Bob Munson

Recap Of 2/12/2020 28 Board IMP Individual

Today there were 5 double digit swings that involved bidding judgment, leads, defense, declarer play – and a ‘little’ luck, pretty much every aspect of the game.

 
3
E-W
South
N
Barrere
J954
K9865
AK83
 
W
Roche
Q8
AQJ7
Q643
J109
J
E
Tuttle
1072
43
109872
764
 
S
Munson
AK63
102
AKJ5
Q52
 
W
Roche
N
Barrere
E
Tuttle
S
Munson
1NT
Pass
2
Pass
2
Pass
31
Pass
32
Pass
43
Pass
44
All Pass
 
 
 
(1) Baze convention establishing spades as trump and showing shortness somewhere with slam interest (otherwise just bid game)
(2) Asking where is the shortness
(3) Using low, middle, high responses, this shows diamond shortness
(4) Signing off, not what I wanted to hear

 

W
Moss
N
Stern
E
Ralph
S
Macgregor
1NT
Pass
2
Pass
2
Pass
31
Pass
42
Pass
43
Pass
4NT4
Pass
55
Pass
6
All Pass
 
 
 
(1) Baze
(2) Showing strength rather than asking shortness
(3) Not what I wanted to hear, signing off with a void opposite the strength
(4) Key card
(5) 1 key card

Grant Baze argued at one time that he was not the inventor of what is know as the ‘Baze’ convention, but many players use this gadget (and call it Baze) after a fit is found in a Stayman auction.  It is used to establish trump, declare shortness somewhere and explore slam potential.  For anyone unfamiliar, I found this explanation online that seems to capture the essence of it.

https://static1.squarespace.com/static/5127d3d2e4b0b304f0b6db24/t/51cdedb4e4b0d519d0ba6c4b/1372450228942/4+%2849%29+Slam+Tries+-+Shortness+%28Reverse+Baze%29.pdf

Here South players had the maximum 17 HCP for their 1NT opening bid and North used Stayman to uncover the 4-4 spade fit.  Both North’s judged their hand worth suggesting slam (I agree), so they confirmed spades via bidding the other major at the 3 level, showing a fit with shortness somewhere.  Typically, the NT bidder will ask which suit is short (I did at my table).  When I learned that the short suit was my powerful side diamond suit, I figured there were too many cards in partner’s hand that were not diamonds that I would be unable to establish and arrive at 12 tricks unless partner unilaterally continued on to slam based on his power.  So upon learning that the shortness was diamonds, I signed off in game.

At the other table, rather than ask shortness, South showed their side strength and when partner signed off in game, they continued with a key card ask and, without checking on the trump Q, bid the spade slam.  Had they checked and found that partner did have the Q instead of the J, slam is still a poor proposition (well below 50%) due to the diamond strength opposite shortness.

How good is this slam?  ‘All’ you need is a doubleton Qx to fall (either LHO or RHO) which happens 27.13% of the time…PLUS the A with West PLUS either find clubs 3-3 or hearts 3-3, since only 2  of dummy’s losers can be discarded on the AK.  That additional requirement comes out at 26.619%, but needing both conditions (doubleton Q plus favorable side suits) to bring the slam home makes it a 7.22% slam.  It is actually slightly worse than that, since the defense, on a different layout, could score 2 quick tricks with an unlikely club ruff on opening lead or a heart ruff after winning the A.  For anyone interested, I use this tool to determine ‘what are the odds?’

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

If it isn’t clear how to use the tool, send me an email and I can walk you through it.  Of course, this is only useful after the fact – it has no practical value at the table, but still it provides interesting information.

Enough about the bidding.  The play in the slam was straightforward.  With a certain heart loser, declarer had to win the club lead in dummy, cash AK and find the Q falling, lead a spade to the J to finish drawing trump, cross to hand with the Q to lead a heart up finding the A onside, and then ‘only’ need either clubs or hearts breaking 3-3.  When clubs suits broke evenly, no problem, 12 tricks, chalk up +980.  If West ducks their A, dummy will win the K and continue hearts.  The defense will prevail only if both hearts and clubs fail to break 3-3, and declarer will have time to find out which, if either, are breaking whatever the defense returns after winning their heart trick.

Since I needed to find 10 tricks (not 12), I did not pursue this line, but I think using the same start  as suggested for the slam would have been better than what I did.  I wanted to ruff my 2 diamond losers in dummy, so I started by doing that.  But, had trump been 4-1, problems would have developed that possibly could not be overcome.  Starting with the 2 top trump and then ruffing diamonds if the Q is still outstanding is better.  When the Q does fall, I can adjust the play and score 12 tricks the same way they did when playing the slam.  Bottom line, I scored 11 tricks (not that it mattered) for +450 to lose 11 IMPs.  When our teammates came back to compare, we thought they were joking when they said -980, showing us a false scorecard…but they weren’t!

 
4
Both
West
N
Barrere
K8
10
J10987652
Q6
 
W
Roche
J543
KJ85
4
9432
Q
E
Tuttle
A62
Q96
AK
AJ1087
 
S
Munson
Q1097
A7432
Q3
K5
 

 

W
Roche
N
Barrere
E
Tuttle
S
Munson
Pass
3
3NT
All Pass

 

W
Moss
N
Stern
E
Ralph
S
Macgregor
Pass
Pass
1
21
Pass
22
2NT
Pass
3
3
All Pass
 
(1) Michaels, showing the majors, usually 5=5
(2) Not interested in the majors

In second seat, partner (North) decided to open a preempt.  Second seat vulnerable is the most dangerous position to preempt (there is 1 partner and only 1 opponent to preempt), but with the 8 card diamond suit, the 3 bid certainly seems reasonable to me.  The 3 opening bid propelled East into a cold 3NT contract (when I chose a diamond opening lead, 10 tricks were possible, but only 9 were scored).  In the play, declarer won the diamond lead, played 2 hearts which I ducked (trying to prevent declarer from enjoying a third trick in hearts), and then played 2 clubs which I won with the K.  I then belatedly led spades (an opening spade lead holds declarer to 9 tricks).  After my spade, lead, declarer can win the A and play another heart to get his 10th trick, but my 10 was ducked all around and now declarer ‘only’ has 9 tricks.  We were -600.

North decided not to preempt at the other table and East, too strong for 1NT, opened 1.  South bid 2 showing a Michaels bid with both majors.  Somehow, this had the effect of getting North-South into the cold 3 contract.  Only the black aces and 2 top trumps must be lost.  The trump suit that was 8 long took care of the rest when the South hand provided the perfect cover cards for North’s losers.  So, our teammates were -110, lose 12 IMPs.

Back to the bidding – should I ‘save’ over 3NT and bid 4?  As the cards lie, absolutely.  But, partner did open vulnerable and sometimes the 3NT call is stretching/hoping to catch a fitting dummy (they did).  I felt I had enough stuff that 3NT might fail and it is silly to take a phantom save (why should I go down when they were going down?), so I passed 3NT.

Should East-West be able to arrive in 3NT after the Michael’s bid by South and the diamond bid by North?  East has diamonds doubly stopped, but the major suit stoppers are more suspect unless partner can produce some major suit fillers.  The 2NT rebid showed the 18 HCP that East held, but West’s modest values make it hard to advance to 3NT.  I think there are very interesting/challenging bidding judgment issues by every seat at the table at each turn to bid.  It is easy, looking at all 52 cards, to see who should bid what.  At the table, everyone can only see their own 13 cards and has to judge what is best.  So, at the table, I failed to bid 4 and our teammates failed to bid 3NT, so 12 IMPs away.

 
8
None
West
N
Tuttle
K1065
A84
865
AQ10
 
W
Stern
AJ87432
753
10
KJ
7
E
Moss
Q
KQ9
94
9865432
 
S
Munson
9
J1062
AKQJ732
7
 

 

W
Stern
N
Tuttle
E
Moss
S
Munson
2
Pass
Pass
2NT1
Pass
3NT
All Pass
 
(1) !

 

W
Ralph
N
Barrere
E
Macgregor
S
Roche
3
Pass
Pass
51
Pass
6
All Pass
 
(1) !

