Saturday, December 31, 2011

Jennbridge: A 4-loser hand

Losing trick count principles served us well yesterday as Mary O. and I posted a nice score.  We had several good scores in major suit part-score contracts as we were able to judge well and stay out of game. 

On this hand I had bigger things in mind (board 23):


After two passes I opened 1and partner responded 1.  What would you bid?


As I had only 4 losers I definitely wanted to be in game and slam might very well be in the cards.  Various bids are possible, but I took the straightforward path of jumping to 4.  (4is a possibility, but we hadn't discussed that bid). It turns out that partner held both black aces, 4 small hearts and 2 small diamonds.  Hearts broke 3-2 with the queen doubleton onside so she had no heart losers.  Her only loser turned out to be the king of diamonds when the finesse lost.  Diamonds broke 2-2, however, so she had no trouble taking 12 tricks.

With her 8-loser hand she probably should have made a slam try, but plus 680 turned out to be a good score.

Happy New Year!

See you at the table!

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Jennbridge: Uppercut and Trump Promotion

Larry Hansen, one of my partners, recently sent me this interesting hand, noting that it was a defense that hasn't been written about very much.  Thanks Larry!

Hi Jennifer,
I had an interesting Defensive Hand with one of my students earlier in Nov. My student failed to recognize a situation where she needed to lead a suit for me to uppercut, and so I wrote up an article on Uppercuts and Trump Promotions for her and others that I might need to instruct.

But this hand was especially interesting because of a key 2nd hand play which was made which allowed us to reach a situation where both an Uppercut play and a Trump Promotion were in play.

Board 26
East Deals
Both Vul
♠ K J
K 7 6 5 3
K 4
♣ Q J 6 4
♠ 3 2
Q J 10 8 2
5 3
♣ A 8 5 3
♠ A Q 9 8 7 6
A 4
Q J 2
♣ 9 7
♠ 10 5 4
A 10 9 8 7 6
♣ K 10 2
EW played in 2S by E. (The D: designates tricks won by the defense)

S started with the 9H, with the QH winning in dummy.
D: Declarer played a D from dummy, and I decided to play the KD as an unblock in case partner had D's; the KD won.
D: I could give partner a ruff, with a high H, but thought that I would get another entry with a D ruff and so I continued D's, which partner won with the A.
D: Partner led a 3rd D after some thought, and I ruffed with the JS.
D: I now led a H and partner ruffed.

This is where partner faltered, she continued with a C and eventually the defense won a 5th trick in C's
Had partner understood the value of her TS and the fact that I ruffed with the JS, which shouldn't be my highest S, and therefore suggest that an Uppercut was available.

Here's what happens if she continues a 4th D...
I would ruff with the KS and declarer will have to lose 2 more tricks
If declarer over-ruffs, he loses a C and the TS
If declarer pitches a C, then I win the KS and continue with a H to give partner a trump promotion for 2 tricks.

The neat thing about this combined UpperCut and Trump Promotion is that when Declarer has a single loser that he can discard, discarding it does not gain.
Had I not played the KD and continued D, this position does not arise and declarer can hold the loses to 5 tricks.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Jennbridge: Hands from Seattle

I had a nice time playing with Farid Assemi in the inaugural Senior Mixed Pairs in Seattle--won by my friends Polly and Patrick Dunn.

Here are a pair of 3NT contracts from the first final session which resulted in good scores.  For good measure I'm also including a hand from the same session where I used losing trick count principles--a subject I'm currently writing about in the Bridge Bulletin.

Board 20
South Deals
Both Vul
♠ K 10 9
Q 10 7 3
J 5 2
♣ 4 3 2
♠ A 6
J 9 8 6 5
10 9 8 4
♣ 6 5
♠ Q J 8 5 4
Q 7 6
♣ A Q 9 8
♠ 7 3 2
A K 2
A K 3
♣ K J 10 7
1 ♣
Pass1 Pass2 NT
Pass3 NTAll pass

On this board (rotated) Farid found himself in a pushy 3NT contract with the 10 lead.  Questioning revealed that the 10 lead was from "0 or 2 higher", so he didn't yield to the temptation of playing the J and won in his hand.  How to get 9 tricks?

He started on hearts and East showed out on the 2nd heart.  After Farid took his 4 hearts he made a key play of leading a ♣  from the board and guessing correctly to play the 10 when East played low.  (He told me later that he detected a slight pause in the bidding by his RHO after my 1bid, so had decided to play his RHO for length and/or strength in the black suits.)  He later put East in with a spade who, having unattractive options, played on clubs again.

Farid himself will take up the narrative:  It is a good hand, but probably more of a lucky hand since RHO's heart shortness and guards in the other 3 suits made success almost automatic. It would probably make a good hand for help with counting tricks and various assumptions needed to succeed. However, I think the crucial lesson is that the lead convention (the ten lead promises 0 or 2 higher) is a double-edged sword; on that hand it cut our opponents.

Plus 600 was worth 39 out of 47 matchpoints.

