to not lead the A in order to defeat 4.  So we were -150 and -420 to lose 11 IMPs.

Back to the bidding – I have heard numerous times, over the years, that 7 card suits dwarf 4 card suits, so don’t worry about the 4 card suit.  And I had a decent 7 card suit.  But, I now think bidding 1NT is the right bid, even if you are playing invitational jump shifts – it allows you to bring the heart suit into play.  If partner rebids 2, you can rebid 3 (which is a slight underbid – you do have invitational playing strength, but on a misfit, 11 tricks will be unlikely).  If partner rebids 2, you can chose to pass or convert to 3.  But if partner rebids 2, you can bounce to game and see if the opponents can figure out how to defeat your contract.  The forcing NT is the choice made at the other table and clearly the better choice on this deal.

 
4
Both
West
N
Bob
J3
K653
10932
K94
 
W
Dan
864
Q9
A4
AQ10852
2
E
Jack
K1072
842
KQJ86
3
 
S
Ed
AQ95
AJ107
75
J76
 

 

W
Dan
N
Bob
E
Jack
S
Ed
1
Pass
1
Pass
2
Pass
31
Pass
3NT
All Pass
 
 
(1) Help suit game try?

 

W
Mike
N
Jerry
E
Mark M
S
Manfred
1
Pass
1
Pass
2
All Pass
 
 

When I make impossibly bad plays, I am constantly tempted to omit them from the blog, but here comes another one – a play so bad that it defiles the game of bridge.

At the other table, West chose to rebid their 6 card club suit rather than show spade support by raising to 2 with only 3 card support.  West’s 2 rebid ended the auction and on the spade lead, the defense got their 4 top major suit tricks, a spade ruff and the K for down 1.

I’m not sure why a simple raise to 2 suggested to East that a game try was in order, but try they did and game was quickly reached.  Now to find 9 tricks.  On the diamond lead, declarer could see 6 tricks (which is all they had), but things got better.  On the run of the diamonds, using upside down carding, my partner discarded the 5 and 9 of spades, in that order, guaranteeing that they held the AQ.  They also pitched the 7.  Declarer also pitched a spade and 2 clubs.  Then, on the club lead, declarer thought a bit before finessing – it turns out they were thinking should I risk going down 4 or hope to win the finesse and only be down 2.  I felt they held AQ10 and were trying to decide which finesse to take.  Anyway, they played the Q so I won the K and I made my first horrible play – shifting to a heart rather than simply lead a spade to score our 2 spade tricks and find out what else we can get after that.  Partner, of course, won my heart lead with the A and continued with the J.  Declarer played the 9 under the A and covered the J with the Q.  I placed declarer with originally holding Q109, and, horror of horrors, I ducked to maintain communication with partner to score my 13th heart.  If the hand was dealt as I was thinking, I don’t need to score my 13th heart because partner, after winning the AQ, can lead a heart and it will end play declarer into losing to the J at trick 13.  MUCH more significantly, I forgot I had already won the K, so the 2 known spade tricks plus the AK ensures down 1 – that is 5 tricks.  Down more is good, but at least beat the hand.  When I ducked, that was declarer’s 6th trick and they cashed 3 clubs for 9 tricks, making 3NT!?!?!?

In a different context, when a suit is 4-3-3-3 around the table, it is often right to duck the second round to maintain communication with partner, so that 2 more tricks can be scored in the suit.  This was NOT that situation.  Terrible terrible terrible.  Earlier I asked to see if you can do better on defense – board 3, I’m not sure how many players would have defeated 4 but here, everyone that can count to 5 defeats the hopeless 3NT…except me.  We were -600 and teammates were -100, lose 12 IMPs instead of winning 5 IMPs.

 
9
E-W
North
N
Ed
AKQ952
A95
3
A108
 
W
Mark M
Q10732
AQ9862
72
J
E
Bob
108743
J6
1054
QJ4
 
S
Mike
J5
K84
KJ7
K9653
 

 

W
Mark M
N
Ed
E
Bob
S
Mike
1
Pass
1NT1
Pass
3
Pass
6
All Pass
 
 
 
(1) Forcing

 

W
Dan
N
Jerry
E
Manfred
S
Jack
1
Pass
1NT
2
3
Pass
3NT
All Pass
 
 
 

Competitive bidding (vs. passing throughout) always alters the auction, sometimes in unpredictable ways.  At my table, with a hand rich in controls and tricks, North elected to force game with a jump shift rebid of 3.  At the other table, West stuck in a 2 bid which prevented a jump shift, so North underbid slightly with 3.  With strong diamonds and a solid hand, South chose to rebid 3NT and that ended the auction.  Back to my table, with a maximum 1NT hand (but shortage of aces), South chose to take the jump shift seriously and bounced to the club slam.  Perhaps 3NT or 4 or even 3 would have been preferable to the precipitous jump to 6.  See if partner wants to make a further move towards slam and proceed more cautiously.  It turns out the leap to slam was too unilateral, too high.  Hands that are 5-3-3-2 are only one card away from the dreaded 4-3-3-3, hands which always have trouble producing tricks.  However, without a diamond lead, there is hope (for declarer).  Draw 2 rounds of trump, and if the spades are 4-1 and the long trump is with the long spades, all diamonds can be discarded before the opponent can ruff in, and the losing heart can go on the final spade.  However, the 5-0 spade split doomed the slam.  An opening spade lead would lead to down 2, an opening diamond lead would at least produce down 1.  My choice of a heart lead left a bit of suspense to the hand, but in the end, 11 tricks was the limit.  So we were +50 while our teammates had 9 easy tricks in NT (possibly could have scored more depending on the play and defense), so they were +400, win 10 IMPs.

 
15
N-S
South
N
Jerry
Q8432
10732
10853
 
W
Bob
AKJ97
K7
KQ7654
5
E
Mike
106
AKQJ96
94
932
 
S
Jack
5
854
AQJ62
AJ108
 

 

W
Bob
N
Jerry
E
Mike
S
Dan
1
2
Pass
2
Pass
2
Pass
3
Pass
3
Pass
4
Pass
5
Pass
Pass
Dbl
All Pass
 
 
 

 

W
Ed
N
Manfred
E
Mark M
S
Jack
1
2
Dbl
4
Dbl
Pass
4
Pass
Pass
Dbl
All Pass
 
 

At the other table, North looked at their hand and found a negative double at the 2 level with 2 HCP!?  East looked at their hand and bid (4) what they thought they could make.  South found the amazing bid of double which has the virtue of being right, in that the defense will painlessly score 5 tricks on any lead but trump.  That is, leading any of the 10 cards that are not hearts (most of those cards are impossible to lead, such as a small diamond or a small club) will prevent declarer from scoring more than 8 tricks.  Assuming reasonable defense after any non-trump opening lead, the defense will fall into a spade ruff, 2 club ruffs, and 2 aces.  Declarer can’t get to their hand to draw trump.  A trump lead produces 11 tricks for declarer because then he is in charge – he loses 2 aces and wins the rest of the tricks.  The inability to draw trump due to the 6-0 fit creates a 3 trick swing.

Clearly South intended the double as penalty – spades is the only unbid suit and they hold a singleton.  I suspect it was the negative double at the 2 level that made South feel that 10 tricks would not be possible in hearts.  They have no reason to believe that their hand will produce 4 tricks.  But, North, who had already advertised spades, heard the double and thought partner wanted THEM to bid spades (plus, their undervalued negative double made them fear there was no chance of defeating 4).  I think South could have bid 4 themselves if that is the contract they were pursuing.  So, it seems more prudent, if North has to pull the double, to revert to partner’s suit, diamonds.  There are 9 tricks available in diamonds.  In any case, North decided to try for 10 tricks in spades.  West thought that was unlikely and doubled.  Instead of now pulling back to diamonds, North sat for the double and was able to manage 5 tricks, down 5, -1400.  Double dummy, 1700 is possible, but who’s counting.