Once again, preemptive opening bidding judgment altered the destination of the final contract.  As dealer, West at my table opened 2, while at the other table West opened 3 (I think I would show the 7 card suit and start with 3, but often 2 shows more values which West clearly had).

So, I had to come up with a bid after 2 was passed around to me.  My choice (2NT) may seem like a typo, but that is what I bid!  When spades weren’t raised by East, I felt certain partner had a spade stopper.  If I bid 3 it would ask for a stopper (allowing us to reach 3NT slightly more legitimately), but I wanted to keep my hand hidden.  Also, I thought there were some hands where partner would provide 2 tricks, but may not convert a more normal 3 call to 3NT.  But, if I bid 2NT, he would raise to 3NT if he had what was needed.  Also, if he had hearts, perhaps he would offer Stayman and we could arrive in 4.  But, 7-4-1-1 hands often play better in the 7 card suit – you run out of trump too soon!  Anyway, however silly my 2NT bid was, we arrived in 3NT and had 12 tricks after the spade lead (I went up with the K).  Of course, ’12 tricks’ were only possible due to the incredible lie of the club suit.  Using the same tool as before, I learned that a doubleton KJ onside will happen .119% of the time.  That is barely more than once in 1000 deals. 

Meanwhile, South at the other table was faced with a different problem when the 3 bid was passed around to him.  Having 7 tricks in his own hand, he decided to go for the 11 trick game with a 5 call.  Partner, who couldn’t take a joke, raised to 6.  If the 7% slam looked bleak on board 3, that slam had great prospects compared to this slam.  On a heart lead, no lie of the cards can produce 12 tricks – technically a 0% slam.  But, after the A lead, the same 12 tricks that I scored in 3NT are there in the diamond slam (a .119% slam).   After cashing the A, West made the excellent shift to the J which had the psychological effect of convincing declarer that West could not hold the K.  What are the odds!?!  When declarer went up with the A, the slam failed by a trick, so our teammates were +50 to go with our +490 to win 11 IMPs.  We dodged a big loss.

It isn’t clear how you can get there after a 3 opening bid, but 3NT is clearly the desired target contract looking at the North-South cards.  Finding 11 tricks (let alone 12) would be impossible in many layouts when playing in diamonds (lose a spade and 2 hearts).  Depending on the opening lead, there is a chance to score 11 tricks (on a different deal, different distribution of the East-West cards) if declarer can judge the heart layout correctly.

 
13
Both
North
N
Munson
3
AQJ10732
J8
J82
 
W
Macgregor
A10854
964
103
A43
5
E
Tuttle
KJ92
8
KQ654
975
 
S
Ralph
Q76
K5
A972
KQ106
 

 

W
Macgregor
N
Munson
E
Tuttle
S
Ralph
3
Pass
3NT
All Pass
 
 
 

 

W
Stern
N
Barrere
E
Roche
S
Moss
3
Pass
4
All Pass
 
 
 

There was nothing to the play on this hand, it was all in the bidding.  North has a clear cut 3 opening bid as dealer, vulnerable.  South, with a key filler (K) and other scattered points in each suit has to choose to pass (deciding that their values are too soft), try 3NT (only 9 tricks required) or raise to the heart game.  At the other table, South bid the heart game – solid trumps with 1 loser in each side suit (and no defensive ruffs) made the 10 trick game easy.  My partner chose 3NT.  The opening spade lead doomed the contract.   However, when East won the K at trick 1 and returned the J, West didn’t know who had the 9, so they returned a passive heart.  After declarer ran hearts and tried to win a club trick, the defense was able to take 5 tricks, so we were down 1, -100 compared to -620, lose 12 IMPs.

If my Jxx had been Jxx, 3NT would have been perfect and 4 likely would have failed.  But my weak spades doomed 3NT.  Does partner have enough to advance past 3?  Is the correct advance 4 or 3NT?  Here it was 4?

 
23
Both
South
N
Ralph
AKQJ10
J10
KQ73
AQ
 
W
Roche
43
A965
A86
J752
7
E
Munson
762
8742
J10
K943
 
S
Stern
985
KQ3
9542
1086
 

 

W
Roche
N
Ralph
E
Munson
S
Stern
Pass
Pass
2
Pass
2
Pass
2NT
Pass
3NT
All Pass
 
 
 

 

W
Macgregor
N
Barrere
E
Moss
S
Tuttle
Pass
Pass
2NT
Pass
3NT
All Pass
 
 
 

Here the bidding judgment difference (open 2NT or open 2 and rebid 2NT) had no bearing on the final result.  However, if a 5 card suit is ever worth more points, the AKQJ10 surely qualifies as a quality suit worth something extra.  And the North hand has 22 HCP besides, so I don’t understand the downgrade, but as I said it made no difference.  My passive spade lead was the same at the other table and declarer had to find a path to 9 tricks.

The club suit is extremely favorable for the defense, unfavorable for declarer.  Double dummy, the only defense to defeat 3NT is a heart lead won by the A followed by a club shift (and then a club return ducked to the A).  Then the defense has 0+1+1+3 tricks for down 1.

Watching the hand play out, double dummy, is pretty amazing.  As card by card is played…with the spade lead, 10 tricks are ‘cold’; oops, now declarer can only score 8 tricks; oops, now they can score 10 tricks… now declarer is down against best defense; and so it goes, depending upon what cards are played by each player.  Bottom line, even though the bidding judgment was different, this was a hand that was all about: (leads), defense, declarer play and judgment as to how the cards are falling.

At my table, declarer took the spade lead and cashed all 5 spades, pitching diamonds (it turns out that the lucky lie of J10 doubleton was the only way to score 9 tricks – declarer needed to save all of dummy’s diamonds and toss clubs).  East discarded 2 hearts on the 4th and 5th spades, while West discarded 2 hearts and…a diamond on the 5th spade (potentially fatal).  West wanted to be able to duck hearts to isolate declarer to 1 heart winner, so they did not want to pitch down to the singleton A.  But, once declarer abandoned diamonds in dummy, West needed to keep the threat of the 8 to beat declarer’s 7.  So, once again, declarer can make it if they pound out diamonds (because diamonds are now 2-2-2 around the table).  But, declarer led the J, ducked (to legitimately beat the contract, West must win the A and play clubs).  After the J won, declarer can still make it if they switch to diamonds, but they persisted in hearts.  West won the A, played a small club to the Q and K.  East returned a small club ducked to the now bare A.  Now, declarer was down to all diamonds.  When declarer played diamonds, West could win and cash 2 club winners for down 1.

At the other table, declarer won the spade lead (can now make 10 tricks) and played a heart to the K (can now make only 8 tricks… if West wins the A and plays a club, the defense has 5 tricks).  But West ducked the K.  Then declarer played a diamond to the K which held (noting the fall of the J).  Now, again, 10 tricks are possible by continuing diamonds, or playing spades, then diamonds.  Declarer cashed 2 more spades (West pitching a fatal club) and then declarer led the J (If East holds the A, 9 tricks are assured – either they duck for the 9th trick or they win with no good return).  However, West won the A and led a club to the Q and K.  A club return was ducked around to the A.  Now declarer played his last 2 spades and led a small diamond.  In the 3 card ending, East held 10 and 94, dummy held K 9 and 10.  West held 9 A and J.  So, the diamond lead was won with the A, West cash the J and, in the end, West led a heart to dummy at trick 13 for declarer’s 9th trick.  So we were +100 and teammates were +600 to win 12 IMPs.

Can the defense get this ‘right’?  I don’t think so.  On this particular deal, a heart opening lead and club shift will defeat 3NT.  East makes a passive lead, and he holds the HCP that West would hope for (a side K and a side J).  But, if East’s KJ values are the KJ10x, the right defense after winning the heart lead is a diamond shift, not a club.  If, after a heart lead, East’s values (KJ10x) are in spades, the right shift is a spade – but, 5 tricks are unlikely here since declarer can duck the spade shift (East can’t continue spades) and later win the A and cash 9 tricks easily (since, if declarer didn’t have the spades that he held, he would have red suit tricks to cash).  Bottom line, the defense to beat 3NT on the go is double dummy for this deal, not obvious, not something to ‘get right’.

