Recap Of 11/9/2016 28 Board IMP Individual
Election conversation filled the day as we resumed our monthly (at least we try to meet monthly, sometimes twice) 2-table bridge game. Bidding judgement was the primary driver for all the big swings (throwing 9 IMP swings into the double digit category).
You could call this first one an opening lead problem, but why would North lead a diamond? Unless South bid 1♦? Why would South bid 1♦? Beats me. I did not overcall, but Manfred did overcall 1♦ at the other table. He was able to then receive the diamond lead which established the setting trick for the defense. The ♣A and 2 trump tricks will “always” be scored (see below) by the defense, but the diamond losers can easily be discarded on clubs without a diamond lead. At my table, North led the ♥2, won by the ♥A followed by the ♣K. I won my ♣A, but at that point, there is no longer a chance to defeat the contract with the diamond losers discarded on the established clubs. Should I have bid 1♦? It appears so on this hand.
When the diamond was led a trick 1 at the other table, the defense chose to give declarer a “Grosvenor gambit” – an interesting psychological ploy in bridge. For those readers not familiar, I quote from Wikipedia.
In the game of bridge, a Grosvenor gambit or Grosvenor Coup is a psychological play, in which the opponent is purposely given the chance to gain one or more tricks, and often even to make the contract, but to do so he must play for his opponents to have acted illogically or incorrectly.
Thus, the opponent likely ends up blaming himself for not taking advantage of the opportunity presented, even though to do so would have been irrational. The benefit of the Grosvenor gambit is supposed to come on future hands, due to a loss of concentration by the player who was taken in by the gambit.
The gambit was named after Philip Grosvenor, a fictional character in a short story by Frederick B. Turner published in The Bridge World, who first discovered the gambit accidentally, and over time developed its theory and deployed it deliberately. The story depicts Grosvenor as often frustrated by opponents who are too obtuse to fall for his ruse. Grosvenor’s lifeless body is eventually found bludgeoned to death, his fingers broken, shortly after a bridge tournament in which he used his gambit against the wrong opponents.
So, back to the defense – after winning the ♦A at trick 1, declarer played the ♠A and another spade. North, upon winning the ♠K, failed to lead a diamond to cash the setting trick (along with the remaining ♠Q and ♣A). Instead, they played a heart. Declarer could have ducked the heart to the ♥10, and then played more hearts discarding his losing singleton club, losing only 2 trumps and the high diamond. But, to take the heart finesse would likely result in an extra undertrick for -2, -100. Why do that? So declarer rose with a high heart and proceeded to lose his remaining trump loser along with the ♣A and diamond loser for -1, -50. With no diamond lead at trick 1, I was -420, lose 10 IMPs.
This next hand is, again, an opening lead problem, but more so (I think) a bidding problem. As South, I was on lead vs. 3NT by East, the same contract that was played at the other table. In a weak hand with no suit of my own, I would ‘always’ lead a short unbid major, hoping for length in partner’s hand, and perhaps I should have led the unbid major here. But with both length and weakness in spades, it made me think that spades was not the right start. Instead, I went for length/strength in my minor by leading the ♦5 and presented declarer with his 9th crucial game fulfilling trick. At the other table, North chose to open 1♠, providing a roadmap for the opening lead and the defeat of 3NT. With a spade lead, declarer only has 1+0+1+6 tricks available.
Should North open 1S? I think so. It satisfies the rule of 20, it has 3 quick tricks, and it is SPADES. I love bidding spades, the boss suit, because the opponents have to go to NT or else 1 level higher to compete for any contract. But, still, I could have led a spade anyway. Darn. Lose -600 to go with -100 and lose 12 IMPs. I hate starting out the day 22 IMPs in the hole.
Bidding had nothing to do with the swing on this hand. Both tables had the same auction arriving at the same contract. The difference came from the timing of the declarer play.
At my table, upon winning the ♣A at trick 1, declarer immediately set about to draw trump. Trick 2 was ♠3 to the ♠A, and then the ♠5 was led off dummy and RHO played the ♠9. Time to think. If RHO held ♠QJ9x there would be 2 certain trump losers (if the ♠K is played now) to go with 2 red aces, down 1. Is this time for a safety play, insert the ♠10? That certainly seems reasonable, but in this case, the “safety play” cost the contract. Declarer did play the ♠10 and when I (East) won the ♠Q, I knew partner had another spade and at most a singleton heart (2+ hearts with the NT bidder and 10 more hearts in my hand and dummy), so it was a simple matter to cash the ♥A (and ♦A, just to make sure partner didn’t accidentally return a club) and then provide the setting trick with the heart ruff.
At the other table, after winning the ♣A at trick 1, declarer led a heart. Here East rose with the ♥A and gave partner a heart ruff. When a diamond was returned to the ♦A for another heart ruff, West ruffed with the ♠9, allowing declarer to overruff with the ♠10, draw trump and lose just the red aces and a single trump trick. Had West ruffed up with the ♠J, declarer must overruff with the ♠K and then can only succeed by leading the ♠10, smothering the ♠9 if he is to bring home 10 tricks.
Is it best declarer play to play hearts first? Is it best to take the safety play? Beats me, but here the divergent lines of declarer play resulted in +50 and +420 for my side, win 10 IMPs.
The bidding was the same at both tables through the first 6 bids. I felt, with my shape and modest strength, it might be reasonable to respond to the takeout double with 1♥, 2♥, 3♥ or even 4♥ (6-5 come alive). I’m still not sure of the best tactical bid. Had I chosen to respond to the double with 4♥, I’m sure Dan (South at my table) was going to bid 4♠. 4♠X is the par spot for the hand. In any case, both East’s responded to the double with 2♥. The big difference in the auction was when North passed at my table with their second bid, while our teammate (Manfred) supported spades at the 3 level. When Dan heard no spade support, he competed to the 5 level in clubs and then North converted to 5♠. So, their ‘save’ was certainly preferable to defending 4♥, but it would have been better to take the save in 4♠. There was nothing to the play nor defense – the defense will score 2+0+2+0, limiting declarer to 9 tricks, down 2, +300 for our side. Our teammates collected their 3 aces for down 1 vs. 5♥X, but that was all they could get. +100 resulted in 9 IMPs for our side.
Cris has a tough bid over 4♠. Might 5♥ make? Might 4♠ make? That’s why people bid – it creates problems.
I think Dan may have felt he bid so strongly the first time, he better go quietly (over 4♠X) and hope 4♠ goes down. Since I passed the first time, it was easy to bid when partner made the takeout double of 4♠.
The ♠A might not have been the best start for the defense against 5♥, but with the ♣K onside, I was never in danger of failing to score 11 tricks and, when the defense continued with a club lead into my ♣AQ after ruffing a diamond, 12 tricks were available for +480.
The defense has 6 tricks against 4♠ (1+2+1+2) for +500 and a 1 IMP pickup. But the defense started with the ♣A and went downhill from there, scoring only 4 tricks for -1, -100. So we netted +380 to score 9 IMPs.
As usual, there were other interesting hands with either lessor swings or missed opportunities, but it is easier to just focus on the largest swings of the day.