Thursday, December 17, 2009

Adventures in Cyberspace ***

I sometimes play bridge on Bridge Base Online, a free service developed by Fred Gitelman.  It is a testament to the wonders of modern technology.  You can log in and play with people all over the world at any hour of the day or night.

The players identify themselves by a tag which may or may not resemble their real names.  They also indicate their skill level, which goes from Beginner to Expert and even World Class, and the country they live in.  Many grossly exaggerate their ability.  I have found that most of those who call themselves World Class are actually intermediate-level players at best; among the "Experts", some are really expert and others aren't very good.  So if you get into a game, don't take the skill levels too seriously.
I picked up this hand the other day at a table where all four players called themselves Experts:  I was in third seat.  My partner and I agreed to play 2/1.

♠  xxx
♥  void♦  AJT9xx♣ AKQx

Partner dealt and opened 1 Spade.  This looked good, as he bid the suit where I had 3 of my 5 losers.  I bid 2 Diamonds, creating a game force.  He bid 2 Hearts, I showed spade support with 2 Spades, and he jumped to 4 Spades.  Now what? 

I didn't think RKC would be a good idea because of the void.  If I bid 5 Spades here it should ask for trump quality, but since there was one unbid suit it could be misinterpreted as asking for a club control.  So I just gambled that he had decent spades and bid 6 Spades.  LHO doubled.  Oops!  Maybe I bid too much.  If he has the AK of spades, too bad.  If he has the ace of spades and a diamond void, I could remove to 6NT which might make.  However, since all the heart honors were missing, I thought that his double could be based on the ace of hearts and a spade trick, in which case I surely didn't want to play it in no-trump.  So I decided to tough it out and pass. 

A diamond was led.  My partner looked at:

 ♠  xxx
♥  void♦  AJT9xx♣ AKQx

♠  AQTxx
♥  JTxx♦  KQ
♣  xx

How would you play it?  Hopefully you would do better than my "expert" partner. 

Wherever you win the first diamond, RHO follows.  So his double wasn't based on a diamond void.  So surely he has the king of spades and the heart ace, and likely the heart K as well.  He probably has the spade jack also, but this isn't a sure thing.  If he has KJ9x of spades, you can't make it no matter how you play it, so assume spades are 3-2.  So here are some reasonable lines:

(1) Win the ace of diamonds, play a spade to the queen, cash the ace of spades, unblock the diamonds, play a club to dummy and run the diamonds until RHO takes his spade king.  This works if spades are 3-2 no matter who has the jack.

(2) Win the ace of diamonds, play a spade to the ten, play a club to dummy, play another spade to the queen.  If RHO has KJx of spades, you make seven.  If LHO has the spade jack and RHO a stiff diamond, you go down.

(3) Win the diamond in hand, play a club to dummy and a spade to the queen.  This works out the same as (1) but gives you an extra entry in case RHO has a stiff club.

(4) Win the diamond in hand, play a club to dummy and a spade to the ten.  If this holds, play another club to dummy and repeat the finesse. 

Any of these lines would succeed as the cards lay.  What you don't want to do is choose line (5), which my partner did.  He won in hand, ruffed a heart to dummy, and played a spade to the queen.  Now he didn't have the critical third trump in dummy to stop the hearts, so he went down three!  My LHO's hand was:

♠ KJx
x♣ xxxxx.

Yes, he made a bad double.  Since he really wanted a heart lead, he shouldn't have doubled, asking for a diamond lead!  (Note that a heart lead is quite troublesome as it taps dummy.) But he was another BBO "expert", so you don't expect miracles. 

 Good luck!


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

No problem making 7 on a heart lead. Lead a spade and finesse with the 10, return to dummy with a club, lead last spade and finesse again, them draw last trump.