Bob Munson

Recap Of 7/17/2017 28 Board IMP Individual

Well, in terms of double digit swings (6), they were half good, half bad as far as my results are concerned.  There were also a number of interesting hands where high single digits were won/lost, when it could/should have gone the other way with some slightly different choices (or even a push board could have been a double digit win…if only).  In fact, that happened so much I wouldn’t have time to cover them all and may cover none of them.  We may try to schedule more BBO soon, since reporting (and knowing exactly what happened at the other table) is far easier.  But, BBO isn’t the same as playing face to face.

As always, the swings were largely based on judgment in bidding (5 out of 6), with only one where play was the deciding factor.

 
3
E-W
South
N
Bruce
9
AKQ973
10
AQ1083
 
W
Bob
AK10652
8642
Q6
4
Q
E
Mike
QJ743
J10
K952
75
 
S
Jerry
8
5
AJ8743
KJ962
 

 

W
Bob
N
Bruce
E
Mike
S
Jerry
1
1
2
3
Pass
4
5
Pass
6
All Pass
 
 
 
W
Ed
N
Dan
E
Chris
S
Gary
2
Pass
4
All Pass
 

Here, the bidding was everything.  Start with the dealer – is this a opening one bid or a weak two bid (or neither)?  The playing strength is far beyond the typical weak two bid, but the HCP are modest, to say the least, for a one bid.  Still, the hand does have an ace and a king to provide some defense against what the opponents may try to bid and make.  Basically, I think this is a style question as well as a partnership question – it is best to know what your partner’s style is if you are to compete successfully.  As you see, one table chose 1 while the other tried 2.

Now second seat (my hand, in this case) has a choice.  Over a weak 2, West certainly has much less than you might expect for a 2 overcall, but the suit is good and spades are the boss suit, so I think I might have ventured a 2 call over the weak 2 opening bid.  But, the player who heard 2 on his right did not enter the auction.  

I was faced with a 1 opening bid, and I have to decide whether to make a simple 1 overcall or a weak 2 overcall.  I have had partners make weak bids with hands that had reasonable playing strength causing us to miss game, so I tend to fall on the side of making the simple 1 overcall, possibly keeping hearts in play.  Bidding 2 almost completely rules out the chance for our side playing in hearts.  On the other hand, bidding 2 does rob the opponents of some bidding space, so it cannot be clearly wrong.  Decisions, decisions.  On this deal, I think once South has opened with 1, nothing is going to keep North from slam.  But, since my 1 bid ended with a big loss, we couldn’t have done worse had I tried the effect of a weak 2♠ jump overcall of the 1 opening bid.

Third seat has a different problem.  And, the problem they faced was quite different at the two tables.  They hold a very strong two suited hand with no fit for partner.  When South opened 2 and RHO passed, North bid what they thought they could make and ended the auction with a 4 call.  They could have bid 2 forcing or 3 forcing.  But what will they learn?  They might learn that opener’s weak two had a significant side second suit that happened to match their own second suit!  So, clearly, since they can always get to 4 eventually, going slowly has much to recommend it.  Anyway, once they bid 4 the auction was over.

A good point to make here is that you can never have too much discussion with partner about bidding sequences.  Assume the opponents are passing and you open a preemptive bid (here 2) and partner makes a forcing bid in a new suit.  Is your third suit bid offering a second place to play?  Or is it a confirmation of partner’s suit (in this case hearts), showing values outside of diamonds (that you opened) and a fit with hearts?  You can’t have it both ways (at least in my opinion).  Either the third suit announces a misfit and shows 2 suits of your own, or it announces a fit (in this case hearts) with some control/values in the third suit.  If you had this auction with your  favorite partner, would you be on firm footing?

South
North
2
3
4
?

Third seat at my table had an easy 2 bid over my 1♠ overcall of the 1 opening bid.  2 is natural, forcing, and providing time to explore.  Obviously, the same as when partner opened 2 at the other table, they have no fit for partner’s opening bid (but a critical singleton in the suit bid by RHO – a suit that was not bid at the other table).  