Meanwhile, at my table, there was no negative double.  East didn’t bounce to 4 but bid a simple 2 as their first bid.  I then bid 2 to show my second suit and East bid only 3.  Now I could bid 3 to show my 5=6 shape and partner took a preference back to clubs rather than repeating his solid heart suit.  I wasn’t sure what tricks I would find, but I felt my hand was too good to not bid the 5 game.  South could see 3 almost certain tricks in their hand, maybe more, so they doubled.  South won the A at trick 1 and returned a diamond to the K.  There are a lot of tricks around, but I can’t get at them.  I started by attempting to cash the two top spades but South ruffed the second one.  No matter what I did, South was destined to score 3 trump tricks along with their A for down 2.  In fact, I am down 3 if, after ruffing the spade, South ensures that dummy is never reached for heart discards by continuing clubs – the easy way is to play the A and then the J).  Declarer has spade losers and dummy is down to 1 trump and if declarer attempts a spade ruff, South will over ruff and lead diamonds.  Instead, declarer can play his high trump to draw South’s last trump, but it also takes dummy’s last trump and declarer is left with 2 spade losers to go with the 3 tricks they have already lost.  By leading clubs, South trades 1 club trick for 2 spade tricks.  But, when South ruffed the spade, they led a diamond allowing a spade discard as dummy ruffed, plus 2 more spade discards on high hearts.  But South still had 2 power trump tricks for down 2. Our -300 and our teammates -1400 lost 17 IMPs.

What about the bidding?  It is hard to call a 6-3 fit a misfit, and even the spade 5-2 fit can play for 9 tricks for East-West.  Even though there are 26 HCP and stoppers in every suit, 3NT is hopeless on a diamond lead, since 6 tricks must be lost.  Bottom line, if our team declares at both tables on this deal (at a high level), we are destined to lose a lot of IMPs wherever we land, especially if we are doubled.  The secret to this hand is to let the other side play it.  My partner and I felt we had too much power (if clubs are 2-2 there are 11 easy tricks, just losing 2 aces).  So we bid too much (as the cards lay on this deal).  And our teammates also bid too much.  So there you have it.

 
18
None
East
N
Jerry
106
Q87653
J10987
 
W
Mark M
AKQ
A
AK9762
Q52
7
E
Jack
J85
K102
J1053
A43
 
S
Bob
97432
J94
Q84
K6
 

 

W
Mark M
N
Jerry
E
Jack
S
Bob
Pass
Pass
2
Pass
2
Pass
3
Pass
3NT
All Pass

 

W
Manfred
N
Mike
E
Ed
S
Dan
Pass
Pass
2
Pass
2
Pass
3
Pass
3
Pass
3NT
Pass
4
Pass
4
Pass
6
All Pass

Here, both auctions started exactly the same.  For their second bid, East had to make a choice.  At my table, they signed off in 3NT and West passed, ending the auction.  Our teammates saw strong diamond support with an outside ace and king opposite the powerful 2 opening bid, so they decided they had to push for slam (I agree).  One curiosity of this particular deal, the ‘2 waiting response’ had the (rare) effect of right siding the diamond contract.  Had West been declarer, the natural J lead would have forced declarer to either win the A on the first round, or duck and (assuming South wins the K and continues clubs) win the A on the second round and take an immediate finesse for the Q.  Since declarer is more likely to play for 2-1 trump than take a first round finesse, that would have led to the defeat of the diamond slam, since once the A is gone, there is no reentry to the East hand to take a diamond finesse (after you learn about the 3-0 split).

Anyway, that is not what happened.  I was on lead and led a spade against 3NT and declarer could win, find out about the diamond split, unblock the A, come to hand with the A, cash the K pitching a club from dummy and then finesse in diamonds, 12 easy tricks, -490.  Since East is playing the diamond slam, no lead by South is effective, there are always 12 tricks, just as there were in NT.  So our teammates scored +920 vs. our -490 to win 10 IMPs.

 
22
E-W
East
N
Jack
965
9853
QJ53
83
 
W
Mike
J8732
KJ6
764
96
Q
E
Manfred
AKQ10
1072
K83
J103
 
S
Bob
4
AQ4
A109
AKQ754
 

 

W
Mike
N
Jack
E
Manfred
S
Bob
11
Dbl
3
Pass
Pass
4
Pass
4
Pass
Pass
Dbl
All Pass
 
 
(1) !

 

W
Ed
N
Jerry
E
Dan
S
Mark M
Pass1
2
Pass
2
Pass
3
Pass
3
Pass
32
Pass
4
All Pass
 
(1) !!
(2) !

Some wildly different bidding created a swing on this hand.  Start with the dealer, East – is this an opening hand?  Of course.  I will occasionally pass 12 HCP that is 4-3-3-3, but this hand has 13 HCP and 2.5 quick tricks, excellent spades, but an awkward initial call in first seat.  At my table, East opened 1 (which normally shows a 5 card suit) and when I doubled (which normally shows 4 cards in hearts, the unbid major), West raised to 3 which was passed around to me.   I felt that if I doubled again, I would be promising 4 hearts, so I merely competed to 4.  Partner, still thinking I held 4 hearts converted to the game in hearts, which West decided to double.  With the KJ6 over the AQ4 (and with the 3 card trump suit clearly visible in dummy), the defense was able to work out a path to 4 tricks.  The defense began with two high spades with the second one ruffed in dummy.  Declarer played 3 high clubs, with the third one ruffed by West with the J as the last spade is discarded by North.  West exited with a diamond ducked to the K and A.  Then a diamond to the Q allowed a heart finesse that lost to the K.  West exited with a spade, ruffed by North who then led a diamond to dummy to score the 10.  But, at this point, the defense already has 3 tricks and East retains the 107 while only a singleton A remains in dummy.  No line of play can prevent East from scoring their 10 for the setting trick.  So, we scored 9 tricks for -100.

At the other table, East miscounted their points and did not open.  Without the spade opening bid, North-South had the auction to themselves with no opposing bidding.  South judged that their hand was worth a 2 opening bid (what do you think?).  After the 2 response, South showed their suit with 3 and heard North rebid 3 (table talk decided that this was either diamonds or a double negative, but unclear which – turns out it was both!).  Now South is trying to find a place to land, hoping that by showing hearts, partner, with spades stopped, can rebid 3NT.  North, with no spade stopper, raised hearts so that North-South reached the same heart game that we did at our table, but played by the South hand.

The play started the same: two high spades with the second one ruffed by South followed by 3 high clubs.  However, West did not ruff the third club with the J – they just discarded as dummy got rid of their last spade.  Declarer then played A, then Q, won by the K.  Unable to see that South had bid a 3 card suit naturally at the 3 level, West continued with the J, dropping partner’s 10.  A spade continuation after cashing the J took dummy’s last trump, but South was now down to the A and good clubs to score 10 tricks.  They didn’t even need the diamond finesse which was working.  We were -100 while our teammates were -420, lose 11 IMPs.

