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!  

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Jennbridge: Phoenix Fall NABC

The Fall North American Bridge Championships start today in Phoenix!

I will be giving a talk on Losing Trick Count On Thursday, December 5 at 9 AM as one of the "celebrity speakers". Come on out!

If you can't make it to Phoenix, you can read the daily bulletins at acbl.org. They are filled with interesting hands, articles and daily results. As the tournament gets in full swing, national events will be broadcast live at Bridgebase.com.

Playing against some of the best bridge players in the world is a great way to sharpen your skills.

Have a wonderful Thanksgiving.

See you at the table!

Friday, October 18, 2013

Jennbridge: Big Club and Losing Trick Count Success

By Bob Klein

Dave Neuman and I recently played in the Santa Rosa Sectional.  Board 7 from the morning session was a solid victory for a big club system combined with losing trick count.  

Dave and I play Precision.  An opening bid of 1 Club shows a hand with at least 16 points if unbalanced or 17 if balanced.  Dave opened 1 Club with 

♠ J3
♥ AK3
K95 
♣KQJ95

The next hand came in with 2 Diamonds.  I held

♠ AQ95
QT964
void
♣ A764

I bid 2 Hearts, game forcing with 5 or more hearts.  Dave jumped to 4 Hearts, showing a minimum big club bid with heart support.  Now I saw a 5-loser hand opposite a big club opening, which is usually a 6-loser or less hand.  Eureka!  No more than 11 combined losers, good fit, void in opponent's suit.  This added up to a likely slam, so I just bid 6 Hearts.   As you can see, it made easily.  All I needed was to draw trumps and not lose a trick to the jack.  12 easy tricks, just lose a spade.  For this result we got 16 matchpoints with 17 top.  

Good luck!

Monday, October 14, 2013

Jennbridge: I Love Endplays

I can't help it.  I often think more about a part-score hand involving an endplay than the more dramatic, straightforward hands.  Here is a little gem from the first match of a sectional team game last Sunday.  Our opponents were a team of experts, and I found myself playing 1NT after LHO opened 1♠, partner doubled, RHO passed, and I bid 1NT.

♠10xxx
AKx
AKx
♣K10x

♠Q9x
10xx
Q10xx
♣Qxx

A spade lead went to the ♠K played by RHO who then paused before he exited with the Q.  The play at trick one provided a lot of information. RHO, as expected, has a singleton spade and the QJ. LHO has most, if not all, of the remaining points.

I start playing on diamonds, playing A, K, and a diamond to the 10, which holds, LHO pitching a spade.  I cash the Q and RHO follows with the J while LHO pitches a club.  As it is a team game I am focused on making my contract, and things look fine.  I have 2 hearts, 4 diamonds and should have a club trick quite soon.

Indeed, I lead a club to the ♣K and it holds.  The contract is now made, but let's have some fun.  I lead a spade to the ♠9 and LHO wins.  He exits with a heart, trying to avoid an endplay, but I win and play on spades once again.

He wins the ♠Q with the ♠A and now has to give me my 8th trick in either clubs or spades. As it turned out, he cashed the ♣A before leading to my ♣Q.

Plus 120 wasn't worth any IMPs as there was an unfortunate result at the other table, but executing endplays against experts has its own special satisfaction.

See you at the table!

Monday, September 9, 2013

Jennbridge: First Round--2nd Session

There seems to be renewed interest in the importance of getting good results in the first round of a session.  I heard several remarks emphasizing this point while at the regional in Santa Clara last week.

With a good first session behind us, we sat down for the evening session against an expert and client.  I found myself in a routine 3NT with this hand:

Sitting East (again) I opened 1NT in 4th seat, partner transferred to hearts and signed off in 3NT.  A spade was led.  How should I play the hand?

K 4 2
Q 9 5 4 3
9 7
A Q 4

A Q
J 8
K Q 8 5
K 10 9 8 2

How can I get more than the obvious number of tricks? Maybe I could get some extra tricks in hearts.  With that in mind I led a club to the queen and returned a heart from the board.  The expert on my right followed with the 10 and my LHO was in.  Now he started thinking.

