Bob Munson

Recap Of 6/21/2017 28 Board IMP Individual

In this week’s game, there were a total of 9 double digit swings, with 8 decided by successful/flawed bidding choices and only one decided by declarer play.

It all began on the first board…

 
1
None
North
N
Munson
109
A86
KQJ98652
 
W
Madalena
AJ875
Q10432
5
103
K
E
Bill
6
K95
KQ9742
A76
 
S
Gary
KQ432
AJ876
J103
 

 

W
Madalena
N
Munson
E
Bill
S
Gary
5
5
Dbl
All Pass
 
 
 

 

W
Dan
N
Bruce
E
Mark
S
Jack
5
All Pass
 

 

As dealer, non-vulnerable, it seems that the opening 5 bid is automatic and that was the bid at both tables.  Our teammates at the other table did not disturb that bid, so 5 bought the contract.  But, at my table, East decided to venture forth with 5 which was immediately doubled.  Holding 5-5 in the majors, West certainly thought there might be a better spot, but was fearful of picking the wrong major ( both majors were ‘wrong’! since South was also 5-5 in the majors, but hearts would have fared better), so with no where to run, E-W ended up in the ill-fated 5X contract.

The defense started with the K, won in dummy with the A.  At this point, declarer should play a diamond off dummy and start to extract some trump.  Instead, they ruffed a spade and led a heart up to the Q, which was ruffed.  Then, North led the K and the A was ruffed out, A cashed, another heart ruff, top club cashed, and a club ruff while declarer follows suit.  Then yet another heart ruff with the A and another club was led – declarer was growing weary at this point (only one trump was outstanding) so they can simply ruff high (K) and then their hand is high, all trump played from the top.  But when declarer actually ruffed low, partner scored yet another club ruff with the J.  All told the defense got one high club, the A, and all 6 of their diamonds, one at a time, for -6, +1400.  The quiet 5 contract at the other table failed by 2 tricks for +100 and 17 IMPs to start the day.  A good start to the day, but many bad results lay ahead for me.

For interested readers, there is a bit of a back story to the 5 bid.  Just a couple of weeks prior to this hand, a different hand occurred which plants the seeds of ‘are the opponents stealing this hand when we should be playing it instead?’  If you want to read more about that episode, I posted the hand here:  http://bridgewinners.com/article/view/grand-theft-larceny/?cj=508795#c508795

East, who bid 5 on today’s hand, was involved with this ‘theft’ that was reported in bridgewinners.  After the hand, I asked him if he was thinking about the hand reported in bridgewinners and he acknowledged that, yes, he was.

 
2
N-S
East
N
Munson
96532
AJ2
K4
732
 
W
Madalena
AQ10
1086
J865
QJ5
A
E
Bill
8
Q9
AQ109732
1084
 
S
Gary
KJ74
K7543
AK96
 

 

W
Madalena
N
Munson
E
Bill
S
Gary
4
Dbl
Pass
4
All Pass
 

 

W
Dan
N
Bruce
E
Mark
S
Jack
3
Dbl
5
Dbl
All Pass
 

 

And here we are, board 2, the very next hand, and most of the IMPs go back the other way.  Again, an opening preempt (which is designed to make the opponents guess) was involved.  At the other table, a seemingly normal 3 preempt was doubled and West, with a 4-3-3-3 balanced hand, decided to further the preempt by bouncing to 5.  North doubled 5 to end the auction.  The four card trump fit opposite the preempt can be powerful, but 3-3-3 in the side suits can produce lots of losers.  Plus, queens, are rarely helpful when partner preempts (because, by the time a queen is useful, partner is out of the suit and can ruff it).  But, those same queens can often provide tricks when playing defense  (when both opponents are short in diamonds, they often have length in all of the remaining suits).  Against 5 the opponents can cash their two ace kings for down 2, and then it is  a matter of declarer deciding to finesse for the K or play for the drop.  Declarer decided to play for the drop and ended up down 3, -500.  Still that result would have been a good save against 4 making.  However phantom saves (when you sacrifice against a contract that was not going to make) can be especially costly.  At our table, my 4 game failed by a trick.  Obviously, looking at all of the hands, I could have made my game.  However, I played the hand that preempted to be shorter in hearts (he was) and odds were for the hand longer in hearts to hold the Q (he didn’t).  So, I lost a heart and with AQT over the KJ, there were 3 spade tricks to lose for -1 in my 4 contract, -100 paired with -500, lose 12 IMPs.

I’m not sure what inspired Bill to try the opening preempt of 4 vs. 3 (perhaps the -1400 on the prior board?), but it is often good practice to mix up your preempts to keep the opponents guessing.  In this case, Bill’s partner was not tempted to further the preempt, so I arrived in the normal 4 contract, failing.  On a different day (give the J to me instead of dummy) and I would be scoring +620.  Or, on a really different day, perhaps my hand would try 5 over the advance save of 5 and fail.  That is when the advance sacrifices really pay off – before the opponents get a chance to bid their game, you are already at the 5 level and they guess to try to make 5 spades when only 10 tricks are available.  Bruce was not tempted to bid on and simply doubled the 5 bid.

 
5
N-S
North
N
Munson
Q765
103
J983
Q107
 
W
Mark
K
AKQJ97
Q104
863
6
E
Jack
AJ1043
865
AK2
K9
 
S
Madalena
982
42
765
AJ542
 

 

Mark
Jack
1NT
4
4
6
All Pass

 

Bruce
Dan
1NT
2
2
4
All Pass

Here two different evaluations (slam invite, slam force) by the West hand had a curious end result.  At my table, holding no tenaces (thus, no need to declare and get a lead into your honors), a Gerber ace asking bid followed by bidding the slam left declarer with a dummy exposed to the opening lead.  To me, the auction suggested an aggressive lead, so I was going to be leading from a black queen.  Which one?  I’m not sure what David Bird would choose, but when I ran Lead Captain (not sure I ran it correctly), it was a tossup.  So, I mentally tossed a coin and it came up … spades.  Wrong!  A club lead beats the slam as long as partner plays the required J, but this club lead is only effective if West is declarer.  With East as declarer, the 6 contract, as the cards lay, is cold.  With my spade lead, declarer had sufficient entries  (due to 2-2 trump) to draw trump, establish spades for a club discard (with another club going on the A), so 12 tricks were there, -980.

Meanwhile, our teammates tried a Jacoby invitational auction (in conjunction with Texas transfers, a Jacoby 2 transfer to 2 followed by a jump 4 promises 6 trump, sets hearts as trump, and is a mild slam try).  The player that opened 1NT is to look at their hand in the context of that invitation and decide whether to advance to slam or pass and play game.  Holding all primes (aces and kings), 3 card trump support, and a side 5 card suit – this hand appears to me to be a clear slam acceptance.  That 5th spade turned out to be the crucial 12th trick, but when only game was bid, +480, lose 11 IMPs.

 
10
Both
East
N
Munson
73
J102
Q10632
972
 
W
Dan
QJ
Q765
A9
J1085
4
E
Gary
AK9852
AK
J4
KQ3
 
S
Mark
1064
9843
K85
A64
 

 

Dan
Gary
2
2
2
3
4
4NT
51
6
All Pass
(1) 0-3 keycards

 

Bill
Bruce
2
2
2
3
4
All Pass
 

 

Here again, Dan is making the crucial slam decision on this hand with an identical auction up through 4.  Here, to my dismay, this time he took the aggressive route (thinking that ‘if partner can open 2 then I have enough to go on’).  I think he was right.  The QJ in trump and A have to be huge slam cards.  Hopefully the Q or J will combine with partner’s hand in some useful way – as it turns out, both the Q and J were crucial to making the slam cold.  In any case, the collection of assets seem worthy of a continuation over 4.  At the time, Bill thought ‘Bruce can’t cue bid between 3 and 4‘ but that isn’t possible with a 2 opening bid.

The play becomes slightly awkward after a diamond lead, but since there was no diamond lead, 12 tricks were easy with a diamond discard on the Q (which is what you would also do if a diamond were led at trick 1, you would just have to win the A, cash the AK, cross to the QJ and then cash the Q discarding your diamond prior to drawing all of the trump).  Our teammates played the game, not pursuing slam.  -1430 vs. +680, lose 13 IMPs.

 
11
None
South
N
Munson
AJ
K83
K75
A8632
 
W
Dan
75
Q1072
A1083
Q109
7
E
Gary
8632
J4
J92
J754
 
S
Mark
KQ1094
A965
Q64
K
 

.

Munson
Mark
1
2
2
2
3
3
4
4
4NT
5
6
All Pass
 

 

Jack
Madalena
1
2
2
3
3NT
All Pass
 

 

Now, on the very next hand, after losing these slam swings, I decided to take the aggressive route, and so did my partner.  We contracted for 12 tricks when only 10 or 11 were there.  I was not proud of my 2 call with only 2 trump, but that kept the auction low and slow – in theory allowing us to probe for just the right game.  I considered 3 for my second call, but I rejected it.  I felt I was holding a good strong 1NT opening and had higher aspirations.  At the other table, the 3 choice of rebids resulted in a 3NT response from opener which ended the auction.  At my table, partner and I just kept bidding merrily along until all of a sudden we were ‘there’.  One of us should have finally put on the brakes, but momentum carried us all the way.

At the other table, the opponents managed 11 tricks in NT for -460 to go with our -50 (West rose with the A when given the chance, fearing a singleton was the basis of the 3 bid).  Lose 11 IMPs.

 
12
N-S
West
N
Munson
109762
K53
92
AQ9
 
W
Dan
A
AJ964
K54
KJ105
8
E
Gary
Q8
Q8
AQJ106
7432
 
S
Mark
KJ543
1072
873
86
 

 

Dan
Gary
1
21
3
3
3
3NT
4
5
6
All Pass
(1) Not meeting everybody’s requirements for game forcing 2/1

 

Bill
Bruce
1
1NT
2
3
3
5
All Pass
 

 

So, here we have this hand, the very next hand following our debacle on the prior board.  I guess the opponents were so mesmerized by our bidding on our prior deal that they decided to try some of it themselves!?!  Played by East, with South leading a club, 6 was not a success.  After taking Q, A and a club ruff, declarer still had the K to lose for down 3, +150.  Meanwhile, after not treating the East hand worthy of 2/1 game force, our teammates ‘right sided’ the diamond game.  The ‘effective’ club lead from South (that occurred at our table) is not nearly so effective for North vs. 5.  And, later in the hand when North wins the K, they STILL can’t lead clubs.  So, as declarer, West can score 5 diamonds, the A, a spade ruff in the short hand, and 4 heart tricks.  11 tricks.  Game bid and made.  +400 to go with our +150, win 11 IMPs.

 
19
E-W
South
N
Munson
AQ86
Q104
Q9852
4
 
W
Bill
KJ7
J52
103
QJ1083
Q
E
Mark
1095
7
AKJ64
K752
 
S
Bruce
432
AK9863
7
A96
 

 

W
Bill
N
Munson
E
Mark
S
Bruce
1
Pass
1
Dbl
RDbl1
2
4
All Pass
 
(1) Support redouble showing 3 card spade suit

 

W
Gary
N
Madalena
E
Jack
S
Dan
1
Pass
21
Pass
2
Pass
4
All Pass
 
(1) Not meeting everybody’s requirements for game forcing 2/1

This hand presented the only swing of the day that resulted from declarer play.  Double dummy, due to the favorable spade position, 11 tricks are available.  But, at my table, Bruce was focusing on getting his clubs ruffed and in the fullness of time, the J was promoted to a trick, losing 1 diamond, 1 heart and 1 spade.  At the other table, South played the same contract without the information about the minor suit oriented takeout double that happened at my table, but with the same lead.  I don’t know how, but South went down 1 at that table for +50 to go with our +420 to win 10 IMPs.

