Saturday, January 29, 2011

Jennbridge: A Trump Coup

Here is a fun hand from the San Francisco sectional a couple of weeks ago.  My partner was Jo Ginsberg.  As dealer at unfavorable vul., I opened two spades:

♠ AQ10976
♣ J8

LHO doubled and everyone passed!  I had a little anxiety as the ace of  clubs was led and the dummy was put down:

♠ 85
♣ 754

♠ AQ10976
♣ J8

A quick assessment revealed that I only had 4 quick losers and the spades were very good--only missing the
king and jack.  The king and queen of clubs followed as RHO pitched a low diamond (ostensibly encouraging) and I ruffed.

Hoping that LHO had both diamond honors I led a diamond to the 10 and it held.  I followed this with the 5 of spades to the 6 in my hand and LHO showed out.  Not surprisingly, RHO started with KJxxx of spades.

I led another diamond and LHO played the jack and I won the queen, RHO following again.  It looks like diamonds are 3-3.  I then played the 8 of spades from the board and let it hold.  What now?

I have won 5 tricks and here are the remaining cards:


♠ AQ10

I decided to lead a heart from the board and, to my surprise, RHO won the king and cashed the ace before he continued with another heart which I ruffed.  I now played my last diamond, and as RHO was down to all trumps, he had to ruff and lead a spade into my AQ tenace!  Plus 670 was worth 21 out of 25 matchpoints.

Thinking about the hand later, I started wondering whether I really needed to risk the double finesse in diamonds and also whether they could actually beat me.  Here is the entire hand:

SF sectional

Board 6
East Deals
E-W Vul
♠ K J 4 3 2
A K 10
5 3 2
♣ Q 3
♠ 8 5
9 6 4 3
A Q 10 9
♣ 7 5 4
♠ A Q 10 9 7 6
Q 8
8 7 6
♣ J 8
♠ —
J 7 5 2
K J 4
♣ A K 10 9 6 2
2 ♠Dbl
2 ♠ x by East

As it turns out, I can always take 6 spade tricks as long as I don't do anything silly like play a high honor prematurely.  I can always take 2 diamond tricks as well, bringing the total to 8.  It is important to pay some attention to the timing, playing two rounds of spades before exiting with a red card.  But, interestingly, if these precautions are taken, the contract is cold.

The contract can be made even if the defenders manage to cash their 4 winners before I ruff in.  In that case, after ruffing in at trick 5 and playing two rounds of diamonds and two rounds of spades, as described, a heart can be led from the board to ruff and continue to shorten my trumps--the key to executing a trump coup. This leads to the same ending as above:  exit with the last diamond which RHO will ruff perforce, and win the last 2 tricks with the AQ of spades.

One last scenario:  If the opponents cash their 4 winners and shift to a diamond, the timing for the trump coup will be destroyed, but I'll be able to take 3 diamond tricks and 5 trump tricks--losing a trump trick at the end. 

See you at the table!

Friday, January 14, 2011

Endplay + avoidance play ****

I found myself in a tough contract today at matchpoints.  None vul., partner opened 1H and I bid 1NT, forcing, bypassing my 4 card spade suit because we were playing Flannery.  He now bid 2C.  What is your call?

♠ K10xx
♣ AJ98x

I counted my points and counted my losers and considered the merits of 3 clubs.  I finally settled on 2 spades, artificial, showing a good club raise.  Partner now jumped to 3NT.  A diamond was led.

♠ xx
♣ Kxxx

♠ K10xx
♣ AJ98x

A lot of work to do.  RHO won the ace of diamonds and returned a diamond, LHO showing out and pitching an encouraging spade.  The good news is I have a second diamond stopper; the bad news is I can't count to 9 tricks.  The other bad news is that if I let RHO in with a diamond, he'll lead a spade through my K10.  What to do?

I've got to get a couple of tricks in hearts, so I play the ace and the queen, LHO winning.  On the ace and queen of hearts I pitch spades.  I can now count 8 tricks if I can get 5 clubs.  LHO does my work for me and returns a club to the queen and my ace.  I play another round of clubs and RHO pitches a heart.

These cards remain:

♠ xx

♣ Kx

♠ K10
♣ J9x

I still can't let RHO in the lead, so I have to hope that I can endplay LHO and force a spade lead.  I therefore cash another club (extracting the last club from LHO) and the jack of hearts and lead the 4th round of hearts, hoping...

Yes! RHO shows out and LHO wins and has only spades left.  I therefore score my spade king and fifth club for 9 tricks. (5 clubs, 1 diamond, 2 hearts and 1 spade).

RHO held:  Qx/9xxx/Axxxxx/Q
LHO held:  AJxxx/K10xx/x/10xx

Plus 400 was worth 7 out of 8 matchpoints.  Maybe next time I'll bid 3 clubs--but then there wouldn't be a story.

See you at the table!

Jennbridge: Two from Monterey

I had a successful tournament in Monterey last week.  I won a Bracket 1 KO with Dave Neuman, Larry Hansen and Erwin Linzner, came in second in another Bracket 1 KO with Jenn, Ellen Anten and Steve Gross, and won the Fast Pairs with Jenn on the final day.  Here are one hand from the first KO and one from the Fast Pairs.

The first one, from the KO, illustrates the importance of bidding vulnerable games in IMPs.  Dave was in third seat, both sides vulnerable.  I dealt and passed, and so did his RHO.  He looked at

♠  x
♥  AQxxx
♦  AKxxx
♣  xx

He opened 1 Heart.  I responded 1 Spade, which showed a 5-card suit since we play Flannery.  He rebid 2 Diamonds, which I raised to 3 Diamonds.  Now what?