He had seen me win the spade lead with the queen so he knew I had 3 tricks in spades.  My club queen had held so he knew I had club tricks.  I was working on hearts so I probably had good hearts.  He therefore switched to diamonds--a result that I didn't mind at all.

A funny thing happened on the play of the diamonds.

Board 31
South Deals
N-S Vul
J 10 6 5
10
A 6 4 3 2
J 5 3
K 4 2
Q 9 5 4 3
9 7
A Q 4

N
W
E
S

A Q
J 8
K Q 8 5
K 10 9 8 2

9 8 7 3
A K 7 6 2
J 10
7 6

He led the jack and RHO won the ace and continued the suit!  Now the 10 fell and my remaining diamonds were good!  It was an easy matter to cash out for 11 tricks.

Plus 460 was worth 16 out of 17 matchpoints--a 3-way tie for top.

**
Board 32
West Deals
E-W Vul
A K 9
A 9 8 4 3
Q 7
K Q 3
J 10 4 2
Q 10 7
J 5
J 10 9 6

N
W
E
S

Q 8 6 5 3
J 5 2
A 8 3
7 2

7
K 6
K 10 9 6 4 2
A 8 5 4

On the second board of the round North (RHO) was in 3NT and I led a 4th best spade.  She won with the ace and led the Q from her hand.  I ducked!  Now look what happened.

She now had to decide how to play the diamonds.  Who had the ace?  After thinking about it for a while she led a diamond to the 10!  My partner won the jack and cleared the spades.  Now she couldn't really come to 9 tricks.  When I got in with the A, I cashed the spades for a one trick set.

Plus 50 was worth 13 of 17 matchpoints.

**
Board 33
North Deals
None Vul
J 9 5 3 2
J 3
K 8
Q 9 8 3
Q 10 8
10 9 6 5
10 9 7 6
A J

N
W
E
S

A 4
A K Q 7
A Q 4 3 2
10 7

K 7 6
8 4 2
J 5
K 6 5 4 2

 Holding the East hand I opened 2NT.  Although our convention card is marked "20-21", this fine hand (5-card suit, all prime cards) was easily worth an upgrade.

After a puppet Stayman sequence (3♣, 3, 3♠, 4) we settled in 4.  A heart was led and I played the 10 from the board, hoping that it was covered as I might need an extra dummy entry. I drew trump ending on the board and took the diamond finesse which won.  The diamond honors then tumbled down together and  I cashed the diamonds and came back to my hand with the ♠A to pitch my losing club from the board on the long diamond in my hand.  The only trick lost was a spade. 

Plus 480 was worth 12 of 17 matchpoints. Our session was off to a good start.

See you at the table!

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Jennbridge: The Last Round

Our first session had been going pretty well as we sat down for the last round. Larry and I had been knocked out of the main event and decided to play in the senior pairs in order to go home early and enjoy what was left of the holiday weekend.

Partner, sitting East, dealt and opened 1♣, and I liked my hand.

A Q 10 9 4 3
J 9 4
A Q 8 4

I responded 1♠.  I was surprised to hear his rebid of 2, a reverse!  I rebid 2♠, forcing, showing a decent hand with spade length. Partner now bid 3♠.

It was a near-certainty that we were headed for slam in either spades or diamonds, but I needed to check on the heart suit (to be sure we weren't off 2 quick losers) by starting a cuebidding sequence.  I bid 4 and Larry responded 4.

Satisfied about hearts, I now bid 4NT, RKC, and he answered 5, presumably showing 3 keycards.  Looking for bigger things (I had a 5 loser hand opposite his reverse) I marched on by bidding 5NT.  This bid asks for specific kings but also gives partner the option of jumping to a grand slam with a hand he considers suitable.  He responded 5, showing the diamond king, but not the club king and it was decision time.

I was now sure that he held the king of spades, ace of hearts, king of diamonds and ace of clubs.  Was this enough for a grand slam, and if so, in what suit?  I decided that the odds were good enough (in this situation) to bid the grand and thought that perhaps I could offer him a choice of slams by bidding 7.  This would be a surprise, but he would then have the option of passing or bidding 7♠.