 
23
Both
South
N
Munson
K
10987642
KQ
KQ4
 
W
Jack
A108654
Q
AJ53
93
A
E
Dan
Q9
AKJ53
42
A1082
 
S
Bill
J732
109876
J765
 

 

W
Jack
N
Munson
E
Dan
S
Bill
Pass
1
2
Pass
Pass
Dbl
Pass
Pass
RDbl
Pass
3
Dbl
All Pass

 

W
Madalena
N
Mark
E
Gary
S
Bruce
Pass
1
2
All Pass
 

 

With negative doubles played pretty universally, players still have to find a way to extract a penalty double when it becomes available.  The opponents at my table had no trouble (although it is possible that pursuit of the game bonus in 3NT could provide a more profitable outcome).  Here, with my partner void, he hoped there would be a safer place to land than 2X, so he tried a redouble.  I bid my longest suit and we played 3X in our 4-3 fit.  I could only manage 6 tricks, losing -800.  Defending against 2, when a high heart crashed partner’s Q on defense, our teammates could only manage their 3 aces and 3 heart tricks for -1, undoubled, +100.  Double dummy, I was scheduled for -1400 in 3X, but -800 was still pretty painful.  Double dummy, 3NT by East has 10 tricks, but actual play/defense might have been a different result.  So, two significant bidding problems were faced by E-W on this hand.  Should East pursue 3NT or make a penalty pass, hoping partner reopens with a double?  If East passes, should West reopen with a double holding meager support for clubs?  Both Easts passed (less than optimal on this hand, but taking the sure plus is often winning bridge).  Even though they do hold 2 aces, only one West chose to reopen with the double.  In any case, +100 was a paltry score with the E-W holdings, and paired with our -800, lose 12 IMPs.

 
28
N-S
West
N
Munson
AQ6
73
AJ8763
65
 
W
Bruce
103
J108
Q954
AQ104
2
E
Gary
J742
Q2
102
KJ092
 
S
Jack
K985
AK9654
K
73
 

 

Munson
Jack
1
1
2
2
31
3
3
4
42
5
All Pass
 
(1) Not liking this bid, but bidding clubs, hearts spades or NT at this point seem more misdirected
(2) Now I should have tried 4H

.

Dan
Bill
1
1
1NT
4
All Pass
 

 

And, ending on board 28, the last hand of the day, the carnage continues.  This was all about bidding. After opening 1 I can’t say that a 1NT rebid even occurred to me.  I’m well prepared for a spade lead, but my clubs are certainly lacking and my diamonds aren’t quite ready to run in NT, so this seemed more like a suit oriented hand to me.  As you can see from the footnotes in the bidding, partner and I ended up on different wave lengths as the auction progressed.  He could have bid 4 over my 3 and I should have bid 4 over his 4.  Our temporary landing spot of 4 has some chances, but the defense will certainly prevail.  We had to get to 4 but we didn’t.  The less revealing auction at the other table resulted in no club lead, so a club was quickly discarded on the  A and 11 tricks were made, -650.  At our table, they took their two clubs to start and their 2 trump tricks later, -2, -200, lose 13 IMPs.

How about anybody else?  Does a 1NT rebid look right?  If 2♦ is your rebid, then what do you bid over 2?  Certainly 3 sounded like I had a 7th diamond and/or the Q.  If I had held the Q instead of the Q, 5 would have had decent chances.  But I did not, so 5 had no chance.

That’s all folks.

Recap Of 5/24/2017 28 Board IMP Individual

Bad day at black rock.  I lost big on 4 of the 5 double digit swings.  As usual, bidding played large rolls in the swings, but once the bidding had produced a different contract at the two tables, leads, declarer play and defense sometimes came into focus as opportunities were missed.

 
1
None
North
N
Bob
Q7654
J943
976
2
 
W
Dan
A9
K865
J105
KQJ5
A
E
Mark
10
10
AKQ83
A108543
 
S
Manfred
KJ832
AQ75
42
97
 
W
Dan
N
Bob
E
Mark
S
Manfred
Pass
1
1
Dbl
4
4NT
Pass
6
All Pass
 
 
W
Mike
N
Bruce
E
Bill
S
Cris
Pass
1
1
Dbl
4
5
All Pass

It all started on board 1 when second seat had a good hand, and had to decide how to open holding 1=1=5=6.  Classic Bridge World Standard says ‘open the 6 card suit’ unless you have touching suits without sufficient values to reverse.  Here you have touching suits.  I think normal reversing values start at 17 HCP, but can be softened to 16 HCP in a pinch.  But, those are usually with 5-4 hands.  6-5 is a bit different and here, with the second suit so powerful, I think starting with 1 makes sense.  As the auction unfolded, it proved to be the more successful opening bid.  So, at my table, the 4NT bid was available to suggest a desire to compete with another suit (diamonds or hearts) available as a possible trump suit.  Dan, knowing his incredibly powerful clubs would fill in partner’s club suit bid the cold slam.  Of course the A that he held was also key to making the slam.  At the other table, with the similar but different sequence, West passed out in 5.

I wish I had ‘do overs’ for my raise to 4.  I couldn’t do worse.  I contemplated 3 as an alternative, to give the opponents some room to stop low.  However, it is often most effective to preempt to the max at the first opportunity, depriving the opponents of as much bidding space as possible.  Both North players found the 4 call irresistible, but my bid resulted in slam while our teammates languished in game.  Had I bid only 3 East would have likely tried 4 and now West would be stuck for a bid.  Would they jump to the slam?  Or cue bid 4♠ while partner doesn’t know which suit he likes?  Of course East could then try 5NT (pick a slam) over 4 and solve the problem regarding which minor West likes, so they might have gotten to the slam anyway.  In any case, 12 tricks were easy, so we were -920 vs. +420, lose 11 IMPs.

 
3
E-W
South
N
Bob
A62
A982
A53
753
 
W
Dan
KJ95
1054
K97
KQ8
2
E
Mark
73
KQ
QJ1086
A1092
 
S
Manfred
Q1084
J763
42
J54
 
W
Dan
N
Bob
E
Mark
S
Manfred
Pass
1
Dbl
RDbl
1
1NT
Pass
3NT
All Pass
W
Mike
N
Bruce
E
Bill
S
Cris
Pass
1
Dbl
1
Pass
1NT
Pass
2NT
All Pass

I wasn’t exactly happy with my takeout double, but the same bid was made at the other table.  At least I had an opening hand with 3 card support for all unbid suits – one of my main thresholds for determining whether or not to make a takeout double.  But, unless partner has a really shapely hand, I have no spot cards, no tricks…3 bare aces and then what?  

Had I not doubled and needed to find an opening lead, I’m still not sure what I would have tried, had the opponents arrived in 3NT on their own power with no opposing bidding.  The David Bird book suggests, usually, to go after the 3 card major, hoping to find 5 with partner (vs. the 80+ years old standard of ‘4th from longest and strongest’).  But, that usually works best when there is a balance of power in the two defensive hands.  Here I hold almost all of the assets for our side.

In any case, I did double, I heard partner’s suit, and led partner’s suit.  Here my lead was critical and, once again, I was there with the wrong lead.  When the opponents happily bid 3NT after we have introduced our suit, more often than not, they are fully prepared for a lead in that suit and it is time for a ‘sneak attack’ in a different suit.  We have 5 easy tricks and defeat 3NT on a heart lead.  With two 4 card majors, partner was trying to bid his stronger one, which I think is right.  I just have to rely on the opponents bidding that they are prepared for spades.  On this hand, declarer was really prepared for spades and my spade lead led to 10 tricks for a loss of -630.  The other table was trying to defeat 2NT and our teammates ended with +150, lose 10 IMPs.

I did pause long enough to consider that, for a spade lead to work, partner needs to hold QJTx(x) or KJTx(x).  But, West didn’t have to bid over 1 since their partner was forced to bid again after their redouble.  So, it is very reasonable to assume that they are VERY well prepared for a spade lead and I failed to draw that inference.  Darn.

Finally, what about East’s raise to 2NT?  They only hold 12 HCP, but a 5th diamond and the tens in both minors I think argues for a raise to game.  But, the raise to 2NT has the advantage of reaching the last makeable spot if the defense is accurate.

 
5
N-S
North
N
Bill
96432
9
Q109
Q1053
 
W
Bob
J10
A876
A8653
82
5
E
Dan
K875
52
J74
AJ64
 
S
Cris
AQ
KQJ1043
K2
K97
 
W
Bob
N
Bill
E
Dan
S
Cris
Pass
Pass
2NT
Pass
3
Pass
3
Pass
3NT
All Pass
 
W
Mark
N
Bruce
E
Manfred
S
Mike
Pass
Pass
1
Pass
Pass
Dbl
RDbl
2
Pass
Pass
2
3
All Pass
 
 

Over the years, I have seen lots of NT opening bids (1NT/2NT) with 6 card minor suits.  I have only seen two NT openers when they were holding a 6 card major, and this was my second (both of them 2NT opening bids).  The result was not happy for our side.  The play (and defense) presented challenges/opportunities in both 3NT and 4.  Cris used the standard 20-21 HCP criteria, where an extra point is added for the 5th (and 6th) card in a suit.  Partner, with modest values, proceed to the 3NT game after first transferring to spades.  So, there they are, in a 22 HCP game and no lead to beat it!  Which is not to say it cannot be beaten.  Sometimes opportunities present themselves.

I led 4th from longest and strongest, the 5, which went to the 9, J and K.  Declarer is looking at 1+5+1+0 and needs to find 2 more tricks.  Certainly one trick could come from a spade finesse, but how to get to dummy?  How to get the opponents to lead spades?  One (or 2) could come from clubs, on power.  Knockout the A and there is a trick established, or finesse for the J and there are 2 tricks; but with no entries to dummy, the only way to finesse for the J is against West, and here West does not have the J.  One trick could come from diamonds – if the opponents are nice enough to lead them again.  One other option is to hope to find an entry with the 9 – the opponents may duck?  That would provide an entry for club finesse the other way, or the spade finesse.  But, there is really nothing to go on as to where the J lies.

It turns out the (only) successful line with this lie of the cards is to start pounding out the heart suit, establishing those 5 tricks.  So, let’s first look at what did not happen with declarer and defense.  Sometimes, on a hand like this, you might have to hope for split aces and then have to guess which ace is held by the defender with the diamond length.  But, here, if diamonds are 5-3 (and the A with the diamond length), the defenders can maintain communication, even if the defender with the diamond length has neither of the critical outside aces (A or A).  So, to get the bulk of your necessary 9 tricks to fulfill the 3NT contract, declarer must lead hearts at trick 2, and keep leading them until the A is driven out.  What can the defense do?  The best they can do is win the A and continue diamonds: if West holds the A, they must lead a small diamond (to maintain communication) or, if East had held the A, lead a diamond (top of 2 remaining) while West ducks to maintain communication.  Now diamonds are established and represent a defensive threat – any loss of the lead will result in defeating the contract.

When the defense continues diamonds, that gets you up to 8 tricks (1+5+2+0), and, at the same time the diamond lead puts you in dummy to take the spade finesse which succeeds, providing you with the necessary 9 tricks.  Note, going after a club trick at this point is nearly guaranteed to fail, since the diamonds are established. 

What if the defense does not return diamonds?  They must play spades, hearts or clubs.  (Double dummy?), If the defense tries a non-diamond lead after winning the A, it actually presents declarer with 10 tricks!  The run of the hearts crushes the defense in various 3 suit squeezes while dummy has no problem throwing away spades.  

With a heart continuation (after winning the A), the 7 tricks you started with (1+5+1+0) stays at 7.   The defense has given nothing away. But, after cashing all of your hearts (and exiting with a diamond), the defense, which had to find discards while the hearts are being cashed, must decide what their last 6 cards will be.  And then, if they win the diamond exit, pick a suit to lead.  No matter how hard they try, the defense can only score their 3 aces and declarer wins the rest (of course some of this is double dummy, seeing where the J is).  Anyway, I found it quite interesting that the failure to continue diamonds after winning the A presents declarer with an overtrick in all possible lines of defense.  But, continuing diamonds presents declarer with an entry to dummy to take the spade finesse and make the contract.

Now, return to what actually happened at the table.  At trick 2, declarer tried the effect of the K rather than attacking hearts.  Now the defense has many ways to defeat the contract.  The easiest is following the general principle of NT defense where the defender who does not hold the long threat suit attempts to gain their entry early in the hand, return partner’s suit to get it established, hoping partner has an entry later in order to cash the established diamond suit.  If East wins the A and leads a diamond, ducked to dummy, the long diamonds are established and West still holds the heart entry (and, in this case, should East gain the lead, they still have a diamond to lead to partner).