What about defense getting it ‘right’ in the middle of the hand?  In spite of the spade lead, both Wests were presented an opportunity to beat 3NT outright if they won the first heart lead by declarer (and shifted to clubs), yet both ducked.  I think ducking makes sense – declarer may hope the A is onside and lead up to the Q later in the hand.  The defense cannot stop declarer from winning 1 heart trick, but ducking could prevent declarer from winning a second heart trick.  At our table, a heart wasn’t led until 5 spades were cashed.  If West wins the A (J led and ducked to West) and leads clubs, declarer is down.  When West ducked so that declarer’s J won, declarer can switch to diamonds and make the hand – but declarer continued hearts and then the club shift defeated 3NT.

What about declarer – can they get this right and score 9 tricks (assuming no double dummy heart lead at trick 1 and club shift)?  After a spade lead, they have 8 pretty certain tricks.  They can power 1 trick in each red suit by knocking out the ace of diamonds and ace of hearts.  That gives them 5+1+1+1 – they need 1 more trick.  What they need is for East to hold a red ace (they didn’t) and figure out which red ace, and then put them on lead (protecting your club holding).  Since West held both red aces, that option wasn’t available.  The 9th trick can come via hearts (with help from the opponents), via clubs (with the K onside), or via diamonds (with the A onside or with any 3-2 split).  How should declarer proceed after winning the spade at trick 1?  Play more spades first?  Knock out the short suit (A) or the long suit (A)?  It is easy to be blinded by the layout of the cards in the actual deal (what works on this hand), and not see what is the most likely route to 9 tricks.  I think I might have played 3 spades (no discards required from dummy) and then tried the Q – if LHO has the A, no return hurts and most returns help.  BUT, if RHO wins the A, you are pretty much left with 1 chance to make the hand – doubleton J10 (after a losing club finesse and club return).

Running all the spades early has the advantage (as well as disadvantage) of forcing the defense to make some early discards (some of which may be helpful signals).  It also has the disadvantage of forcing dummy to make discards, as well as telling the opponents how many spade tricks declarer owns.  One declarer played all 5 spades to the first 5 tricks.  The other won the spade, then red suits, then 2 more spades,  then red suits, then 2 more spades.  Best?  I don’t know, but it was successful in getting the 9 tricks needed.

Obviously the objective is to parlay as many potential sources for your 9th trick as possible.  Setting up a long diamond, after losing 2 diamond tricks is not a panacea, since you haven’t yet scored your heart trick and, meanwhile, the opponents may be poised to cash clubs when they win the first heart lead (giving them 0+1+2+3).  Perhaps the best chance is hearts first, hoping they duck, then diamonds, which is what Cris did.  The doubleton J10 is a pretty thin reed to base your hopes on, but that isn’t the only option for success – it is just the only option that works on this layout (and nothing works if the opponents figure out what to do).

Bottom line, this was a complex hand where the cards lie quite poorly for declarer.  Single dummy defense is hard, single dummy declarer play is hard.  Both defense and declarer play are much easier if you look at all 52 cards.  What is right, double dummy, on any given deal may be very wrong on a different layout of the cards.  I’m unable to draw any definitive conclusions about the ‘right’ defense or ‘right’ declarer play.  This was a hard hand for everyone to play but the dummy.  And, it was hard to discuss in the blog, since the best play (for any lie of the cards) may not be the winning play on this particular deal.

 

 

 

 

Recap Of 2/3/2020 28 Board IMP Individual

As we gathered to mourn the 49ers loss in the Super Bowl, we went through the first 6 rounds where there were zero double digit swings, but we had 2 in round 7 – mostly decided by leads, but there were also decided differences in bidding which factored into the swings.  I’m going to start with 2 opening lead quizzes and then present the two hands.

After this auction:

W
You
N
LHO
E
Partner
S
RHO
Pass
1
1NT
Pass
2NT
Pass
3NT
All Pass
 
 
 

What is your lead?

W
 
9765
8753
K52
42

 

 

And, after this auction:

W
RHO
N
You
E
LHO
S
Partner
1
Pass
2
Pass
2
Pass
4
Pass
4NT
Pass
6
All Pass

What is your lead?

N
 
J1043
732
QJ
J874

 

Now here are the two deals with all the hands in view…

 
25
E-W
North
N
Beers
KJ84
K64
1054
J105
 
W
Nagy
9765
8753
K62
42
7
E
Pisarra
Q102
QJ
83
AK9763
 
S
Munson
A3
A1092
AQJ97
Q8
 

 

W
Nagy
N
Beers
E
Pisarra
S
Munson
Pass
1
1
Pass
1NT
2
3NT
All Pass
 
 
 

 

W
Michlmayr
N
Schneider
E
Weitzner
S
Friedman
Pass
1
1NT
Pass
2NT
Pass
3NT
All Pass
 
 
 

On the this first deal, each table had a different auction to arrive in 3NT.  With no obvious stopper in clubs, I simply overcalled in diamonds and soon arrived in 3NT played by North.  At the other table, 3NT was played by South.  You could say the lead/success of the contract was determined by the bidding (putting West on lead instead of East).  But I gave you the problem as an opening lead problem from West’s perspective.  For years I have felt that over 90% of competitive auctions that arrive in 3NT can be defeated (I don’t have data that proves that, but it is a “feeling” I have from my years of experience at the table).  But, to defeat 3NT, you must either make a sneak attack in a new unbid suit, or lead ‘our suit’ – and, you have to figure out which lead is the winner on each particular hand.  Also, it has often been reported that a ‘stopper’ is only as strong as it sounds.  Here, even though neither South (who overcalled 1NT at one table) nor North (who advanced 1NT at my table) had a full, real, actual stopper.  Yet it sounded like they had clubs stopped.  Together North-South did have the suit stopped.  But, after a club lead, their stopper was gone.  The percentage play to score 9+ tricks, given the bidding, is to try the diamond finesse and not count on the (anti-percentage) doubleton QJ as well as various strip squeeze/end play options that follow from that.  But, the diamond finesse lost.  So, at my table, with the long strong club suit on lead (but no entry), a 4th best club was led.  When the diamond finesse lost, no entry was required because West still had a club to return after winning the K.  The defense had 6 cashing tricks, down 2, -100.

At the other table, you were given the lead problem from the West hand, since South was declarer.  A club lead would likely have been equally successful vs. 3NT (as long as East ducked – necessary due to a lack of entries).  However, the 42 didn’t appear very promising, the opponents bid NT 3 times, so it seemed like time to try a major suit.  With declarer’s club stopper still in place, it was easy to win the opening major suit lead (8 was the actual card chosen) in dummy, take a diamond finesse, and score lots of tricks.  When clubs weren’t cashed after the diamond finesse lost and the East hand pitched a spade (down to Q10)  when they had to make discards, declarer ended up with 11 total tricks.  So, our teammates were -460, lose 11 IMPs.

Addendum:  Several have pointed out (including Mark Ralph and Mark Moss, both Grand Life Masters that play regularly in the game) how seriously flawed my analysis was for this 3NT hand.  So, I’ve modified my initial verbiage which said 3NT cannot make after a club lead.  That is, there is no defense to beat 3NT with double dummy declarer play (even with the threatening club lead).  Seemingly, the percentage/obvious way to make the hand (take a diamond finesse) fails.  But, seeing all of the cards, declarer can take what initially appears to be an anti-percentage (double dummy) play: win the club lead, cash 4 hearts forcing 2 discards from East and proceed to win 9 tricks in a variety of ways depending on East’s choice of discards.  

