Bob Munson

Recap Of 5/24/2017 28 Board IMP Individual

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Manfred
Bruce
1
1NT
3
4
5
All Pass

 

Bill
Dan
1
1NT
3
3
4
All Pass

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

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

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

Or, what about using the auction from the second table

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

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


2 Comments

Bob RichardsonMay 29th, 2017 at 5:49 pm

#3 Opposite a passed partner you aren’t going anywhere with that 9 LTC hand. My choice is pass rather than TO Double. After the XX it’s clear that partner should have about nothing. More importantly, he doesn’t have a preference. I think a PASS is called for by south. In case you escape to 1D I think it would be clear that a subsequent 1H bid by south would be pass or correct to 1S….showing equal length in the majors – no preference.

After the RHO double, I think East has reason to be afraid of the spade suit and will go slow; however when his partner freely bid 1NT after the spade call at your table, east is comfortable that the spade suit is stopped and has such good body that 3NT is a good bet at IMPs. All those touching honors and body are pluses that Mark didn’t ignore.

bobmunsonMay 29th, 2017 at 6:16 pm

Bob, thanks for the input. I don’t dispute any of your points.

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