Recap Of 10/5/2016 28 Board IMP Individual
Well, it has been awhile. I’ve been traveling, so it has been over 2 months since we played, but finally played again on Wednesday, October 5th. I can’t complain much (well, a little), but it seems to me that most of the swings involved careless play/errors rather than any brilliant bidding, declarer play or defense. Here we go.
As you can see, the bidding resulted in the same contracts at both tables, but far from the optimum contract. At both tables, as the bidding developed, the optimum contract, would have been 3♦X for +800 for N-S (at first glance, it seems as though declarer can only score 3 long diamonds and 2 aces for -1100, but 6 tricks are available for ‘only’ -800). But declarer must play carefully to avoid -1100. He has to use the power of the ♥9 by leading a small heart away from dummy’s ♥J after winning the ♥A. But, if the opening lead is the ♥K, declarer must first draw at least 1 round of trump. So, there are many paths to down 4, but best play will always score 6 tricks.
Against the actual contracts of 5♣X, the defense ended up less than optimum, a lot less at one table. It is always good to defeat a doubled contract, so starting with the ♠A seems indicated and that was indeed the opening lead at both tables. At my table, Cris continued with the ♥A and noting the fall of the ♥K, inexplicably continued hearts rather than providing a spade ruff for partner to achieve down 2. So, eventually he scored his trump trick for -1, +100.
At the other table, looking at that dummy and knowing partner held a lot of diamonds, East played the ♦J at trick 2, the ♥K was discarded on the second high diamond and from that point, there was only 1 trump trick to lose for 11 tricks. -550 to go with our -100 to lose 12 IMPs. Disappointed.
If E-W don’t get involved in the bidding, the par contract is 3NT, 3 tricks for the defense, 10 for declarer, +430. But when +800 is available, playing for +400 is losing an opportunity to score 9 IMPs. My partner suggested I should bid 3NT over the 3♣ bid. That certainly would have worked a lot better than what eventually happened! But I thought 6-7-8 tricks for us defending a 3 level club or diamond contract might be easier than 9 tricks in a NT contract – my RHO did open 1NT!?!?
Bruce certainly did good to run from 1NTX, since +1100 is pretty easy on defense – the same 10 tricks we would get on offense if we declared 1NT. But, since my double was penalty, a redouble normally asks partner to bid 2♣, after which he can convert to 2♦ to play and stay one level lower (if we opt to defend) and then he would lose only -500!
Our E-W teammates had no opposing bidding and arrived at a mostly unbeatable (as the cards lay) 3NT. Only a trick 1 diamond lead succeeds. I don’t think many would try a diamond if the hand were given to The Bridge World Master Solvers. With no N-S bidding, and all 4 suits ‘bid’, a spade seems rather normal and a diamond rather double dummy. Since the defense started with a spade to the ♠A and another spade, there was no time for declarer to go after club tricks. The heart suit had to be the source of tricks. With limited entries, Declarer is required to assume hearts are 3-3 or else ♥Kx onside. Not a great contract, but 9 tricks were there on the spade lead (2+5+2+0) for a red game of +600. Win a fortunate 11 IMPs.
One flavor of defense gets into a quite complicated end game. If the defense ducks the opening spade lead (leaving declarer with no spades and only 1 spade trick (for now)), and then the defense plays a diamond after winning the ♥K, declarer must win the diamond in his hand and run hearts. On the run of hearts, South is strip squeezed into either giving up the diamond suit, or else creating an end play resulting in declarer scoring 3 diamond tricks.
Meanwhile, in my spade contract, I had to lose 2+2+2+0 for -1, -100, win 11 IMPs. This swing was more like most swings of the past – all based on varied bidding judgment (and lucky lie of the cards to correspond to that bidding). So, as I see it, no real blunders (by the opponents at my table failing to reach 3NT). But this was the only hand of the day where that was the case.
The bidding at our table was short a sweet, arriving at the par contract. We had 4 losers, 9 tricks were easy in 3♣ for +110.