  1. If they pitch 2 clubs, simply take the diamond finesse because there are only 3 club tricks outstanding – they can no longer defeat 3NT
  2. If they pitch 2 diamonds, cash the A and see what they discard next:
    1. If their discard is a club, cash the A, give them their 4 remaining clubs and they will give you the KJ in the end when they lead away from their Q (3+4+1+1)
    2. If their discard is a spade, you now have 3 spades to cash for your 9 tricks
  3. If they discard 1 club and 1 diamond, cash the A and the A and use plan 2.1
  4. If they discard 1 spade (and anything else), use plan 2.2 for 9 tricks

One big advantage of double dummy analysis is the ability to open your eyes to plays you fail to see.  Here, the traditional odds of restricted choice indicate that when an honor falls on the first round of a suit missing the QJ, the odds are 2:1 that it is singleton.  So, only one third of the time will you find a doubleton QJ.  Not that doubleton QJ’s don’t happen, just that it is twice as likely to be singleton as doubleton.  At the table, declarer actually won the Q at trick 1 which required an entry to hand in order to take the diamond finesse.  That entry was the K, and and East was forced to play an honor.   Since you are about to take the diamond finesse to make the contract (or not), there is little downside to trying hearts ‘just in case.’  That is, instead of finessing diamonds at trick 3, you can play a heart to the A.  If the other honor comes down, play 2 more hearts.  If not, play a spade to the K and take the diamond finesse, now made even more likely because points that could have been in opener’s hand (both the Q and J) now have one of those cards in West’s hand.  When the East hand does play the other honor, cashing the 109 gets you up to 8 top tricks (2+4+1+1).   If you judge well from watching East’s discards (see bullets 1-4 above), you are now home with a 9th trick.

Initially, I was thinking that that line of play left you with a losing spade finesse, but as noted in bullets 1-4, there are many winning choices without the spade finesse if you read the cards correclty.  Of course, another (possibly failing) option after cashing 4 hearts is to cross to the K and take the diamond finesse.  But, again, depending on the discards made by East, even that could work!  The point of all of this rambling is that plays rejected as anti-percentage can, in fact, be additional arrows in your quiver.  If you can collect two 30% plays such that you win if either one brings you home, that line of play is (barely) better than one 50% play.  That is, a 30% line fails 70% of the time.  But .70*.70 results in a failure rate of .49, or a success rate of .51 which beats 50%.  Not that you can do all of these precise computations at the table every time, but every little bit helps.

Eddie Kantar has articles in the Daily Bulletins every day at the Nationals.  They are titled ‘Take All Your Chances’ – another way of saying that ‘don’t put all your eggs in one basket.’  If you can combine multiple parlays (if this or this or this or this happen, then I win), you will often arrive at the best line of play.  So, perhaps cashing the 4 hearts first is not double dummy after all.  Readers, what do you think?  At a minimum, you have not ruled out the diamond finesse – that play is still available after cashing the hearts.  So, using bridge/Eddie Kantar’s logic, it has to be right to see if hearts cash and then assess the best line of play from there.  You have removed any of your initial prospects of making the hand and, meanwhile, you have added to your possibilities of making the hand.  So, what I initially declared to be ‘anti-percentage’ and ‘strictly double dummy’ now appears to be the ‘percentage’ line to play the hand.  You still have the finesse after trying hearts.  Plus you have additional chances.  Any time you are not worse off, you are better off!

So, my thanks to alert readers who pointed out the shortcomings of the initial analysis.

The 3NT contract was excellent in principle, since it only required the opening bidder to hold the K.  With relatively few HCP outstanding, the opening bidder would often need that card to have enough points to open, but not on this deal.  What about the 1NT overcall vs. 1?  Clearly 1NT worked best on this hand and quite possibly on most hands.  I play 1NT opening bids as 14+-17 and overcalls as 15+-18.  I had planned to open 1 and rebid 2NT if partner didn’t bid hearts.  When 1 was opened in front of me, I failed to reconsider NT (I thought the hand was too strong to open 1NT, but the value of the hand is now in range for an overcall) and just continued with my planned 1 opening and things went downhill fast.  Actual K&R evaluation puts the hand at 18.95 HCP, for whatever that is worth: http://www.jeff-goldsmith.org/cgi-bin/knr.cgi?hand=a3+at92+aqj97+q8

 
28
N-S
West
N
Beers
J1043
732
QJ
J874
 
W
Nagy
AQ52
104
8762
AQ10
7
E
Pisarra
K8
K8
AK10954
K63
 
S
Munson
976
AQJ965
3
952
 

 

W
Nagy
N
Beers
E
Pisarra
S
Munson
1
Pass
2
Pass
21
Pass
42
Pass
4NT3
Pass
6
All Pass
(1) Stopper(s)
(2) Minorwood, key card ask for diamonds
(3) 2 key cards without the diamond Q

 

W
Michlmayr
N
Schneider
E
Weitzner
S
Friedman
1
Pass
21
Pass
22
Pass
33
All Pass
(1) Intended/expected to be game forcing
(2) Stopper(s)
(3) Waiting

Again, there was quite a difference in auctions at the 2 tables.  At the other table, one teammate thought ‘everybody’ played that 1-2 was a game force.  The other teammate thought that partner’s 3 rebid was natural, not forward going, and easily passed with their balanced minimum.  They ended up scoring all 13 tricks (for +190) after an initial club lead.  Still, there was an opportunity for a nice pickup for our side…if the winning opening heart lead could be found at my table against the slam.  One regular partner and I have found that leading the ‘unbid minor’ is often successful after an inverted minor auction that ends in 3NT.  That is, the opponents spend all of their bidding effort figuring out if they have the major suits stopped and, when they conclude that they do, they arrive in 3NT without the other minor suit controlled.  Here, though, they did not end in 3NT.  Opener rebid 2 showing values in spades and denying values in hearts.  I fleetingly thought about coming in with a 2 bid over 2, but the vulnerability convinced me that that could be unwise – why offer -800 or -1100 when the non-vulnerable opponents would be unlikely to score that much left on their own.  Should I come in with a 2 bid?  Anyway, I didn’t bid 2, so that left it up to partner to find the heart opening lead.  Did you lead a heart (when presented as a problem at the start of the blog)?  Sadly, partner went for the unbid minor and led a club – declarer had 12 easy tricks (3+0+6+3).  Lose -920, lose 12 IMPs.

What about the lead?  When opener rebid spades, they denied anything useful in hearts, so partner, who also had nothing in hearts, knew that my hearts were over dummy’s hearts, but partner didn’t know if my hearts were sufficient to do damage to the diamond slam.  It is possible to construct East-West hands where a club trick must be established before South’s heart entry is knocked out.  Here is one example, where my values in the QJ are replaced by the K and rearranging the East-West hands to remain consistent with the bidding.

W
Nagy
AQ52
74
A8762
Q10
7
E
Pisarra
K8
KQJ
K10954
A63

If this had been the layout, West still holds 2 key cards and no heart values, but a club lead is necessary to beat the slam.

 

FYI – my partner on this hand was not the partner where we have talked about ‘lead the unbid minor.’  And, that ‘rule’ we made up (but don’t always follow) applied to a 3NT final contract, not a slam in the minor that was opened.  Before the opening lead, I felt pretty confident that, barring a singleton heart in East or West’s hand, that a heart lead was coming, and that we would beat the slam.

What about the bidding?  As you can see, 6NT by East cannot be touched.  The same top 12 tricks are there, with no damage from a heart lead when the hand is played by East.  East doesn’t know what fitting values partner has.  If partner has only 11-13 balanced minimum points, the HCP are not there for a traditional requirement for slam.  But, 6 card suits produce lots of tricks without points.  And, 3 ‘unprotected’ kings argue to find a way for East to be declarer, so that, as in this actual deal, no opening lead can go through one of the kings and defeat the slam immediately.  But, there are a number of minimum hands that partner could have where 2 aces are missing.  Bidding a unilateral slam missing 2 aces is kind of silly.  Partner could hold:

W
 
AQJ2
J3
QJ32
QJ3

 

This (carefully selected) 14 HCP balanced minimum for West would be opened 1 by almost everyone (and with this sample hand, even a 5 game goes down if the heart honors are wrong (and hearts are led)).  So, it seems reasonable to check on aces.  Many/most players in our group play ‘minorwood’ where, having supported a minor suit prior to the 4 level, a bid of 4m in a game forcing auction, or a jump to 4m, will ask for key cards.  Unfortunately, after East asked, the answer (2 key cards without the Q) landed in 4NT!  Now that East has found out that the key card situation is good (only 1 missing), he is unable to ‘right side’ the contract in 6NT!  Still, if the A is in the North hand, all will be well.  Or if no heart is led.  So, East decided to play in diamonds rather than NT (partner could still have a singleton heart, where 6 is cold and 6NT is hopeless if the A is offside).  Of course, creating another perfectly misfitting minimum hand for West, it is even possible for partner to have 2 aces and not only have no play for slam but be unable to make game should the A be offside, even if you ‘right side it’!  Let’s say West held:

W
 
AQ
732
QJ432
A42

 

With this construction for the West hand, no lead will allow the slam to make.  The actual West hand had well placed black queens, well placed spade length and no heart lead.