Fourth hand (East) might have tried 4 with their weak hand and 5 card support, but we were vulnerable vs. not and the opponents can collect 500 (on this hand) if they opt to try to gain a penalty.  However, it didn’t matter whether my partner bid 3 or 4 because the hand that had opened light passed over the 3 bid (with no fit for hearts and limited power to start offering their second suit) and I raised to 4 so the problem next faced by North was the same whether partner had chosen 3 or 4.  

North had to decide what to do over 4.  What to do with a misfit for the opening bid, but two strong suits of your own?  Easy, show your second suit and bid 5!  This is not the time to defend.  South, with 2 key cards facing a partner that unilaterally bid clubs at the five level, decided to raise to slam.  North (Bruce) at my table, REALLY wanted to raise to 7 but unluckily for me, restrained himself and settled for the small slam.

The result – clubs was a far superior slam to hearts.  A heart slam required a 3-3 trump break or a doubleton JT.  Very much against the odds.  6 merely required no diamond ruff and no heart ruff on the opening lead (or at trick 2 after winning a spade) which made it close to a 100% slam.  Lose 920 vs. our teammates +480, lose 10 IMPs to start the day.

 
7
Both
South
N
Chris
97
KQ86
65
KJ1097
 
W
Bruce
43
A1095
872
5432
6
E
Bob
AKQJ10865
J43
A
A
 
S
Gary
2
72
KQJ10943
Q86
 
W
Bruce
N
Chris
E
Bob
S
Gary
3
Pass
Pass
Dbl
Pass
3
Pass
4
Pass
4
Pass
6
W
Mike
N
Dan
E
Jerry
S
Ed
3
Pass
Pass
4
All Pass

Another slam decision (at least that is how it seemed to me) came up on this next hand.  The chance of an opening ruff is so remote (and you can easily handle a 5-0-0 trump break), that I think you will rarely hold a hand more certain of 10 tricks than this one (yes, the defense could start with 4 rounds of hearts, promoting a trump trick when all 5 trump were on your left, so it is barely possible to not score 10 tricks).  You are sitting in fourth seat after 3-P-P-?  One table ended proceedings with 4 which was likely to make!  I hoped for more and risked starting with a takeout double.  Holding the A, I thought it was highly unlikely for partner to have a holding that would pass for penalty.  As Edgar Kaplan always said, when partner makes a takeout double, take it out!  They replied 3 (showing/promising nothing, but at least more promising for slam prospects than 4) and I forced with 4.  Again they bid their hearts and it is decision time.  I could try 5 (recommended by one player who suggested that then, if partner repeats hearts yet again, try 5 (which says “go to 6 if your hearts are good”!?!?)).  That would certainly be what you want that sequence to show.  I think that saying that is exactly what the 5 bid means in this auction is creating a Humpty Dumpty bid, “it means just what I choose it to mean—neither more nor less.”  I don’t claim to know what 5 would mean in that auction.  I think a jump to 5 directly over 4 would typically ask partner to bid 6 if they have first or second round control of diamonds.  Obviously all I really need is good hearts, but I just don’t know an auction that asks that question.  As you can see, I opted for 6 over 4 and bought a very respectable dummy, perhaps MUCH better than I deserved.  All I needed was split heart honors (or both onside), but it was not to be, down 1.  Since grand slam could be laydown opposite the perfect hand (where partner still would have passed the 3 opening bid), it seems as though something should be done.  What I did has little to recommend it, and I still don’t know how it could be better handled.  I guessed/hoped, and was very wrong.  Down 1, -100 vs. our teammates -650 resulted in lose 13 IMPs.

 
10
Both
East
N
Dan
K983
75
AQ875
A3
 
W
Bob
J4
42
KJ103
J9652
2
E
Gary
AQ1072
10863
2
K84
 
S
Mike
65
AKQJ9
964
Q107
 
W
Bob
N
Dan
E
Gary
S
Mike
Pass
1
Pass
2
2
3
Pass
3NT
All Pass
 
 
 
 
 
W
Chris
N
Jerry
E
Bruce
S
Ed
Pass
1
Pass
1
Pass
1NT
Pass
3NT
Dbl1
All Pass
(1) Partner, please lead spades

Quite often, in NT contracts, siding can be critical.  Here, with the K protected by length (and some useful spot cards), it didn’t really matter whether the contract was played by the North hand or by South.  At my table, the opening 2 lead went to the J and K and declarer had to find a 9th trick (assuming hearts split, he was looking at 1+5+1+1).  

