Friday, April 29, 2011

Jennbridge: Introducing Jenn's Losing Trick Count Booklet


Losing Trick Count
The Quick and Easy Method to Better Bidding
and Hand Evaluation
Take the guesswork out of bidding.  Move to
Mastery from Mystery

                                                                  Jennifer Jones

Here is how my new booklet on losing trick count looks.  Of course, the booklet doesn't have the cool feature of the queen of spades flipping from studious to sultry and back again.

I have been using losing trick count for at least 10 years and find it so valuable that sometimes I wonder how I ever bid a hand without it!  I decided to put my experience down in writing and this is the result.

From the introduction:

As bridge players we would love to be able to bid every game and slam that makes and avoid those that don’t! We know how many high card points it supposedly takes to make game and slam and find ourselves occasionally feeling uneasy when things don’t quite “add up”. We take 10 tricks when we’re in a part-score and 12 tricks when we’re in game. Or we bid game or slam with the “correct” number of points and go down. We vaguely wonder whether there is a better way. The answer is YES! Losing Trick Count is a superior method of hand evaluation which, when used in conjunction with the high card point system, will dramatically improve your bidding accuracy.

Using the losing trick count method takes the guesswork out of bidding and enables you to get to the best contract consistently. Plus, it is easy to learn, easy to use and you can use it on your own--even if your partner has never heard of it!

 
If you want to polish your game as well as have more fun at bridge, I urge you to start using losing trick count today!

This 32 page booklet sells for $9.95.  To order your copy of Losing Trick Count click here:  http://jennbridge.blogspot.com/2011/04/ordering-information.html

See you at the table!
 

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Jennbridge: Off-Shape No-Trump Openings

I have recently been experimenting with 1NT openings that aren't the classic 4333, 4432 and 5332 patterns with some success.  I have found that many 5422 patterns are often best handled with a 1NT opening, and even some 6322 hands with a long minor are good 1NT openings.   Here is an example from a recent club game.

As dealer I held the following hand:

♠  xx
Axxx
♦ Qx
♣AKQJx 

This hand has a difficult rebid if it is opened 1 Club and partner responds 1 Spade.  It is too strong to rebid 1NT or 2 Clubs.  It isn't strong enough to reverse with 2 Hearts.  The value bid, 3 Clubs, is awkward as it suppresses a good heart suit.  So I opened it 1NT.  Jenn bid 2 Clubs, Stayman, I showed my heart suit, she invited with 2 Spades, showing 4 spades and invitationl values, and I accepted with 3NT since I had such a nice source of tricks.  (Note: Jenn and I have an agreement that with both majors, we show hearts first.  So she can invite with 2 Spades since I might have both majors.  If she invites instead with 2NT, she is denying 4 spades.)

LHO led a small diamond, and I looked at:

♠ Q9xx
♥ Kxx
♦ 
K9xxx
♣ T


♠  xx
♥ 
Axxx
♦ 
Qx
♣ AKQJx


RHO played the ten of diamonds and I won with the queen.  Now, if LHO has the ace of diamonds, likely given the lead, I was a favorite as I could see 5 clubs, 2 hearts and 2 diamonds for my 9 tricks.  The opponents would have to cash out 4 spade tricks without blocking the suit, which isn't easy with this holding in dummy.  So I led a diamond at trick 2 to LHO's ace.  LHO actually shifted to a heart, so the hand was over as I quickly claimed my 9 tricks for a good score. 

Good luck!

Monday, April 25, 2011

Ordering Information

To order Jenn's booklet Losing Trick Count, send a check for $12.95 for each booklet (which includes shipping and handling) to:

Jennifer Jones
1275 4th St., Suite #175
Santa Rosa, CA  95404

Outside U.S. and Canada please send a check for $13.95.
Email:  Jennife574@aol.com

Be sure to include your name and address--thanks!

Jennbridge: A One-Loser Wonder

I picked up this marvelous hand at the club this week:

♠ AQ7632
AKQ654
void
♣ A

This hand has one loser: the king of spades.  (Technically, the hand may have 1.5 losers since the queen isn't supported.)  Unless the hand is a massive misfit, with responder holding few if any cards in the majors, I'd like to play this hand in a slam in one of the majors, and be able to ask partner if she has the spade king.  So how should I approach it? 

One way would be to open 1 Spade, then rebid 6 Hearts.  Partner should take a preference, and with the spade king, at least consider bidding seven.  Another way is to bid open Spade, then jump shift to 3 Hearts, then, if partner takes a preference to spades, you have an ideal bid available - 5 Diamonds, which is exclusion Blackwood with spades agreed.  If she shows one keycard, it has to be the king of spades so you can bid 7 Spades comfortably.   However, there is one big problem with that approach:  it may get passed out in 1 Spade!  You have 19 HCP, so there is no assurance that anyone at the table will be able to bid. 