With traditional slam HCP (33 for 6NT), you can do the math and know for certain you cannot be missing 2 aces.  However, in this auction, the expected high card points are quite likely to be well below 33, so even though you can see, looking at all of the hands, that 6NT by East cannot be beaten, jumping unilaterally to 6NT (without checking for aces) is rather foolhardy and arriving in that contract via a sensible auction is challenging, perhaps impossible.  Well, one way would be to play 4NT by East as key card for diamonds.  That would achieve right siding NT while, at the same time, asking about key cards.  Bidding 4NT as key card would have worked here, but many hands benefit by asking for aces at a lower level.

Bidding, declarer play, defense and leads are all remarkably simplified by looking at all 52 cards.  When the only data you get to hear is the bidding, and all you get to see is your hand (and dummy, when it comes down)…well, that is what makes bridge such a great game.

 

 

Recap Of 1/15/2020 28 Board IMP Individual

Today there were 4 double digit swings (I lost them all!) and all involved bidding judgment.  Two were high level doubles that did not work out, 1 was a low level double that didn’t work out, and one was a slam decision.  See if you can do better…

As an aside, when the blog began, I was using North/South/East/West.  Then I had a request to start using names so I started using first names.  But, we have multiple Dans and Marks and Garys and…so forth, resulting in queries about ‘which one’ so, starting today I am using last names.

 
4
Both
West
N
Tuttle
KQJ53
4
J5
KQJ108
 
W
Stern
10
J1085
AKQ97
952
2
E
Moss
9842
AKQ96
8642
 
S
Munson
A76
732
103
A7643
 

 

W
Stern
N
Tuttle
E
Moss
S
Munson
Pass
1
2
2
41
4
5
Dbl
All Pass
 
 
 
(1) See commentary below

 

W
Ralph
N
Barrere
E
Macgregor
S
Friedman
Pass
1
2
2
3
4
Dbl
All Pass

There is a saying in bridge ‘bid one more/take out insurance’ and it certainly applied on this hand.  If the opponent’s bid might be making and if you bid one higher in your suit to a contract that might also make, simply bid one more and find out.  Looking at your own hand, you really can’t tell which is right and rather than guess – take out insurance – if both are down, it is a small loss, if both make it is a huge win (to bid on) but a huge loss to stop bidding or, even worse, double.  As you can see, this is a classic hearts vs. spades battle – classic in the sense that it happens all the time, but, usually the side that holds the spade suit comes out the winner…not here.  One table stopped off to double 4 and the other table (me) decided to double 5.  I looked at my relatively flat hand, 2 aces, knowing that partner opened, and so I decided to double 5.  Should I pass and let partner decide?  Should I take out insurance and bid 5 myself?  If I do bid 5, we ‘only’ lose 14 IMPs instead of 17 IMPs (because the opponents would double for -200 and our teammates -790 would net to -990 and 14 IMPs away). 

Of course, had I bid 5 they could then bid 6♥ and then I need to bid 6!

Jump shifts during auctions are a matter of partnership style/agreement and since most partnerships are not ‘regular’ there is a certain amount of table talk allowed in the game.  Here, at my table, North, East and South assumed that West’s 4 was a splinter raise of hearts.  East asked ‘is that a a splinter?’ and was told ‘no’.  We decided that was enough table talk and East was left to guess and fend for himself.  It turns out 4 was a fit jump shift – perfect description of the values he held if that is what the 4 bid means.  In any case, East chose to bid onward and reached the unbreakable 5 contract.  In fact, 12 tricks are cold on any lead.  Simply lose a spade and ruff 2 spades and pitch the last spade on the 13th diamond.  At the table, declarer was in a doubled contract and found a path to 11 tricks and took it.  Since declarer did not score 12 tricks, we were ‘only’ -850 while our teammates were -790 to lose 17 IMPs.  The high card points were split 21 for us, 19 for them, but who needs points when you have tricks.  A sad start to the day, but it only gets worse.

The spade contract that was doubled at the other table has 10 easy black winners and 3 unavoidable red losers (as long as club ruffs don’t come into play).  Double dummy, a diamond lead/club shift; then another diamond lead/club ruff and then underlead AKQ for a third club ruff and 4X can go down 3 for +800.  Much better to bid onward in hearts than hope for that miracle defense that was not found.  The heart slam depends on 2-2 diamonds (otherwise a diamond ruff is threatened), but 11 tricks are no problem in hearts unless there are 2 diamond ruffs (4-0 split with the 4 card diamond suit on opening lead).

 
9
E-W
North
N
Munson
KQ76
84
K52
K432
 
W
Macgregor
942
AQ9
J943
Q109
5
E
Tuttle
AJ1083
J73
AJ876
 
S
Ralph
5
K10652
AQ10876
5
 

 

W
Macgregor
N
Munson
E
Tuttle
S
Ralph
Pass
1
2
3
All Pass
 
 

 

W
Stern
N
Barrere
E
Friedman
S
Moss
Pass
1
21
Dbl
32
Dbl3
34
Dbl5
All Pass
 
 
(1) Michaels cue bid showing hearts and a minor
(2) Pass or correct – your minor will be better than hearts
(3) Penalty
(4) Correcting to the minor held
(5) ???

Support with support.  This is a bridge maxim that has stood the test of time – when partner knows you have support, they can usually handle their hand much better than they can if they do not hear support.  At my table, West chose the simple raise to 3 which ended the auction.  The opening bidder was unable to picture that all 3 missing kings that mattered (as well as the Q) could be finessed away so that, barring an unlikely diamond lead, 12 tricks were cold.  The high card points are split 20-20, but the friendly location and distribution of all cards means that it takes a diamond lead to defeat slam in spades.  When partner led their singleton 5, declarer dutifully took his finesses and scored his 12 tricks, so we were -230.  Not bad… we thought.

At the other table, West, in spite of their spade support, found a double over South’s classic Michaels cue bid of 2.  When North bid a ‘pass or correct’ 3, East (with a minimum opening bid in terms of HCP) felt that 9 tricks would not be possible in a club contract, so they doubled, going along with partner’s theme of penalize the opponents.  South corrected to 3 but the momentum of ‘we have them on the run’ saw another double hit the table and the auction was over – 3X.  Any normal defense should produce 5 tricks for the defense.  The defense should manage to score the Q as well as 3 aces.  The setting trick can come from a third heart trick (the power of the AQ9 behind the K10) or else a diamond trick (the power of the J9xx behind the 10).  That is, the defense can lead 3 rounds of diamonds until there is no heart ruff in dummy (giving up their diamond trick), or not lead diamonds and allow a heart ruff in dummy, but still score a diamond trick for down 1.  In practice, the actual spade lead established a spade winner in dummy and when East returned a spade at trick 2 (reluctant to cash the A on air), the club trick went away allowing 9 tricks for declarer, 4 for the defense (East should shift to a heart at trick 2, and then West wins and puts a club on the table to achieve an easy down 1, but that is not what happened).  Thus, our teammates were -470 to pair with our -230 to lose 12 IMPs.

 
10
Both
East
N
Munson
7
AK10963
Q1074
J8
 
W
Macgregor
K54
2
J532
Q10654
Q
E
Tuttle
AQJ108632
K98
K2
 
S
Ralph
9
QJ8754
A6
A973
 

 

W
Macgregor
N
Munson
E
Tuttle
S
Ralph
1
2
2
3
4
Pass
Pass
5
5
Dbl
All Pass
 
 
 

 

W
Stern
N
Barrere
E
Friedman
S
Moss
41
Pass
Pass
5
Pass
6
6
Pass
Pass
7
Pass
Pass
Pass2
(1) !
(2) !!