Declarer tried to score a club trick at trick 2.  He thought he was trying to give himself an extra chance (believing that the opening 2 showed only a 4 card suit).  By leading small towards the Q, he could fallback later on the diamond finesse (since the opponents, in his mind, could only cash 3 spade tricks) should he fail to score a trick with the Q.  East grabbed their K and cashed 4 spade tricks for down 1.  It turns out the 2 was simply a suit preference lead, advising me, should I care, where his entry might be (clubs, the lowest suit, therefore a low lead).  Declarer simply had a blind spot (no passed hand makes a two level vulnerable overcall in a live game forcing auction on a 4 card suit AQT2).  Declarer took the 2 as a count card, showing a suit that was only 4 long (in spite of hearing the vulnerable 2 bid over the game forcing 2 bid).  Here, since there were 4 spades to cash, there was no other path for declarer than to hope for the K onside, which it was.  

At the other table, with spades over the spade bidder, East thought a spade opening lead (without a double) was unlikely, but that a spade opening lead was the only chance to beat it.  So, they doubled to get the spade opening lead.  They got the very useful J opening lead and led four rounds of spades, giving declarer a spade trick but establishing their 5th spade.  However, the defense could only produce 4 tricks when declarer successfully finessed in diamonds.  So, our teammates were +750 to go with our +100, win 13 IMPs.  The double has a lot to recommend it.  You are losing only 4 IMPs when the double turns out to be wrong (with no overtricks), but gaining 13 (+200 vs. +600) when your requested lead proves to be the only way to defeat the contract.  So, I like the bid, even though it didn’t work here.  It was especially painful for them when their teammate didn’t bring home the 3NT contract at the other table, but then the ‘cost’ of the double became 1 IMP instead of 4.

But the rest of the bidding is worthy of some review.  Normally, especially in 2/1 game forcing bidding systems, you respond to partner’s opening bid with your longest suit when you have game values.  There is time, later, to mention 4 card majors, but when you have a longer, stronger minor, that (2) is the usual choice over the 1 opening bid.  Yet, at one table, North responded in their shorter weaker 4 card major (1) which eventually led to the subsequent lead directing double of 3NT.  At my table, partner made a dangerous (vulnerable) lead directing 2 bid over the game forcing 2 bid.  This offered +800 to the opponents if they opted to defend against 2X (as long as you don’t lead a silly 9 or Q, you will achieve down 3 against any other lead).  However, North-South went on to 3NT, but then failed to collect their 9 tricks.

 
18
N-S
East
N
Ed
KQ43
972
6
J9743
 
W
Gary
AJ875
K106
K984
K
9
E
Jerry
1062
J8
QJ10753
Q8
 
S
Bob
9
AQ543
A2
A10652
 
W
Gary
N
Ed
E
Jerry
S
Bob
Pass
1
1
2
2
3
31
Pass
3
Pass2
Pass
Pass3
(1) Help suit game try
(2) Reluctant, but I don’t think there was a break in tempo
(3) Reluctant – wanting to double, but not wanting -530
W
Chris
N
Dan
E
Mike
S
Bruce
31
3
5
Pass
Pass
Dbl
Pass
5
Pass
Pass
Dbl
All Pass
 
 
(1) Not everyone’s 3 level preempt!

We have covered the one hand where play made the difference.  So we return to our usual topic where variance in bidding decisions provide the large swings.  At my table, when East did not open (weak 2 or weaker 3), I was able to open 1 and the bidding proceeded rather normally (or so it seemed).  West suggested that East, with such soft values, not bother with a raise to 2, but the raise to 2 seemed normal to me.  We are certainly close to game in hearts, but the heart spots forced 2 losers there plus two certain black losers, so 10 tricks wasn’t going to be possible in hearts (or clubs).  So we quietly defended 3 down 2, not doubled, not vulnerable for +100.  Since we could make 9 tricks for +140 in 3 it seemed as though we might have lost an IMP.

Meanwhile, at the other table, East, noting the vulnerability, decided to open in first seat with 3!  Preempts can create problems for the opponents, as you will soon see.  South overcalled with 3 and West, unable to take a joke, bounced to 5 passed around to South who thought, with their 3 aces, 5 might come up short on tricks and doubled.  But the bidding wasn’t over.  North decided to pull the double to 5, and that got doubled.  The same 9 tricks available in 3 were also available in 5 but that meant our teammates were +500 to go with our +100 and all of a sudden we had won 12 IMPs.

