Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Jennbridge: A Good Bidding Sequence

Our expert opponents graciously complimented us on this bidding sequence at the recent San Francisco regional. (Bd. 4,  session 1, Thursday stratified open pairs)

Q J 9 2
K Q 5 2
K Q 9 6 3

Sitting North and playing with Mary Omodt as my partner, RHO passed and my first decision was what  to open. As I expected spades to be bid by either my partner or the opponents, I thought that the bidding would be likely to proceed more smoothly by opening 1, then rebidding clubs. According, I opened 1

Partner responded 2, an inverted minor bid, showing a limit raise or better in diamonds.  RHO now came to life with a bid of 2.  Although I only had 13 HCP, once we had found a fit and the opponents bid spades, my hand kept improving.  I now was pleased to bid 3 which I hoped would convey some useful information to partner.

LHO bid 3 and partner now made a key bid:  4

Wow. This hand may be going somewhere as I held a powerful, though aceless, 4-loser hand. Accordingly, I made what I expected to be a very descriptive bid:  4.  Partner now had the information she needed to jump to 6.

Board 4
West Deals
Both Vul
Q J 9 2
K Q 5 2
K Q 9 6 3
Q J 10 5 4 3
8 5 3
3
7 5 4

N
W
E
S

A K 8 2
10 6 4
J 8 6 4
8 2

9 7 6
A K 7
A 10 9 7
A J 10

The bidding :         P, 1D, P, 2D*, 
                               2S, 3C, 3S, 4H,
                               P, 4S, P, 6D

I ruffed the spade lead and took all of the tricks.  Plus 1390 was worth 17 out of 20 matchpoints.

See you at the table!

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Jennbridge: A Bidding Question

By Bob Klein.
Playing matchpoints in a club game, you hold, in first seat with both vulnerable:

♠Txxxxx
Axxx
Qxx
♣void

You deal and pass.  LHO opens 2, weak.  Your partner, a very good player, overcalls 2♠.  Now, while you are thinking about how many spades to bid, RHO comes in with 4♣! What is your call?


It looks like your choices are to raise spades or cue bid.  Since you are a passed hand, partner cannot expect too much from you.  On the other hand, your hand has the loser count of a good opening bid! (Only 2 losers in spades due to the massive trump fit, 2 losers in hearts and 2 1/2 in diamonds--6 1/2 losers.)

With the 11-card or longer fit opposite partner who has come into the auction vulnerable, I decided that this hand had too much slam potential to bid only 4♠.  Since the opponents had bid 2 suits, I couldn't make a slam invite by jumping to 5♠, since that bid asks partner to go to slam if he has a control in the opponents' suit.  So I had to do something else.  I considered bidding 4, but finally decided that the best choice was to bid 5♣. This would clearly show a big spade fit and club control with interest in a possible slam. Given the 4♣ bid and my original pass, I hoped that partner would interpret this as showing a void.

My bid worked like a charm.  Partner, holding:

♠AKJxx
Kx
AJx
♣xxx

bid 6♠, which was an excellent contract.  It happened to make seven because of the particular lie of the diamond spots.  My RHO led the stiff ten.  My diamonds were actually Q87 opposite AJ4 so the suit came in for no losers.  The first trick went ten, queen, king ace so there was a marked finesse of the nine.  The ten had to be a singleton since his RHO surely had 6 diamonds for a vulnerable weak two bid. Nobody else bid the slam so we got a cold top.

RHO could have made my life much more difficult if he had bid 5♣ instead of 4, holding:

♠x
Jxx
T
♣AKJT9xxx.

I wouldn't have the cuebid available so I would have just settled for 5♠, which partner surely would have passed.

Good luck!

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Jennbridge: Cincinnati Bridge

Once I got to the bridge club it was great.  Navigating the sub-zero temperatures to get there was another story, however. Once there, I told stories about the 70 degree weather last week in Santa Rosa...sigh...   I started my bridge career at the Cincinnati bridge club about 25 years ago and it was good to see old friends.