There were an unusual number of bidding judgment decisions on this hand.  East must open, but what?  If it were me, I would just follow my rule: opening hand, no 5 card major, 3=3 in minors, open 1.  But opening 1 (as East did at one table) has a lot of merit – far superior lead director (vs. 1) and a better preempt than 1 so the only downside is fooling partner about your length in spades.  Perhaps I will adjust my rules about what to open!  If East opens 1 it would certainly have changed the flow of the auction a lot, but who knows where it would end, since no one did open 1.  South certainly has a problem after East opens 1.  They would probably double and then bid 2NT if the opponents have not bid spades.  If East passes, South has the chance to open – does South open 2 (or 1♣ as I would)?  Since the cards are sufficiently unfriendly for (vulnerable) East-West, a penalty double of 3 would allow a winning score of +500 if North-South took all their tricks. The problem is that had I made a double of 3 it is still takeout!  Should North pull 4 to 4?  Does West have a penalty double of 4?

What about the defense?  When I have 3 trump, I often play high-low to show count (let partner know that I am 3 long), so that they can then work out how many trump declarer has.  Many others use ‘trump suit preference’ to tell partner where their values are, since the small spots played while declarer draws trump can be meaningless cards unless you assign a meaning.  On this particular deal, no suit preference signal is going to help the defense, but if East provides the count in trump, West could work out that a 3 card suit had been bid and that tapping dummy with a spade (after winning the K) would leave declarer helpless.  That isn’t what happened, so the game came home.

 
23
Both
South
N
Jack
1032
A96
KQJ32
K9
 
W
Mike
97
KQ842
6
AQJ43
10
E
Manfred
AK654
A9874
1086
 
S
Bob
QJ8
J10753
105
752
 

 

W
Mike
N
Jack
E
Manfred
S
Bob
Pass
1
2
2
Pass
3
Pass
3NT
All Pass

 

W
Ed
N
Jerry
E
Dan
S
Mark M
Pass
1
2
2
Pass
3
Pass
4
Pass
5
All Pass
 
 

The first round of bidding (and West’s rebid) were pretty automatic and the same at both tables.  Then East has to decide if they should try 9 tricks in NT or pursue game/slam in a minor.  With diamonds doubly stopped, one player decided that they should go for 9 tricks in NT.  But, when the club finesse lost, the defense had 0+1+3+1 for 5 tricks, down 1.  At the other table, Dan was sitting East and he saw a shortage of helpful honors in partner’s suits (and void in the suit partner opened), with no great source of tricks in his own suits, so rather than offer 3NT as a game contract, they raised partner’s clubs to 4 and partner bid the club game.  In spite of the K being offside, there are actually (double dummy) 12 tricks available (after the ‘obvious’ K lead – an unlikely opening spade lead will hold declarer to 11 tricks due to altering the timing necessary to get all of the diamond ruffs). Declarer simply pursues a cross ruff (and 1 ruffing finesse in hearts) to score all 8 trumps, one at a time, plus 2 top spades, a heart and the A.  I don’t know the actual line chosen, but declarer made 11 tricks, so our teammates were +600 and we were +100 to win 12 IMPs.

What do you think of the 3NT bid?  It certainly seems reasonable and 9 tricks are there if Kx(x) is onside.  If the opponents don’t set up declarer’s spades or diamonds for extra tricks, declarer can force a heart trick to reach 9 tricks.  But, I like the 4 bid.  Yes, you only have 3 trump, but they should be useful with the heart void, while the heart void is problematic in NT.  Plus, your 3 fast tricks in the pointed suits figure to cover partner’s losers there.  And, as partner ruffs diamonds, you know the diamond length on your right will prevent any threatening over ruff.  So, would you pursue the minor suit game or assume you will find 9 tricks in NT?  Playing matchpoints, one has to worry about whether there would be 10 tricks available in NT, but playing IMPs you just need to pursue the safest game contract.  I like the 4 bid and it had the virtue of being the winning bid on this deal.

 
25
E-W
North
N
Jerry
Q109
J102
109
K10987
 
W
Manfred
AK87
AQ
8543
Q63
10
E
Bob
J65
98643
A7
AJ5
 
S
Ed
432
K75
KQJ62
42
 

 

W
Manfred
N
Jerry
E
Bob
S
Ed
Pass
Pass
2
2
Pass
3
All Pass

 

W
Jack
N
Dan
E
Mike
S
Mark M
Pass
Pass
2
Pass
Pass
Dbl
Pass
3
Pass
3
Pass
3
Pass
4
All Pass

Here, both tables started with two passes and South opened a rather routine weak 2.  From there, both tables floundered around a bit with no obvious place to land.  North-South have 7 card ‘fits’ in both minors with 6 card ‘fits’ in both majors.  East-West are just the opposite (7 card major fits, 6 card minor fits).  The target of every auction is ‘how high and where?’  The answer to both questions is far from obvious.  Often 25 HCP plus a stopper in every suit (without an 8 card major fit) means 3NT should be the target…only 8 tricks are there with best defense – but that ‘best defense’ includes a double dummy opening lead of a small diamond so as not to squash the critical 109 of diamonds that partner holds.  Double dummy, the deal produces 11 tricks in spades and 10 in hearts, but as you will soon see, double dummy is not the likely scenario for offense or defense.

I’m not sure what to say about the bidding at either table.  West has an enormous problem after the 2 opening bid.  NT makes no sense with no diamond stopper.  Double makes no sense with a doubleton heart.  And bidding spades…well, partner decided to make a 4 card suit overcall (2) at the 2 level (well they did have 15 HCP).  I raised to 3 and that ended the auction when partner didn’t feel his hand warranted a game bid.

At the other table, West, who held 15 HCP, noticed that they had nothing to bid and passed over 2.  East (who could not open the bidding in second seat) then reopened with a double.  West came to life with a cue bid, so East bid 3 showing the only ‘suit’ they had.  Partner now bid 3, the only suit that they had.  Since East’s hearts were 5 long, they decided they must be rebiddable and so they now bid 4 ending the auction.  Neither hand could bid at their first opportunity, but still game was reached.  Now to find 10 tricks.  The ‘obvious’ way is to win the diamond (ducking could be quite poor if South opened a 6 card suit), and then finesse the Q.  But, double dummy, the only card to lead at trick 3 (after winning the Q) is…a diamond.  This is to sever communication early so that the 10 can never be a late entry or exit card for the North hand.  The actual play continued with the A (a normal, but potentially fatal continuation).  Now a club finesse to enter hand to drive out the (hoped for) 3-3 hearts with one more lead of trump.  When South wins the K, they must play a club (through dummy’s Q6) to declarer’s A – this would establish the K while North still retains a diamond.  In practice, South first cashed a diamond (stripping North of their exit card) and then led a club.  This establishes the K just like it would have if they led a club a trick earlier, but North can now be strip squeezed in the black suits.  After winning the A, declarer plays 2 more hearts and North has no answer in the 4 card ending.  If they ever pitch a spade, the spades are all good, and if they hang onto all 3 spades, declarer can (and did) play a club to North’s K forcing a spade lead away from the Q, making 10 tricks – 3+4+1+2.  Very nicely done.  The cards were very friendly for East-West, but since declarer didn’t play a second round of diamonds very early (trick 3), the defense could have prevailed by not cashing their diamond and leading clubs, preserving North’s exit card.  Other similar ways to score 10 tricks is to duck the opening diamond lead (already noted as dangerous) or lead a diamond at trick 2 after winning the A.  But if you continue with a heart finesse at trick 2, you must play a diamond at trick 3 or the defense can prevail.

It is amazing (to me) there there are 11 tricks available, double dummy, in the 4-3 fit with spades trump.  The cards were really friendly for East West.  We were only in 3 and when it was all over, partner scored 10 tricks for +170, but our teammates were -620 to lose 10 IMPs.

