Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Jennbridge: A Tough Hand from the Vanderbilt Semifinals

Watching the Vanderbilt on BBO is always interesting.  It is possible to see great plays and also amazing blunders by the top experts playing in these matches.  In the finals, amazingly, there was a hand where both pairs bid to a grand slam missing the ace of trumps!  I won't write about that hand, which no doubt will be discussed in all the bridge magazines. 

Here is a hand from the semifinals that presented a challenge in both bidding and play.  At the table I was watching, Michael Kamil held it.  In third seat, he held::

♣ QJT985

Partner dealt and opened 1 Heart.  He replied 1 Spade.  Partner now jump shifted to 3 Diamonds.  What do you bid?  Kamil made the interesting bid of 5 Spades.  This bid was likely never discussed, but a likely meaning is that he is asking partner to bid slam if he has a control in clubs, the unbid suit.   Partner duly bid 6 Spades with:

♠ void
♣ A7

♣ QJT985

This auction cried out for a club lead, which was duly made.  Now, how should he play it? 

There are three possible lines:  (1) duck; (2) win the ace and play another club; (3) win the ace, ruff a red card and draw trumps, then knock out the king of clubs.

If you try line (3), you succeed whenever spades are 4-3.  You can draw trump in 4 rounds, play a low club to knock out the king, and can ruff a red card and use the long clubs.  You also succeed if RHO has the stiff king of clubs when spades are 5-2.  However, if spades are 5-2 and the king of clubs doesn't fall, you cannot  get back to your hand to use the clubs because you will have used all your trumps.

If you try line (1), you succeed whenever LHO has the king of clubs, whether spades are 4-3 or 5-2.  You will also succeed when RHO has Kx or Kxx of clubs when spades are 5-2.  This line loses when the opening lead is a singleton, as you will go down immediately with a ruff.  If so, and trumps are 4-3, then line (3) would succeed while this line fails.

Line (2) is inferior to either of the other lines, since you will go down whenever either hand holds Kxx no matter how spades split. 

It is hard in the heat of battle to calculate the odds here.  Kamil actually chose (3), unwilling to go down right away, and went down when the full deal was:  

Vanderbilt Semifinals

North Deals
None Vul
♠ —
A Q 10 7 6 5
A Q 10 9 8
♣ A 7
♠ 5 2
4 2
K J 7 6 3 2
♣ 6 3 2
♠ 9 7 6 4 3
K 9 8 3
5 4
♣ K 4
♠ A K Q J 10 8

♣ Q J 10 9 8 5
1 Pass1 ♠
Pass3 Pass5 ♠
Pass6 ♠
6 ♠ by South

If he had chosen either (1) or (2), he would have succeeded. 

At the other table, Geoff Hampson reached 6 Spades on a different auction and got a heart lead.   On this lead, the play was easy.  He ducked the heart, losing to the king, and eventually was able to draw trumps and throw all his losing clubs on dummy's hearts and ace of diamonds. 

Good luck!

Friday, March 18, 2011

Jennbridge: Great Plays

We kibitz the Vanderbilt in order to "be there" when great plays take place. Did you see this hand last night?

Vanderbilt round of 16

Board 50
North Deals
None Vul
♠ 10 9 8 6 4 2
Q 10 4
A K Q 4
♣ —
♠ J 7 5
K 6
10 9 8 6
♣ K 8 7 6
♠ —
A J 9 8 7 5 3
J 7
♣ A 9 4 3
♠ A K Q 3
5 3 2
♣ Q J 10 5 2
Pass4 Dbl
Pass5 ♠Pass6 ♠
6 ♠ by North

North-South reached a seemingly cold slam and Bob Hamman led the ace of hearts. Zia found an ingenious way to defeat it!


He threw the heart king under the ace, looking for all the world like he started with a singleton heart. Now when Hamman continued hearts, the declarer, not unreasonably, ruffed with the ace, promoting Zia's jack!

See you at the table!

Monday, March 14, 2011

Jennbridge: Kibitz Vanderbilt

Live from Louisville, kibitz the Vanderbilt on Bridgebase starting Wed., March 16 at 10:00 a.m.  The action will continue through the finals on Sunday, March 20.

(We would have been there but we opted instead for a short, fun trip to Scottsdale to see the SF Giants in spring training!)

See you at the table!

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Jennbridge: A Collaboration (Strip & EP) ***

Bob and I collaborated on an interesting hand at IMPs recently.  He put me in a good contract and I had to bring it home. He'll describe the bidding: On the first hand of the evening I dealt, with both vulnerable, and held:

♠ AKx
♣ KJxxx

I opened 1 diamond. LHO bid 1 heart, Jenn bid 2 clubs, and RHO bid 3 hearts, preemptive. Wow, this is just getting interesting! Both sides seem to have big fits. I bid what I thought we could make: 5 clubs. Now, almost before my 5 club bid hit the table, LHO slapped a 5 heart bid on the table. This was passed back to me. What now?

