We had a below average and an average game in the final two sessions of the World Mixed Pairs and finished above average--in the top third of the field. Bob says we should be proud, as dozens of stellar pairs finished behind us, but I can’t help feeling disappointed after our great start.
It was actually a fun event. We used screens in each session and used special World Bridge Federation convention cards . The men always sat North and West and the women South and East. In the 3 qualifying sessions we sat East-West and in the 3 final sessions we sat North-South. We never played the same pair twice.
I’m writing up hands on the flight home and will be posting some of my favorite hands from the finals. It seemed particularly tense in the last session as each pair was jockeying for position and each hand could mean the difference between several places in the standings. These two hands feature interesting card combinations.
I opened one heart with:
Partner responded 2 hearts, constructive, showing 3 trumps, 8-10 points and 9 losers. As I had the right loser count and was looking for a good board I made a help suit game try of 3 clubs. Partner accepted by bidding 3 notrump. With my singleton I wasn’t especially interested in notrump so I corrected to 4 hearts. A diamond was led and the dummy was not something to dream about:
Barring some incredible luck I had two club losers and at least one spade loser, along with assorted handling problems. I won the diamond ace and made what turned out to be a key play: a low spade to the ten which forced the king.
LHO continued diamonds which I ruffed. I started trumps by playing a heart to the jack and a heart back to my hand and my problems were compounded when LHO showed out on the second heart.
I next tried a club to the queen which lost to the ace. RHO returned the 9 of diamonds (diamond 10 left in dummy) and I paused to consider the play. If I ruffed, I would be left with fewer trumps than my RHO which couldn’t be right, so I elected to pitch a losing club. LHO won the diamond and paused to consider the defense. He couldn’t continue diamonds without giving me a ruff/sluff and was probably reluctant to return a club, so he exited with a low spade. I played low from the board and won the jack with the ace.
I couldn’t afford to lose any more tricks with the remaining cards:
I started thinking about the spades. What spade would RHO have played on the previous trick if she had started with J9x? As the jack and 9 were equals once the ten had been played, she probably would have played the jack, the card she was known to hold. Her in-tempo play and my partial count on the hand, however, caused me to strongly suspect that she started with the jack doubleton of spades. This meant that LHO started with K9xx of spades and I could finesse the 8. I therefore drew the remaining trumps, cashed the club king and led a spade to the 8, winning the last two tricks and scoring up my game! This was worth 82% of the matchpoints.
LHO held K953/9/KJ8753/73
RHO held J7/8532/Q92/AJ108
Playing 3 notrump with these cards I got a diamond lead:
With 8 winners available and only one more diamond stopper, the problem was how to play the club suit for at most one loser. Usually in this situation, it is right to lead the queen from your hand and then, if it loses, later lead toward the 10, a double finesse. This caters to the club honors being divided or LHO holding both honors, a 75% chance. Before starting on clubs, however, I decided to cash my 4 heart tricks to see if I could learn anything useful. Hearts broke 3-3 and on the 4th round of hearts LHO discarded the 3 of clubs!
Surely he wouldn’t throw a club with anything useful in the suit, looking at A1082 in the dummy, so I decided to change my plan and play clubs differently. Accordingly I led a club to the ace and was rewarded when RHO followed with the jack and then the king on the second round of clubs. She started with KJ doubleton! Scoring 430 was worth 76% of the matchpoints.
LHO held: Q75/1093/J642/763
RHO held: K1082/765/Q1097/KJ
Stay tuned for more hands from Philadelphia. The world championship events will continue through Oct. 16. For more information, daily bulletins and results, check out:
See you at the table!