The nearly automatic 3rd seat weak 2 bid reeked havoc on the East-West bidding.  But, even without that opening bid, the choice of bids and choice of contracts for East-West remain extremely problematic.  All of bidding is structured around finding 8 card major suit fits.  There were none.  3NT suffers from a lack of a source of tricks.  But, on this deal, nearly anything was possible, double dummy.  I was shocked our counterparts (opponents holding our cards at the other table) arrived in the 4 game, and even more shocked that it made – I hadn’t tried to analyze it at the table, it just didn’t seem likely to score 10 tricks.  This deal took a distribution and key card location so precise and so specific that I think the game in either hearts or spades might be less than a 10% probability of success (but I don’t have the patience to compute what the probability really is – perhaps a reader will?).  All I can say is congratulations and move on to the next hand…

 
26
Both
East
N
Jerry
K72
Q873
10983
43
 
W
Manfred
Q106
64
AK42
AK109
10
E
Bob
J854
K5
Q
QJ8762
 
S
Ed
A93
AJ1092
J765
5
 

 

W
Manfred/Jack
N
Jerry/Dan
E
Bob/Mike
S
Ed/Mark M
Pass
Pass
1NT
Pass
2
Pass
2
Pass
3NT
All Pass

The exact same (normal) auction was produced at both tables, so it came down to the opening lead.  At our table, the heart lead produced 7 tricks for the defense, down 3, -300.  Our teammate found a diamond lead producing 9 tricks for declarer, -600 to lose 14 IMPs.

David Bird says to lead a major suit on these auctions and on this deal, either major can work to find the 7 defensive tricks.  A diamond didn’t work.

 

Recap Of 10/21/2019 28 Board IMP Individual

When we play, our movement is an individual movement with 7 rounds, 4 boards each round with everyone else who is playing being your partner for 4 hands.  Round 3 had, for the first time, all 4 boards with double digit swings (11-12-12-11 IMPs respectively) and those were the only double digit swings all day until one more came in the last round.  And, there were quite a number of other amazing hands which did not result in a double digit swing, but could have – so I decided to write up one of those.  Bidding and leads both played a role in creating the swings, but for the hands reported, neither defense nor declarer play were ever a factor in the swing.

 
9
E-W
North
N
Manfred
109
AKQ82
Q97
A83
 
W
Bob
654
107
K10642
Q42
3
E
John
Q87
943
AJ83
1096
 
S
Dan
AKJ32
J65
5
KJ75
 

 

W
Bob
N
Manfred
E
John
S
Dan
1NT
Pass
21
Pass
2
Pass
32
Pass
3NT
All Pass
 
(1) Jacoby transfer
(2) Game forcing second suit

 

W
Ed
N
Jerry
E
Chris
S
Gary
1
Pass
1
Pass
1NT1
Pass
22
Pass
33
Pass
4
All Pass
 
 
 
(1) A little heavy
(2) New minor checkback
(3) Trying to catch up, showing extras

There are lots of debates among experienced players about what sort of balanced hand opens 1NT with a 5 card major – some always do, some never, and some ‘it depends.’  As you see, one table opened with 1 and soon they were in the heart game.  The other table opened 1NT.  After the 1NT opener, South showed a good hand with at least 9 black cards with doubt about strain and level (from his perspective, the deal could play in spades, hearts, clubs or NT in game or slam, depending on partner’s hand and possibly a perfect fit).  He did this by first transferring to spades and then bidding clubs.  After it was over, North admonished himself for not bidding 3 on the way to 3NT.  His partner can certainly raise, bid NT themselves, or repeat a black suit if appropriate.  When my partner found the diamond lead, the defense quickly scored their 5 diamond tricks to set the 3NT contract 1 trick.  At the other table, trying to ensure 10 tricks, it is best to take an early spade finesse while dummy still has trumps to control diamonds.  When spades behaved so well, declarer had 5 tricks in each major and 2 top clubs for 12 tricks, +480 for our teammates and our +50 won 11 IMPs.

What should you open with the North hand?  I think it is a matter of style.  Sometimes, the 1NT opening bid will shut out the spade suit where neither defender can enter the auction reasonably at the 2 level, but, if you don’t choose to open 1NT, they can overcall 1 with 1.  With South taking his time in the bidding and not merely jumping to 3NT, he sent the right ‘alarm’ to North, but North persisted with NT.  North certainly had hearts covered and Q97 seemed enough.  The opening NT bid wasn’t fatal, but the final signoff in 3NT was.  My partner almost chose a passive heart lead (any suit that is only 4 long headed by the AJ is often ineffective for an opening lead when a strong NT is bid on your right).  Here the diamond lead was quite effective, in spite of holding AJ83.  Thanks partner!

 
10
Both
East
N
Manfred
AK10
AJ54
Q8
AJ98
 
W
Bob
Q9654
K73
52
Q43
3
E
John
J832
Q6
109
K10652
 
S
Dan
7
10982
AKJ7643
7
 

 

W
Bob
N
Manfred
E
John
S
Dan
Pass
Pass
Pass
1
Pass
1
Pass
2NT
Pass
31
Pass
32
Pass
4
All Pass
 
 
 
(1) Wolff, asking if North holds a 4 card major
(2) Showing 4 hearts

 

W
Ed
N
Jerry
E
Chris
S
Gary
Pass
3
Pass
6
All Pass
 

Preempting in second seat is the most risky time to be offbeat.  This is because one opponent has already passed, so of the two players remaining to bid, one is partner, one is your left hand opponent.  Preempting your partner can create unwanted difficulties.  In short, it is recommended to have classic values when opening a 2nd seat (vulnerable) preempt.  At the other table, our teammate sitting South began the auction with 3 and North, assuming classic values (and possibly a little more?) bid the slam.  South is unlikely to have both the AK as well as a side Q, but if they do, you are on a finesse.  Here there was no side Q, but the extra shape (1=4=7=1) that South had fit quite well (along with great heart spots) and that proved to be enough.  It was a quick easy auction and when the heart honors are split between East and West, 12 tricks are there for the taking.  Unless a heart is led on opening lead (it was), both the 10 and 9 are critical to make the slam (and the 8 also if the suit splits 4-1).  As long as opener was 7-4, the 4 card suit could have been spades or clubs and the slam still would have had play (especially with the J (making it cold) or the 10 which would provide the same chances that the actual heart suit provided).  The shape of a hand usually radically changes the trick taking ability.  Had opener been 2=2=7=2, the only way to make would be an opening lead of a K from KQ, allowing a later lead up to the J for a discard in the remaining doubleton.

At our table, a 3 checkback (part of the Wolff relay system after a 2NT rebid) found the 4-4 heart fit which also was able to score the same 12 tricks when the hearts honors were split between the defenders.  On this deal, 12 tricks are available in either red suit, but for slam, diamonds is a safer contract due to having complete trump control.  So, our teammates scored +1370 while we were -680 to win 12 IMPs.

 
11
None
South
N
Manfred
KJ1032
A943
8542
 
W
Bob
AQ4
85
QJ
KQ10754
3
E
John
76
J762
K10973
A3
 
S
Dan
985
KQ10
A6
J9862
 

 

W
Bob
N
Manfred
E
John
S
Dan
Pass
1
1
Dbl1
22
Dbl3
24
3
Pass
3NT5
46
Pass
Pass
4NT7
All Pass
 
 
(1) Negative typically showing 4 hearts
(2) showing spade support with invitational values
(3) Showing real clubs
(4) Showing a minimum overcall
(5) Trying for game
(6) Attempting a save, or to push us higher
(7) Thinking I should find 10 tricks

 

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

Our luck ran out on this deal.  With no stopper in 2 suits, I was sure West would not open the hand 1NT at the other table.  Wrong!  After a failed Stayman invite auction, East-West quickly arrived in 3NT.  After the normal spade lead (and spade continuation after winning the A), E-W had 10 tricks with declarer scoring 2+0+4+4.

