Thursday, May 26, 2011

Jennbridge: Twice Burned

East couldn't really avoid the first endplay on this hand, but could have sidestepped the second one.

South Deals
None Vul
♠ Q 8 6 4
Q 10 9 7 4
7 5
♣ K 5
♠ 10 9
J 8 2
J 9 8 2
♣ J 9 4 3
♠ K J 7
A K 10 6 3
♣ A 10 8 7
♠ A 5 3 2
A K 6 3
Q 4
♣ Q 6 2
1 NT
Pass2 Pass2
3 ♣PassPass3
All pass
3 by South

At team play recently, I got a heart lead and had to figure out how to avoid losing 5 tricks.  RHO had hesitated briefly after the 2D transfer bid and then she doubled.  Therefore I knew she had diamonds and values.  I should be able to endplay her in the diamond suit.

I drew trumps ending in my hand and led the queen of diamonds.  RHO won the ace, cashed the king and had to either lead a black suit or give me a ruff/sluff.  Most players are reluctant to give up a ruff/sluff, so she returned a spade which I ducked to my queen.  A spade to the ace revealed the 3-2 break, so I exited with a spade to RHO.  Endplayed again, she cashed her club ace and I made my contract.

The defenders could have prevailed by giving me a ruff/sluff.  RHO knows her partner has at most 3 points, so I must have the spade ace. She needs to defend more carefully to take the 5 tricks she has coming.  Of course LHO could have made life easier for the defense by leading something other than a trump.

See you at the table!

Monday, May 9, 2011

Jennbridge: A Defensive Lapse

I have played several hands recently where it has been possible to make good use of the opponents' possession of the outstanding high trump.  Here's an example from STAC week. I held the South cards and declared 4D. (Hands rotated for convenience.)

May 3, 2011 Spring STAC 

Board 16
North Deals
None Vul
♠ 9 5 3
K J 10 7 2
♣ 2
♠ Q J 7 6
8 5 2
♣ K Q 8 6 4
♠ A 2
10 7 4
A 4
♣ A J 10 9 5 3
♠ K 10 8 4
9 6 3
Q 8 6 5 3
♣ 7
4 by South

RHO opened the bidding and the opponents bid clubs until we bought the contract at 4D.  A club was led and East then played the ace of spades followed by another spade.  Clearly I have to lose the ace of diamonds, and probably another spade, but look what happened in the play.

After winning the spade king, I went to the board with a heart and led a diamond off the board.  East ducked!  (Don't ask me why I played it this way--sometimes it pays to make odd moves.) 

Now look at East's predicament--she has endplayed herself.  I run the hearts, and, when she declines to ruff in, I simply throw her in with a diamond. She has to return a club and give me a ruff/sluff, allowing me to ruff in my hand and pitch my losing spade from the board.

Plus 130 was a good score with these cards.  Stay alert--a defensive lapse can be costly.

See you at the table!

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Jennbridge: Whaddya call an 8-card suit?

I picked up an eye-opener on Tues. in a STAC game playing with Lynn B. 

♠ x
♣ Ax

At favorable vul., RHO passed and I opened 1D.  LHO bid 3S and partner bid 4H. RHO passed and it was back to me.

The good news is that partner has values (and hearts!).  With my 4-loser hand I am thinking seriously of slam.  Originally I was thinking of a diamond slam, but now, at matchpoints, I must consider hearts.  I put off my decision by bidding RKC Blackwood, seeking additional information.

Partner answers 5H, showing 2 controls (aces since I have the heart king) without the queen of hearts.

Had her response been 5S, showing 2 controls with the queen of hearts, I probably would have bid 6H.  In this case, however, having been tipped off to the fact that suits were likely to break badly by the 3S preempt, I veer back to diamonds and bid 6 diamonds.  All pass.

A surprising 5 of hearts is led (must be a singleton!) and I view the dummy:

♠ Axx
♣ xxx

♠ x
♣ Ax

As I study the hand, it looks like I can set up the heart suit for a pitch, which should take care of my losing club.  Therefore my main concern is the diamond suit, although it occurs to me that if LHO has only 1 heart, she probably has more than 1 diamond.  It also occurs to me that we have landed in the right contract.

The heart 8 is covered with the 10 and I win the king.  The AK of diamonds reveal a 2-2 break, drawing the trumps.  A heart to the ace followed by the jack of hearts, covered and ruffed, sets up the heart I need for the club discard.  I now return to dummy with the ace of spades and pitch my losing club on the heart 9.

STAC Tues. aft

Board 32
West Deals
E-W Vul
♠ 2
K 6
A K J 10 8 6 5 4
♣ A 3
♠ 8 5
Q 10 7 2
9 2
♣ K Q 10 9 4
♠ K Q J 10 9 7 4
Q 7
♣ J 7 5
♠ A 6 3
A J 9 8 4 3
♣ 8 6 2
Pass1 3 ♠4
Pass4 NTPass5
Pass6 All pass
6 by North
Made 7 — +940

Plus 940 was a top.  Only one other pair bid the diamond slam and they made only 6.  About half of the field went minus (presumably bidding the doomed heart slam) and there were a couple of 420's for heart games and a 440 for 13 tricks in diamonds.

Interestingly, with the diamonds coming in, 6NT also makes:  8D, 2H, and the two black aces.

So the answer to the question--"Whaddya call an 8-card suit?"--is an old tongue-in-cheek bridge adage:   TRUMPS!

See you at the table!

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Jennbridge: Losing trick count

I've been asked to say more about my new booklet.  The reason I wrote about losing trick count is because it is such an important and valuable concept and the literature is somewhat sparse.   I have noticed that some bridge players pay lip service to the principles without fully understanding them, while others have Klinger's book but have never quite made it through it.

With this in mind, I tried to take what I deem to be the most important elements and set them down in a concise fashion.  The first part of the booklet explains how to count losers, when to count losers, etc. and includes an "optional refinement" section on incorporating losing trick count with elements of Bergen raises.  The second part of the booklet presents actual hands played at both matchpoints and team play which illustrate the principles.

Here are additional excerpts from the booklet describing how I came to use and appreciate losing trick count after my introduction to it in the 1990's:

We added an losing trick count (LTC) component to our bridge discussions and analyses of the hands. In nearly every instance where we did not bid to the optimum contract, we noted how the proper use of LTC would have enabled us to do so.

This booklet explains the basics of LTC and includes actual hands played at all levels of competition from the local duplicate to the World Mixed Pairs. Using only these basics will greatly fine-tune your bidding and hand evaluation. For a more in-depth treatment of LTC see Ron Klinger’s book and his website at

I am pleased to report that I have been receiving favorable comments on both the appearance of the booklet as well as the substance.  To read the introduction and view the cover see my last post:

To order your copy of Losing Trick Count click here:

See you at the table!