Playing teams with partner Joe Fisher as well as Norm Coombs and Larry Klein, we picked up some Imps on this hand.  I dealt and opened 1.  (Had we been playing Flannery, I would have opened 2!)

♠A10xx
AQxxx
Jx
♣xx 

Partner bid 2NT, Jacoby.  I jumped to 4 showing a minimum with no singletons or voids.  Partner, undaunted, bid 4NT, RKC.  I responded 5, 2 keycards plus the trump queen, and he rolled into 6.

A diamond was led and he laid down a nice 5-loser hand.  (deduct a loser for the 5th trump)

♠Kx
Kxxxx
A109
♣AKx

♠A10xx
AQxxx
Jx
♣xx 

There was nothing to the play--draw trumps, ruff 2 spades and lose a diamond.   We won 13 Imps on that one.

Another amusing hand found me playing and making 1 for plus 80 while our teammates bid and made 5 for a 12 Imp gain.

Going back Saturday for more.  The temperature is expected to be in the balmy 40's!

See you at the table!



















































Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Jennbridge: Putting on the Pressure

As we all know, it pays to make life difficult for the opponents! In a recent regional team game, white against red, partner passed and RHO opened 3.  I studied my hand:

♠10xx
Void
QJ10xx
♣AQ10xx

My first thought was that I "knew" what was going to happen.  I was relatively sure that LHO would raise to 4 and they were favorites to score up a vulnerable game.  What could I do with my minor-suited hand?  How could I both announce my minors and jam the auction?

What about an overcall of 4NT?  Wouldn't that inject surprise, take up bidding space, and describe my hand all at once?  Partner was an experienced player and familiar partner--surely he would read it.  If things went awry I could always scramble, bidding the minors later...

4NT!  Pass by LHO, 5♣ by partner, pass, pass, PASS!  Wow--this auction has a good sound.  At least we're not in trouble.

Partner's hand was suitable:

♠10xx
Void
QJ10xx
♣AQ10xx

♠Kxx
xxxx
Kx
♣KJxx

A spade was led, and in the course of time the opponents took two spades and a diamond for down one.  Sure enough, when we compared scores, our teammates announced "plus 620" and we replied "minus 50!" We love those 11 imp gains.

Keep up the pressure!

See you at the table.

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Jennbridge: Squeezing in Monterey

It's always better than I remember: the weather, the seafood and the beauty of Monterey Bay.  Throw in some good competitive bridge and you have a winning combination!

Margie Michelin and I had a nice 58% game to make it to the barometer finals.  Here's a fun hand from the first session. Bd. 7, both Vul.

2
J 6 4
A K Q 10 9 7 2
6 5

Partner opened 1, RHO overcalled 1 and I bid 2. The bidding became rather long and tortuous after that, but we eventually landed in the nice contract of 5.

8 6 5 4
A 9 8 7
8
A K 8 3

2
J 6 4
A K Q 10 9 7 2
6 5

A diamond was led and I studied the hand. Clearly I had a spade loser--could I avoid losing two hearts? Like most players, I usually can't visualize the whole hand at trick one, but this much I know: Once I start running my long suit, the hand will generally come into focus.

It was possible that LHO needed to guard both clubs and hearts and that she could be squeezed.  To prepare for this possibility, I rectified the count by ducking a heart early in the hand:  I led a heart which lost to the 10 in RHO's hand. A spade was cashed and I won the next spade.

Sure enough, LHO started getting uncomfortable making discards on the run of the diamonds On the penultimate diamond she pitched the Q and on the last diamond she discarded the K!  She wasn't able to guard both clubs and hearts and I scored up my game. 

Hand rotated--I sat North.

Board 7
South Deals
Both Vul
2
J 6 4
A K Q 10 9 7 2
6 5
A K Q 10 9 7
10 5 3
5 3
Q 2
N
WE
S
J 3
K Q 2
J 6 4
J 10 9 7 4
8 6 5 4
A 9 8 7
8
A K 8 3

Making 5 was worth 36.5 matchpoints out of 38. 