When I began the auction with 1 we had a wildly different auction at my table.  North, of course, overcalled 1 and partner made a routine negative double.  South showed invitational spade support and I doubled to show serious clubs.  North retreated to 2 and partner supported my clubs.  Time to try for 9 tricks in NT, so I bid 3NT.  On a spade lead, it looks like 8 tricks and where there are 8, there must be 9!  But, Manfred, with his club void, wasn’t done.  He gave me a problem when he bid 4 passed back around to me.  I could take the money and simply double 4, but, there are some reasonable lines of defense/declarer play that will actually allow 10 tricks in spades (but if all players play double dummy, only 9 tricks are possible in spades).  In any case, I felt that I could score 10 tricks in NT (just like they did at the other table), so I bid 4NT.  My clue should have been South’s invitational cue bid.  Even though I had a likely source of tricks, my choice to try to declare 4NT vs. defend 4 was simply wrong.  When Manfred made the excellent sneak attack lead in hearts, South won the 10 and led spades through.  I was limited to my A and 4 club tricks, scoring 5 total tricks, down 5!  We lost -250 while our teammates were -430, lose 12 IMPs.

Is opening 1NT the right bid?  Is it right to accept the 2NT invitation with two unstopped suits and sub-minimum HCP?  On this deal it certainly worked well.  I have opened 1NT many times with a 6 card minor, but my two weak red doubletons convinced me not to do it this time.  

 
12
N-S
West
N
Manfred
Q98753
Q92
KQ72
 
W
Bob
J4
K3
AKQJ9842
4
6
E
John
K106
AJ
10653
J963
 
S
Dan
A2
1087654
7
A1085
 

 

W
Bob
N
Manfred
E
John
S
Dan
1
1
1NT
2
3NT
All Pass
 
 

 

W
Ed
N
Jerry
E
Chris
S
Gary
1
1
2
2
3
Dbl
3NT
4
5
5
Pass
Pass
6
Pass
Pass
Dbl
All Pass
 
 
 

Here, the first 2 bids were the same at both tables, but my partner elected to show their spade stopper by bidding 1NT.  I showed my heart stopper by bidding 3NT and that ended the auction.  An initial club lead, or a spade lead that sees a discouraging signal and then figures out to make a club shift would allow 5 tricks for the defense.  On the actual heart lead partner was able to claim the first 10 tricks.

Meanwhile, when diamonds were raised (rather than bidding NT), much more competitive bidding followed where, eventually, E-W ventured into the diamond slam which was doubled by South (thinking that both aces would cash).  They did.  So, our teammates were +100 while we were +430 to win 11 IMPs.

What about the lead vs. 3NT?  The sneak attack doesn’t always work to defeat 3NT, but I have found on nearly every competitive auction that arrives in 3NT, the contract will fail with the right lead.  And, it seems to me, more often than not, that right lead is the off suit, not the one that you advertised during the auction (such that the declarer’s side felt that it could cope with that lead when they bid 3NT).  That isn’t to say leading your suit is always wrong.  But figuring out the right lead always swings a HUGE number of IMPs.

What about the competitive auction?  The defensive prospects vs. 5 are not strong (it is cold on a difficult spade guess), so North (Jerry) at the other table made an excellent decision to push on to 5.  Now East had to decide about their defensive and offensive prospects.  Since partner had not bid 1NT initially and had not doubled 5, East was fearful that the vulnerable opponents might be making 5!  Unless the defense achieves a ruff (not impossible, but not possible after an opening diamond lead), 5 will only be down 1.  In any case, East decided to take out insurance and try for 12 tricks in diamonds.

 
25
E-W
North
N
Bob
K964
QJ1052
95
87
 
W
Dan
8
76
AQJ1042
K964
3
E
Gary
QJ7532
K93
K8
AJ
 
S
Ed
A10
A84
763
Q10532
 

 

W
Dan
N
Bob
E
Gary
S
Ed
Pass
1
Pass
31
Pass
3NT2
All Pass
(1) Natural, invitational but non-forcing
(2) Going for the red game

 

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

Most players in my group use invitational jump shifts.  That is, the jump shift is not weak at all, but it  is natural and not forcing.  The West hand here is the prototypical example of an invitational jump shift showing about 10 points and a good 6 card suit – exactly what they held.  West, with a known key filler in the diamond suit, converted to 3NT.  Partner had to find a passive diamond lead (or an even more impossible spade lead, then heart shift) to beat it.  Declarer has 8 top tricks, but on the lead of either unbid suit (hearts/clubs), declarer is presented with his 9th trick and wraps up the game.

At the other table, our teammates were not an established partnership, so in order to avoid too much table talk that would give away the hand, West simply bid a forcing NT and passed when they heard the spades rebid.  Declarer managed 8 tricks for +110, while at our table, after the club lead, declarer just claimed their 9 tricks 0+0+6+3 for -600, lose 10 IMPs.

So, that was it for the double digit swings.  Here is one more, that could’a been a double digit swing, for a little bid of comic relief. 

 
4
Both
West
N
Chris
KQ9832
4
QJ
10762
 
W
Bob
6
AKQ72
A82
AKQ9
J
E
Dan
A10
J109863
764
43
 
S
Jerry
J754
5
K10953
J85
 

 

W
Bob
N
Chris
E
Dan
S
Jerry
2
21
All Pass
 
(1) Suction showing either the next higher suit (spades) or the next 2 higher suits (clubs and diamonds)

 

W
Gary
N
Manfred
E
Ed
S
John
1
2
4
4
5 
Pass
5
 
All Pass

At both tables E-W scored 12 tricks with hearts trump, so there was a missed slam opportunity, but the board was not a push!  At the other table, competitive bidding got the auction high and opener had to decide, with their 3 loser hand whether or not to chance a key card call.  When they bid 5 partner bid 5 and the auction was over.  With declarer’s club suit providing a diamond discard from dummy (and the A in dummy), 12 tricks were easy.  But, even with the A, 12 tricks are not assured – if dummy had 1 more diamond and 1 less spade or heart, 11 tricks would have been the limit since there would have been 2 diamond losers.

At our table, where I decided to start with 2 North trotted out their Suction tool.  South alerted, said it was Suction, but couldn’t remember what it showed, so they passed.  I knew what Suction was so I told him, but he still passed.  At this point, even though I was playing with a regular partner, we hadn’t discussed what various continuations would be after this intervention.  I thought we might land on our feet, but I wasn’t confident about finding a slam, let alone making one.  And, if we arrived in the wrong game and went minus, it would be a huge loss, so I decided to just defend 2 at 100 per trick, rather than try to figure out where we should play and how high.  Lazy?  Perhaps.  Looking at all of the hands, passing 2 seems pretty crazy (letting the opponents play 2 undoubled when we are cold for slam).  But, both East and South have 5 points.  Both hands would ‘show values’ opposite the 2 opening bid and pass the 2 bid to show those values (with a bad hand, East would conventionally double the overcall showing a double negative worthless hand).  And, given the confusion, it seemed more likely to me that South held the hand that East held and East held the hand that South held.  If that were true (East and South trade hands), then the double dummy best contract is 6 but that requires a doubleton QJ (which North held).  Meanwhile, in spite of the 6 card heart suit (that South would have held if East/South traded hands), North-South would be down 5 playing 2.  3NT is another reasonable place to play, but there is risk there as well (poor spade stopper).  I don’t know what contract we would have chosen (either with the actual East hand or if East held the South hand).  Anyway, however foolish I was to pass out 2 at the table, I did.  The result was +700 vs. -680 to win an IMP.  Bridge is a great game.  When is the last time you saw +700 on a scorecard (recalling the old days of scoring when doubled non-vulnerable penalties were 100-300-500-700-900-1100…was changed in September 1986)?