I jumped to 7 and he passed.  South (luckily) led a club.

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

N
W
E
S

K 6
A
K J 10 3
A Q J 10 7 3

J 5 2
Q 10 8 7 6 2
9 6 5 2

Partner pitched 2 hearts on the ace and queen of clubs and frowned when he laid down the K and South showed out.  He nevertheless thought he had chances as long as the hand with the long diamonds held at least 2 spades, so he started running spades.  When North ruffed in, he simply overruffed and claimed.

Plus 2140 was, not surprisingly, a cold top.

**This hand was still warm when South dealt and opened 3 on the next (penultimate) board.   Larry, my partner, doubled and I bid 3 with my weak hand.  South passed and Larry jumped to 6!

"I've gotta see this"! I quipped as a club was led and partner began tabling the dummy.

Board 11
South Deals
None Vul
10 7 3
10 8
Q 10 4
10 9 7 5 2
A Q 9
A K J 2
A 3
A K Q 8

N
W
E
S

8 6 5 2
Q 9 7 5 3
J
J 6 3

K J 4
6 4
K 9 8 7 6 5 2
4

"I see what you mean" I thought as I gazed at the magnificent 27 point powerhouse.

A club was led and the spade suit caught my eye.  Ahh...I should be able to strip the hand and play a spade to the 9--endplaying my RHO.  A classic, textbook endplay!

I drew trumps in 2 rounds, cashed the clubs, then played the diamond ace and ruffed a diamond.  Now I was in my hand for the big moment.  The plan was to lead a spade and cover whatever card the second hand played. When South played low, I inserted the 9 and North was well and truly endplayed.

He folded his cards and scored up 980 for us--worth 14 out of 17 matchpoints.

** On the final board partner (West) dealt and opened 1♣.  I bid 1♠ and he raised to 2♠. Looking at 8 1/2 losers as East, I elected to pass.


Board 12
West Deals
N-S Vul
6 5
A J 10 6 4
9 2
10 9 5 3
A Q 9 8
9 7 5 2
A 3
K J 4

N
W
E
S

10 7 4 3
Q 8 3
K 7 5 4
A 2

K J 2
K
Q J 10 8 6
Q 8 7 6

South now made an unexpected balancing double of 3. This was passed around to me and I doubled.

It was not too difficult to take 6 tricks on defense (2 diamonds, 2 clubs and 2 spades) and we beat it two tricks for a score of plus 500.  Apparently we can make 4♠ (nonvulnerable) but only one pair bid it.

The terrific scores of the last round catapulted us to the top of our section and left us well-poised for the evening session.

See you at the table!

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Jennbridge: Poker, Florida bridge & Losing Trick Count

Back after a summer hiatus. Catching up with my correspondence, I have heard from Florida bridge teachers, received inquiries on losing trick count and have even heard from poker players!

**Professional poker has seen tremendous growth over the last decade.  Several of the game's current stars have come to poker from other mind sports such as Bridge and Chess. Here is a Carbon Poker Review about a reputable poker site open to everyone.
 
**I love those Florida bridge teachers! They're quite enthusiastic about losing trick account. Here are a couple of recent comments:

I would love to use your material. After your series appeared in the Bridge Bulletin, my partner and I used the principles and greatly improved our bidding. I teach losing trick count with my beginners because I believe it gives them the tools necessary to determine those tricky good 9 and 10 point hands. Most catch on.

I was delighted with your articles on losing trick count. Do you live anywhere close to Florida? Do you conduct seminars yourself?

 ** I have been asked about the different versions of losing trick count floating around.  All I can really say is that the system I use is simple and it works!  At the table, in the heat of battle, we need a system that is quick and easy to apply--as well as one that improves bidding accuracy.

Here is an example.  What do you respond with this hand when partner opens 1♠?

♠J1094
K2
10
♣AJ10865

You go into evaluation mode. At first glance, it is a nice-looking hand, but has only 9 high card points.  You pause and count your losers.