Dave decided to jump to 5 Diamonds even though I was a passed hand.  Although the hand had only 13 HCP, it only had 5 losers.  There are two key principles at work here:  5-5 come alive, and bid your games at teams. 

LHO led the ace of clubs, and Dave looked at:

♠  AQTxx
♥  xx 
♦  Qxxx
♣  xx

♠  x
♥  AQxxx
♦  AKxxx
♣  xx

After the opponents cashed two high clubs, they shifted to a spade.  Now while this contract isn't cold by any means, the IMP odds favor bidding it.  You need the king of hearts onside, plus either (1) 2-2 diamonds and no worse than 4-2 hearts, or (2) 3-3 hearts and no worse than 3-1 diamonds.  In the first case, you can draw trumps, finesse the hearts, and ruff two hearts in dummy to set up the fifth one.  In the second case, you draw 2 trumps, finesse the hearts, cash the third trump and the ace of hearts, and ruff one heart in dummy to set up the suit.  Case (2) actually came in, so we were +600 for a 10-IMP win, which we needed as we won the match by only 4 IMPs.

The second hand, from the Fast Pairs, illustrates that sometimes a psychic bid backfires.  With neither side vulnerable, my LHO held, in third seat:

♠  AJ653
♥  63
♦  J9876
♣  J

His partner opened 2 Spades, weak.  I doubled.  Now, looking at this hand, he saw that he had virtually no defense against either hearts or clubs, so he had to do something to get in our way.  Usually, the best approach here is to take up a lot of bidding space by raising to 4 Spades, or even 5 or 6 Spades, making it hard for the opponents to exchange information and find out that they are cold for slam.  I think that if I held this hand, I would have just bid 6 Spades, an advance save.  What he did was try and confuse the issue by bidding 3 Hearts!  This might have worked, but here it backfired.  Jenn, in fourth seat with

♠  87
♦  54
♣  AKQ865

came in with 4 Clubs, which was passed to me.  I was dealt this 3-loser monster:

♠  void
♥  AKQT52
♣  T93

I knew that the opponents had to have a lot of spades, and was virtually certain that my LHO didn't really have hearts.  So I took his bid as an admission of weakness and an attempt to confuse the issue.  Jenn's bid of 4 Clubs enabled me to determine that she would be covering most if not all of my losers, so I just closed my eyes and jumped to 6 Hearts!  We made 7 easily for +1010 and 12.5 out of 15 matchpoints.

Good luck!

Monday, January 10, 2011

Jennbridge: An Unexpected Bonus

Enroute to a win in the Fast Pairs at the Monterey Regional yesterday, I made a bid which turned out well in an unexpected manner.

At favorable vul., Bob opened 1NT, 14-16, and I held:

♠ 6542
♣ 6

The field was weak and there were more mistakes than usual, perhaps due to the pressure of playing a little faster than normal.  Things were going pretty well and I decided to bid Stayman.  When partner bid 2 diamonds, I passed and hoped for the best.

But wait!  LHO balanced with 2 hearts and we all passed.  Maybe she didn't comprehend the fact that I almost certainly had 4 hearts, but the various inferences were not lost on my partner.  Knowing that I had to be short in clubs, he didn't waste any time leading the ace of clubs!

♠ 6542
♣ 6

♠ K97
♣ A9732

He continued with the deuce of clubs (suit preference for lower ranking suit--in this case, diamonds) which I ruffed.  I returned a diamond to his ace and ruffed the club return.  I then cashed one of my diamond honors and we still were due the ace of hearts for 6 tricks and plus 100.  This netted us 14 out of 15 matchpoints as we really couldn't make anything our way.

Declarer (East) held QJ10/KQJ103/75/Q104
West held A83/42/J1084/KJ85

Note that if I hadn't bid, East probably would have balanced with 2 hearts anyway.  This would almost certainly have made as we wouldn't have had a roadmap to the killing defense!

See you at the table!

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Jennbridge: Plays and Counterplays

I played some imp pairs online the other night with some expert friends.  Here is the hand that we are still talking about:

♠ xx
♣ J10xxxx

LHO opened 3H, partner doubled, RHO passed and I bid 4C which partner raised to 5.  The king of hearts was led.

♠ AKx
♣ AQ9

♠ xx
♣ J10xxxx

I won the ace and studied the hand.  I wasn't comfortable trying to get to my hand to take a club finesse, and since RHO was likely to hold the king anyway, I played the ace of clubs.  LHO showed out.

The only feasible way to make the hand was if RHO had no more hearts, as was likely on the bidding.  I therefore continued clubs, RHO winning the third round of clubs and returning a club.  So far, so good.  Now it was time to start the diamonds. 

I played the ace and then the 10 of diamonds, relieved when LHO did not win the king and cash a heart.  I let the diamond ride to the jack and a spade was returned.  Now I am in control.  With the diamond king on my right and my good diamond spots, the diamonds will be easy to set up whether RHO started with KJx or KJxx.  I play a diamond from board, the king comes up on my right and I ruff it.  Now I have my second spade entry to my good diamonds and am able to pitch my two losing hearts. 

Plus 600 was worth quite a few imps.

Our post-game discussion has revolved around how the play could have/should have proceeded.  First, the defense:  When RHO wins the club king, holding up until the third round (best), he should then return a spade.  This attacks my entries to the board which I need in order to both set up and then run my diamonds.  If a spade is returned, I can play two rounds of diamonds, but will need to use my second spade entry to set them up with a ruff.  Now they are good but I can't get to them so I have to lose two hearts and go down.

Next, the play:  After the ace of clubs play reveals that LHO has none, it is best to start on diamonds immediately so as not to risk my dummy entries being attacked.  The combination of the Q9 of clubs left on the board would give me flexibility in my dummy entries so as not to risk coming up short.

Happy New Year--sure hope it's warm in Monterey!

See you at the table!