Once again we see a heart/spade battle where ‘bid one more’ is necessary, but that theme got taken to an incredible (bizarre!) extreme at the other table.  Again the HCP were nearly evenly split with 21 for North-South and 19 for East-West. 

The choice of opening bid changed the auction in a profound way.  As dealer, East is too strong for an equal vulnerability 4 preempt.  The playing strength amounts to a 2 opening bid, but since the HCP and defense is below the expectations for a 2 opener, 1 seems like the normal way to start.  As North, I was stunned to hear partner overcall 2, but what do I (North) do?  I have very very weak defensive prospects (my only outside cards are the Q and J and it is unlikely that partner had only QJxxx to overcall 2♥ (therefore zero heart tricks on defense)) – perhaps I should bid an immediate 5 in advance of the upcoming 4 bid?  Instead, I cue bid 3 showing a strong heart raise (well, I DID have strong hearts!).  But, that led partner to later choose to double 5.  I came close to bidding 6♥ after the double, but fear of turning +200 into -200 made me pass the final bid of 5X.  I should have bid.

At the other table, East chose the opening preempt of 4 which was passed around to North who (quite reasonably/correctly) bid 5.  South then looked at their 6 card heart support with outside values and decided the initial preempt was actually weak and that North-South owned the hand and was being robbed, so they raised to 6.  West had spade help with very little defense, so they assumed that partner also had little defense and took out insurance with a 6 bid.  But, speaking of insurance, South still wasn’t done, so they further competed to 7!  Which was passed out!!!!!!!!?

There are 2 losers and 11 winners in spades (clubs set up for diamond discards and the defense cannot effectively attack diamonds).  There are 3 losers in a heart contract with double dummy defense (East needs to bang down the K to avoid an end play where they would be forced to provide a ruff/sluff or a diamond lead, allowing the North-South diamond loser to slip away.  It was a great contract to buy at the 5 level, but it wasn’t for sale at the 5 level for the heart bidders, so I needed to go on to 6.  We lost 12 IMPs when we were -850 while our teammates picked up +200 defeating the undoubled 7 contract 2 tricks when the lead of the K was not found (at trick 2 after winning a spade at trick 1).  If our teammates had simply doubled the grand slam, they could have picked up +500 (or +800 with the inspired K lead) and this miserable hand would never have been reported in the blog.

 
23
Both
South
N
Barrere
643
K7543
J84
QJ
 
W
Munson
1072
6
KQ10972
AK2
J
E
Stern
AKJ9
AQ
A63
10543
 
S
Macgregor
Q85
J10982
5
9876
 

 

W
Munson
N
Barrere
E
Stern
S
Macgregor
Pass
1
Pass
1
Pass
2
Pass
4NT
Pass
51
Pass
52
Pass
53
All Pass
 
 
(1) 1 key card
(2) Do you have the spade Q?
(3) No I do not

 

W
Ralph
N
Moss
E
Friedman
S
Tuttle
Pass
1
Pass
1
Pass
2
Pass
3
Pass
3
Pass
6NT
All Pass

Often when I am 6-3-3-1 and open my minor and hear a major where I have 3 card support, I will raise the major.  My singleton allows a ruff in the short hand and my side suit has potential tricks later.  The more likely game is 10 tricks in the major rather than 11 tricks in the minor.  Here, my diamonds are rather robust and my spades a bit modest, but I raised spades anyway.  Did that irreparably harm the auction?  Partner (with no control in clubs) had visions of a grand slam, so he immediately went to a key card ask.  After learning we held all the key cards, he checked on the Q, but when he found that missing, he inexplicably passed 5.  I’m not sure how grand slam can be in view at one minute and all of a sudden small slam isn’t bid when the trump Q goes missing.  In any case, both sides had an inescapable loser with the Qxx behind the AK, but 12 tricks were there for the taking.  We were +680 and our teammates were -1440 to lose 13 IMPs.

At the other table, East rebid 3, their second ‘suit’ and then bounced to the slam in NT, feeling that a club lead was unlikely and partner probably has them covered anyway.  East’s heart holding made it desirable to be declarer, and playing IMPs, NT can be safer than a suit – bad splits have more recovery options, but a 5-0 spade split would likely doom a spade slam.

 

 

 

Recap Of 12/16/2019 28 Board IMP Individual

What a day.  8 double digit swings, but I’m only reporting 7 of them.  There were bidding issues all over the map: Open weak 2 or pass; open weak 1 or pass; takeout double or pass; slam try or sign off in game; lead directing Lightner double or pass…and more.  There were defensive problems, declarer problems, but only one opening lead problem…when partner did not make a Lightner double!  See how you would have done on the various bidding and play problems.  Here we go…

 
5
N-S
North
N
Bob
Q97642
94
A8
Q108
 
W
Dan
85
QJ103
J10652
J3
A
E
Chris
A3
A8752
Q94
A94
 
S
Jerry
KJ10
K6
K73
K7652
 

 

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

 

W
Mike
N
Ed
E
Gary
S
Manfred
Pass
1
Pass
2
Pass
Pass
Dbl
Pass
2
Dbl1
Pass
3
3
All Pass
 
(1) Card showing

North, as dealer, felt that their hand was unsuitable for an opening 2 bid at both tables, so they passed (I agree, since I was one of the passers).  After East opened 1 my partner made a takeout double (not a classic perfect double, but I think that is the right call).  West raised to 2, I bounced to 4 and was doubled by East, who was looking at 3 aces and felt partner may contribute something.

Meanwhile, at the other table, South didn’t like holding only 3 spades so they did not double at their first opportunity.  When 2 was passed around to them, they reopened with a double, but North had no game ambitions opposite a partner who couldn’t double the first time, so NS subsided in 3.

What about the defense?  East started with the A and then considered where 3 more tricks could be found.  Certainly, if partner has the A, the defense will be well positioned to beat the contract, but what about a club ruff by partner?  East can see 8 clubs and can hope that the remaining clubs are split 3-2, but if declarer has a doubleton, leading clubs will just work towards allowing him to set up the clubs to dispose of any losers he may have.  However, if partner has a doubleton club (or singleton!), leading clubs is a path to defeat the contract, since partner could ruff the third round (assuming they have at least 2 spades).  So, while it is possible partner has the A, that trick (or tricks) can wait, since you still have the A.  So, the best shot to defeat 4 is, I think, to lead A at trick 2 and then another club while watching partner’s cards.  If they do not have a singleton and fail to show a doubleton, try diamonds after winning the A.  But if they do show a doubleton, try to give them a club ruff.   At the table, the trick 2 shift to the Q allowed declarer to win the A, draw trump, and play clubs for themselves, starting small to the K.  When the J showed up on the club continuation,  10 tricks were easy.  At the other table, the partscore also scored 10 tricks, so we were +790 vs. -170 to win 12 IMPs.

 
6
E-W
East
N
Bob
AQ
K75
AQ754
AQ8
 
W
Dan
K1072
63
K963
K53
Q
E
Chris
83
QJ1082
J2
J974
 
S
Jerry
J9654
A94
108
1062
 

 

W
Dan
N
Bob
E
Chris
S
Jerry
Pass
Pass
Pass
21
Pass
2
Pass
2NT
Pass
32
Pass
3
Pass
3NT
All Pass
 
 
 
(1) Adding a point for the 5th diamond to make 22-24
(2) Jacboy Transfer

 

W
Mike
N
Ed
E
Gary
S
Manfred
Pass
Pass
Pass
2NT
Pass
3
Pass
3
Pass
3NT
All Pass
 
 
 

Essentially the same auction allowed both North players to play the same contract with the same lead.  Double dummy, there are always 9 tricks for declarer, but he has to find them.  The play to the first 4 tricks was the same at both tables – duck the Q, win the K, and then play the A and Q which was won by West with the K – with sufficient hesitation that it was clear spades were breaking 4-2.  If the K was doubleton, West would, of course, have to win it.  But if the K were tripleton, ducking would be routine because declarer could use their 1 remaining entry to dummy to cash the winning spades if you mistakenly won trick 4 holding an original Kxx.