But, fearful of providing a crucial entry to dummy (taking the A would establish Q), East ducked the K.  Now declarer began playing hearts.  West must win the first, second or third heart trick (preserving a late heart exit to endplay declarer), and play clubs.  East must cash both clubs and exit a diamond.  West must win that diamond lead and exit a heart.  Now the defense has stripped declarer of all clubs and diamonds.  Declarer got up to 8 tricks by winning the K, but they cannot reach 9 tricks.  Dummy is dead, so there is no spade finesse.  They are down to all good hearts and the AQ. At trick 13, they will have to lead the Q and lose to the K, down 1.

But, what really happened…I won the second heart and led a small diamond.  That established my diamonds, but it also provided declarer with their 9th trick.  They could still take the spade finesse for 10, but with 9 tricks in sight at that point, they cashed out.

What should have happened?  I should wait to win the third heart lead, notice that partner fails to follow suit, giving declarer 7 known tricks (0+5+1+1).  If declarer has the AK, then they are up to 9 tricks, but at this point I have to hope the cards are as they actually were and play clubs.  Partner must cash 2 clubs and play diamonds.  I must win the A and play my last heart, beating the contract.  At the table, I ducked the first heart to get a count from partner, and then concluded hearts were 1-4-4-4…wrong!

This analysis of 3NT has gone on long enough.  I thought it presented a sufficient number of interesting issues for declarer and defense that it was worth it.

As you see from the other auction, our teammates defended 3 and beat it a couple of tricks for +100 to go with our -600, lose 11 IMPs.

What if a ‘more normal’ 4 contract had been played?  4 makes if a major is led (I think I would have led the J), but it goes down if a minor is led.  A club lead (ducked) provides opportunity for a later club ruff.  A diamond lead (high or low) provides the opportunity to get 2 diamonds played early (stripping declarer’s crucial diamond suit), with a multitude of varying defenses allowing an endplay of declarer, making declarer break clubs or spades from their own hand and providing a 4th trick for the defense to go with their 3 aces.

Finally, what do you think of the 2NT opener?  It has the advantage of reaching the only makeable game, so it can’t be too bad!

 
10
Both
East
N
Manfred
AK5
AJ754
A63
K8
 
W
Bill
Q3
K109
Q84
106542
7
E
Bob
972
Q82
KJ10752
7
 
S
Mike
J10864
63
9
AQJ93
 
W
Bill
N
Manfred
E
Bob
S
Mike
2
Pass
3
3
All Pass
 
W
Dan
N
Bruce
E
Cris
S
Mark
2
Pass
Pass
Dbl
Pass
4
All Pass
 
 
 

Here, a simple raise of the weak 2 opener left 4th seat with a slightly different problem than the one faced at the other table (where it was not raised!).  Holding 19 HCP, it seems as though double or 3NT rates to produce a more flexible result, but as you can see, North chose 3 which bought the contract when everyone passed.  Via a cross ruff, we were able to score 3 heart tricks, but that is all, -170.  Meanwhile, our teammates were scoring 12 tricks in a spade contract for +680, win 11 IMPs.

 
16
E-W
West
N
Bruce
J85
10
QJ74
AQJ93
 
W
Bob
A73
86
A6
K87642
A
E
Mike
KQ109642
K3
K105
10
 
S
Dan
AQJ97542
9832
5
 
W
Bob
N
Bruce
E
Mike
S
Dan
1
Pass
1
51
Pass
Pass
5
Pass
6
Dbl
All Pass
 
(1) !
W
Manfred
N
Cris
E
Bill 
S
Mark
1
Pass
1
4
Pass
Pass
4
All Pass

Dan’s spectacular 5 preempt left me/partner floundering.  Over 5 I could double to suggest partner not bid on, but I did have nice spades and wasn’t sure about my defense.  I believe, had I doubled, partner would likely have bid 5 over my double.  I clearly should have passed 5, but wishful thinking got me to raise to 6♠, and we were promptly doubled.  The double asked for a club lead, but Dan didn’t relish leading a singleton with nothing to trump with, so he started by playing 2 rounds of hearts.  Ten tricks were the limit in a spade contract, -500.  Since our teammates allowed 4 to play/make at the other table, they were -620.  Lose 15 IMPs!  I don’t think that 5 was going to be doubled?  If not, we could have ‘only’ lost 12 IMPs, and if they doubled, 13 IMPs.  So, my poor bid of continuing to the slam didn’t cost as much as perhaps it should have.  What if we defend 5?  The only way to beat it is to start with 3 rounds of diamonds, and then we ‘only’ lose 11 IMPS!  But, I likely would have tried the A leading to -450 for a 14 IMP loss.  Or if 5 is doubled, making, we lose the same 15 IMPs!!!

You can judge the wisdom of Dan’s vulnerable 5 bid, but whatever might happen in the long run,  the way the cards were on this hand made it an awesome winning bid.

So, that completed the 5 ‘big swing’ hands.  One more hand in the last round of the day provided an opportunity for either side to score an 11 IMP pickup, but in reality there was no swing.  

 
27
None
South
N
Bruce
K
KJ965
J1096
Q74
 
W
Cris
Q9542
A32
7
KJ32
A
E
Bob
108
1087
532
109865
 
S
Manfred
AJ763
Q4
AKQ84
A
 

 

Manfred
Bruce
1
1NT
3
4
5
All Pass

 

Bill
Dan
1
1NT
3
3
4
All Pass

So, the hand was a push, with 10 tricks in 4  +420 and 12 tricks in the 5 contract -420.  What might the auction be for a more successful result, since 12 tricks in diamonds are easy assuming no defensive ruff.

How about using the auction from the first table, continuing…

South
North
1
1NT
3
4
51
62
All Pass
 
(1) Expressing concern about the unbid heart suit
(2) I think I can cover a second round heart loser

Or, what about using the auction from the second table

South
North
1
1NT
3
3
4
51
62
All Pass
(1) My hand has promise in diamonds that I have not yet shown
(2) If you like diamonds, then I do too

Some have suggested that South actually has a 2 opener.  What do you think?  With two-suited hands, 2 often gets the auction up quite high, quite fast.  After a 2opening bid, the auction might have proceed 2-2-3-4-?  These auctions are created in hindsight with the ability to see what works and, in reality, you have to find the right bids at the table for successful results.  If you have a preferred way of bidding these hands, please share.

Recap Of 3/29/2017 28 Board IMP Individual

Back at it again March 29th with a different group playing our 2-table individual.  

There were 3 slams missed at both tables, slams that were cold as the cards lie, but not necessarily biddable – still always a disappointment to see the slam bonus slip away.  Yet another slam was a push when 6 was bid at both tables, down 1, when 6NT was cold on any lead with no finesses and no splits required – really disappointing!   So, no swings on those 4 slam hands – I’ll include them at the end of the post to see if anything can be learned.

Meanwhile, back to my ‘normal’ reporting – four hands cleared the hurdle of double digit swings.  Twice it was an issue of games bid/not bid, twice it was an issue of which game (plus some defensive luck/slip).

 
3
E-W
South
N
Bob
K975
K107
A10
AQ32
 
W
Dan
Q853
KQ5432
J108
4
E
Ed
A1086
AJ642
76
76
 
S
Manfred
QJ432
9
J98
K954
 

 

W
Dan
N
Bob
E
Ed
S
Manfred
Pass
Pass
1NT
21
22
3
3NT
All Pass
 
(1) Both majors
(2) ? – see below
W
Mike
N
Bruce
E
Bill
S
Cris
Pass
2
2NT
Pass
31
Pass
42
All Pass
 
(1) Jacoby Transfer
(2) I like spades

As you can see here, very different auctions leading to very different results.  With West, in second seat, the hand is potentially quite valuable in diamonds, hearts or even clubs.  With most partners, I play a modified Ogust system (2NT) over a weak 2 which allows (forces) partner to show a side 4 card major if they have one along side their 6 card diamond suit.  Here, West at my table didn’t have that agreement, so they decided 2 was too great a risk and passed (hard to play hearts or clubs after starting with 2).  I’m not sure if East-West had ‘modified Ogust’ as an agreement at the other table, or if West just rolled the dice and started with 2.

So, for the bidding at my table, after West passed, I was allowed to start with 1NT, followed by East showing both majors.  Partner’s 2 bid was undiscussed, but I thought perhaps 2 means:

  1. Shows game values, stopper in spades, asking about heart stopper (when the opponents show only 1 suit, a cue bid often asks for a stopper; when the opponents have 2 known suits, a cue bid ‘tells‘ that I have a stopper in the suit I bid and typically asks ‘do you have the other suit stopped so that we can try NT?’
  2. Shows game values with diamonds.  When opponents show 2 suits, a structure of ‘unusual vs. unusual’ is often deployed, where a cue bid in their higher suit shows the higher of the other two suits (spades (being the higher of their suits hearts/spades) showing diamonds, the higher of clubs/diamonds).
  3. Shows spades, to play.  This treatment didn’t occur to me, but it was the actual intent of the bid at the table.  If 2 had shown diamonds, or ‘diamonds and another suit’ the standard treatment is for 2 and 2 to be natural to play, not forward going.  But, I’ve never heard of 2 being natural to play after the interfering bid showed both majors.  For most players, after the opponents interfere over our 1NT with 2, unless the 2 bid shows both majors, they play double for Stayman and all systems on as though no interference occurred.  Interfering bids higher than 2 cause problems, with this hand being a case in point.  
    1. Opponents are interfering more and more often against our 1NT opening bids.  With most partners, after NT interference I play transfer lebensohl (clarified nicely by Larry Cohen – transfer lebensohl is a great system if you are prepared for the memory work). You can read about it here: https://www.larryco.com/bridge-learning-center/detail/775 and here: https://www.larryco.com/bridge-learning-center/detail/41
  4. With this partner, with no agreement, I thought it likely that he either meant #1 or #2 and I was happy to continue to 3NT with either of those meanings.  Fortunately, I avoided my second choice – penalty double of 3 since 9 tricks are cold with East-West playing 3.

The 4 contract reached at the other table was a great contract, destined to succeed unless trumps are 4-0 (but they were 4-0).  With East’s spade spots over North, the 4 contract failed due to 2 red losers as well as 2 trump losers.  3NT is likewise hopeless after the heart lead, but that isn’t how it turned out.  Declarer only has 8 tricks (2+1+1+4) but after the opening lead of the 4 went to the 9, Q and K, declarer led the 9, won by the A while West threw an encouraging diamond.  Now Declarer has the tricks needed, so the defense has to cash out hearts now if they are to beat 3NT.  But, fearful that declarer still had 10xx remaining, East shifted to a diamond and the 3NT game came home.  +400 and +50 led to win 10 IMPs.

 
11
None
South
N
Manfred
A
Q1087
J863
Q1073
 
W
Bill
9876
K6542
54
52
5
E
Bob
Q1032
J9
A10972
A9
 
S
Mike
KJ54
A3
KQ
KJ864
 

 

W
Bill
N
Manfred
E
Bob
S
Mike
11
Pass
12
Dbl3
14
Pass
35
Pass
36
Pass
47
Pass
58
All Pass
 
 
 
(1) With a 5 card suit and easy spade rebid, this hand was too strong for a 15-17 1NT opening bid
(2) With less than invitational values, typically bypass 1D to start showing 4 card majors
(3) Showing spades and diamonds
(4) Continuing to bid the hand naturally
(5) Invitational
(6) Probing for NT
(7) Continuing in clubs in spite of holding help in both spades and diamonds, the opponents ‘suits’
(8) Well, if partner invites and I have 17 HCP, I’m bidding game
W
Dan
N
Bruce
E
Cris
S
Ed
11
Pass
12
Dbl3
14
Pass
1NT5
Pass
2NT6
Pass
3NT7
All Pass
 
(1) Same as the other table
(2) Same as the other table
(3) Same as the other table
(4) Same as the other table
(5) Here, with something in both spades and diamonds, North opted to suggest NT
(6) Showing 17+-19 bad
(7) Plenty to accept the invite

Here the bidding had a similar start at both tables, but the big divergence came with North’s rebid.  The NT rebid started the path towards 3NT.  The club rebid started the path towards 5.   With 10 tricks scored in both contracts, +50 and +430 resulted in win 10 IMPs.

