Monday, August 29, 2011

Jennbridge: Protect Your Queens

Larry H. and I kept executing endplays in our STAC matchpoint game on 8/26--for down one!

 ♠  K7
 ♥  742
 ♦  AQ763
 ♣ 1082

Not much of a hand, but LHO opens 1S, partner doubles and RHO passes.  I start with a jump to 3 diamonds, waiting to hear what partner will do.  He bids 3 spades and I bid 3NT.  The queen of spades is led and I see the following:  (hands rotated from the hand record)

Board 14

♠ A 9 2
A Q 9 3
9 4
♣ A Q 6 4
♠ K 7
7 4 2
A Q 7 6 3
♣ 10 8 2
3 NT by South

Finessing opportunities all over the place, but not an obvious source of tricks.  If I duck a spade, I won't have an entry to my hand to get to the diamonds even if I were to manage to set them up.  I need to look elsewhere for tricks.

I win the spade king and lead a club.  LHO plays the king and I win the ace.  I now try a diamond finesse which loses.  I duck the spade return and then win the ace, pitching a diamond while RHO plays an encouraging heart.

I inadvertently lead a heart from my hand and RHO states:  "I'll accept that."  Clearly she likes hearts, and as I don't have anything better to do, I stay the course and insert the 9.  She wins the 10 and returns a club which I win in hand with the 8, LHO showing out. 

I am getting a count on the hand and it is not pretty.  These cards remain:

 ♥ AQ3
 ♦  9
 ♣ Q6

 ♥  74
 ♦  A76
 ♣ 10

I have scored 4 tricks, and the two red aces plus the club queen bring the total to 7.  I'll try to scramble an 8th trick.

I lead another heart and LHO shows out.  I now know that RHO started with 5 hearts and 5 clubs. I win the heart ace and return to my hand with the diamond ace, forcing a discard (a club) from RHO. Next comes a club to the queen and I exit with a club. RHO wins, and with only hearts remaining, cashes the king and is forced to give me my 8th trick with the heart queen.

Nice endplay, below-average result.  We have 25 points between us, but all the suits break miserably and some East-West pairs are getting in trouble bidding too many spades.

Here are all the hands:

Board 14
South Deals
None Vul
♠ A 9 2
A Q 9 3
9 4
♣ A Q 6 4
♠ Q J 10 6 5 4
K J 10 5 2
♣ K
♠ 8 3
K J 10 6 5
♣ J 9 7 5 3
♠ K 7
7 4 2
A Q 7 6 3
♣ 10 8 2
3 NT by South
It was important to not sacrifice the queen of hearts but to try to arrange an endplay so that it would be a winner. 

**News flash:  The second edition of my Losing Trick Count booklet has been printed.  It has some new content as well as an expanded explanation of using LTC with Bergen and constructive raises.  I have a handout prepared on this subject and will give it to anyone who is interested.

See you at the table!

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Jennbridge: A 16-Point Slam (If You Can Make It)

This hand came up the other night on Bridge Base Online.  My partner (not Jenn) had a chance for a great result, but he mis-timed the play.  See if you can do better.

He held:

♠ KJ9542
♥  void
♦  AKT42
♣  76

He opened 1 Spade.  The auction proceeded Double, 4 Spades, pass back to him.  He decided to take a gamble and bid 6 Spades!  LHO led the king of hearts, and he looked at:

♠  AT87
♥  JT96432
♦  6
♣  4

♠ KJ9542
♣ 76

How would you play it?  (Hint:  it isn't as easy as it seems)

To make it on a cross-ruff, you have to avoid an overruff, as either opponent with Qx will return a trump so you will be a trick short.  Alternatively, you can see if you can set up a long diamond and score 9 ruffing tricks, or set up dummy's hearts. 

To set up the hearts, you have to play RHO for Qx.  Then you can draw 2 rounds of trump, ruff a heart, play the diamond AK pitching a club, ruff a minor in dummy and run the heart Jack.  LHO wins and dummy is high.  This line would have succeeded. 

Trying to set up a long diamond and score 9 trump tricks is an illusion.  Try it.  You will end up either losing to an overruff and trump continuation, or run out of trumps and end up losing 2 clubs.

The best line seems to be to go for the straight cross-ruff.  This succeeds when RHO has at least 3 diamonds and the queen of spades.  The play would go:

Heart ruff low
Diamond ace
Diamond king pitching a club
Diamond ruff low in dummy
Heart ruff low
Club ruff low
Heart ruff low
Club ruff low
Heart ruff with the 9
Ruff fourth diamond with the Ace.
Heart ruff with the Jack (and hope it isn't overruffed)

That's 11 tricks, and trick 12 is the spade King.
Good luck!

Monday, August 8, 2011

Jennbridge: That's One Way to Put It!

Here's a hand from Toronto which resulted in some amusing repartee.