Recap Of /10/2/2019 28 Board IMP Individual

Today there were 6 hands with double digit swings where, again, bidding played the major role, but leads, defense and declarer play added opportunities that could have reduced/eliminated the swing.

 
6
E-W
East
N
Mark R
KQ642
J106
AJ85
6
 
W
Dan
AJ3
Q94
Q1076
K73
4
E
Bob
5
A8732
K3
AJ1098
 
S
Tom
10987
K5
942
Q542
 

 

W
Dan
N
Mark R
E
Bob 
S
Tom
1
Pass
21
Dbl
3
Pass
4
All Pass
 
 
(1) Alerted as game forcing but may/may not have a club suit

 

W
Gary
N
Cris
E
Mark M
S
Bruce
1
Pass
21
2
32
43
Pass
Pass
64
Pass
65
All Pass
 
 
(1) Game force, same as at our table
(2) Some good hand, most likely with strong club support
(3) Continuing the obstruction
(4) Time to show club support(?)
(5) Taking partner back to their first suit

This hand produced some exuberant bidding at one table, reaching a truly hopeless slam, while we subsided in game with no slam exploration.  Double dummy, the number of tricks available depends on the lead.  The only way to obtain 3 tricks for the defense is to start with a club and deliver a club ruff to partner when you win the K (or, start with a diamond, North must win the A and shift to a club and get the club ruff).  A spade lead provides the opportunity for 11 tricks as long as you take the right view in clubs.  

******Belated update.  As initially reported, I simply described the 6 bid as exuberant.  But I since learned that Mark Moss (who made the bid) expected a totally different hand for the 2 bid.  The 2 bid can work out wonderfully if partner has substantial extra values and knows that partner may have something much closer to a 3 card limit raise with short clubs.  However, K&R barely values the West hand as having enough value for a limit raise (10.25) – almost closer to a simple raise to 2.  We would still get to game after a 2 bid.  I failed to highlight this aspect of the hand (how good is West’s hand? how good is East’s hand? how could/should the bidding go?).  But, surely you can’t spring the 2 bid on an unsuspecting partner without discussion.  This is one of the dangers of playing 4 hands per month in an individual movement without substantial partnership discussions.

At my table, a club was led, but, upon winning the K, clubs were not continued (they shifted to a spade), so I was able win the A, draw trump, cross to the K, take a club finesse against South, and arrive at 11 tricks, losing only a diamond and the high trump.

After the spade lead at the other table, declarer started to draw trump and was tapped in spades when South won the K.  Declarer finished drawing trump, but then went astray.  To reach 11 tricks (the objective of 12 could never be achieved), it was necessary to cross to the K and take a first round club finesse.  However, declarer crossed to the A, won the club finesse, and saw trouble (since he could no longer pick up the club suit).  So, declarer tried a diamond to the 10, losing to the J.  Another spade tap left him with no more trump while the defense still controlled the club and diamond suits, so when the dust cleared, he was down 4.  But, it all only made 1 IMP difference.  Down 1 would still lose 13 IMPs vs. the actual result: we were +650 and +400 to win 14 IMPs.

What about the bidding?  I guess the long strong clubs that opener held, combined with the singleton spade that the opponents were bidding, convinced the other player with my cards that slam was available.  It turns out, the double dummy par result for the hand is 4X (and our teammates did compete to that level, creating problems for the players with our cards).  When East-West pushed on to slam, a large number of IMPs were heading our way.  As you can see, at my table, rather than come in with 2, North elected to double to bring both spades and diamonds into play, but South had meager values and no further competition came from North-South.  So, it would seem that North’s decision to overcall, showing ‘just spades’ was more effective than the double that showed spades and diamonds.  Of course South still could have bid 4 over 4♥ (or even 3 over 3), but sacrificing at IMPs is sure costly when the opponents were not making their contract.  South doesn’t have much of a hand so I can’t really fault them for not bidding.

 
9
E-W
North
N
Cris
82
KJ532
AJ72
J4
 
W
Bob
J93
4
KQ1053
AK108
10
E
Tom
AK6
A87
864
Q973
 
S
Gary
Q10754
Q1096
9
652
 

 

W
Bob
N
Cris
E
Tom
S
Gary
Pass
1
Pass
1
1
Pass
3
5
All Pass
 
 

 

W
Mark R
N
Mark M
E
Dan
S
Bruce
Pass
1
Pass
31
Dbl2
RDbl3
Pass
4
Pass
6
All Pass
(1) Club raise with heart shortness
(2) Showing good hearts
(3) Promising the heart A

Another exuberant slam was bid on this hand, but a favorable diamond layout (3-2 split with the A onside or the J onside) could provide 12 tricks (as long as trumps were also 3-2), so 6 is certainly not a terrible slam.

When we stopped in game (5), a somewhat rare interesting defensive opportunity arose.  Declarer needs to start establishing diamonds early.  A common ploy for declarer holding a singleton is to immediately lead it at trick 2 (when the king with long cards are in dummy).  If the A is onside, 2nd hand may duck, allowing no losers in the suit, or they may rise, allowing an opportunity to work towards establishing the suit later for critical discards.  Here, of course, the A was offside (and declarer did not have a singleton).  Playing upside down carding, when East leads a diamond and South plays the 9, North knows, with honest carding, that there is a singleton, but they don’t know if East has the singleton or South has the singleton.  The rare play I was talking about is that the winning play (to hold declarer to 10 tricks and defeat 5) is to duck the A.  This deprives declarer of the entries needed to establish diamonds for spade/heart discards.  If declarer persists in diamonds, partner can ruff while you retain 2 top diamonds over dummy.  If declarer draws trump and then plays diamonds, you win, tap dummy’s last trump with a heart lead, and you still have diamond control (in fact, with this defense, declarer needs to stop drawing trump, but obtain heart ruffs with dummy’s small trumps).  If declarer tries to make 11 tricks by drawing trumps after they win the first round diamond lead with the K, there will only be 9 tricks possible.  Declarer will lose a spade, a heart and 2 diamonds, winning only 5 clubs, a diamond, and 3 top tricks in the majors.

Still, for North to allow the K to win, when declarer might hold a singleton diamond, could be very wrong.  A trick is a trick, and North still holds the J to make suit establishment difficult.  Not knowing who holds the singleton, I cannot imagine ducking the A defending against the slam.  And, even against the game, ducking could be wrong on different layouts.  There are two things to consider here, if a similar situation should arise and you are on defense.  1 – Declarer, holding the KQ, always has a power trick in diamonds, whether you take the A or not (so perhaps ducking doesn’t have such a large downside).  2 – Always (there are not many ‘always’ in bridge, but this is always true), pause at trick 1 to consider the whole hand.  Don’t play too fast.  What is declarer’s likely distribution?  What is partner’s distribution?  What line of play will declarer pursue?  What can you do to thwart that?  If declarer plays ‘this’ suit later in the hand, what card should I play (and be ready to play it so that your hesitation doesn’t give away your holding!)?