Since the takeout double showed both spades and diamonds, those are the threats that a NT contract must deal with.  South said that they had spades covered with their 1 bid, and Jxxx is a rather thin ‘stopper’ for NT, but partner is there with strong diamonds as well, so NT proved to be quite satisfactory.

As is often the case, 9 tricks in NT proved to be easier to achieve than 11 tricks in a minor suit.

 
18
N-S
East
N
Bruce
J10962
93
AJ72
106
 
W
Bill
84
AKQ52
KQ86
Q5
6
E
Ed
Q73
8764
1095
942
 
S
Bob
AK5
J10
43
AKJ873
 

 

W
Bill
N
Bruce
E
Ed
S
Bob
Pass
1
1
11
32
Dbl3
Pass
3
All Pass
 
(1) Showing 5+ spades
(2) Preemptive
(3) See below
W
Cris
N
Mike
E
Manfred
S
Dan
Pass
1
1
1
Pass
3
Pass
4
All Pass
 

Here (again, see board 3 above) I didn’t know the best bid over 3.  Even though I was playing with my regular partner, I wasn’t sure if my double would be taken as:

  1. Support – Even though we only play ‘support doubles’ (showing 3 card support) through 2 I thought/hoped that pard my consider it a ‘high level support double’.
  2. Maximal – Since there are no bids available between 3 and 3, maximal doubles are used to allow 3 to be strictly competitive (with no game interest) and double of 3 to be a game try, the only game try available besides simply bidding 4 and trying to make it.  But maximal doubles would normally only apply when spades have been shown/supported by both partners.  Here I have not had a chance to support spades.
  3. DSI – general card showing ‘do something intelligent’ partner, saying I have a good hand with no clear bid.
  4. Penalty – since this is an established partnership, I was on firm ground knowing that partner would not treat this as penalty.  We have rules regarding when it is penalty and this isn’t one of them.  Although here, we are destined to beat 3 two tricks which would allow us to cut our losses if we had scored +500.

Not knowing for sure how partner would take my double, I chose double anyway because no other bid seemed clear cut.  When partner could only bid 3 over my double, I passed and we languished in the part score.  I could have bid 4 over 3 and also could have bid 4 over 3, but I didn’t.  At the other table, with RHO passing over the 1 bid, Dan was able to invite with a jump to 3 and his partner advanced to the cold game, making (a bit lucky) 11 tricks at both tables when the Q came down doubleton and the Q was finessed away.  +200 vs. -650, lose 10 IMPs.  

Is this a game you want to be in?  I think so, and I should have just bid game and see what happens.  “Never bring back a red 170” to your teammates is a pretty good slogan to live by (playing IMPs).  Here it was a ‘red 200’ which is kind of a corollary to the original “rule”. The IMP table rewards games such that 37.5% (odds of making the game) is break even, as long as you only go down 1 if unsuccessful in the game.

There wasn’t much to the play/defense.  After cashing 2 heart tricks, West continued with the K, which declarer won with the A to take a spade finesse (covered at the other table, ducked at our table).  Then, when 2 clubs were cashed and the Q came down, it was time to draw trump and claim.

 
20
Both
West
N
Bruce
A8
KJ975
1092
Q64
 
W
Bill
KQ532
63
J3
AK82
9
E
Ed
10
Q84
Q764
109753
 
S
Bob
J9764
A102
AK85
J
 

 

W
Bill
N
Bruce
E
Ed
S
Bob
1
All Pass
 
 
W
Cris
N
Mike
E
Manfred
S
Dan
1
Pass
Pass
Dbl1
Pass
3
Pass
4
All Pass
 
 
 
(1) !?.

Again, my bidding choice was at the center of an adverse swing on this last hand.  I was sufficiently shocked at the result at the other table, I decided to post a bidding poll on bridgewinners to see what ‘the rest of the world’ would do with my hand in the pass out seat. This is a relatively small sample, but it rather supports my choice of pass: http://bridgewinners.com/article/view/bidding-problem-2-0oizts8vcx/.  As of this writing, 86% passed, as I did.  One (out of more than 40) chose to double.  At the other table, declarer managed to score 11 tricks in their 4 contract while we only scored 7 tricks defending against 1.  So, that made +100 vs. -650, lose 11 IMPs.

So, that is the end of the four hands with double digit swings.  Now moving into the 4 flat boards that had slam swing opportunities, missed at all tables.  If you had been there, could you have done better?  You couldn’t do worse!  So we are going to take a look at 4 slam hands.  What is required for successful slams?  I don’t claim to have all the answers, but a brief summary of the key ingredients:

  1. Controls – you don’t want 2 fast losers in any suit.  Notice if you are rich in controls, partner is not – therefore if partner makes any slam noise (lacking those controls), he must have some other interesting holding and you must cooperate.  There is a lot of debate (with no general consensus) about whether early cue bids should be first round control or ‘first or second’ (vague as to what control is being shown).  Definitely worth partnership discussion.
  2. Strong trump – the converse, weak trump, is a huge slam negative (danger of over ruff, inability to achieve a high crossruff, etc.).  But, if you have strong trump (and partner doesn’t), partner doesn’t know that you do unless you make a move to indicate that.
  3. Source of tricks – 4-3-3-3 hands are typically extremely slam negative.  Long strong suits provide the tricks (and discards) needed to make most slams.  Again, if you have a source of tricks, partner is unlikely to know it unless you make some move during the auction to share that info.

I don’t know that any of these guidelines are useful in any of the following 4 hands, but thought I would mention them anyway as a frame of reference for slam bidding.

 

 
4
Both
West
N
Bob
Q109
KJ10
AKQJ8
K9
 
W
Dan
J754
A842
9752
2
A
E
Ed
32
9653
63
Q7654
 
S
Manfred
AK86
Q7
104
AJ1083
 

 

Bob
Manfred
2NT
31
3
42
43
64
All pass
(1) Regular Stayman
(2) Taken as natural, intended as ‘minorwood’ asking for 1430 responses to key cards with clubs trump
(3) Continuing to show my hand, definitely interested in slam if he is interested
(4) Ending the auction

 

Bruce
Cris
2NT
3
3
41
4NT2
5NT3
64
All Pass
(1) By partnership agreement, 4C is minorwood, with 1430 responses, except 4NT is not a response. 4NT states that I do not have a slam oriented hand and I refuse to tell you how many key cards I hold.
(2) Saying that this hand is not interested in slam
(3) We are going to a slam, you choose
(4) Expecting better clubs for partner’s bidding (and choosing poorly!)

 

It is always disappointing when a 6NT contract is not bid in spite of holding at least 2 stoppers in all suits, 12 top tricks that require no finesses, no suit must split to score the necessary tricks, just cash them out.  Here, 6NT scores 3+2+5+2 for 12 tricks.   Here 6 was not a success.  I am not sure what the appeal was for pursuing clubs?  It is likely that a hand can be constructed (consistent with the bidding) where 6 makes and 6NT does not make, but I think you would have to work on it awhile.  But, I’m not sure of what auction would find that hand.  This certainly was not the auction and not the hand.  I think the North hand is quite strong, but using the Kaplan-Ruebens hand evaluation software, it only scored at 19.50.  If partner has slam interest, so do I.  I may have fewer controls than a typical 2NT opener, but I suspect I have more sure tricks that many 2NT openers. 

After the auction, my partner said that he knew that my 4 bid could not be 1 or 4 key cards (his expectation being that I owed him a key card response after the 4 call).  But, he thought since I ‘knew’ his 4 was minorwood, that after 6 I should have simply pulled it to 6 or 6NT.

There have been a number of followup discussions and emails on this.  As one of the key participants/perpetrators, it is hard to be objective, so in that context, I will say that 14 HCP semi-balanced opposite a 2NT opener sounds like a 6NT bid.  Yes, on some day, you might be able to uncover the perfect fit and get to a grand in a suit.  And, grand slam bonuses pay well.  But, meanwhile, it would be nice to get paid for the small slam bonus that neither table was able to achieve.  The club suit might produce tricks in NT.  If not, there may be other options (to find 12 tricks in NT).  But, in 6 there are no other options if there are loser(s) in clubs.

Using the checklist above:

  1. Neither North nor South has (self-contained) controls necessary to assure  a successful slam.
  2. Strong trump – this was the downfall of the 6 contract, but 6NT has no trump worries!
  3. Source of tricks – North’s diamonds should provide 5 tricks and, I think, makes the hand ‘slam postive’ and willing to cooperate.
 
23
Both
South
N
Ed
109863
1098
J10875
 
W
Mike
AQ5
KQ74
AJ52
62
A
E
Cris
KJ87643
AJ
Q74
4
 
S
Bob
1092
52
K63
AKQ93
 

 

W
Mike
N
Ed
E
Cris
S
Bob
1
Dbl
2NT1
32
Pass3
3
Pass
44
All Pass
(1) Flipflop Jordan (standard “Jordan” provides 2NT to show a limit raise+ hand, while a raise to 3 is preemptive. Using ‘flipflop’ the bids are reversed such that 2NT shows a preemptive club raise and 3C would be limit)
(2) Showing some good hand
(3) Not wanting to give them more options in the bidding.
(4) Intended as forward going, but ending the auction
W
Manfred
N
Bruce
E
Dan
S
Bill
1
Dbl
2NT1
4
All Pass
(1) Also using flipflop Jordan

 

The preempt did consume some bidding space, but, assuming no opening ruff by the defense, 12 tricks are easy in spades, even though all of the defensive trump were held in one hand (often creating some difficulty for declarer, but not here).  Diamonds can be discarded on hearts.  Who should bid more?  How can the powerful fit be uncovered?

Again, looking at the checklist:

  1. Controls: West has excellent controls, but they hold the disappointing doubleton in clubs.  East has excellent controls, but 2 fast diamond losers.
  2. Strong trump: together, the trump holding is perfecto, but both partners are looking at a broken suit, unsure as to what lies opposite.
  3. Source of tricks: West is balanced.  East has the great source of tricks with long reasonably strong spades.  But, nothing wasted in clubs in either East or West.

I don’t think the 3 bid necessarily showed a club control, instead it merely set up a forcing auction.  Nevertheless, at East’s first opportunity to bid, they had the option of bidding 4 which would show a long, reasonably strong suit with no interest in going higher unless the takeout double had significant extra values.  By going through 3 prior to bidding 4, East set up a picture of long spades, AND slam interest.  West has a very fine hand for the takeout double, even though they are balanced with no source of tricks other than the high cards they basically promised.  West certainly has more (an ace more) than a minimum takeout double.  If West doesn’t feel comfortable trying 4NT over 4 due to the doubleton club, perhaps they should cue bid 5.  Perhaps raise to 5 asking about a club control (the typical meaning of raising 4M to 5M when the opponents have bid a suit).  But, this bid could be confused with another typical meaning when the opponents have not bid (that is, how good are your trumps?).  In any case, in my opinion, West is too strong to pass 4♠ (at the table where East went through 3).  In my opinion, East’s suit is too broken to unilaterally take control and force slam without cooperation from West.

At the other table, with a direct jump to 4 it would seem impossible to get to slam from there. East’s 4 bid says, to me, that is where I want to play.

 
26
Both
East
N
Bruce
Q6432
AK10965
J5
 
W
Cris
75
83
Q63
K108742
J
E
Bob
J8
74
K1097
AQJ96
 
S
Manfred
AK109
QJ2
A842
53
 

 

W
Cris
N
Bruce
E
Bob
S
Manfred
11
Dbl
32
4
All Pass
 
(1) I don’t like 4=5 in the minors, but I quit opening these hands with 1D.
(2) Preemptive. Not playing flipflop Jordan.
W
Ed
N
Dan
E
Mike
S
Bill
1
Dbl
41
4
All Pass
 
(1) Even higher preempt

 

This hand is a virtual repeat of the last hand – club opening bid, takeout double, preemptive club raise, … and missing a slam that is cold, this time 12 tricks in hearts, even if all defensive trump had been held in one hand, as long as the opponents do not achieve a ruff on the opening lead.   (even 13 are available in spades with normal splits – the diamond losers can be discarded on hearts)

This time the takeout double only had a balanced 14 HCP (vs. 16 HCP on the prior hand).  Both times, the takeout doubler is facing a partner that bid game, but they are looking at a doubleton club – always a risk of doubleton opposite the doubleton for two quick losers in your slam.  Still, nothing is wasted in clubs, the controls in spades and diamonds are powerful, and the fillers in hearts will make that suit nice (albeit South’s trumps being only 3 long could be disappointing to partner).