See you at the table!

Monday, December 16, 2013

Jennbridge: Hands from Phoenix

The fall nationals in Phoenix were a great success. Good weather, good playing site, good partners and good bridge.

A fun fall event is the Senior Mixed Pairs. I had the pleasure of being paired with a fine player – Peter Benjamin. We qualified 23rd the first day and were in decent shape for day two. An average first final session dropped us way down in the standings, but a strong 63% game in the evening bounced us up into 10th place.

Here's a hand I liked from the final session. (Bd. 23, Both Vul). After two passes, North opened one diamond and I overcalled one heart with this hand:

♠A102
A5432
Q10
♣K87

LHO bid one spade and partner jumped to three hearts which ended the auction. The heart queen was led and I saw this dummy:

♠876
K10876
K42
♣103

♠A102
A5432
Q10
♣K87

I won the heart in my hand and drew the second trump ending in dummy. When I let a diamond from the board LHO won the queen and returned a diamond. I won the king and led a low club off the board.  LHO rose with the ace and returned the queen of spades.

It was now time to get serious in studying the hand.  I had lost 1 diamond, 1 club and I had two spade losers. Or did I?  I mentally reviewed the bidding.  LHO had bid 1 spade after my overcall, almost certainly showing 5 spades.  That would mean that RHO had only a doubleton spade.  If RHO's doubleton was the QJ, he could be endplayed!

I rose with the spade ace and set about stripping the hand for a possible endplay.  I ruffed the my last club and ruffed the last diamond from the board.  Now I simply exited with a spade.  If RHO did, indeed, start with the doubleton QJ, he would have to win the trick and give me a ruff-sluff.  LHO could not effectively execute a "crocodile coup" (rising with the king, dropping partner's honor to take him off the endplay) because I had the spade 10 which would have been good.

Great!  RHO won and gave me a ruff-sluff and I scored up 170.  This was worth 46 of 64 matchpoints--better than a 70% board.

See you at the table!

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Jennbridge: Ten Fun Days at the Phoenix Nationals

By Bob Klein.

I just got back from a really great ten days in Phoenix.  I had a mixture of successes and failures, shared in a really great housing deal, and have decided that it was a resounding success for me overall.  I'll give you a short synopsis of my activities, then present two fascinating hands that are interesting for totally different reasons.

I played the whole time with two partners with whom I have not been playing very long: Erwin Linzner and Helene Bauman.  With Erwin, I got knocked out of the Senior KOs the first day, won a compact KO, then qualified for the final but didn't scratch in the Open Board A Match Teams.  Helene and I had planned to take Tuesday off and start in the Senior Mixed Pairs, but (foolishly as it turned out) decided at the last minute to try our hand in the Blue Ribbon Pairs.  We lasted one day, went back to plan A and scratched 21st in the Senior Mixed.  We didn't have a team for the North American Swiss until a friend got us onto a six-bagger arranged just before bedtime the night before it started.  We managed to make it to the finals and had a decent 25th place finish.   About 62 master points including 40 platinum, so I was reasonably satisfied.  I really wanted to do better in the Senior KOs, but that's bridge.  By the way, kudos to my Washington DC pals, David Ruderman, Fred King, David Abelow and Bob Bell, for making it to the round of 4 in the Senior KOs.  I'm jealous!