I decided not to risk being passed out in 1 Spade, so I opened 2 Clubs.  Jenn, my partner, bid 3 Diamonds, which made things awkward by taking up a level of bidding.  Her bid showed a good suit with at least 2 of the top 3 honors.  While this bid is often useful, here it didn't help at all.  I bid 3 Spades, and she raised to 4 Spades.  Now I couldn't bid 5 Diamonds, since this wouldn't be exclusion Blackwood (it isn't a jump).  So I did the next best thing - I bid 4NT, RKC for spades.  I decided that if she showed one keycard, it would most likely be in diamonds since she already showed a hand with high diamonds.  (I considered bidding 5NT, which would be the grand slam force; however, we had not discussed how to distinguish between no high honor and one.  If we had, then 6 Clubs would deny a high honor and higher bids would show one.)  She actually showed no keycards, so I bid the obvious 6 Spades.  The king of clubs was led, and I looked at:


♠ JT8
void
KQJ965
♣ 8642

♠ AQ7632
AKQ654
♦  void

♣ A
How should I play it?  This was a matchpoint game.  Should that influence my play?  If it were IMPs, would I play it differently?  Consider the play at each form of scoring.

Since Jenn had no hearts, I had to ruff at least one to establish them.  If I ruff only one, I could lose a heart trick if the suit split 5-2.  But if I ruff 2 hearts, I could lose one or even 2 spade tricks. 

Since it was matchpoints, I took my best shot at making seven, since it seemed as if most of the field would bid this slam.  I ruffed a heart and ran the jack of spades.  I was planning to continue with the ten if the jack held.  This makes 7 whenever RHO has Kx or Kxx and hearts are 4-3.  Another line would be that if the jack holds, ruff a minor card, ruff another heart, ruff another minor card and cash the spade ace.  This makes 7 when RHO has Kx of spades and hearts split 4-3 or 5-2. but loses a spade trick when RHO has Kxx of spades.

LHO actually won the king of spades, and could have set me if he continued with a second spade, because hearts were in fact 5-2.  However, he didn't find this play, as he had no way of knowing I had this distribution.  So the slam made. 

It isn't easy to see which line of play is best at IMPs.  The odds that the line of play I chose would result in a set are roughly 15% (50% spade king offside X about 30% of a 5-2 heart split.)  If I were to ruff a heart, ruff a minor, ruff a second heart then run the jack of spades, I would lose if LHO has the king (but not Kxx) and also enough hearts so he can then play one for RHO to ruff.  If I were to instead ruff a second heart then play the jack of spades to the ace and then a second spade, I would lose to K9x of spades in either hand.  The latter seems intuitively too likely to occur so that line seems wrong.  I don't have a good idea whether the odds favor ruffing 2 hearts and running the jack, or ruffing only one and running the jack.  Perhaps a reader can comment.

Good luck! 

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Jennbridge: Decision time

I had a difficult slam decision in the first match of the Sunday swiss teams at the Marin sectional.

At favorable vulnerability, Bob, as dealer, opened 1C and I responded 1S with this hand.

♠ AJ10xxx
AKx
x
♣ 9xx

Partner rebid 2C and I had to manufacture a forcing bid, so I bid 2D.  (Some pairs play this bid as artificial and forcing so they can handle just this type of situation. We didn't have that specific agreement, but have decided to add it.)

Now Bob made a key bid:  a jump to 3S.  This should show a good hand (within the constraints of his previous bidding) with 3 card spade support.  Now I have a serious decision to make.

I review the bidding and try to picture partner's hand:  at least 6 clubs and 3 spades.  I note that I certainly have the red suits covered.   I consider whether we would be safe at the 5-level if a blackwood bid didn't elicit the response I hoped for.  I have 7 losers, but my long spades, red suit controls and partial fit in clubs convince me to move toward slam. 

In response to 4NT, Bob bids 5S, showing 2 key cards plus the queen of trumps, and I bid 6.  LHO, after asking about my diamond bid, leads the king of diamonds.

♠ KQx
Jx
Ax
♣ KQ8765

♠ AJ10xxx
AKx
x
♣ 9xx

At first glance, this slam looks pretty good. As long as there is not a terrible layout in the club suit (RHO  holding AJ10, A10x or the like) it should come home.

I win the ace of diamonds, play ace and king of hearts and ruff a heart high.  I now draw trumps and lead a club to the king with the ace winning on my right.  (I am careful to leave the diamond on the board in case the club king wins and I need a way back to my hand to lead clubs a second time.) RHO returns a diamond which I ruff.  When I eventually lead another club, the jack is played on my left as clubs break 2-2.

Plus 980 was worth 11 IMPs as the opponents didn't bid the slam.  Note Bob's jump to 3S which encouraged me to look for slam.  Be on the lookout for opportunities to make descriptive bids to help partner.

See you at the table!

Monday, April 11, 2011

Jennbridge: Scrambling at IMPs

We entered the last round of the Sunday Swiss teams at the Marin sectional in third place, close behind the first and second place teams who were playing each other.  If we could score a big win and the other match was fairly close, we could win.  We kept up our part of the bargain by a near-blitz and sored up 19 victory points.  Unfortunately one of the top two teams trounced the other so we ended up in 2nd place--1 victory point away from the win.

This hand from the last match had me worried.  At unfavorable vulnerability in first seat I passed.