Going through the checklist:

  1. Controls – North has the incredibly valuable club void that South doesn’t know about, but North also holds the worrisome doubleton diamond.  South holds great controls, but they have the worrisome doubleton club.
  2. Strong trump – both North and South can be reasonably comfortable that the trump suit is at least adequate.
  3. Source of tricks – again the hand that doubled is balanced.  North, being 6-5, has a great source of tricks.  And, the 30 point deck (nothing wasted in clubs) was a great contributor to the ease of bringing in 12-13 tricks.

Conclusion: sometimes preempts work.  Over the 4 preempt North has a really hard problem making a move towards slam.  Over 3 North might have bid 4 (but that may not get their side anywhere).  After partner chooses a major, they need to pretty unilaterally start moving towards slam when partner may have a hand that is very unsuitable for slam.  Over 3 the 4 bid simply would have meant ‘choose a major’ not ‘but if you have nice controls for slam, go higher’.  Partner has a balanced (near minimum) takeout double.  But the high cards are perfectly placed.  Perhaps one of the blog readers can offer a better insight into this hand.

 
28
N-S
West
N
Bruce
K
A52
109862
KJ64
 
W
Cris
J96
Q9763
AK5
A2
10
E
Bob
AQ1087542
K
J743
 
S
Manfred
3
J1084
Q
Q1098753
 

 

Cris
Bob
1NT1
22
23
44
Pass5
All Pass
(1) 15-17 including a point for the 5th heart
(2) Texas transfer of 4H is available, but going through Jacoby transfer and then bidding 4S suggests mild slam interest
(3) Showing less than 4
(4) Mild slam interest
(5) Due to aces, gave it considerable consideration, but eventually decided to pass

Finally, an outlier.  That is, this ‘missed slam’ is not exactly cold on any distribution.  It took some luck, but the luck was there, and I have been in much worse slams.  After a heart lead (which quite possibly could have happened had we been in 6), the slam needs 1-1 trump (both losing diamonds can be discarded on the A and Q).  But when there was no heart lead, trump were 1-1, and the Q was singleton, 13 tricks were there.  So, not a crazy slam, but not one I’m going to spend much time second guessing the bidding.  The 1NT opener was solid, but on the low end.  The ‘mild slam invite’ was also on the low end, but it felt too good to simply use a Texas transfer and signoff.  I assume the bidding was the same at the other table, but I did not check to find out how they bid it.  I just know they did not reach slam.

 

 

Recap Of 3/22/2017 28 Board IMP Individual

Travel plans including a mostly disappointing trip to Kansas City resulted in our first game of March not happening until the 4th Wednesday.  With two Bobs and 2 Mikes playing today, I have used a number of last names to call out the players.  Six of the boards resulted in double digit swings, starting with the first.

Board 1

 
1
None
North
N
Munson
542
AKQ102
Q7
K83
 
W
Dan
KJ53
J843
3
Q1062
6
E
Bandler
108
975
109843
A54
 
S
Manfred
AQ97
6
AKJ65
J97
 
Munson
Manfred
1NT1
2
2
3
3
4
5
6
All Pass
 
(1) “15-17”
Jerry
Chris
1
2
2
2
3NT
All Pass

 

This hand was all about bidding judgment. For starters, for NT purposes, I evaluate 5 card suits (of any strength) as worth 1 point. Certainly this 5 card suit has some potential to be worth more than 9 points. In any case, I treated it as a 15-17 balanced 1NT hand. After Stayman allowed me to show 4 hearts, partner’s 3 bid allowed me to repeat hearts, showing a heart suit that was 5 long.

To me, as South, the information that North holds 5 hearts (opposite my singleton) would be extremely regressive (in terms of slam potential). My bidding doesn’t show where my points are, but, as South, knowing that I only have 8 cards split 3-3-2 in his suits outside hearts creates problems (imagining the play of the hand during the bidding). It only works if none of my values below the A had been in hearts (if you make the Q the ♣Q and the K the ♠K), and even if that were so, there is still a problem getting to 12 tricks, even if diamonds split. Unless you also give me the ♠J, the spade suit needs a 3-3 split or you must have the ability to attain a spade ruff in dummy. In any case, partner didn’t see it that way. So, rather than trying 3NT or 3♠ with his third bid, partner repeated diamonds. Having no spade stopper (and not clear what 4NT would even mean over 4), I raised diamonds to 5 and partner carried on to 6. Double dummy, the diamond contract has some interesting twists and turns (potential to score 11 tricks), depending upon the leads, discards, and continuations by the defense, but on the actual ♣6 lead (rather favorable for declarer), East won the ♣A and there was no chance for 12 tricks with the diamond distribution creating a certain loser there. In the end, declarer did not finesse the 10, so only 10 tricks were scored for down 2, -100. (But down 1 would not have saved any IMPs.)

At the other table, North did not like the concentration of HCP in the heart suit (for starting with NT), so he started with 1. That allowed North-South to stop in 3NT – not close to pursuing slam. The opening lead of the ♠10 went the the ♠Q and ♠K followed by a heart return, finessing the 10. Declarer ended up scoring 11 tricks. So our teammates, defending 3NT, were -460, lose 11 IMPs.

 
6
E-W
East
N
Pastor
QJ6
A7
9875
A973
 
W
Dan
K54
KQ8
AQ103
KJ2
9
E
Munson
A10873
103
KJ2
1065
 
S
Chris
92
J96542
64
Q84
 
W
Dan
N
Pastor
E
Munson
S
Chris
Pass
Pass
1
Pass
1
Pass
2NT
Pass
3
Pass
3
Pass
3NT
All Pass
W
Bandler
N
Jerry
E
Manfred
S
Schneider
Pass
Pass
1
Pass
1
Pass
2NT
Pass
31
Pass
4
All Pass
 
 
(1) New minor forcing

Sometimes 9 tricks are easier than 10.  In a spade contract, you can pitch a club loser on the long diamond, but you didn’t have 3 club losers anyway, so that club discard doesn’t really help.  You are looking at 9 easy tricks (4+1+4+0) and need the A onside or else a successful guess in clubs.  Having found the A offside, declarer opted/guessed for ‘split aces’ (as good a guess as any, but an unsuccessful guess as the cards lie).  He led a club to the K and lost the trump trick, A and 2 clubs for down 1.  Those same 9 tricks are easily there in NT, but with the defenders seeking 5 tricks to beat 3NT, declarer ended up making 10 tricks for +630 to go with +100, win 12 IMPs.

With many partners, I play a form of Wolff relay (I am not sure how many forms there are?!).  Dan (my partner here) is my regular partner in Gatlinburg, but we haven’t played much since Gatlinburg 2016, so I did not recall if he and I had discussed/agreed to play Wolff or not.  In the form I play with other partners, after opener’s rebid of 2NT my bid of 3 requires partner to respond 3, after which I can pass to play 3, bid 3 of my major to play exactly 3 of that major, bid 3NT as a slam try in his minor, or bid 3 of the other major as a slam try in the other minor.  At the table, I intended 3 as simply new minor forcing (not Wolff), checking back for an 8 card spade fit.  Partner dutifully bid 3 (playing Wolff) and I bid 3NT, ostensibly showing a slam try in diamonds, but mercifully Dan passed.   I was a bit lucky to say the least.

 
9
E-W
North
N
Manfred
J
AQ542
AK852
AJ
 
W
Pastor
KQ982
K82
J6
K74
10
E
Munson
10763
J1096
973
108
 
S
Schneider
A54
7
Q104
Q96542
 
Manfred
Schneider
1
1NT
2
3
6
All Pass
Jerry
Bandler
1
1NT
3
3NT
All Pass
 

 

Well, it is hard to argue with success, and if nothing else, the 6 contract was certainly successful.  With clubs favorable (3-2, K onside), diamonds favorable (3-2), hearts favorable (4-3 with the K dropping after 2 ruffs) and the A favorably placed (in dummy), declarer won the J on the opening lead, cashed the A, ruffed a heart, crossed to the A, ruffed another heart, played the Q, played the A, then ruffed a spade, drew trump and claimed.  13 tricks, -940.  Our teammates arrived in 3NT, which certainly has problems on a spade lead.  If diamonds are coming in for 5 tricks, that still only leaves the 3 aces for 8 tricks, so a finesse in clubs or hearts must be chosen to reach 9 tricks (after a spade lead, a losing finesse will result the defense cashing the setting trick in spades).  Since either finesse is destined to succeed, there is no problem after all (except that slam was bid at the other table).  +400 for 3NT compared to -940, lose 11 IMPs.

What about the bidding?  With 19 HCP (the J is a doubtful value, but still 19 HCP), a jump shift seems in order.  The South hand, responding to the jump shift, has problems.  The singleton in partner’s first suit, the A as a cover card, the the Q are all slam positive.  But with only 3 card trump support, South decided to show their black suit values by rebidding 3NT and the auction died.  When North, at my table, opted to rebid only 2, South had a different rebid problem.  No bid appeals.  Should they pass?  (I confess that “pass” would likely have been my bid.)  Returning to 2 (partner’s first suit) makes no sense.  A bid of 2 commonly says (since I failed to bid spades the first time, I can’t really have spades) that I have a very strong maximum raise to 3 (in context of the initial 1NT response).  That bid, certainly doesn’t apply.  2NT should show 11 HCP or a very good 10 HCP.  A bid of 3 should have a lot better spots, or greater length, so that seems to be ruled out.  So, the only bid not discussed so far, 3, was the bid chosen at the table.  Since partner could very well be 4=5=3=1 (with insufficient values to reverse) or 3=5=3=2, the danger of a 3 card diamond suit seems quite real.  You don’t really want to play your 3-3 fit at the 3 level, or any other level!  In any case, after the diamond raise, North (having not jump shifted on the prior bid) decided to make up for lost time and bid the cold (as the cards lie) slam.  

 
13
Both
North
N
Jerry
7432
73
KQ10942
10
 
W
Munson
10
J42
J96
AK9742
A
E
Schneider
AKQJ98
K86
7
J85
 
S
Dan
65
AQ1095
A53
Q63
 
W
Munson
N
Jerry
E
Schneider
S
Dan
2
2
3
Pass
Pass
3
Pass
41
All Pass
 
 
(1) “Never bring back a red 170”
W
Manfred
N
Chris
E
Pastor
S
Bandler
2
2
3
Pass
Pass
Dbl
Pass
5
All Pass
 
 

As you see, the bidding started out the same, but when it came time for East’s second bid, the choices diverged.  It is common, whenever overcalling at the 1 or 2 level with a 6-3-3-1 hand, to first bid your 6 card suit, then (if given the chance) double the next time to show extra values and 3 card support for the unbid suits.  Here you have that.  But, you have a bit of disparity in your suits.  Your spade suit is solid and can play quite well opposite a void.  If partner has values, those values should help your spade contract, but if partner has a suit, your spades may not help their contract as much as you would like.  With this specific East hand, I like repeating the spade suit vs. the double, and specifically on this hand, the double worked out disastrously, while the choice to repeat spades arrived at the spade game.

The heart lead against 5 resulted in 4 quick tricks for the defense (2 hearts, a ruff and the A), down 2.  Against 4 the defense began with 2 rounds of diamonds.  Declarer crossed to the A (noting the fall of the 10) prior to starting to draw trump.  Playing one round of clubs before playing trump was a really thoughtful play.  If declarer starts with 4 rounds of trump, they now have to guess how to play clubs.  (Well, they could still lead one round of clubs after 4 rounds of trump, ruff the last diamond (with the last trump), and then guess clubs correctly.  But, that risks going down a lot of vulnerable undertricks if you get clubs wrong.)  So, I like the timing of declarer’s play and especially like the correct guess in clubs (finessing the Q on the second round) to score +650 (one club was discarded as trump were drawn) to go with +200 and win 13 IMPs.