The hand has only 7 losers! (3 in spades, 1 in hearts, 1 in diamonds and 2 in clubs)  This makes the hand worth a game force opposite partner's 1♠ opening.    That decided, you think about your possible bids and eventually determine that your singleton diamond may be the feature of greatest interest to partner.  Accordingly, you jump to 4, a splinter bid showing shortness in diamonds, along with spade support.

Partner, holding the following hand, is delighted with this information, as the only weakness in his hand is diamonds.

♠AKQ85
AQ963
94
♣7

Partner's powerful 4 1/2 loser hand is more than suitable for slam and, after checking for aces with blackwood, the fine contract of 6♠ is reached.

♠J1094
K2
10
♣AJ10865

♠AKQ85
AQ963
94
♣7

It would be hard to find a line of play where this slam would not make.  This great 24-point slam is easy to bid when you use losing trick count!

Hope you're having a great summer--would love to hear from you with comments or questions!
My email address: jennife574@aol.com

See you at the table!

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Jennbridge: Leap of Faith

I picked up this wonderful collection this afternoon at the club:

S   Axxxx
H  AKxxx
D  none
C  AKx

My partner, Erwin Linzner, and I were playing my version of Precision, a big club system.  I dealt and opened it 1 Club, which shows at least 16 points when the hand is unbalanced.  Erwin responded 1 Diamond, which shows any hand with less than 8 points.  I only had 4 losers, but with no established fit there was no sure route to game opposite a weak hand, so I contented myself with a rebid of 1 Spade, which was not forcing.  Erwin surprised me with a rebid of 2 Hearts.  Now my hand became huge.  His rebid promised at least 5 hearts, probably less than 3 spades and a decent hand, probably 5-7 points.

I thought about how the hand would play in hearts.  The only possible losers were a spade and a club.  He could, if necessary, ruff out all of my spades.  If he started with a doubleton, the long spades should set up and provide a discard for a club loser if he had one.  With at least 5 hearts and a doubleton spade, he was unlikely to hold as many as 4 clubs since the opponents would have at least 11 diamonds and neither opponent could bid them.  If he started with a singleton or void in spades, I could envision 12 tricks on a cross-ruff: 5 hearts in my hand, 2 clubs, the ace of spades and 4 ruffs in his hand or the fifth spade setting up.  All things considered, it seemed as if 6 Hearts should have a good chance, so I just bid it.

Erwin had a suitable hand:

S  xx
H Qxxxx
D  Kxxx
C  xx

The play was routine.  Erwin drew trumps in 2 rounds, played ace and a spade.  When both followed, he claimed, saying he would ruff out the spades and his club loser and set up the fifth spade for his 12th trick.

The hand was played 9 times and nobody else bid the slam.  One pair ended in 1 Spade, 2 didn't even get to game and played in a heart partial, and the rest bid 4 or 5 Hearts.

Good luck!

Monday, July 1, 2013

Jennbridge: Losing Trick Count now in Japanese

Losing Trick Count, Vol. II is now available in Japanese!




It was translated by a lovely woman who plays bridge and does translation work and travels between Japan and her home in New York--Yoshiko Nishimura Prager.

Losing Trick Count, Vol. II contains the six Bridge Bulletin articles on the subject, including how to use losing trick count in notrump auctions.  I explain how to use it effectively in Stayman and transfer auctions.

Additional material includes how to use losing trick count with Bergen raises, two-club opening bids and Drury, among other things.To order your copy (in English), click on the PayPal button on this site.  For questions, and for information on ordering the booklet in Japanese, e-mail me at Jennife574@aol.com.

Hope you're having a great summer!

See you at the table!

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Jennbridge: Losing Trick Count Hands From Readers

I received some correspondence on losing trick count this week from readers. 

* A bridge teacher from Florida wrote:
Yesterday, my partner and I played bridge.  One hand I held had only 12 HCP but 6 losers so I went to game, making 5.  Another hand I held had 13 HCP but 7 losers so when my partner did a Bergen limit raise, I purposely didn't go to game and bid 3.  My partner liked her very nice 11 points and took me to game.  Down 1.  I was SOLD on LTC!