The North hand possess some useful defense with limited offensive contribution, so pulling the double doesn’t seem right.  Since partner didn’t double 3, the opponents almost certainly have some spades and the KQ can be useful defense.  Don’t pull partner’s double!

 
19
E-W
South
N
Ed
9
AK8543
Q42
KJ2
 
W
Gary
QJ52
Q1097
9876
6
K
E
Jerry
AK763
AK5
109875
 
S
Bob
1084
J62
J103
AQ43
 
W
Gary
N
Ed
E
Jerry
S
Bob
Pass
Pass
1
21
32
3
Pass
4
All Pass
(1) Michaels showing spades and a minor
(2) Constructive raise, less than a limit raise
W
Chris
N
Dan
E
Mike
S
Bruce
Pass
Pass
1
Dbl
2
Pass1
3
Dbl
Pass
3
All Pass
 
 
(1) Enough to bid 2S?

On the very next hand, the IMPs went back the other way when each East took different actions at the two tables.  Some play that Michaels cue bids are weak or strong, not mid-range.  Mike Lawrence has argued for years that the ability to tell partner, with one bid, about 10 of your cards is so valuable that it should not be reserved for certain hands, but do it with all hands and try to sort it out later how high is appropriate for this particular hand.  I don’t know if that (mid-range Michaels) was a factor on this hand or not (in East’s decision to double).  But one player trotted out Michaels while the other doubled at their first opportunity.  As the auction progressed, Michaels was the winner, arriving in game at my table while our teammates languished in the partscore.  After I played the J in the middle of the hand, declarer’s problems were over and he had 11 tricks for -650.  Our teammates scored +170 for a 10 IMP loss.  

A spade lead turns out to be the only lead that holds declarer to 10 tricks, double dummy.  The play must be timed very carefully (to reach 10 tricks after a spade lead) but the heart spots and 5 card club suit both come into play to reach 10 tricks.  Should the Michaels bid have been that much more successful than the double?  Should E-W arrive in game after the double?  You be the judge.  But, any vulnerable game that can’t be beaten is always disappointing to miss.

 
23
Both
South
N
Dan
K4
AKQ1054
Q8642
 
W
Jerry
Q5
87
J43
AJ9753
K
E
Bob
J6
63
KQ108752
K10
 
S
Chris
A1098732
J92
A96
 
W
Jerry
N
Dan
E
Bob
S
Chris
Pass
Pass
1
3
3
Pass
4
All Pass
 
W
Ed
N
Mike
E
Gary
S
Bruce
2
Pass
3
4
5
Pass
6
All Pass
 

We end on an amazing hand.  And more bidding judgment issues trying to solve the puzzle what to bid and how high to bid?  Many (seemingly most) times, as I write the blog, the first 5-6-7 bids are the same at both tables, then a variance occurs in the bidding that causes the swing.  For the hands this time, the bidding variance started much earlier – often with the first or second bid, but always in the first round of bidding.  

To consider the bidding, start with the dealer – is this an opening hand?  It has 2 quick tricks, but comes up one shy in the rule of 20 for an opening 1 bid.  I don’t think this is anyone’s idea of a preemptive 3 bid, but it could possibly be a quirky 4 bid due to the first seat odds (there are 2 opponents and only 1 partner that you are preempting).  Anyway, rejecting 1, 3 and 4, Bruce, as the dealer at one table, chose 2.  Not everyone’s weak 2, but it proved to be rather effective.  Chris rejected all 4 choices and began with a pass.  