 
14
None
East
N
Jerry
AQJ74
J4
Q82
985
 
W
Munson
965
KQ8
K109
AKJ4
9
E
Schneider
K83
76532
AJ75
2
 
S
Dan
102
A109
643
Q10763
 

 

W
Munson
N
Jerry
E
Schneider
S
Dan
Pass
Pass
1NT
Pass
2
Pass
2
Pass
2NT
Pass
4
All Pass
 
 
W
Manfred
N
Chris
E
Pastor
S
Bandler
Pass
Pass
1NT
Pass
2
Pass
2
Pass
2NT
Pass
4
All Pass
 
 

As you can see, the bidding was identical at both tables.  Choosing 4 (rather than 3NT) may not be everyone’s choice, but partner often has shortness somewhere and the concentration of values in hearts (and lack of spades) convinced me (and Manfred at the other table) to choose the heart game over 3NT.  Had I been in 3NT, the defense gets off to its best start leading the Q followed by the J.  Assuming I guess to rise with the K, I would then learn the A was onside (can’t get to 9 tricks without heart tricks), then finesse against North, the danger hand, for the Q and arrive at 11 tricks in NT (1+4+4+2).

But, I wasn’t in 3NT.  The same 11 tricks are there in a heart contract, or at least appear to be.  The defense and offense vs. 4 began the same at both tables.  After the club lead, declarer continued with two more rounds of clubs pitching 2 spades from dummy followed by a spade, won by North’s A as dummy follows with their now singleton K.  At this point, a spade continuation seems obvious/automatic.  At my table, that is what Jerry led.  I ruffed the spade in dummy, led a heart to the A followed by a club ruff by North, then a spade ruff by South, holding me to 9 tricks, -50.  At the other table, upon winning the A, North shifted to a diamond, not only solving that problem, but when declarer won the J and led a heart, South ducked, so another diamond to dummy and another heart lead resulted in the 11 tricks that were ‘always’ there.  -450 for our teammates and lose 11 IMPs.

 

 
21
N-S
North
N
Bandler
9
865
K96
AQ9652
 
W
Schneider
106543
92
Q43
K73
♠4
E
Chris
J82
QJ103
A102
1084
 
S
Munson
AKQ7
AK74
J875
J
 
W
Schneider
N
Bandler
E
Chris
S
Munson
Pass
Pass
1
Pass
2
Pass
3NT
All Pass
 
 
 
W
Manfred
N
Jerry
E
Dan
S
Pastor
Pass
Pass
1
Pass
2
Pass
2NT
Pass
3
All Pass
 

Being rather well-healed in the majors, it did not occur to me to bid anything other than 3NT after partner made a (non-forcing) passed hand bid of a new suit at the 2 level (certainly guaranteeing that he held no 4 card major and around 10+ playing points).  So, we ended up in game while the opponents, holding our cards at the other table, stopped in 3.  Playing diamonds, declarer only lost 2 diamond tricks, scoring 11 tricks for +150.

After East followed with the J at trick 1, I won the opening spade lead with the K, hoping that by concealing the Q my 7 might grow up into a trick later in the hand (it didn’t).  At trick 2 I led the J which was covered by the K and I ducked (there was no suit I was ready to play from dummy and I (thought I) was happy to have LHO on lead.  Perhaps they would under lead their 108?!  West continued with the 3 to the 8 and A, as I pitched a heart from dummy.  Between my hand and dummy, I held the 98765.  I decided my best chance was to play LHO for the Q or 10, but not the A, so I led the 5 to the 4, 6 and 10.  Back came the 2 which I won with the Q (establishing LHO’s spades, so LHO better not have the A!).  I continued diamonds to the 9 and when that forced the A, dummy now had the precious entry to enjoy club tricks and I now had plenty of tricks, scoring 3+2+1+4 for +630.  If there were only 2 club tricks to cash (if clubs had split 4-2), I still had the chance that diamonds were 3-3 and I could score 2 tricks there.

But, at least double dummy, I played the hand wrong.  Once I ducked the K, I can no longer make the hand.  I was (wrongly) hoping LHO would continue spades from the 108.  But, all they need to do is notice that they likely have no further entry and switch to the 9 (which is the only continuation that beats the hand).   Now the defense can go about establishing their heart suit while East still has 2 entries in diamonds.  That would give the defense 0+2+2+1.  To make the hand legitimately, I must win the K with the A.  From that point, there are various successful continuations, as declarer:

  1. I can go after diamonds, trying to find the 10 (assuming one defender will eventually have to lead a club to allow me to score the Q).  That provides 3+2+2+2 = 9 tricks.
  2. I can cash the Q myself while I am in dummy and then try to find the 10.  That also provides 3+2+2+2 = 9 tricks.
  3. I can play 3 rounds of clubs and hope for 3-3 clubs with a late diamond entry (which, in this case, can only come about by stripping East of spades and throwing him in with hearts to lead away from the A).

Option 2 seems the best to me.  At the point when I cash the Q, I hold double stoppers in both majors and the opponents only have 1 club to cash (the 9 prevents a second club trick).  So, if I can find the 10, I will lose the AQ, but score 2 diamonds to go with 7 tricks in the other suits.

When West is allowed to hold the K, they know dummy’s clubs are established and they know declarer holds (at least) the A (partner would have played the A at trick 1 if he had it).  If declarer also holds the A, he is up to 9 tricks (2+0+2+5).  If declarer does not hold the A, continued pursuit of spades is futile, since the established spade suit would have no entry.  Defense is tough.  Being a declarer is tough.  A lot becomes easier when looking at all of the hands after it is over.  In any case, +630 went with -150 to win 10 IMPs.

Recap Of 12/28/2016 28 Board IMP Individual

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Today was my lucky day.

 

Recap Of 12/21/2016 28 Board IMP Individual

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

 

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

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

 

 

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

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

1NT -5, 1400

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

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

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

If NS play the hand

3NT, +1, +630

5♣ =, +600

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

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

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

Recap Of 11/9/2016 28 Board IMP Individual

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

Board 2

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Board 4

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

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

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

Board 9

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

 

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

 

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

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

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

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

Board 11

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

Recap Of 10/5/2016 28 Board IMP Individual

Well, it has been awhile.  I’ve been traveling, so it has been over 2 months since we played, but finally played again on Wednesday, October 5th.  I can’t complain much (well, a little), but it seems to me that most of the swings involved careless play/errors rather than any brilliant bidding, declarer play or defense.  Here we go.

Board 6

 
6
E-W
East
N
Bill
QJ953
K
6
K109753
 
W
Bruce
7
97653
1098752
8
A
E
Cris
A8642
AJ4
J4
QJ6
 
S
Bob
K10
Q1082
AKQ3
A42
 
W
Bruce
N
Bill
E
Cris
S
Bob
1NT1
Dbl2
2NT3
Dbl4
35
Dbl6
37
58
Dbl9
All Pass
(1) 14+-17 After the hand was over Cris remarked that he missorted his hand. I think he meant miscounted, but he did open 1NT
(2) Good hand, penalty, modified Hamilton
(3) xfr to diamonds – suspecting, correctly, that 1NT will not be a success, Bruce moves to get out in diamonds
(4) Showing values
(5) He would bid 3D if he had good diamonds, so with only Jx, he responds 3C
(6) I noted the vulnerability and made a penalty double of 3C in case Bruce is ready to pass (if he had both clubs and diamonds, hearing partner didn’t like diamonds Bruce could opt to just pass and play 3C, hoping that Cris’ clubs are better – that is how Bruce would bid if his heart suit were his club suit).
(7) Bruce runs to his long suit, diamonds
(8) Bill decided to go for offense instead of defense
(9) Cris thought we couldn’t make it
W
Art
N
Dan
E
Mike
S
Mark
1
Dbl
21
3
32
Dbl3
Pass
44
Pass
55
Pass
Pass
Dbl6
All Pass
(1) Lead director! Although a free bid at the 2 level over an opponents takeout double doesn’t promise values, it is often a hand a little north of zero HCP!
(2) Raising partner’s ‘diamonds’
(3) Suggesting they won’t make it
(4) Thinking that they have more offense than defense
(5) With the strong hand, deciding to bid the game
(6) Suggesting they won’t make it

As you can see, the bidding resulted in the same contracts at both tables, but far from the optimum contract.  At both tables, as the bidding developed, the optimum contract, would have been 3X for +800 for N-S (at first glance, it seems as though declarer can only score 3 long diamonds and 2 aces for -1100, but 6 tricks are available for ‘only’ -800).  But declarer must play carefully to avoid -1100.  He has to use the power of the 9 by leading a small heart away from dummy’s J after winning the A.  But, if the opening lead is the K, declarer must first draw at least 1 round of trump.  So, there are many paths to down 4, but best play will always score 6 tricks.

Against the actual contracts of 5X, the defense ended up less than optimum, a lot less at one table.  It is always good to defeat a doubled contract, so starting with the A seems indicated and that was indeed the opening lead at both tables.  At my table, Cris continued with the A and noting the fall of the K, inexplicably continued hearts rather than providing a spade ruff for partner to achieve down 2.  So, eventually he scored his trump trick for -1, +100.

At the other table, looking at that dummy and knowing partner held a lot of diamonds, East played the J at trick 2, the K was discarded on the second high diamond and from that point, there was only 1 trump trick to lose for 11 tricks.  -550 to go with our -100 to lose 12 IMPs.  Disappointed.

If E-W don’t get involved in the bidding, the par contract is 3NT, 3 tricks for the defense, 10 for declarer, +430.  But when +800 is available, playing for +400 is losing an opportunity to score 9 IMPs.  My partner suggested I should bid 3NT over the 3 bid.  That certainly would have worked a lot better than what eventually happened!  But I thought 6-7-8 tricks for us defending a 3 level club or diamond contract might be easier than 9 tricks in a NT contract – my RHO did open 1NT!?!?

Bruce certainly did good to run from 1NTX, since +1100 is pretty easy on defense – the same 10 tricks we would get on offense if we declared 1NT.  But, since my double was penalty, a redouble normally asks partner to bid 2, after which he can convert to 2 to play and stay one level lower (if we opt to defend) and then he would lose only -500!

Hand 13

 
13
Both
North
N
Bob
98642
K87
954
72
 
W
Mike
7
AQ10653
K1076
108
♠K
E
Bill
KQJ
J
A82
QJ9543
 
S
Art
A1043
942
QJ3
AK6
 
W
Mike
N
Bob
E
Bill
S
Art
Pass
1
Dbl1
1
12
Pass
Pass
2
Pass
Pass
2
All Pass
 
 
 
(1) Not ideal shape, but at least 3 card support for every unbid suit
(2) Obviously I considered passing, but with spades the boss suit, a well placed heart K, and spades 5 long…
W
Cris
N
Dan
E
Mark
S
Bruce
Pass
1
Pass
1
Pass
2
Pass
21
Pass
22
Pass
2NT
Pass
3NT
All Pass
(1) Showing ‘something’, not sure what.  Cris tells me it is just a forcing bid, not necessarily a suit.  I’m not sure what he wants to be ‘forcing’ for with a broken heart suit and a 9 count, but it pretty much worked to get them into 3NT
(2) Not ready to give up on game, and knowing partner knows he didn’t bid spades last time, so he can’t have a 4 card suit, but wants to show values.  Cris wasn’t sure what 2S showed (if spades, why didn’t Mark bid 2NT?).  Anyway, Cris continued with 2NT and Mark advanced to game.

Our E-W teammates had no opposing bidding and arrived at a mostly unbeatable (as the cards lay) 3NT.   Only a trick 1 diamond lead succeeds.  I don’t think many would try a diamond if the hand were given to The Bridge World Master Solvers.  With no N-S bidding, and all 4 suits ‘bid’, a spade seems rather normal and a diamond rather double dummy.  Since the defense started with a spade to the A and another spade, there was no time for declarer to go after club tricks.  The heart suit had to be the source of tricks.  With limited entries, Declarer is required to assume hearts are 3-3 or else Kx onside.  Not a great contract, but 9 tricks were there on the spade lead (2+5+2+0) for a red game of +600.  Win a fortunate 11 IMPs.

One flavor of defense gets into a quite complicated end game.  If the defense ducks the opening spade lead (leaving declarer with no spades and only 1 spade trick (for now)), and then the defense plays a diamond after winning the K, declarer must win the diamond in his hand and run hearts.  On the run of hearts, South is strip squeezed into either giving up the diamond suit, or else creating an end play resulting in declarer scoring 3 diamond tricks.