She ordered a teacher package and will be ordering copies of Losing Trick Count for her students.

* Next is a question from someone who attended a class I taught last week in Sonoma on Losing Trick Count.

I saw this hand in the Press Dem today and have a question about bidding and Losing Trick Count. This is a typical problem for me.
 

North (dealer)
Q983
AJ
QJ1094
53

South
AJ1074
7
A83
K1084


West: K6, KQ1094, K5, A762
 
Bidding: N    E    S   W
              P    P    1S  2H
             3S   P     4S

If I'm South, I think about losing trick count. South has 7 losers, North has 8 losers when saying 3S.  So I may not go to 4S. Where am I going wrong? It should be in 4S and made 4S. 


My response: There are many factors involved with this hand.

1.  If you use the LTC adjustments, the South hand can be upgraded to a 6 loser hand.
2.  The North hand is close to a 7- loser hand:  7 1/2losers,
3.  The distribution is such that game makes, but with different distribution, it would not.

In summary, consider all of the factors before making your decision.  When close, look at your aces and the AJ10 combination. The aces can be upgraded and so can the AJ10 combination.  These LTC adjustments are set forth in Losing Trick Count, Vol. II, on pages 17 and 27.

See you at the table!

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Jennbridge: Falling Queens

I found myself in a slam with these cards yesterday (board 21):

♠AK10xx
Kxx
10xxxx
♣void

♠J
AJ1082  
A9x
♣AKJx

I had dealt and opened 1.  Partner, Larry H.,  bid 1NT and I showed my strength with a jump shift to 3♣.  Larry now bided time with a rebid of 3.  I bid 4 and he surprised me with a bid of 4♠.

While I wasn't entirely sure what was going on, partner was sending me the message that he liked his hand and he had a spade control, undoubtedly the ace.  I liked my hand rich with aces, so bid 4NT.  He bid 5, showing two controls without the trump queen and I bid 6.  The K was led.

♠AK10xx
Kxx
10xxxx
♣void

♠J
AJ1082  
A9x
♣AKJx

It looked like there was a lot of work to do.  I probably had a diamond loser and I needed to pick up the hearts.  During the auction RHO had asked more than one question about Larry's 4♠ cuebid so I was concerned that spades were splitting badly.

With no clear way forward, I started on clubs.  I played the ace, king (pitching diamonds) and a small club to ruff on the board and was pleased to see the queen fall on my left on the third round.  Not yet willing to tackle the hearts, I tried spades to see what I could learn.  I played the ace, king of spades (pitching a diamond) and another spade to ruff and was delighted to see the queen of spades fall third on my right!

Now the hand was coming together.

♠10x
Kx
10x
♣void


AJ108
x
♣J

If the hearts broke no worse than 3-2, I would make it by pitching my last diamond on the 10 of spades.  I therefore hopefully cashed the ace of hearts and when I played a heart to the king, the queen of hearts fell on my right!  I now could not only discard my last diamond on the 10 of spades but could return to my hand to draw the last trump and claim.

Plus 1460 was worth all the matchpoints.  Only one other pair bid the slam and they made only 6.

Sometimes the hand reveals its secrets as you play it out.  In this case the Bridge Gods were smiling on me as all of the missing enemy queens met their demise.

See you at the table!

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Jennbridge: Ron Smith blog

Great news for bridge enthusiasts!  Ron Smith, the well known and entertaining San Francisco bridge professional and musician, has started writing a bridge blog.  He has decades of great stories so it should be quite fun.  I'm also pleased to report that he features this blog and the Losing Trick Count booklets as he is a big fan of losing trick count.  Here's the link to Ron's blog:

http://us4.campaign-archive2.com/?u=6a1cd6ff9387d4623b3bfac81&id=a2e0b0e7a5&e=4678m9f0b42

A hand from the club yesterday.  Partner opens 1♣ and I hold:

♠AJ9
KJ109x
Kxx
♣Jx

I respond 1 and he reverses into 2.  I bid 2NT, forcing, showing values as well as a spade stopper, and he raises to 3NT.  A diamond is led.