The first hand comes from the compact KO.  It was during a match that we were winning easily, so in this context wasn't that important.  With both sides vulnerable, I was dealer with this hand:

♠ x
Axx
AQTxx
♣Jxxx

I opened 1 Diamond, which is limited to 15 points or less.  LHO overcalled 1 Spade.  Partner bid 2 Clubs, and RHO jumped to 4 Spades.  I had a nice hand for clubs, so I bid 5 Clubs.  LHO passed and partner made an unexpected bid of 5 Spades, which had to be a grand slam try in clubs.  RHO now made an even more unexpected bid: 6 Hearts!  What the heck is going on here?  What could partner or RHO have for these bids?  I thought about this for a long time.  I might have the right hand to make 7 Clubs with both red aces, but I chickened out and doubled.  I thought at the time that I was showing first-round control, but Erwin later pointed out that this was a mistake.  He said that by doubling here I was denying interest in a grand slam, and in retrospect I agreed with him.  The auction proceeded 6 Spades, double, all pass.  Erwin led the king of hearts, and this dummy came down:

♠Kxxxxx
♥Jxxxxxx
♦ void
♣ void

Declarer ruffed the heart, and I immediately knew that they would make seven, since hearts ruffed out easily.  Minus 1840.  We weren't too happy at the time, since we knew that we could have made 7 but sold out.  However, while we were waiting for the other table to finish, it occurred to me that we might win the board despite this awful result.  I realized that if we had gone on to bid 7 Clubs, there was no way that the 7-6 freak would allow us to play it there and would bid 7 spades as a sacrifice bid, not knowing that it was cold!  Sure enough, at the other table our teammates bid to 7 Spades and made it doubled for 2460.  So we won 12 IMPs!  It turned out that we made what is commonly known as a striped-tail ape double, where you talk them out of a slam bonus by doubling a lower-level bid.  Here are all four hands:

                                ♠ void
                                ♥ KQx
                                ♦KJxxx
                                ♣AKQxx

♠AQJxxx                                                   ♠ Kxxxxx
♥void                                                           Jxxxxxx 
♦xxx                                                            void
♣xxxx                                                        ♣  void


                               ♠x
                                ♥Axx
                               ♦AQxxx
                               ♣Jxxx


I have never before seen a hand where a grand slam can be made by both sides.  Have you?  Interestingly, 7 Clubs would not have made as a heart lead beats it.  But if LHO had doubled for a heart lead, Erwin would have realized what was up and corrected to 7 Diamonds, which was cold from my side, and RHO would have had to take the "save" in 7 Spades since he wouldn't have been on lead!                                          


The second hand was from the sixth round of the finals of the North American Swiss.  We tied the first match.  I committed several blunders in match 2 and we lost 19-1.  I had to sit out the third match to rest.  My teammates got blitzed so our team was going nowhere fast.  When I came back in for Match 4, I resolved to at least try to get the team back to average by the end of match 6,which was my last scheduled match. The team did well in matches 4 and 5, so we were in position so that a big win would push us over average for the day.  By the way, this experience has convinced me that it is important to play six-handed in the last event of a long week, as everyone is tired.

Board 13 was the next to last hand of the set.  We had pretty good results on the first five, so I thought we were ahead in the match but not by a lot.  I was sitting West in fourth seat and picked up, with only our side vulnerable

♠AJ9
♥A98762
♦Q
♣864


Helene and I play Precision.  She opened 1 Diamond, which showed either 11-13 balanced with any diamond holding including a small doubleton, or 10-15 or so unbalanced with a real diamond suit.  My RHO overcalled 3 Clubs, preemptive.  I bid 3 Hearts, LHO passed, and Helene surprised me with a cuebid of 4 Clubs.  She had to be showing me a great hand with heart support that could not open a strong 1 Club to begin with.  I was at the crossroads.  Should I try for slam with a hand with just 11 HCP, so that the two had a maximum of 26?  Normally one doesn't try for slam with an 8-loser hand opposite one with a maximum of 15 points.  However, the combination of RHO's preempt and partner's cuebid suggested that she had at most one club, so at least two of the three losers were almost certainly covered.  If she had 4-card support along with the singleton club, then all my cards would be working nicely.  She could easily have a diamond suit headed by the AK so my queen could be huge.  If she had something like xx/KQxx/AKJxxx/x, six hearts would make easily.  So I decided to make the only slam try available below game and bid 4 Diamonds.  This would sound to her like "last train" and by inference show something in diamonds in the context of this particular auction.  She now bid 4 Spades, so she really liked her hand since she cuebid above game.  So I went on to Blackwood and bid 6 Hearts when she showed me 3 keycards.