Meanwhile, in my spade contract, I had to lose 2+2+2+0 for -1, -100, win 11 IMPs.  This swing was more like most swings of the past – all based on varied bidding judgment (and lucky lie of the cards to correspond to that bidding).  So, as I see it, no real blunders (by the opponents at my table failing to reach 3NT).  But this was the only hand of the day where that was the case.

Board 16

 
16
E-W
West
N
Bob
107
A8
A108
QJ8542
 
W
Mike
AK82
42
J7642
A6
K
E
Bill
653
Q9765
KQ9
93
 
S
Art
QJ94
KJ103
53
K107
 
W
Mike
N
Bob
E
Bill
S
Art
1
2
2
3
All Pass
 
 
 
W
Cris
N
Dan
E
Mark
S
Bruce
1
2
2
Dbl1
32
Pass
Pass
Dbl3
Pass
34
Pass
45
Pass
56
Pass
Pass
Dbl7
All Pass
 
 
(1) Responsive double, showing values and both majors
(2) Trying to push the opponents higher
(3) Again, values with no clear direction, suggesting this is our hand.
(4) I can’t explain this bid, but I guess he thought partner REALLY wanted to hear a major, so he bid his best one
(5) Retreating to partner’s club suit, knowing the heart fit won’t be adequate
(6) Must be time to go for game?
(7) I don’t think they can make it

The bidding at our table was short a sweet, arriving at the par contract.  We had 4 losers, 9 tricks were easy in 3 for +110.

I like Bruce’s responsive double.  Sometimes, when you overcall 2 you have one 4 card major but are short in the other major, so you are unable to start with a double.  The responsive double protects against that possibility with a later retreat to 3 if partner fails to offer a major.  Bruce effectively issued a speeding ticket to Cris for his ill-advised 3 bid (N-S were scheduled to collect +500 and win 9 IMPs), but once Dan bid again over the double, it became N-S that had gotten too high rather than E-W.  So, my side received 9 unexpected IMPs from what seemed like a nothing flat hand at our table.  Technically 9 IMPs is not a double digit swing, but ‘win 9’ vs. ‘lose 9’ seems like a double digit swing to me.

RE: 6 defensive tricks vs. 3.  If N-S draw trump, the defense will score 2+2+1+1.  If they don’t draw trump, allowing a spade ruff in dummy, the 10 can be promoted into the 2nd undertrick (heart overruff).

Hand 26

 
26
Both
East
N
Dan
Q92
K5
Q86
109765
 
W
Bob
A73
A84
J104
A832
2
E
Mark
J85
J92
A972
KQJ
 
S
Mike
K1064
Q10765
K53
4
 
W
Bob
N
Dan
E
Mark
S
Mike
11
22
23
Pass4
35
Pass
3NT6
All Pass
 
 
(1) Not the ‘classic’ opening bid, but…
(2) Not the classic shape for Michaels, vulnerable, but…
(3) Playing U vs. U, a cue in their lower suit (hearts) shows limit or better values in support of clubs
(4) No need to get involved
(5) Forced to rebid his club ‘suit’ at the 3 level
(6) Would far prefer to have partner play it, but I know of no bid to effectively xfr to 3NT, so I bid it – I sure didn’t want to go to 5C with this shape and any bid might force partner to go past 3NT
W
Art
N
Bruce
E
Cris
S
Bill
11
Pass
12
Pass
1NT
Pass
3NT
All Pass
 
 
(1) Amazing, the same 1C? bid was found at the other table.
(2) Although 2C is forcing, decided to start with 1D

So, the same 3NT contract to be played at both tables, but reached from different sides.  With 25 HCP and stoppers in every suit, it doesn’t seem crazy to reach 3NT.  In fact, there appear to be 9 tricks after the double finesse in diamonds: 1+1+3+4.   The problem is, there is no way to unblock and enjoy all 4 club tricks.  Entries to the West hand are required to take 2 diamond finesses (in order to enjoy 3 tricks there).  Meanwhile, the opponents are going about setting up their major suit winners.  All-in-all, 3NT is pretty hopeless.  Well, that is what it seemed.

When East played the hand, the heart lead set up 4 winners there, so the split honors in diamonds wasn’t enough.  The opponents got to 5 tricks quickly before 9 was remotely possible (lose the diamond finesse and cash 4 more heart tricks.

When I (West) played the hand, the 2 lead marked the suit as 4-3-3-3.  So, before they could take a few in one major and then start taking tricks in the other major, I immediately won trick 1 with the A and took the diamond finesse.  The opponents then cashed their 3 spade tricks (North pitching a club on the 13th spade) and continued hearts, forcing me to win the first round with the A and continue diamonds.  I was already booked and needed the rest of the tricks.  But, with the second diamond finesse working, I was up to 3 diamond tricks and then ‘all’ I needed was to cash 4 clubs.  On the 13th diamond, rather than throwing the K, North threw yet another club, allowing my A to overtake the J and then cash the 8 at trick 13 for my 9th trick.  Declarer’s 2 cue bid (suggesting clubs), South’s small heart lead (suggesting heart values), South’s Michael’s bid (suggesting heart values) and declarer’s failure to finesse the Q suggested that he didn’t hold the Q.  So, keeping four clubs and discarding the K on the last diamond was needed to defeat the contract.  +600 and +100 allowed a lucky 12 IMPs for our side.

Reviewing the dealer’s choice of opening bids – I was surprised by both tables choosing 1.  I think Cris did it on purpose, but Mark, as he put down my dummy, indicated he made a mistake and did not actually intend to open 1.  Not only is it normal to open the longer suit (1), but often 4-3-3-3 hands with 12 HCP don’t really qualify for an opening bid (I know, ‘everyone’ is opening almost all 10 point hands these days – at least the big club guys are.  But no one in our group plays a big club).  So, does this specific hand qualify for an opening bid?  All 3 jacks are suspect in value and, as the cards lie, all 3 jacks are actually worthless.  That gets the hand down to a 4-3-3-3 9 count and even the big club guys don’t open those hands as dealer.

Another way to evaluate the hand is the Kaplan and Rubens Hand Evaluator:

http://www.jeff-goldsmith.org/cgi-bin/knr.cgi?hand=j85+j92+a972+kqj

This is an extremely complex method of evaluating a hand that no person could perform at the table.  It computes the value to 2 decimal places (perhaps suggesting that a hand of 10.07 points is better than a hand of 10.04?), but it is a valuable tool to see if a hand is worth upgrading Work points (4-3-2-1) to a higher number, or downgrading to a lower number.  As you will see if you click the link, K&R evaluates this hand as 10.00.   This web site also provides the evaluation of Danny Kleinman which comes out at 9+.  Perhaps that is why 3NT is not a wise contract, even though partner’s hand evaluates at 13.1 K&R points (or 13- per Kleinman’s evaluator).  Both of these evaluation tools downgrade rather harshly for 4-3-3-3 hands, as they should and as we should at the table.

So that was all for the double digit swings.  There were 6 more 6 IMP swings – 2 were white games bid/not bid, while the other 4 were double plus positions on part score hands.

Recap Of 8/3/2016 28 Board IMP Individual

Wow!  Only 4 double digit swings today…and I lost them all.  On to the details…

 
5
N-S
North
N
Bob
AK543
J
Q108
AQ98
 
W
Manfred
96
A872
J643
752
3
E
Mike
QJ87
6
K9752
K43
 
S
Mark
102
KQ109543
A
J106
 

 

Bob
Mark
1
2
31
3
32
4
53
64
(1) Undiscussed, but certainly thinking I am showing extra values
(2) Not really liking QT8 for the NT diamond stopper
(3) Thinking the J has to be a great filler so give it one more try
(4) Liking his full control of diamonds and partial club fit
Bill
Dan
1
2
3
3
3NT1
4
Pass2
(1) Thinking his diamonds are OK for NT
(2) Done

On this first one, I should have reasoned that my 3 bid showed extras, and if partner won’t move towards slam, then perhaps I shouldn’t either.  But I did.  The result was a slam that was quite close to 50% on a successful club finesse (a little less than 50% because it is possible the defense can obtain a first round ruff, or a ruff after winning the A, then the slam would be down even with a successful club finesse).  And, without the 10, the slam is quite poor.  But, partner did have the 10, so, with no ruffs available, if the K is onside, we win 13 IMPs.  It wasn’t. -100 vs. -650 and lose 13 IMPs.

Should I have pushed on?  Should partner have accepted?  Not with the K offside!  But not the worst slam ever.

 
6
E-W
East
N
Bob
A109742
AK
J
AQJ9
 
W
Manfred
65
9643
KQ542
83
6
E
Mike
K8
Q72
976
K10652
 
S
Mark
QJ3
J1085
A1083
74
 
 

 

W
Manfred
N
Bob
E
Mike
S
Mark
Pass
Pass
Pass
1
Pass
2
Pass
31
Pass
42
Pass
4NT3
Pass
54
Pass
65
All Pass
 
(1) Seems like some slam try must be made?
(2) No club help, but I like my hand
(3) Time for RKCB
(4) Playing 0314, showing 1
(5) One seems like enough?
W
Cris
N
Bill
E
Bruce
S
Dan
Pass
Pass
Pass
1
Pass
2
Pass
41
All Pass
 
(1) Thinking this is enough for game!

Undaunted, we faced this hand on the very next board.  Again, I felt I had too much to simply sign off in game, so I offered the 3 ‘game try.’  When partner accepted, I envisioned a possibly magic hand with Kxxx and Kx.  If partner only had Kxx along with the K, I could survive if trumps were 2-2. Or if trumps are 3-1 with a singleton honor, I can still bring it home as long as I guess correctly whether dummy or my hand should win the first trump trick.  So, I trotted out ol’ Black and when partner owned up to 1 key card, I was there, bidding 6.  It turned out the A was his key card, but he held suitable trump honors to give decent play.  As I figure it, this is very close to a 75% slam (you can tell me if I have miscalculated).  If either black king is onside, I am in pretty good shape.  But, the order of which black finesse you try first matters.  I think I played it wrong, now that I have given it more thought.  Darn, I hate it when that happens.  

I led the Q at trick 2 because I had the illusion that trying spades first gave me a ‘two-fer’.  If they ducked, I could then try clubs.  If they covered, I was very nearly home, and if it lost, I still had a high spade to then try clubs.  But, that thinking is flawed because ‘then try clubs’ means that after I cross to the remaining spade honor, trump likely need to be 2-2, and more critically, I not only need my RHO to hold the K, I need it to be exactly Kx or Kxx, since I get only 1 finesse, then I must play the A, then ruff, and the K must fall, or else I still have a club to lose and the slam goes down.

So, back to what to play at trick 2 after the A wins trick 1?  I’m convinced (now) that the right answer is to play clubs first.  If the club finesse wins, I cash the A and ruff a club.  If the K doesn’t fall in 3 rounds, I enter my hand and ruff my last club.  Now, I’m in dummy and I can still try the spade finesse for a chance for all 13 tricks.  If the club finesse loses, I win the return (whatever it is), cash the A, ruff my remaining losing club (high) and then start taking spade finesses.  This fails if either opponent held only 1 club (so that they then they ruff my A) or if RHO has only 2 clubs so that they overruff the third round of clubs.  It also fails if my RHO has all four outstanding trumps Kxxx.

Normally, a slam needing 1 of 2 finesses is considered a 75% slam.  This certainly falls short of 75% because it needs a bit more than just 1 of 2 finesses.  There are other considerations in handling various scenarios.  Most importantly, all lines fail when LHO holds both black kings.  They did, so the slam, like the prior board, was down.  Since it was non-vulnerable, -50 vs. -450, lose 11 IMPs.

Note to self – don’t play so fast when a 22 IMP swing is looming for make/down in a slam.  Consider the possible layouts more carefully before embarking on a plan.  Here, my play didn’t matter, but finessing in clubs first after winning the A (rather than spades first) handles many more situations of ‘at least 1 black king onside.’

48 IMPs difference on those two slams vs. the opposing players on the other team.  Win 13, win 11, total of 24 IMPs, vs. lose 24.