♠xx
AQ
AQJx
♣Axxxx

♠AJ9
KJ109x
Kxx
♣Jx

Clearly I have 11 tricks, but as we are playing matchpoints, I look for that extra trick.  There are chances for an extra trick in spades so I win the diamond on the board and lead a spade to the 9.  The king wins!  This is good news because later I will lead a spade to the jack trying for my 12th trick.  A heart is returned and eventually I do score my 12th trick when jack of spades wins.

Plus 490 was an 87.5% board.  Always be on the lookout for that extra trick in pair games.  Leading twice toward the AJ9 is always worth a try.

See you at the table!

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Jennbridge: More Losing Trick Count hands

We had a nice turnout at the Santa Rosa sectional recently.  Good bridge and good food! Here are a couple of hands I liked--one from the pair game and one from the team game.

Bd. 4, March 23, Second session, partner Erwin Linzner.
Erwin opened 1 and I responded 1♠ with this hand:

♠KQ987
A1082  
9
♣KQ7

I was pleased and surprised when Erwin then jumped to 3♠.  With my big hand I immediately bid 4NT, RKC, and learned that Erwin held 3 aces.  I bid 6♠ and partner laid down a nice dummy:

♠A1053
7
AQ64
♣AJ84

♠KQ987
A1082  
9
♣KQ7

The Kwas led and I saw that I could make 7 if I ruffed two hearts.  The 4th heart would go on a club.  Spades broke 2-2 and the play went as I envisioned.  

The hand seemed fairly routine so I was surprised to get 13 out of 17 matchpoints. Looking at the loser count, Erwin's hand has 6 1/2 losers, but deducting 1/2 loser for each ace brings the loser count down to 5.  This clearly makes it worth a jump raise.  My hand also has 5 losers, so it is not surprising that we made all the tricks. (Adding our losers together equals 10 and subtracting them from 24 equals 14, the number of tricks we can expect to make.  Gee--that would really be a top!)

2.  Playing in the Sunday team game with Larry Hansen, I held this hand in 4th seat and there were 3 passes to me. 

♠K97643
75
AK864
♣void

Only 10 high card points, but another powerful hand in terms of loser count:  5 losers.  I opened 1♠, LHO bid 2♣ and partner bid 2♠.  RHO bid 3♣ and I jumped to game.

Partner's hand was suitable and I ended up making 450 when the opponents failed to cash their 2 heart tricks.

♠QJ10
964
Q53
♣A632

♠K97643
75
AK864
♣void

When you're not sure what to bid, count your losers.  The proper use of losing trick count will make your decisions easier and guide you to the correct contract more often than not.

See you at the table!

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Jennbridge: Kibitz the 2013 Vanderbilt

From the March 19 Daily Bulletin at the Spring NABC in St. Louis:
The Vanderbilt Knockout Teams gets into full swing today after 14 squads did battle on Monday for10 slots to fill out the round of 64. The field will be cut in half each day through Sunday, when the two finalists will face off for the championship.

Bridge Base starts showing the Vanderbilt online today and will be great viewing through Sunday.  Good way to improve your game! Go to: www.bridgebase.com.

Check out the NABC Daily Bulletins for results and interesting stories and hands: 
http://www.acbl.org/nabc/index.php?a=2013&b=Spring&c=daily_bulletins

See you at the table!

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Jennbridge: Losing Trick Count update 2013

Here's a recent comment on losing trick count from a friend and bridge teacher in Mississippi.

Last week I was playing w Allan Siebert & I underbid 4 hands. I use Bergen points, but had gotten lazy in applying LTC as well. Afterwards, when I applied LTC, it said to bid on all 4. So, I re-read your booklet & ordered 5 more for partners. I now put Jenn’s LTC on my convention cards to remember to use it. Thanks, Rick

Another bridge teacher, this one from Florida, getting ready to teach a seminar on LTC with my materials recently sent me this email:  I have just started to go through the LTC seminar materials. I am going to use this in my local club lessons. My question had to do with a response from an expert who does not consider LTC a proper hand evaluation method.  How does the expert population look at LTC? I need some reasons to convince my partner to use this evaluation method. Thanks for your help.