Wernher Open Pairs--First Qual. Session

Board 1
North Deals
None Vul
♠ A K J 10 5 4
A 9 8 2
♣ A 3
♠ Q 8
J 9 7 6 5 2
10 5
♣ K J 2
♠ —
K J 6 4 3
♣ Q 10 9 8 7 6 4
♠ 9 7 6 3 2
K Q 10 8 3
Q 7
♣ 5
1 ♠2 NT4 ♠
PassPass5 ♣Pass
Pass5 ♠All pass

The hapless East player led a club which I won.  I cashed the ace of spades, ruffed a club and drew the last trump with the king of spades. Now the stage was set for a heart lead.  I didn't know exactly what would happen when I led a heart, of course, but when East won his ace and sat there in agony for a couple of minutes, it wasn't hard to envision the situation.

He finally, defeatedly, threw a diamond on the table.  When my queen held, he said:  "I knew I was scr---d!"  We all laughed and scored up 480 for 26 out of 38 matchpoints.

Perhaps he should have led his stiff ace of hearts.  As declarer it was imperative to make the routine play of ruffing the club to strip the hand and set the stage for the endplay.

See you at the table!

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Jennbridge: One To Lose Sleep Over

Jenn and I were retired from the Spingold early and were kibitzing the Nickell-Levine Spingold match. Levine had a small lead going into Board 63, the penultimate board.

South Deals
Both Vul
♠ Q
Q 8 6
10 8 5 3 2
♣ A 10 5 4
♠ A K J 9 8 4 3
J 7 3

♣ 9 6 3
♠ 10 7 6 5
10 5
Q J 7 6 4
♣ J 2
♠ 2
A K 9 4 2
A K 9
♣ K Q 8 7
Bob HammanD ClerkinZia MahmoodJ Clerkin
3 ♠Dbl4 ♠4 NT
Pass5 NTPass6
Pass6 All pass

Opening lead: Spade Ace (after considerable thought). Then Zia led the 9 of clubs to trick 2.

I'm not sure what the 4NT and 5NT bids meant, but they ended up in a playable spot. When Zia took quite a while before making his opening lead, this might have alerted declarer to the possiibilty of LHO holding a void, else why would he have a problem leading the ace of spades? Perhaps an inference could have been drawn that he was considering an underlead to his partner for a diamond ruff.

Declarer won the club in his hand and played the ace of hearts, getting only small cards. He had a choice of playing for LHO to have a stiff diamond honor or playing RHO for both honors. He chose, correctly, to play RHO for both. To do this, he needed two entries to dummy and a 3-2 heart split. But instead of playing the king of hearts and another heart to the queen, declarer inexplicably played to the heart queen without first cashing the king, and when he led a diamond to his 9, Zia ruffed it and down went the slam and the match along with it. At the other table the result was 5S doubled down 2 for -500. So instead of winning 14 IMP for making the slam, Levine instead lost 11 for a 25-IMP swing. That's a tough one that will haunt the Levine team for a long time.

Good luck!  (By Bob Klein)

Monday, August 1, 2011

Jennbridge: Ain't It Grand?

Home from Toronto with plenty of great hands to report, along with some interesting tourist experiences.  On a lovely trip to Niagara Falls I learned that 34 million gallons of water flow over the falls every minute!

In the second qualifying session of the Wernher Open Pairs, I picked up this hand. (Bd. 13--hands rotated.)

♠ 5
♣ AKQ109

RHO dealt and passed and I opened 1 heart.  Partner bid 2NT, Jacoby and I responded 3 spades, showing shortness.  He now bid 3NT, which I interpreted as a space-conserving bid, probably looking for a club cuebid.

I obliged by bidding 4 clubs and he launched into 4NT, RKC.  I responded 5 hearts, showing 2 keycards and he now bid 5NT!  What's my call and why?


The 5NT bid in this situation serves a dual purpose.  It ostensibly asks for kings (either number of kings or specific kings, depending on agreement), but at the same time it confirms possession by the partnership of all the keycards plus the queen of trumps and issues an invitation to bid a grand slam with a suitable hand.  A suitable hand includes one with undisclosed values or a good source of tricks.

I studied my hand.  While I had only 14 points, I had a source of tricks in the club suit.  Next I counted my losers and realized that I had only 5 losers, which is a hand that should be strong enough to produce a slam opposite an opening bid.  So not only did I have a source of tricks, I had undisclosed strength.  I jumped to 7 hearts and received a heart lead.

Wernher Open Pairs

East Deals
Both Vul
♠ A 7 4 3
A Q J 6
A 8 7
♣ J 4
♠ K 8 6 2
8 7 3
4 2
♣ 7 6 5 3
♠ Q J 10 9
K J 10 6 5 3
♣ 8 2
♠ 5
K 10 5 4 2
Q 9
♣ A K Q 10 9
Pass2 NTPass3 ♠
Pass3 NTPass4 ♣
Pass4 NTPass5
Pass5 NTPass7
7 by South
I drew trumps in 3 rounds, cashed the diamond ace, pitched dummy's losing diamonds on my clubs and ruffed my last diamond, making 7.

I thought we had a nice auction, but was pleasantly surprised to get 32.5 out of 38 matchpoints.

For more information about losing trick count, click on this link to view my booklet on the subject:

See you at the table!