I like Bruce’s responsive double. Sometimes, when you overcall 2♣ you have one 4 card major but are short in the other major, so you are unable to start with a double. The responsive double protects against that possibility with a later retreat to 3♣ if partner fails to offer a major. Bruce effectively issued a speeding ticket to Cris for his ill-advised 3♦ bid (N-S were scheduled to collect +500 and win 9 IMPs), but once Dan bid again over the double, it became N-S that had gotten too high rather than E-W. So, my side received 9 unexpected IMPs from what seemed like a nothing flat hand at our table. Technically 9 IMPs is not a double digit swing, but ‘win 9’ vs. ‘lose 9’ seems like a double digit swing to me.
RE: 6 defensive tricks vs. 3♦. If N-S draw trump, the defense will score 2+2+1+1. If they don’t draw trump, allowing a spade ruff in dummy, the ♦10 can be promoted into the 2nd undertrick (heart overruff).
So, the same 3NT contract to be played at both tables, but reached from different sides. With 25 HCP and stoppers in every suit, it doesn’t seem crazy to reach 3NT. In fact, there appear to be 9 tricks after the double finesse in diamonds: 1+1+3+4. The problem is, there is no way to unblock and enjoy all 4 club tricks. Entries to the West hand are required to take 2 diamond finesses (in order to enjoy 3 tricks there). Meanwhile, the opponents are going about setting up their major suit winners. All-in-all, 3NT is pretty hopeless. Well, that is what it seemed.
When East played the hand, the heart lead set up 4 winners there, so the split honors in diamonds wasn’t enough. The opponents got to 5 tricks quickly before 9 was remotely possible (lose the diamond finesse and cash 4 more heart tricks.
When I (West) played the hand, the ♠2 lead marked the suit as 4-3-3-3. So, before they could take a few in one major and then start taking tricks in the other major, I immediately won trick 1 with the ♠A and took the diamond finesse. The opponents then cashed their 3 spade tricks (North pitching a club on the 13th spade) and continued hearts, forcing me to win the first round with the ♥A and continue diamonds. I was already booked and needed the rest of the tricks. But, with the second diamond finesse working, I was up to 3 diamond tricks and then ‘all’ I needed was to cash 4 clubs. On the 13th diamond, rather than throwing the ♥K, North threw yet another club, allowing my ♣A to overtake the ♣J and then cash the ♣8 at trick 13 for my 9th trick. Declarer’s 2♥ cue bid (suggesting clubs), South’s small heart lead (suggesting heart values), South’s Michael’s bid (suggesting heart values) and declarer’s failure to finesse the ♥Q suggested that he didn’t hold the ♥Q. So, keeping four clubs and discarding the ♥K on the last diamond was needed to defeat the contract. +600 and +100 allowed a lucky 12 IMPs for our side.
Reviewing the dealer’s choice of opening bids – I was surprised by both tables choosing 1♣. I think Cris did it on purpose, but Mark, as he put down my dummy, indicated he made a mistake and did not actually intend to open 1♣. Not only is it normal to open the longer suit (1♦), but often 4-3-3-3 hands with 12 HCP don’t really qualify for an opening bid (I know, ‘everyone’ is opening almost all 10 point hands these days – at least the big club guys are. But no one in our group plays a big club). So, does this specific hand qualify for an opening bid? All 3 jacks are suspect in value and, as the cards lie, all 3 jacks are actually worthless. That gets the hand down to a 4-3-3-3 9 count and even the big club guys don’t open those hands as dealer.
Another way to evaluate the hand is the Kaplan and Rubens Hand Evaluator:
This is an extremely complex method of evaluating a hand that no person could perform at the table. It computes the value to 2 decimal places (perhaps suggesting that a hand of 10.07 points is better than a hand of 10.04?), but it is a valuable tool to see if a hand is worth upgrading Work points (4-3-2-1) to a higher number, or downgrading to a lower number. As you will see if you click the link, K&R evaluates this hand as 10.00. This web site also provides the evaluation of Danny Kleinman which comes out at 9+. Perhaps that is why 3NT is not a wise contract, even though partner’s hand evaluates at 13.1 K&R points (or 13- per Kleinman’s evaluator). Both of these evaluation tools downgrade rather harshly for 4-3-3-3 hands, as they should and as we should at the table.
So that was all for the double digit swings. There were 6 more 6 IMP swings – 2 were white games bid/not bid, while the other 4 were double plus positions on part score hands.