My response:  LTC is well accepted among expert tournament players.  Here are two comments from well known experts from the back of my booklet, Losing Trick Count, Vol. II:

It’s about time bridge players learn something besides point counting!
Ron Smith, San Francisco, bridge professional, ACBL Grand Life Master 
Average players can compete against experts if they understand and use losing trick count!
Gene Simpson, bridge professional, ACBL Grand Life Master
**********************************

Baron Barclay News

Jennbridge has had a lot of visitors due to Losing Trick Count and Losing Trick Count Vol. II being featured in the current edition of the Baron Barclay Bridge Supply catalog and in a recent Baron Barclay email to customers.  Hello to all and thanks for stopping by!  Feel free to email me your losing trick count bidding questions.

***********************
On a Personal Note: All of my partners, as well as the folks I mentor, are strong adherents of losing trick count.  Many of them also play it with Bergen raises as suggested in my booklet.  It is a pleasure to conduct intelligent, not to mention accurate, bidding sequences with them, and I'd like to thank them as well!

See you at the table!

Friday, March 1, 2013

Jennbridge: LTC and Splinters - A Powerful Combination

By Bob Klein.
I cannot overemphasize the value of splinter bids in slam bidding, particularly when combined with judicious use of Losing Trick Count.  Here are two spectacular successes I had recently.

Hand A.

In a pair game at the recent regional in Sacramento playing with Dave Neuman, I held, in first seat, neither side vulnerable:

♠ void
 Jxxx
 Axxxxx
♣ Axx

I thought it was a bit of  stretch to open it, so I passed.  LHO passed and Dave, in third seat, opened 1 Heart.  RHO passed.  Now, this marginal opening bid had turned into a monster!  First-round control of all side suits, 4-card trump support, and only 6 losers using the adjusted losing trick count where you subtract a half-loser for each ace when there are no queens.  I decided that the hand was worth a game force, so I made a splinter bid of 3 Spades.  Dave now bid 4NT, RKC.  I had the perfect hand to show that the splinter was a void by bidding 5NT, which shows 2 keycards and a useful void.  This hit the jackpot as Dave jumped to 7 Hearts.

The two hands combined were:

♠  void
  Jxxx
♦  Axxxxx
♣ Axx

♠  Txxx
♥  AKQxxx
♦  KQ
♣  K

The grand slam came home easily.  Hearts were 3-0 but diamonds were 3-2.

Note how my splinter bid improved the value of Dave's hand.  Once he knew that I had 4 hearts and no more than 1 spade, he could envision ruffing three spades in dummy or discarding them if I had any aces. Moreover, he could envision me holding the 2 minor suit aces since I couldn't have much else to justify a game force opposite  third-seat opening bid.

Nobody else in the field bid the grand slam.  Only one other pair even got to six.

Hand B

In a recent team game at the club, I picked up this hand:

♠ QTxx
 x
Axx
♣ Kxxxx

My partner, Joanne Pransky, dealt and opened 1 Spade.  I saw that while the hand had only 9 HCP, it had only 7 losers, decent 4-card support and prime controls in the side suits.  So I forced to game with a splinter bid of 4 Hearts.   Joanne bid 4NT, I bid 5 Diamonds to show one keycard (we play 0314), she bid 5 Hearts, asking if I had the queen of spades, I bid 6 Clubs, showing her the queen and the club king, and she bid 7 Spades.

The two hands were

♠ QTxx
 x
Axx
♣ Kxxxx

♠ AKJxx
♥ Axxx
 x
♣ AQx


The grand slam came home easily.  My counterpart at the other table chose to treat it as a limit raise and  bid 3 Diamonds, showing a 4-card limit raise (Bergen), and they only got to six, so we won 13 IMPs for the only swing in a 6-board swiss match.

Good luck!