From the table action, LHO surely was void in clubs and had a lot of hearts. Jenn could have doubled but didn't, so she probably didn't have much in hearts. Since we had voluntarily bid a vulnerable game, and since one of the opponents had preempted, Jenn's pass was probably forcing. Well, should I double or bid 6 clubs? I had 2 defensive tricks, but I couldn't be sure we had another. So while we probably would defeat 5 hearts, we might not. And if the cards were right for us, we might even make 6 clubs. So I decided the IMP odds favored bidding. [If neither 5 hearts or 6 clubs makes, we can be +200 or 500 vs -100 if I double. If 5 hearts makes and 6 clubs fails, we are -850 vs -100. If 6 clubs makes, we are +1370 and it hardly matters whether or not 5 hearts makes.] So I pressed on to 6 clubs. Everyone passed and a heart was led.

♠ AKx
♣ KJxxx

♠ xx
♣ A10xxxx

By Jenn:  While Bob was deliberating over 5H, I was worrying that I should have doubled.  His bid of 6 clubs was a surprise.  What a nice 21 point slam!  I ruffed the heart opening lead and paused to plan the play.

I could only lose 1 diamond and, on the bidding, RHO probably had the diamond king.  My best chance for not losing more than one trick was to arrange an endplay.

I drew trumps in two rounds (LHO holding Qx), ruffed my last heart and played the ace and king of spades and ruffed a spade.  Here were the remaining cards:

♣ J

♣ 10xx

I had eliminated the major suits and set the stage.  I now led a low diamond from my hand and when LHO played the 6, I covered it with the 7, effectively ducking the trick to RHO.  This should do it.  If she returns a diamond I'll duck it and hope the queen wins.

Instead, endplayed, she returned a heart.  I discarded my losing diamond and ruffed on the board.  The match was off to a great start.  Plus 1370 gained us 15 IMPs as our counterparts collected 200 in 5 hearts doubled.

Bob has the last word on the play:  This play seems best as it seems to combine technical and psychological considerations as LHO, not an expert, would find it hard to duck from Kxx smoothly and would never find a duck from Kx. Possible lines are low from the queen, low from the ace or ace first. [With the actual holding of KJ on your right, any line would have succeeded.]

See you at the table!

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Jennbridge: Two Problems

Here are a couple of hands played in tournaments lately.  The first is from the Santa Clara regional.

Bid this hand with me--vulnerable at IMPs against 3 world champions and a competent client:

♠ KQxx
♣ Q765

I opened 1 club, Bob responded 1 heart, I bid 1 spade and he rebid 2 hearts.  What now?

I figured his two heart bid was rather wide-ranging, and if he were at the top of his range we might have a game.  So I bid 2NT.  He raised to game and the 10 of clubs was led.

♠ 10x
♣ KJ8

♠ KQxx
♣ Q765

We had 25 points between us and this looked to be a suitable game.  The lead was friendly enough, but there was plenty of work to do to come to 9 tricks.

The jack of clubs held and I immediately led a spade to the king which held.  A club toward the board produced the 9 on my left and the king won.  I decided to lead a heart to the king (the defensive carding indicated that the hearts were probably 3-3) and LHO won the ace.

A diamond was returned which went to the jack and queen and I led another club.  LHO won the ace (clubs were 3-3) and started thinking.  I now have 8 tricks (1 S, 1 H, 3 D and 3 C) and have chances for 9.  My entries are getting tangled, however, and some soft defense would be most welcome. 

At last LHO returned a diamond which I won on the board, cashed the queen of hearts and led a spade toward my hand again.  RHO won with the ace, cashed her good heart and the rest of the tricks were mine.

Chances are the opponents could have set up a spade trick to beat me, but it wasn't obvious.  Plus 600 won our team 10 IMPs as the world championship pair at the other table played in 2 hearts!


Here's an opening lead problem from a recent sectional:

♠ K8
♣ 875

RHO opens 1S, LHO bids 2H, RHO bids 3C, LHO bids 3D, (4th suit forcing) and RHO concludes the auction with 3NT.  I elect to lead a diamond and need to be careful which card I choose.

Sectional pair game

Board 21
North Deals
N-S Vul
♠ A Q J 3 2
A 7 6
♣ A J 10 3
♠ 9 7 6 5
Q J 4
K 5 2
♣ Q 6 2
♠ K 8
8 7 5 3
Q 10 9 4
♣ 8 7 5
♠ 10 4
A K 10 9 6
J 8 3
♣ K 9 4
1 ♠Pass2
Pass3 ♣Pass3
Pass3 NTPassPass
3 NT by North
Made 3

I'm sure you chose the diamond 10, the standard recommended lead.  This holding is the textbook example why the 10 must be led.   The 10 traps the jack between your partner's king and the declarer's ace and prevents declarer from winning more than one diamond trick.  On the actual hand, declarer ducked my 10, and then ducked the 9.   My low diamond cleared the suit.  When in with the spade king I cashed my last diamond for a good score. 
See you at the table!