♠ 10
AQx
Qxx
♣ QJxxxx

Bob opened 1S and I responded 1NT, forcing.  He now jump shifted into 3D.  I bid 3NT which ended the auction.  The ace of clubs was led.

♠ AKxxx
Kx
AKxxx
♣ 10

♠ 10
AQx
Qxx
♣ QJxxxx

I could see immediately that 6 diamonds would be a good bet.  I lost the top 2 clubs and scored up 660.    I was relieved to learn that not only did the opponents fail to bid 6D which would have caused us to lose 12 IMPs, they got to the terrible contract of 6NT which caused us to gain 13 IMPs!

Whew.  We discussed the various ways we could have bid the diamond slam, but the singleton club is the key and it is hard to diagnose.

********************

Here is a fun hand from an earlier match.

♠ KJx
KQ98xx
10xx
♣ x

None vul., in first seat I opened 2H and all passed.  I got the ace of diamonds lead and saw this:

♠ A10x
void
QJxx
♣ KQxxxx

♠ KJx
KQ98xx
10xx
♣ x

Sigh. Not too promising.  The first order of business is to false-card in the diamond suit and hope for a spade shift.  Therefore I discourage in diamonds.  (If the opponents are playing upside down signals, I play a high diamond; with standard signals I would play a low one.)  I got the spade shift I was looking for as RHO played the queen and I won the king.  I next led my club to the king which won!  Good--now I'm in the position to scramble some tricks--the only thing you can do with a hand like this. 

I ruffed a club back to my hand, led a spade to the board, ruffed another club, led another spade and ruffed a third club, as LHO started with 4.  I  now have 7 tricks and am entitled to at least 1 more heart trick.  I exited with a diamond and in the end game I actually scored 2 more hearts as the heart ace was on my right.  Plus 140 was good for 5 imps as our teammates defended 2 hearts correctly and beat it.

Look for ways to score your low trumps when you're scrambling for tricks.

See you at the table!

Monday, April 4, 2011

Jennbridge: Benefit of Balancing

It was a good day at the club as Larry Hansen and I held all the cards, bid and made nearly all our games and a slam, and posted a 71.8% game. Here is a hand we defended.

♠ KQx
Qx
J9xxx
♣ 10xx

While I was looking at this uninspiring collection, RHO opened 1D, LHO bid 1H and RHO rebid 1NT.  The bidding went pass, pass to partner who balanced with 2C.  The bidding went pass, pass again and LHO thought for a while and bid 2NT.

Partner's bid got me off to the best lead of a club.  In with a diamond, I returned a club and declarer couldn't come to 8 tricks.  Down 1 was a tie for top.  Nearly half the field scored 120 which could happen, especially if I made the unfortunate lead of a diamond.  Larry held 8-10 points including QJxxx of clubs and the ace of spades.

Don't be afraid to balance.  It can pay off in more ways than one:  you can buy the contract and improve the score, or you can get partner off to the right lead if you defend.

See you at the table!

Friday, April 1, 2011

Jennbridge: 2 on Defense

It was a good day at the club as Larry Hansen and I held all the cards, bid and made nearly all our games and a slam, and posted a 71.8% game.  Here are a couple of the few hands we defended.

1. 
♠ KQ10x
K87x
xxx
♣ xx

I passed, LHO opened 1 club, partner jumped to 2S and RHO bid 3H.  I bid 3S, LHO bid 4H and all passed.  I led the king of spades and saw this dummy:



♠ —


♣ —
♠ 6
10 9 x
A K x x
♣ A x x x x
N
WE
S
♠ —


♣ —
♠ K Q 10 x
K 8 7 x
x x x
♣ x x


Larry played the nine of spades which, looking at the singleton spade in dummy, I interpreted as a suit preference for diamonds.  I duly shifted to a diamond and declarer won the ace on the board.  He called for the 10 of hearts, partner followed with the queen and declarer won the ace.  Although I had noted the heart spots when I saw the dummy, I now inspected them even more closely.

Declarer continued with a heart to my king and, with only the 9 of hearts on the board I saw that I would be entitled to a second trump trick if I forced the dummy to ruff.  I therefore played another spade and we scored a spade, 2 hearts and a club. Beating the contract was worth 83% of the matchpoints. 

Always take note of the spots, or intermediate cards, particularly in the trump suit!

2.
♠ KQx
Qx
J9xxx
♣ 10xx

While I was looking at this uninspiring collection, RHO opened 1D, LHO bid 1H and RHO rebid 1NT.  The bidding went pass, pass to partner who balanced with 2C.  The bidding went pass, pass again and RHO thought for a while and bid 2NT.

Partner's bid got me off to the best lead of a club.  In with a diamond, I returned a club and declarer couldn't come to 8 tricks.  Down 1 was a tie for top.  Nearly half the field scored 120 which could happen, especially if I made the unfortunate lead of a diamond.  Larry held 8-10 points including QJxxx of clubs and the ace of spades.

Don't be afraid to balance.  It can pay off in more ways than one:  you can buy the contract and improve the score, or you can get partner off to the right lead if you defend.

See you at the table!