At the other table, the lead to trick 5 was the 3.  Declarer won the Q and led a small diamond which East won with the J.  East continued with the 9 (not a heart, suggesting that they do not have an entry) and declarer won the A.  Declarer crossed to dummy’s A and West discarded the K, suggesting that they need to hold onto both spades and diamonds.  So, declarer could play a diamond to the Q, win the A, and lead another diamond, endplaying West into leading a spade into dummy’s J9 to score the last 2 tricks.  So, declarer won 3+2+2+2 for 9 tricks.

At my table, the lead to trick 5 was the 3.  I wanted to use the power of the 10 in dummy to help establish my 5 card suit, so I ducked – not fatal, but not good.  If I had played the Q, I have a bit easier path to my 9 tricks.  Anyway, after ducking the diamond, East won the J and cleared hearts while West discarded the 5.  I’m still in the running for 9 tricks, but I have to achieve the same spade endplay against West to do it (that is, DO NOT cash the J to discard a club loser).  I did cash the J, throwing a club loser and hoping that I might still be able to get 2 finesses via leading the 10 (not covered) and then a club finesse.  But, West did cover the 10 with the K, so I won the A and was down to requiring diamonds to be breaking 3-3.  They didn’t.  I played my diamonds and West won the 4th round to cash their spade for the setting trick.  My diamonds were established.  I didn’t need the club finesse.  But, I provided 5 tricks for the defense (2+1+2+0).  If I had not cashed the J and simply led the 10 when I was in dummy with the A, it would be covered with the K and A.  But, that gives me a diamond tenace over West (I would be holding Q75 over the 96).  I could then play A and a small club, forcing West to win their K but allowing me to take the last 4 tricks via the established Q and all 3 of my diamonds if West exited with a diamond (and I finessed), or the established Q and all my 3 of my spades if West exited with a spade.  Or, if West unblocked the K under the A, I can cash the Q and then play 2 diamonds, achieving the same endplay that happened at the other table.  I didn’t find those plays, since I had already cashed the J and established the defensive 5th trick, so I was down 1.  Darn.  There is still a lot of guessing/finessing to do, and I think the diamond play at trick 5 was more challenging than the club play, but cashing the J was a clear error – hoping for a late endplay was a far better shot at 9 tricks than what I tried.  So, we were -50 and our teammates were -400, lose 10 IMPs.

 
13
Both
North
N
Jerry
9862
9
Q652
10763
 
W
Gary
AK1054
83
J94
AQ2
Q
E
Bob
J73
AKQ1075
AK
85
 
S
Mike
Q
J642
10873
KJ94
 

 

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

North-South passed throughout and the first 3 bids were identical at both tables.  At the other table, West decided that their hearts were so weak that they would just raise to game.  Gary thought he should at least offer a club cue bid to see what I would respond.  When I cue bid 4, Gary had a problem – he didn’t want to engage in table talk to find out whether 4 was natural or a cue bid or key card for hearts?  Or was 4NT a spade cue bid (necessary if 4 is key card) or key card for hearts?  So, he took the simple approach and just blasted to 6.  After the Q lead, it was simply a matter of playing out hearts and learning that the 4-1 split was going to hold me to 12 tricks.  A club lead would be interesting, but I might as well take the finesse as ‘one more arrow in my quiver’.  Initially I was thinking why take the club finesse when I won’t need it if spades come in, but I DO need the club finesse if spades do not come in (or, if hearts break badly).  So I was able to score +1430 vs. -680 to win 13 IMPs.

What do you think of the 4 cue bid?  Of course I like it, because it worked to win 13 IMPs.  The weak trump support is certainly a factor (and might have been the downfall of the slam on a club lead).  Still, AK 5 long and AQ are some mighty strong slam cards and simply bidding 4 doesn’t force a slam (for sure, if partner cannot cue bid diamonds, you do not want to be in slam).  I think the failure to try the 4 bid is pretty pessimistic.  Thanks Gary!

 
16
E-W
West
N
Jerry
AK107
AKQ7
97
K43
 
W
Gary
Q6
1065432
652
96
2
E
Bob
853
8
J83
AQJ1085
 
S
Mike
J942
J9
AKQ104
72
 

 

W
Gary
N
Jerry
E
Bob
S
Mike
Pass
1
Pass
1
Pass
4
Pass
5
Pass
5
Pass
6
All Pass
 
 
 

 

W
Dan
N
Ed
E
Manfred
S
Chris
Pass
1
Pass
1
Pass
4
All Pass
 

East-West passed throughout and here again the first 3 bids were identical at both tables.  At the other table, South passed it out in game, but at my table, after some consideration, South cue bid their AKQ104, North cue bid hearts and South bid the 6 slam.  But, the auction wasn’t over because I still had one more chance, in the passout seat, to double 6 for a club lead.  A double of a freely bid slam is referred to as a Lightner double, asking for a lead you might not normally make – often dummy’s first bid suit.  I reasoned (poorly) that with the red suit cue bids, partner might lead a club anyway.  And, since I had so many clubs, declarer might have a singleton or void.  But, there are too many IMPs riding in the balance to not try the double.  Had I made a double, the opponents might sit for it, partner would lead a club as they did at the other table, and the slam goes down 2 to score +500 and win 14 IMPs.  But North, seeing their exposed K might pull 6X to 6NT which cannot be beaten as the cards lie.  Pass and hope for a club  lead, or double and hope they sit?  As you see, I passed and when partner found the lead of the 2, declarer had no problem wrapping up 13 tricks when spades behaved.

What about South’s first bid?  For years, many West coast players have adopted a ‘Walsh style’ in responding to 1 such that hands that are only worth 1 bid (less than invitational) bypass diamonds in favor of showing their major suit with their first and only bid.  Here, with a weak spade suit and an amazing diamond suit, bypassing diamonds to bid spades seems (to me) to be taking that principle a little bit far.  This is not a 1 bid hand.  South doesn’t have a game force, but he certainly has invitational values, so I think I would respond 1.  Both tables felt that 1 was the proper response to the 1 opening bid.  After South responds 1, it is possible to imagine a continuing sequence where North becomes declarer in spades and you reach a slam protected from the damaging club lead.  How about this auction?

North
South
1
1
2NT
31
32
3NT3
44
55
66
Pass
(1) Wolff Checkback
(2) Yes, I have 4 hearts
(3) Actually I was checking for spades
(4) Well, I have those too
(5) Are they good spades?
(6) Good enough

Perhaps that is dreaming, but I like that auction better than the one at the table and no Lightner double can affect that slam.  But, I didn’t make the Lightner double.  Lose -1470 vs. +420, lose 14 IMPs.

Epilogue – if you positively knew that the opponents would run to an unbreakable 6NT slam upon hearing a Lightner double, then it can never be right to double.  Why send them to a cold contract when partner might find the right lead and beat the current contract?  But, this is trying to rationalize my poor decision to not double.  You can never know that 6NT is cold, nor that they will choose to run there even if it is.  Finally, I had to start thinking about the Lightner double as soon as South bid 5.  I need to make up my mind before the slam bid comes around to me.  It is extremely unethical due to communicating unauthorized information to pause after they bid slam.  Whether you double or pass when the Lightner situation occurs, it must be with a smooth tempo – so, I did pass in tempo!  Sorry teammates.

 
18
N-S
East
N
Ed
QJ94
AQ982
A53
2
 
W
Bob
K873
1063
10982
K4
9
E
Mike
10
J75
K764
AJ753
 
S
Dan
A652
K4
QJ
Q10986
 

 

W
Bob
N
Ed
E
Mike
S
Dan
Pass
1
Pass
1
Pass
1
Pass
21
Pass
2NT2
Pass
33
Pass
44
All Pass
 
 
 
(1) Playing XYZ, North has 3 strong ways to raise spades. A bid of 4S says ‘game values, but no slam interest’. A bid of 3S shows 4 spades and strong slam interest. A bid of 2D (game force) followed by spade support says ‘mild slam interest’ – I have a better hand than a simple jump to 4S.
(2) Showing a diamond ‘stopper’
(3) Mild slam interest
(4) NO slam interest!