Dummy led the ten of clubs, and I looked at:


                                ♠K764
                                ♥KT4
                                 ♦AJ964
                                ♣A
                                                               

                                ♠AJ9
                                ♥A98762
                                ♦Q
                                ♣864
                                         
My first reaction on seeing the dummy was disappointment that there were only 3 trumps, no king of diamonds and only 5 diamonds, so I would have my work cut out for me.  Moreover, this was a slam that would probably not be bid at the other table, so 26 IMPs could well be riding on the outcome.  I felt that the whole event might depend on whether or not this one came home.  If we lost 13 on this and lost the match, it would be really demoralizing and our day would end in disappointment.  If we won 13, we'd have a solid win and possibly get above average for the day, and I'd end up feeling good about the team's chances.  On a personal note, since I screwed up match 2, it would give me a nice feeling of redemption by doing something positive for the team.  You think that bridge is only a game?

Given these circumstances, I would have liked an hour to figure out the best line of play.  I had to come up with something in a few minutes.  OK, folks, take a few minutes and decide on a line of play, starting with what card do you play to trick 2?  There are two main possibilities to come up with 12 tricks: club ruffs in dummy and setting up diamond tricks, which might be combined with a fallback spade finesse if needed to get to 12.

I considered starting out with ace of diamonds and a diamond ruff to hand, followed by a club ruff, diamond ruff, club ruff then king of hearts. This line has the complication of when do you take your spade tricks, spades possibly getting ruffed and overruffs with the queen and/or jack since no trumps would have been drawn.  The possible permutations with this approach were too difficult for me to consider in any reasonable amount of time.  Another possibility was to play a spade to the ace and take a diamond finesse, planning to eventually ruff 2 clubs in dummy and pitch my spade loser on a diamond.  This would require losing no trumps if the finesse lost, so I decided it was too risky.  I thought it better to start with a trump to the ace to reduce overruffing possibilities, get an idea of the trump position and to be able to start the diamonds with the queen.  This could have a psychological advantage if an unsuspecting North, holding the king, isn't immediately ready to duck and gives away its location.  So I played a heart to the ace, and got a surprise: RHO played the queen! Now my prospects improved since I didn't have to worry about 2 trump losers.  I briefly considered the idea of restricted choice and picking up trumps for no losers, but decided that dummy's trumps were needed for either ruffs or entries to set up diamonds so this idea wasn't relevant here.  So I followed through on my original plan by putting up the Queen of Diamonds.  LHO played low smoothly so I went up ace and ruffed a diamond with my deuce.  Once this survived (LHO could hardly overruff low given South's club preempt), all the heart spots could only lose to the jack.   So I continued with a club ruff with dummy's ten and a diamond ruff back to hand.  Eureka! RHO followed with the king! Now the hand was cold.  All I had to do was play a trump to the king, pitch my last club on the Jack of Diamonds, and my losing spade on the now-established diamonds, losing only to the Jack of Hearts.  The icing on this delicious cake was that RHO was dealt the doubleton QJ of hearts so I made 7!  Sure enough, slam wasn't bid at the other table so we won 13 IMPs as part of a 19-1 VP triumph.  The team ended up over average for the day, and slightly under average overall because we had a low carryover. Everyone on the team went home happy.

The two opposing hands were

♠QT832            ♠ 5
♥53                    QJ
♦T873                K52
♣T9                   ♣KQJ7532


Even after thinking about this hand for a long time afterwards, I'm still not sure what would have been the best line of play.  I'm just happy that this one worked.  As the cards lay, most but not all lines would have succeeded.  My RHO, who I later found out is a good French expert, told me I played the hand well, which felt good to hear.  I invite comments.

Good luck!