 
10
Both
East
N
Bob
K9432
K3
QJ543
5
 
W
Bruce
6
54
A982
987632
6
E
Dan
QJ107
A7
K1076
J104
 
S
Manfred
A85
QJ109862
AKQ
 
Bob
Manfred
1
1
41
Pass2
(1) No slam exploration
(2) Good hand, but don’t know what partner needs
Mike
Mark
2
2
2
21
32
63
All Pass
(1) Forced, in case partner has a big Kokish NT hand
(2) Showing a 1-suited heart hand, strong
(3) A collection of useful cards, perhaps not the most elegant, but…

So, here we go again.  Another slam (only this time it was bid by our opponents at the other table).  Here it was all on the lead (sort of).  As you can see, the opening leader holds 12 cards that can be led to defeat the slam.  But, they also hold 1 card (A) that can be led that allows the slam to come home.  They (our teammate) found that 1 card!!!!!

But on the auction that they heard (no key card ask), the opponents are flying blind.  They could be off two cashing diamond tricks, but those (potential diamond winners) may only cash if they are led and cashed at tricks 1 and 2.  David Bird says to ‘never lead a singleton against a slam’ when you hold an ace, because the chance that you hit partner with an ace is zero, and you may locate a critical card for declarer by leading the singleton.  So, here the singleton works, actually any card works but the A!  But, I think our teammate made the right lead based on the information available.

We played a mere 4 at our table and the singleton spade was led.  The beauty of the singleton is that partner can have either ace – the ace of the suit you led or the trump ace – and you get a ruff.  So, as it turned out, partner did not hold the spade A, but they did hold the trump A and provided the ruff to hold us to 11 tricks.  However, they ruffed one of our losers that could never go away anyway due to partner opposite the singleton leader holding the QJT7.  Declarer has no place to dispose of his 3rd spade and no squeeze.  So, we were never scoring 12 tricks, but we were only in game anyway.

At the other table, in slam, after the A was led and ruffed, declarer must lose the trump A, so they have to figure a way to dispose of the spade loser.  It is standard, for those who lead A from AK, to lead the K from AK at the 5 level or higher (this is because it is more likely that you might lead an unsupported A at that level and it is helpful to partner to know).  Anyway, declarer doesn’t know that the opening leader plays that ‘standard’.  Who has the K is huge in the planning of the play of the hand.  As the cards lie, RHO has the K and the only legitimate play to make the hand is to take a ruffing finesse in diamonds.  This is incredibly complicated because declarer only has 1 sure entry to dummy (K).  The K could be an entry.  Or club ruffs could be an entry (yes ruffing your good AKQ of clubs!).  It is almost double dummy for declarer to play A at trick 2, ruff a high club at trick 3, and then float the Q, hoping for RHO to hold the K.  But 2 entries are required for the ruffing finesse in diamonds.  You could try to force the K to be an entry by first leading a high heart from hand (since you have no ‘need’ to ruff a club).  If everyone plays low, the K is an entry only by ruffing a club.  Then use the K as the entry, later, to discard your spade loser on the established high diamond.

At the table at trick 2, declarer led a heart to the K and A.  Now the spotlight switches to East.  What do they return after winning the A?  It turns out, on the run of hearts and clubs, they will become squeezed in spades and diamonds, so a spade return (at trick 3) is required to break up the squeeze.  If declarer wins in dummy, they have lost the late entry to the diamond threat, and if they win in hand, they have lost their entry to the spade threat, so after running clubs and hearts, East will have the luxury of discarding after dummy and the slam goes down.

But wait – declarer can win the spade in dummy, lead the Q, taking a ruffing finesse, and then, if covered, enter dummy with a club ruff and discard his losing spade on the established diamond.  But, that line of play is the only way to make the hand at this point as the cards lie.  Declarer might take the view that his LHO has the K (so the ruffing finesse is a losing cause) and simply win the spade in his hand, draw trump, run clubs and hope to squeeze LHO at trick 11.  If LHO is the only one that can guard spades (he is hoping) and has the K (he is hoping), then his last 2 cards cannot include both the K and a spade guard.  Dummy’s Kx will take the last two tricks, 12 tricks in all.  But, as the cards lie, that line will fail.

Now back to reality – East did not return a spade at trick 3, so declarer had a double squeeze available (spade transportation intact).  He didn’t care who held the K if they also held the stopper in spades, they would be squeezed.  And they were.  On the run of hearts and clubs, declarer has won 9 out of 10 tricks, losing the trump A, but winning 3 clubs and 6 hearts.  Needing the last 3 tricks,  Dummy comes down to their last 3 cards K9  Q.  Declarer’s last 3 cards are A85 and East…has no answer.  If they keep the K, they can only keep 2 spades and declarer’s last spade is good.  If they throw the K, then dummy’s Q is good.  This is what happened and this is how declarer brought home 12 tricks.  Not a good slam (looking at the 2 North-South hands you would have virtually no play).  But, +650 vs. -1430, lose another 13 IMPs.  Disappointed.

What do you think of the 2 opening bid?  What do you think of no search for slam after opening 1? Certainly the 4 rebid shows a very strong suit in a strong hand, so with some hands that will make slam, I might have made a move over 4.  I almost did with the actual hand!

 
19
E-W
South
N
Bob
KQ1083
4
KQ432
72
 
W
Bill
J9742
AQJ5
10
K54
Q
E
Manfred
5
K1076
J85
QJ1083
 
S
Cris
A6
9832
A976
A96
 
W
Bill
N
Bob
E
Manfred
S
Cris
1
Dbl
11
2
Pass2
Pass
33
Pass
34
Pass
45
Pass
46
Pass
Pass7
Pass
(1) I could redouble, but if they bid a lot of hearts, I have a lot to say, so I start with spades
(2) No support double, therefore 2 or fewer spades
(3) Tell partner I have a good hand. 5D a this point would have been a better call, we are not making slam.
(4) Showing honor doubleton
(5) Again, I should bid 5D
(6) Showing Ax, offer to play
(7) Foolishly accepting the offer to play 4S
W
Dan
N
Mark
E
Mike
S
Bruce
1
11
Pass2
Pass
Dbl3
24
45
46
Pass
Pass
57
Dbl8
All Pass
(1) Choosing to overcall rather than double
(2) Penalty pass
(3) Reopening
(4) Moving right along to his next suit
(5) Invitational?
(6) Thinking they may fit pretty well!
(7) Looks more like offense than defense
(8) Can’t take a joke

It is so embarrassing to put in this last hand that I almost didn’t include it.  While I lost 37 IMPs on the first 3 reported hands, I wasn’t embarrassed about my actions on any of them (well a little embarrassed about my play in 6 when I tried the spade finesse first instead of the club finesse).  But this hand shows a classic beginner lesson that you can get wrong every time if you are not paying attention (and I wasn’t paying attention).  First, the bidding.  Not a thing of beauty at our table.  I was 100% certain of playing a 5-2 fit, but fell victim to thinking 10 tricks are easier than 11.  I should have been thinking “I can take heart taps ‘forever’ if diamonds are trump, but if spades are trump, heart taps could present a problem.”  With that proper thinking, I should pull 4♠ to 5 and we would either push the board (if our opponents doubled) or lose 4 IMPs if we took our 11 tricks undoubled (since our teammates had doubled 5♦ making).  Anyway, we were playing 4 so the objective is to make the bid we are in. 

I won the opening lead with the A in dummy, cashed the A and led a spade to the 10 (thinking the takeout doubler likely had length in spades).  Boy did he.  But, no problem.  Draw 4 rounds of trump, let him ruff a diamond, then cash a winning heart and a winning club and claim the rest for 10 tricks.  What could go wrong?  Well, diamonds are likely 3-1 (if they are 4-0, I’m hopeless).  If they are 3-1, I need to discard a diamond from dummy while playing spades to get the 7 out of the way of my 32.  Failing to do that will result in round 4 of diamonds being won in dummy (for my 9th trick) with no way back to my hand to score my good 13th diamond.  This is not even intermediate play.  This is basic beginner bridge that ‘no one’ could get wrong when presented as a problem on a piece of paper, but, at the table, I was careless, failed to throw away a diamond as I played spades, and therefore went down in 4 when it was cold on the club lead (yes, they could have started with hearts and I would have had no chance because I am tapped out at trick 2, but they didn’t).  That goes back to the bidding, where I said I should have bid 5 over 4 and then I would not have to be reporting this embarrassing hand.  -50 and -550, lose 12 IMPs.

 

Slight revision to blog of Board 21 from May 18

While I (Bob Munson) am typing this, the content below is actually via cut/paste from an email dialog with Mike Schneider who played in the game on May 18.  Mike’s specific point of interest involves the auction on board 21 (this board was not mentioned in the original blog).

W
Bob/JoAnna
N
North
E
Lew/Dan
S
South
Pass
Pass
1
Pass
1NT
Pass
2
Pass
2NT
Pass
3
Pass
?
 

Except for the final call by East, the bidding at both tables was identical.  At his last turn to bid, Dan advanced to 3NT.  Lew passed for his last bid and I played 3.

Here are the hands that created that auction:

W
Bob/JoAnna
KQ652
A1074
KQJ8
 
E
Lew/Dan
108
KJ5
AQ98
10942

 

 

 

 

And here are Mike’s comments.

I thought Board 21 from the May 18th two table bridge IMP match was interesting; Bob invited me to supplement the blog for that game with my discussion of the deal. Unfortunately, my amateurishness was front and center, as I failed to accurately capture all four hands before they were reshuffled to start a new two table IMP match on May 23rd. I did accurately record the East – West hands, however, and as it happens they did all of the bidding on the deal.

Looking at only the East – West hands, one would not be surprised to learn that 3N succeeded, as it did at the table. The cards lay very poorly for a no-trump declarer: KJTx lay behind the declarer’s AQ98, while A9x lay behind dummy’s KQ and Ax lay behind dummy’s KQJx. If the defense does everything right, and if declarer mis-guesses the heart suit, then the 3NT contract may be beaten. The cards lay very nicely for a club declarer: both spades and hearts broke 3-3 while clubs broke 3-2. Dan received a friendly small heart opening lead from Qxx and so did not lose a heart trick playing 3NT, while Bob had to play hearts on his own, guessed wrongly and did lose a heart trick playing 3C: East – West plus 400 vs. East – West plus 130 meant a 7 IMP swing in favor of Joanna and Dan.

I was surprised to learn that Lew passed 3 — I would think that the “normal” meaning of West’s sequence is to accept East’s 2NT game invitation, while describing his distribution within one card, most frequently 5=4=1=3. Partner can accept the 3NT invite or hedge by bidding a major suit that might play OK in a seven card fit (you might still back into 3NT if your singleton diamond was say the jack). I suppose that it is even possible that partner might respond 4 to your 3 call should he have chosen 2NT holding say 1=2=4=6 with only moderate diamonds and honors in the short major suits. And of course, you might be 5=4=0=4 instead of 5=4=1=3 when you bid 3 (as in today’s deal), and this possibility complicates the subsequent auction for both partners. On the plus side, both partner’s participate in the inevitable judgement calls that the sequence demands. Perhaps Lew’s passed hand status influenced his decision to pass: his upper limit for 2N would be a bit higher had he been an un-passed hand; also West will open some hands in 4th seat that he might pass as dealer, say K9652, AT74, void, Q874. Even if Lew understood that 3 was forcing, he might choose to pass once he decided not to bid 3NT — his hand will not be a particularly useful dummy in a club contract.

All artificial conventions extract a price for their use — this deal is interesting to me because it illustrates the downside of an artificial treatment that I have used for several years, and which I believe is used today by at least some top pairs (My most recent sighting was a Levin – Weinstein National Tournament Report in the Bridge World perhaps 18 months ago.) I play that the sequence 1-1N-2H-2N-3H♥ or 3 suggests that partner pass, and that 1-1N-2H-2N-3 (artificial) -3 (forced) -3H♥ or 3 is the game forcing version of a 6=4 or 5=5 major suit opening bid.  If I want to show game acceptance with short diamonds (as in the example hand), I use the auction 1-1N-2H-2N-3 (artificial) -3 (forced) -3N (ostensibly 5=4=1=3).  If instead, I want to bid 3NT showing short clubs on the way, the sequence would be 1-1N-2H-2N-3-3N. Obviously, this agreement is hardly ideal for the cards that were dealt on May 18th, although I may well have survived whatever choice I decided to make.

Now Bob writing again – since this bridge game that we are blogging about is an individual movement with many partnerships playing as little as 4 hands 2-3 times in the past 5-10 years, specialized systemic agreements such as this are not something you review with partner as you sit down to play your next 4 hands.

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