After the pass, partner (North) has a normal 1 opening bid and East enters the auction with a preemptive 3♦ bid.  South (who failed to open) has a lot to tell partner.  They have support plus first round control of 3 suits!  They judged to start telling their story with a 3 bid, but when partner merely repeated their heart suit, they were in game and, to them, that seemed high enough.  They passed.  Obviously, with you having those strong controls (and being a passed hand), partner is going to have a hard time envisioning the slam potential for this hand unless you do something over 4.  Showing the spade control would sound like a heart misfit (although how can you have a spade suit that good and pass in first seat?).  A 5 cue bid, I think, could also sound like a misfit – an all black hand trying to find a place to land (but, perhaps since you passed initially, you don’t have the right to go exploring beyond game on a misfit?  Would partner be on the same page?).  But a 5 cue bid would be unmistakable heart support.  Good.  But now it would be North’s turn to bid with no black A and they had a diamond control themselves with their void, so hearing your diamond cue bid would not be good news for slam, from their perspective.  It could be that the only reasonable way to bid slam after that start is for South to jump to 6 and hope partner has what is needed.  Bidding, and then hoping, is not a good way to winning bridge (as I proved back on board 7).  As discussed previously, this is not an easy hand to open, but perhaps the initial pass made it impossible to catch up later as the auction developed.  You can see, looking at the whole hand, that 13 tricks are easy, but that has to be uncovered via reasonable bidding and looking only at the 13 cards you hold.  I am not seeing the way to do that.  If you know the answer, I’m interested.  Here is a hand, totally consistent with North’s bidding that offers zero chance of slam.

S
 
A1098732
J92
A96
 
N
 
54
AKQ652
2
QJ87

Here, if South passes, North would open 1 and rebid 4.  You have a decent chance to make 4 but very slim chances for slam.

 

So, let’s see what happened in the bidding at the other table where South dealt and began the auction with 2.  Partner made a forcing bid of 3 and East competed with 4.  South, with lots to show, elected to make the unambiguous 5 cue bid saying ‘I like hearts and I control diamonds’.  Unfortunately for North, hearing the cue bid is still not enough (since they hold their own control in diamonds via the void).  What about the black aces?  South did open a weak 2!  In any case, they proceeded to bid the slam and hope.  When there are 13 tricks available (easy on this particular hand and 13 tricks possible for many distributions that might have been), you want to be able to at least reach a small slam.  Here, North-South had a perfecto fit.  The secret is to uncover that fit via the bidding.  Often that is not really feasible and some amount of guessing is required.

This brings up a point I was making earlier.  Assume there is no bidding by the opponents and assume South starts with 2.  North will make a forcing 3 bid and now it is South’s turn to bid.  Do they like hearts?  They LOVE hearts.  Do they bid 4?  Does that show the void, club control, heart support?  Or does that show a second suit, misfit for hearts?  On the actual board 23, it is precisely the club void in the South hand that makes the slam so magical, but often it is quite difficult to describe every feature of your hand.  This is what makes bridge so exciting as well as challenging.

 


2 Comments

Bob RichardsonJuly 20th, 2017 at 3:32 pm

#7 After the 3H bid, 4NT would be RKC in hearts. Now you find out all you want to know about the hand. The problem is – would a subsequent 5S bid be forcing? Will partner have a harder time passing 5S after RKC if you bid 4D first? I play that the DBL after a preempt shows at least 2 places to play – never a strong single suited hand. So I would first bid 4D, then 4NT after 4H.

bobmunsonJuly 20th, 2017 at 4:04 pm

Bob, thanks for the suggestion. I thought about RKCB when writing this blog (but failed to give it consideration at the table!). This turns out to be my ‘regular’ partner on this hand. We have never discussed takeout doubles vs. preempts (holding strong one suited hands) vs. takeout doubles vs. a one bid (holding strong one suited hands). Sounds like a worthwhile discussion to have, but having never had that discussion, I assumed ‘nothing different’.
But, there are other considerations at play…we play 1-over/redwood/4S as key card for hearts. Partner would reply 5C (3014) and I could bid 5D asking about the heart Q. Lacking that, he would bid 5H. NOW I know what I need. 5S is safe (well, if his key card is the heart K, then not totally safe), but I want to play 5S. If I bid 5S over 5H will he work out to pass? As it turned out, BOTH the 10 and 9 of hearts all of a sudden gave reasonable play for the slam, but it wasn’t good enough and 5S would have been high enough if we could have stopped there.

Anyway, thanks for your several suggestions. What is double over a preempt? (must have at least 2 places to play) And ‘try key card in partner’s suit’ and then hope when you bid your own suit that they can realize you had a single suited hand (and not some esoteric asking bid, still focusing on the original suit bid by partner).

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