 

W
Jerry
N
Manfred
E
Gary
S
Chris
Pass
1
Pass
1
Pass
1
Pass
4
All Pass
 

This is a very complex hand with issues galore for both the declarer and the defense.  The same contract with the same lead was played at both tables.  Double dummy, declarer always has 10 tricks, but they have to time the play carefully as the cards were dealt, and it is possible that a different lie of the cards would require different play.  After losing to the K at trick 1, declarer still has a club to lose and a likely trump loser, so careful play is required to avoid 4 losers.  At both tables, declarer timed the play such that the defense could succeed, but only one defense was successful.  The power of West’s 87 was key to the defense (as well as key to successful declarer play – declarer must play trump early and often to neutralize the spade strength of West).

At our table, after winning the K, partner continued diamonds at trick 2 with declarer winning their remaining high diamond.  Declarer then led a small spade towards dummy, winning the Q as East dropped the 10.  At trick 4, declarer then led a heart to the K (doesn’t seem crazy), and they can no longer make the hand as the cards lie.  Double dummy, declarer has many choices of what they could have played to trick 4 and still make 10 tricks: lead a high spade, lead a high heart, lead the A or lead the 2.  There are many variations to arrive at 10 tricks depending on which is chosen, but after the actual heart to the K, declarer continued with 2 more rounds of hearts, cashed the A and led a club.  My partner (East), after winning the A, is down to 1 diamond and 4 clubs.  The defense has 2 tricks.  A club play will force declarer to ruff in dummy and declarer cannot avoid 2 trump losers and be defeated.  The hearts are established, but West can overruff and trump cannot be drawn.  But, when partner exited with a diamond, declarer was able to score a small trump in hand while I followed suit and a heart was discarded from dummy.  Then, declarer ruffed a club in dummy with a low trump, ruffed a heart with the A (while I underruffed with the 7), and dummy has J9 left while I have the K8, so I can only score 1 trump trick.

Should partner know to lead a club instead of a diamond?  If declarer has the K, it doesn’t matter.  But, since declarer had already shown out of diamonds, the diamond play offered declarer a choice regarding where to ruff.  Scoring a small trump in hand was the only available route to 10 tricks and declarer took it.

At the other table, a heart was led at trick 3 (possibly suggesting hearts are breaking badly).  The same basic principle applies – declarer must extract trump in a successful way – by leading small to dummy and continuing with a high spade from dummy, preserving the A.  But, there are many paths to success including winning the trick 2 heart lead in dummy and leading high spades off dummy.  West can duck or win, but the defense cannot come to 4 tricks if declarer handles trump correctly.  At the table, declarer won the trick 2 heart shift with the K, cashed the A (now he can no longer make the hand) and led another spade, ducked to the 9.  When another high spade was led from dummy, West could win the K and, having seen partner’s signal (that they held the A), knew that forcing a club ruff in dummy would establish the 8 as the master trump for down 1.  So, they led the K and another club and the defense had their 4 tricks.

Both declarers gave the defense opportunities but we failed to capitalize at our table, so we were -620 and our teammates were -100 to lose 12 IMPs.

 
22
E-W
East
N
Ed
KQ10
Q72
AQ4
K532
 
W
Gary
2
AK105
K8653
QJ6
K
E
Chris
AJ643
J843
J10
A9
 
S
Bob
9875
96
972
10874
 

 

W
Gary
N
Ed
E
Chris
S
Bob
Pass
Pass
1
1NT
Dbl1
RDbl2
Pass
23
3
All Pass
(1) Penalty
(2) Trying to escape, asking partner to bid 2C
(3) As requested

 

W
Manfred
N
Mike
E
Jerry
S
Dan
1
Pass
2
Pass
2
Pass
3
Pass
4
All Pass

As dealer, East must decide whether or not to open.  Count all of the jacks, they do have a ‘rule of 22’ opening bid: add up quick tricks (2), HCP (11) and length of 2 longest suits (9) and they reach 22.  At my table, East did not open and when West opened their 4 card heart suit in 3rd seat, the auction unfolded in a way that did not appear to offer great game prospects.  North has a routine 1NT overcall and East can show values by making a penalty double.  As South, holding zero points, I redoubled to ask partner to bid clubs (seemed like as good a runout as any, leaving the opponents plenty of room to bid).  When North did bid 2 East finally supported hearts but West had no interest in going on to game.

Meanwhile, our teammates did open the East hand with 1, West had a normal game forcing response of 2 and when East rebid hearts, the game was easily reached.  With the club finesse working, diamonds splitting 3-3 (friendly diamonds is not necessary to make the game) and hearts 3-2, there were only 2 diamonds and a heart to lose, declarer scoring 10 tricks.  So, we were -170 while our teammates were +620 to win 10 IMPs.

 
23
Both
South
N
Ed
KJ2
K7542
A103
43
 
W
Gary
Q109863
J8
QJ
J97
4
E
Chris
A5
A
K98652
AK52
 
S
Bob
74
Q10963
74
Q1086
 

 

W
Gary
N
Ed
E
Chris
S
Bob
Pass
Pass
1
Dbl
31
4
All Pass
 
 
(1) Preemptive

 

W
Manfred
N
Mike
E
Jerry
S
Dan
Pass
2
Pass
2NT1
Pass
32
Pass
4
All Pass
(1) Ogust
(2) Minimum hand with weak suit

Once again, there is an opening bid decision – this time in 2nd seat with everyone vulnerable.  This is a matter of style.  I prefer my 2nd seat preempts to be pretty standard/classic – this one doesn’t really match that description with doubleton J, tripleton J, and doubleton QJ on the side of a broken spade suit.  In any case, at our table, West passed, partner (North) opened a routine 3rd seat 1 and East, with a powerhouse, has to double in spite of limited support for the unbid major.  I preempted with 3 and when West bounced to the spade game, the auction was over.

At the other table, our teammate decided to open 2 and a subsequent Ogust auction arrived in the same excellent 4 game with the same lead.  Double dummy there is no defense.  The play of the hand worked quite well for declarer, with the QJ filling in the long diamond suit as a threat for scoring a number of tricks.  But, even though you can essentially establish diamonds with one lead (when they split 3-2), the inability to draw trump and THEN play diamonds created the need to get a heart ruff along the way, as well as pitch the club loser on the established diamonds.

At our table, after winning the club lead, declarer led a diamond to the Q and A.  Partner (North) continued with a heart to knock out that ace, but declarer could win the A, lead a diamond to the J, ruff a heart, cash the A, and lead the K.  I could ruff, but declarer simply overruffs and leads a club to the board for one more diamond lead, allowing him to pitch the club loser.  So declarer just lost a diamond and 2 trumps, 10 tricks for declarer.  The standard defensive ploy, when dummy threatens with a long side suit, is to attack the entries as early and thoroughly as possible.  The defense needs to get a lot of aces off of the board and there are only so many chances to try – it can’t be done.  

Meanwhile, the play at the other table was identical for the first 4 tricks: Win A, Lose A, Win A, Win J.  At this point, it seems to be time to ruff a heart to take care of that loser (as the declarer did at our table), but here declarer played to the A and led another spade.  With the KJ over the Q10, there was no winning guess and declarer had to lose their 2 trump tricks along with the heart that the defense could now cash as well as the earlier A that was lost for down 1.  That meant we were -620 and our teammates were -100, lose 12 IMPs.

One of the problems with the unsuccessful line of play that was chosen is that you might get your wishes (doubleton K onside, no guess), but still lose on a diamond overruff (if South had held 3 diamonds and Kx).  As long as trump break 3-2 (and, actually, many 4-1 distributions), the texture of your spade suit is sufficiently robust to just budget for 2 trump losers and take the heart ruff to dispose of that loser (and also pitching the club loser on established diamonds).  The recommended line (ruff a heart at trick 5) provides excellent chances for scoring 10 tricks.  Declarer had a blind spot.

 

 

 

 

Recap Of 11/13/2019 28 Board IMP Individual

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

 

Recap Of 11/4/2019 28 Board IMP Individual

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

Here we go…

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

 

Recap Of 10/21/2019 28 Board IMP Individual

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

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

 

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

 

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Recap Of 8/7/2019 28 Board IMP Individual

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

 

Recap Of 8/5/2019 28 Board IMP Individual

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

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

 

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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