What about the lead?  I have always heard, if you have a singleton, lead it!  If South does lead the 9 (assuming standard leads), North knows 100% that declarer does not have a singleton, so ducking becomes far more attractive (should be automatic) and, in fact, if the 9 is led and the K is allowed to win, 10 tricks is the maximum declarer can score on this layout.  And, when declarer is known to hold at least 2 cards in the suit, I believe ducking the opening diamond lead could never cost a trick (but it might be possible to construct a layout where it would cost – I’m not going to try).  I will also point out that many people make attitude leads (9 from 983 says I have no useful cards in this suit).  I like count leads (a lot), so that the 3 is led from 983.  Assuming you can see the 2, you don’t know where the high cards are in the suit, but you know the 3 is a singleton or else it is from a suit that is at least 3 long.  Defense is tough.  It becomes easier if you can work out the shape of every hand, but also easier if you know where all of the high cards are.  There aren’t a lot of simple answers, but it is important to understand principles and make certain the partnership is on the same page (lead high, middle or low from 3 small?).

In any case, at both tables, North won the A when diamonds were led so 11 tricks were scored at both tables, +600 and +100 to win 12 IMPs.

 
13
Both
North
N
Cris
J52
42
K765
AK76
 
W
Dan
K7
KJ
10943
Q9852
K
E
Bruce
10963
Q65
AJ82
103
 
S
Bob
AQ84
A109873
Q
J4
 

 

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

 

W
Mark M
N
Tom
E
Mark R
S
Gary
Pass
Pass
1
Pass
1NT
Pass
2
Pass
2NT
Pass
3NT
All Pass
 
 
 

I will refrain from describing the 3NT contract reached at the other table as ‘exuberant’ – I’ve used that enough already.  North (my partner Cris) took a conservative view and passed my 2 rebid.  North at the other table (Tom) took a more aggressive view to arrive at the 3NT game (4 might have been the preferred game, but it is too hard to compare the likelihood of 9 tricks in NT compared to 10 tricks in hearts.  There are certainly 9 tricks available in NT (2+4+1+2), but to score those 4 heart tricks, you must lose the lead twice, so the opponents are likely to reach (at least) 5 tricks before you get 9.

Conservative bidding won out, since only 9 tricks are possible in hearts on this layout against the best defense (lose a diamond, a spade and 2 hearts).  West is faced with an awkward opening  lead (I think I would chose the 10, but then partner must fly the A or declarer gets an extra trick).  Here West chose the K for an opening lead with East signaling the 10 saying I don’t like spades).  Then, when I played A and another, West won and tried the 10 which was ducked around to my Q, so all I lost were 2 heart tricks, 11 tricks in all.

Against 3NT by North, East has 12 cards (out of 13) that they can lead that all result in down 2 (assuming best play/defense after the opening lead).  Only the impossible Q lead that no one would make would allow 9 tricks for declarer.  I didn’t get the details of the lead, the declarer play nor the defense, but the final result was down 3.  So we were +200 making 11 tricks in 2 and +300 for defeating 3NT 3 tricks to win 11 IMPs.

 
15
N-S
South
N
Cris
87642
J10987
A10
Q
 
W
Dan
A10
64
J63
J98762
2
E
Bruce
5
532
KQ52
AK1053
 
S
Bob
KQJ93
AKQ
9874
4
 

 

W
Dan
N
Cris
E
Bruce
S
Bob
1
Pass
4
4NT1
Dbl
5
Pass
Pass
Dbl
All Pass
 
 
 
(1) Minors/2 places to play

 

W
Mark M
N
Tom
E
Mark R
S
Gary
1
Pass
41
Pass
4
All Pass
 
 
 
(1) Spade ‘raise’ with short clubs

Wow – here what seemed like a normal auction (1-4) took a wild turn at our table.  At the other table, somehow North thought that they were too strong for a preemptive raise to 4.  Instead, they offered the club splinter bid.  Over the years, I have seen lots of different hands for the 1-4♠ auction, but I believe the “classic” is: 5 trump, shortness, 1 card (ace or king somewhere).  While you can vary somewhat from the “classic” based on personal style or personal whim at the time of your bid, assuming my definition is accurate, a “classic” 4 bid is what North has!

In any case, after the splinter, North-South were allowed to play an unmolested game in spades and won the obvious 10 tricks, losing a diamond, spade and club.  At our table, East (Bruce, who said they just about never treat a 5-4 hand as though it is 5-5), decided to take a save (or, perhaps persuade us to venture to the 5 level which is potentially much more valuable).  I wasn’t going to take the push, so we ended up defending 5X and got our diamond and 2 heart tricks for down 1.  Nothing more can be done once East decides to save/push rather than sit and hope to beat 4.  The vulnerability was right.  Even if we were going down, the save might not cost that much.  When they hit a perfecto with partner (well, “perfecto” would be a singleton heart to allow 5X to make!), their bid resulted in us being +100 vs. -620 so we lost 11 IMPs.

The massive spade fit announced by the raise to game suggests E-W might have a fit also.  The cards could have been dealt such that you are forcing partner into a phantom save (4 goes down) while you suffer a substantial penalty (opponents have extra defense, partner has a much less perfect hand).  There is some risk, but, I think the odds are against that doomsday scenario, so I like the 4NT call, even though it hurt me to the tune of 11 IMPs.

 
26
Both
East
N
Bob
AKQ
AK
AJ842
A83
 
W
Gary
10942
Q432
975
Q4
6
E
Bruce
85
965
K3
J97652
 
S
Mark R
J763
J1087
Q106
K10
 

 

W
Gary
N
Bob
E
Bruce
S
Mark R
Pass
Pass
Pass
2
Pass
2
Pass
21
Pass
22
Pass
3NT3
Pass
44
Pass
4
Pass
6NT
All Pass
 
 
 
(1) Start of “Kokish relay”
(2) Forced
(3) Showing balanced 26-27
(4) Stayman

 

W
Tom
N
Cris
E
Dan
S
Mark M
Pass
Pass
Pass
2
Pass
2
Pass
21
Pass
22
Pass
2NT3
Pass
3NT
All Pass
 
 
 
(1) Start of “Kokish relay”
(2) Forced
(3) Showing 24-25 balanced

The hand evaluation/bidding judgment on this hand came down to a single point.  When evaluating “points” I nearly always add 1 for my 5th card in a suit.  Here, with 25 high card points plus an extra point for the 5th diamond, I evaluated the hand as 26 points.  I hit partner with a perfect fit so 12 tricks were trivial unless diamonds were 5-0, and even then there were possibilities.  The same 12 tricks were scored at both tables, so the result was all in the bidding.

Many bridge players have found it difficult to bid balanced hand with lots of high card points, and so, many years ago, Eric Kokish created the “Kokish relay” (which he called “birthright”).

https://www.larryco.com/bridge-articles/kokish-relay

The article above describes the standard treatment, so that all hands above 24 (or 25) points start with 2-2-2-2-2NT.  The low end of Kokish depends on whether 2-2-2NT is 22-23 or 22-24.  Standard Kokish relay treats the 2NT bid as a game forcing bid and partner can try Stayman, Jacoby/Texas transfers or any other NT tools they have at their disposal to advance to whatever game/slam makes sense.

