Sunday, February 22, 2015

A Spectacular Result Using Gambling 3NT

by Bob Klein

I discovered the other day that the Gambling 3NT opening bid can produce fantastic results.  I was playing in a regional open pairs game with Sigrid Price.  Sigrid is a fine player that I am developing a partnership with.

A Gambling 3NT opening bid shows a solid minor suit of at least 7 cards with no ace or king on the side.  If you have only 7, they have to be headed by AKQJ.  If you have 8, it is acceptable for the suit to be headed by the AK as the suit normally splits 2-2-1 around the table.

Sigrid opened 3NT in first seat, passed to me.  I was looking at

♠ AKxx
♥ Axxx
♦  void
♣  AKJxx

We clearly had at least 12 tricks - her diamonds and my quick tricks.  A thirteenth trick could be made if she had the side queen of spades or clubs, if she had 8 diamonds (in that case she would have to have the AKQ or possibly AKJ if the queen drops doubleton), or if the jack of clubs can score either by ruffing out the queen or a finesse.  It looked like I would have 2 or 3 entries to my hand to try and work on the clubs, but it wasn't certain that there would be enough.  The only tool I had available to find out more about her hand was to use 4D to ask if she had a short suit.  In this case, that information would not help me decide the likelihood of any of these possibilities unless she showed me short clubs, but even then it wouldn't change the odds very much.  So what would you do?  Decide before reading on.

The one thing you surely do not want to do is pass or bid any number of no-trump.  If you even for a split second considered doing so, slap yourself.  In no-trump, you will either make 7 if partner has the side queen of spades or clubs, or go down in flames since you can never reach dummy.  The only real options are to bid 6 or 7 diamonds.  I decided that the combined chances of making the 13th trick were good enough, so I went for it and bid 7 diamonds.

Life was good.  Partner tabled

♠ x
♥ xx
♦  AKQxxxxx
♣  xx

The eight-carder got me to 13 easily.  I just got to dummy with a spade ruff, drew trumps and claimed.  (Trumps split 3-2 as expected.)  This result was worth all 17 matchpoints with a 17 top, and helped us to a nice fifth place finish.

Good luck!

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Jennbridge: Life in a fishbowl

By Bob Klein
Jimmy Cayne has a set game on BBO that I have recently begun to play in.  I discovered this game through my BBO friend Susina   She is a BBO matchmaker who often gets me into team matches with good players.  She is also a friend of  Mr. Cayne.  The other day, Susina invited me into that evening's game.  It turns out that whenever you land at Jimmy's table, you have about  a thousand kibitzers.  So it's an opportunity to show off, or, alternatively, embarrass yourself with the whole world watching you.  I have come to enjoy this experience.

I was matched with an unfamiliar expert  partner who said he would play my profile, which was 2/1 with upside down carding and some gadgets.

About halfway into the match, I picked up, as dealer with neither side vulnerable:

♠ Kxx
♥ AKx
♦  Kx
♣  ATxxx

I opened 1NT, which is 15-17 in standard 2/1.  Jimmy passed and partner bid 3 Hearts.  What was partner doing?  This is a bid which partnerships have to discuss.  I decided that I would assume he had 5-5 in the majors with invitational values, which is what I play with most casual partners.  It didn't seem appropriate to stop and ask him with hordes of kibitzers watching us.  So I just bid 4 Hearts.  Now partner bid 5 Diamonds!  I immediately knew that my assumption about what he had was wrong.  So I had to break down and ask him in front of the opponents and the kibitzers.  Jimmy didn't object, so partner said he had the minors and heart shortness.  I was unfamiliar with this treatment.  Maybe it's a European thing.  Anyway, what to do?  I really had little choice but to bid 6 Clubs and hope for the best.

Jimmy led the ace of spades, and when dummy was tabled, I was looking at

♠ Qx
♥ x
♦  Axxxxx
♣  Q98x

♠  Kxx
♥  AKx
♦  Kx
♣  ATxxx

The ace won and Jimmy switched to a heart, which I won in my hand.

This contract was a real lemon.  However, there was a slim chance to turn it into lemonade.  I had seen this combination before/  There were two chances: either Jimmy on my left had the stiff jack, or RHO had the stiff king.  I decided to go for the stiff jack, mostly as a hunch but because if I was wrong, I would limit the damage that way if someone held all four clubs.  So I went over to dummy and led the queen, and sure enough, Jimmy produced the jack!  I finished drawing trumps, ruffed out the diamonds and claimed six.  I wrote to the table that we had been unlucky on an earlier hand, so we were due some luck on this one.  Partner said: good guess.  Nice result with Jimmy and all those people watching us.

Good luck!

Friday, June 27, 2014

Jennbridge: Precision at Work

By Bob Klein
I really enjoy playing Precision.  I think its best feature is that we can get into many auctions light since all bids other than 1 Club are limited, which has really good preemptive value.  But it also has a really powerful structure that we can use when we start with a strong 1 Club.  Here is an example of the asking bids at their best. I was playing with Dave Neuman recently at the San Francisco sectional open pairs.  I was dealer and was looking at

♠ Qx
♣ AKQJxx

I opened 1 Club, which showed a big hand, usually 16 points or more.  After LHO passed, Dave responded 2 Clubs, which showed a game force with at least 5 diamonds.  Nice!  I answered 2 Diamonds, which asked him how good his diamonds were.  He rebid 3 Clubs, which showed 5 with 2 of the top 3 honors.  (The replies are in steps:  no honor, 5 to one honor, 5 to 2 honors, 6+ to 1 honor, 6+ to 2 honors, with no-trump not counted as a step.  So 3 Clubs was the third step.)

Now I could see 12 tricks unless the opponents had the AK of spades.  I now was able to bid 3 Spades, which asked him what he had in Spades.  The replies, again in steps not including no-trump, are no control, queen or doubleton, king or singleton, ace or void.  Dave bid 4 Spades, the fourth step.  So I knew he had the ace of spades, or possibly a void.  I decided that with this auction, if the opponents had 11 spades including the ace and king, someone would have either bid them or doubled one of our spade bids.  So I counted 13 tricks and just bid 7 NoTrump.  (I could have been more precise and made another asking bid of 5 Spades, which would have asked him if his control was the ace or a void, and settled for 7 Diamonds if he had a void, but since Dave was still learning the system, I didn't want to risk a disaster in case he misinterpreted the bid.)  Dave had

♠ AJxx
♣ x

All the splits were normal and 7 NT made easily.  This board was played 26 times, and we got all 25 matchpoints, so we were the only pair to get to 7 NT.  This hand helped us to finish second in the event.

Good luck!

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
7 5 4


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:


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:


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:


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!)


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)



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:


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:



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.