Bruce Tuttle popularized a variation on the standard Kokish relay (but he says it was not his invention – I always thought it was!).  Instead of 24+, there are bids available to describe all 2 point ranges (but one specific sequence is ‘out of bounds/not part of the structure’ – that is 2-2-3NT is not considered a valid sequence, not one of the choices of the “2 point ranges” to be shown – it just shows a powerful hand with 9 likely tricks (a long suit with stoppers) and has no interest in hearing Stayman, Jacoby or any other NT treatment).  Here is the structure:

  1. 20-21: open 2NT
  2. 22-23: 2-2-2NT
  3. 24-25: 2-2-2-2-2NT
  4. 26-27: 2-2-2-2-3NT
  5. 28-29: 2-2-4NT
  6. 30-31: 2-2-2-2-4NT
  7. 32-33: 2-2-5NT
  8. 34-35: 2-2-2-2-5NT

After all of these starts to the auctions, normal NT tools apply, just at higher levels than normal.  Bruce is my regular partner, so we have played this structure for many years.  It may seem needlessly complicated and causes you to get awfully high early in the bidding without knowing anything about shape, but it has mostly served us well.  Once, after showing step 6 (30-31), I could bid 5 showing at least 4-4 in the minors and partner bid/made 7♣ on our 4-4 fit (not bid at the other table).  Another time, believe or not, I produced the auction shown at the bottom of the list (step 8, 34-35) in a national pair event with Bruce.  Bruce did the math, but figured I must have done the math wrong so he bid 6NT when 7NT was cold!  Anyway, I’m not suggesting that these hands come up a lot, nor that this ‘system’ is a panacea for solving all bidding problems.  But it is fun!

With some mild table discussion, both tables confirmed they were playing this system where you can show 2 point ranges.  As I said, I treated my hand as “26 points” (26-27) so I bid the 4th step and partner had enough to insist on slam.  North at the other table (Cris) showed “25 points” (24-25) via the 3rd step and his partner’s flat hand with mostly queens and jacks saw 31-32 combined points and just signed off in 3NT.

 
27
None
South
N
Bob
Q75
J753
AKQ97
8
 
W
Gary
A93
AQ642
J6
642
8
E
Bruce
10862
K108
85
J1053
 
S
Mark R
KJ4
9
10432
AKQ97
 
Gary
N
Bob
E
Bruce
S
Mark R
1
1
2
21
3
Pass
3NT
All Pass
 
(1) Modest values…

 

W
Dan
N
Cris
E
Tom
S
Mark M
1
1
3NT
All Pass
 

Wow, last hand of the day to report.  I succumbed to the illusion that 9 tricks are easier than 11 and foolishly, after hearing partner raise my diamonds and both RHO and LHO bidding hearts, I STILL bid the ill-fated 3NT rather than the ice cold 5.  Wrong.  After the 8 lead, 7 tricks are the max possible for declarer assuming best defense, since the opponents take the first 6 tricks.  West played the Q at trick 1 and when I ducked, per force, it gave them hope.  They continued with a small heart at trick 2 and my only hope was that the overcall included AKQxx of hearts, so I went up with the J.  East could win the K and cash the 10 (and, the spots were sufficiently favorable, such that my 7 became mildly significant, West cannot overtake the 10 with the A because that would establish my 7 for my 9th trick.  But, alas, after cashing the third heart trick, East continued with a spade to the A and West could cash the rest of their hearts for 5 hearts and 1 spade, down 2.

At the other table, the same 8 was led (but a different auction) and West judged that declarer possessed KJT (and possibly more hearts) and decided perhaps partner can score 3 tricks in diamonds to go with 2 major suit aces for down 1.  So, rather than insert the Q at trick 1 (fearing it would set up even more heart tricks for declarer than which they were entitled to), West went up with the A and shifted to a diamond.  Since hearts were still blocked, declarer could knock out a spade (he had to establish a spade trick because there were only 8 tricks in the minors).  Upon winning the A, West persisted in diamonds allowing 10 tricks for declarer, 3 for the defense.  

West (Gary) at my table remarked that the 8 was hard to read.  If East had 3 small hearts headed by the 8, the typical lead would be the 8.  If they held K108, they would also lead the 8!  West reasoned that defeating 3NT was unlikely unless the defense was scoring heart tricks.  Also, because I had bid 2 rather than 3NT, it gave West a chance to raise hearts which greatly increased the chance that the 8 was low.  It was far from a sure thing that the 8 was ‘small’, but Gary decided that was their best/only chance.  After playing the Q and winning the first trick, West continued hearts and took their 6 tricks.  What happened with our teammates?  Thinking that the 8 was top of nothing, they abandoned hearts at trick 2 and the defense was finished.  Should West get it right?  West at this table did not have the benefit of the heart raise.  I claim the 8 is unreadable – you can hope, but you cannot know.  It could be low.  It could be top of nothing.  But, what about the rest of the high card points in the deal?  Between their hand and dummy, West can see 8 points in spades, leaving at most 2 in that suit for declarer.  Likewise, at most 4 points in hearts and 1 point in clubs, from what they can see between their hand and dummy.  Even if declarer has all of those cards, that only gets them up to 7 points, yet they jumped to game.  That leaves virtually no chance that partner can produce 3 tricks in diamonds (they cannot have AQ10 because the 10 is in dummy and they cannot have AKJ because that would max out declarer’s HCP at 9).  So, even though it might be unlikely that the 8 is low, West must assume it is low as the only path to defeat 3NT and defend accordingly.  Sometimes declarer’s ‘stopper’ in NT is only as good as it sounds from the bidding.  It doesn’t make 3NT the right call, but 3NT sure was successful when North jumped to it over 1.  We were -100 while our teammates were -430, lose 11 IMPs.

Still, I could have saved my teammate his grief by simply bidding what was in front of my face – 5.  Partner is marked with a heart singleton (or void) after hearts are raised by East.  I have very strong diamonds, so we aren’t in trouble there.  Certainly I cannot be 100% assured that 11 tricks can be found (I might lose a heart and 2 black tricks), but 5 still should have been my bid, especially at IMPs (we weren’t playing matchpoints).

I have heard inexperienced players state that they have a ‘rule’ – 6 or smaller is ‘small’ and 7 or higher is ‘big’.  Of course that ‘rule’ is nonsense – you need to at least look at your suit and dummy, as well as notice what declarer played (declarer is usually false carding to add extra confusion)!  But, sometimes, after looking at all of that, you still don’t know.  That is what makes bridge such a challenging and fun game.

One last comment about bidding agreements.  What does the double of a splinter show? Since leading the suit where dummy is short is rarely an effective start to the defense (that is what declarer wants to do so that they can obtain ruffs), some play the double is a directive to partner to lead the higher suit (or lower suit) – whatever they have mutually discussed/agreed with partner.  Some play the double is length in the suit, suggesting a potential to take a save over the pending game bid if partner is so inclined.  Today there were 2 splinter bids.  One of the splinters (3) was doubled resulting in partner leading the heart suit (no harm done, the diamonds are placed such that the slam will never make).  Still a diamond lead should have resulted in down 2-3 after a holdup of the A.  The other splinter (4) was not doubled, resulting in the missed opportunity to take the save in 5 over 4.  I’m not preaching any particular theory here, just suggesting that doubling splinters is yet another area for partnership discussion and agreement.  The double is a ‘free’ bid – the opponents will not be playing that contract.  The double of a splinter should have SOME meaning, just decide, agree and remember.

Recap Of 8/7/2019 28 Board IMP Individual

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

 

Recap Of 8/5/2019 28 Board IMP Individual

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

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

 

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

Recap Of 7/31/2019 28 Board IMP Individual

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

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

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

 

 

Recap Of 7/15/2019 28 Board IMP Individual

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

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

 

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Recap Of 6/19/2019 28 Board IMP Individual

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Recap Of 5/20/2019 28 Board IMP Individual

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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