2.  Next is a 3NT contract which I played (hands rotated):

Board 6
South Deals
N-S Vul
♠ J 10 7
A K J 10 6 3
♣ K 10 6
♠ A K 9 8 3
8 4
A 10 8
♣ Q 5 3
♠ 5
Q 9 7 5 2
Q 9 6
♣ 8 7 4 2
♠ Q 6 4 2

K J 7 5 4 3
♣ A J 9
1 ♠2 Pass2 NT
Pass3 NTAll pass

We were probably lucky to get to game after my intial pass.  Farid made a good decision to bid 3NT rather than 4which would have had no chance.

The opponents started with 3 rounds of spades and I won on the board.  I next played the ace-king and the J lost to the queen.  After a long pause East shifted to a diamond and my jack forced the ace.  A spade return and a club guess (not really a guess as West needed to have the queen to have an opening bid) and I had my 9 tricks.  (2 spades, 3 hearts, 1 diamond and 3 clubs.)

Plus 600 was worth 40 out of 47 matchpoints.

3.  Farid dealt and opened 1♠ and I held: (board 24, hands rotated)

     ♦ 9763

RHO passed and so did I.  LHO bid 2D and partner rebid 2♠.  RHO now bid 3♣ and it was my call.

Not much of a hand, but when I counted my losers, there were only 8--which signified to me that the hand had some value.  Plus, two honors in the trump suit and a singleton couldn't be all bad, so I ventured a 3♠ call.  Partner bid 4♠ and I hoped he wouldn't be too disappointed with my hand.  The  ace was led.

Board 24
South Deals
None Vul
♠ K J
10 9 8 6 5 3
9 7 6 3
♣ 9
♠ 6 5 4
J 4
♣ J 10 7 6 2
♠ Q 8
7 4 2
A Q 10 8 2
♣ 8 5 3
♠ A 10 9 7 3 2
K 5
♣ A K Q 4
1 ♠
PassPass2 2 ♠
3 ♣3 ♠Pass4 ♠
All pass

With the ♠ queen falling doubleton and the ace onside, it was a routine matter to ruff a club and make 5. Plus 450 was worth 41 of 47 matchpoints.

This was a good session and a fun event.  Unfortunately we couldn't carry the momentum into the evening session.

See you at the table!

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Jennbridge: Beware the Automatic Play

I made a 3NT contract in the STAC game yesterday while most other declarers went down.  I suspect it had to do with early plays in the spade suit.

Dec. 9 Holiday STAC

Board 18
East Deals
N-S Vul
♠ A 3 2
A J 4
K Q J 9
♣ Q 8 4
♠ Q 7 4
K 7 3
10 6 4 2
♣ A 3 2
JennLarry H.
Pass1 NTPass3 NT
All pass

As North, I got the ♠ J lead and paused to consider the play.

Obviously several things needed to work to come to 9 tricks.  I didn't know where the ♠ K was, but there was no need to do anything drastic at trick one--like covering the ♠ J with the ♠ Q.    There would be another chance to play the spades and I hoped that by that time I would have more information.

I won the ♠ A (West playing the 6, the pair playing upside-down attitude signals) and played the K which East won.  She next played the ♠ 9, in tempo, and the moment of truth had arrived.  What should I do?

I had two questions:  a)  how many spades did East have, and b) did she have the king? If East had 5 spades headed by the jack, the ♠ K would fall on this trick so I should duck again.  On the other hand, if East had the ♠ K, I needed to play the ♠ Q, regardless of how many spades she started with or I would lose it.

At this point we rely on our knowledge of the players, if any, and our close observation of any mannerisms, including tempo.  I finally decided that East might have paused for thought had she held the ♠ K and decided to play West for it.  Accordingly, I ducked again and West followed low.  A third spade cleared the suit, West winning the ♠ K.  West switched back to diamonds.  So far, so good.

I cashed my diamonds, and was pleased to see not only the Q well-placed but also the ♣ K. 

Dec. 9 Holiday STAC

Board 18
East Deals
N-S Vul
♠ A 3 2
A J 4
K Q J 9
♣ Q 8 4
♠ K 8 6
Q 10 8 6
8 7 3
♣ K 9 6
♠ J 10 9 5
9 5 2
A 5
♣ J 10 7 5
♠ Q 7 4
K 7 3
10 6 4 2
♣ A 3 2

The 13th ♠ was left stranded in the East hand and plus 600 was a tie for top. 

See you at the table!

Monday, December 5, 2011

Jennbridge: Kibitzing the Reisinger

I came home early from the NABC in Seattle and had the opportunity to witness some fine play, along with expert commentary on Bridgebase.  This hand was particularly impressive.

Reisinger-A Pretty Play

Board 5
North Deals
N-S Vul
♠ 10 9 7
Q 10 8 3
♣ J 7 6 5 3
♠ A K J 5
10 9 7 2
K 9
♣ A 9 8
♠ 8 2
A K Q J 5 4 3
J 5
♣ Q 10
♠ Q 6 4 3
A 7 6 4 2
♣ K 4 2
Pass1 Pass
2 ♣Pass3 Pass
3 ♠Pass4 Pass
6 NTAll pass
6 NT by West
First, the bidding. After Versace made a 2/1 game forcing bid, Lauria availed himself of the opportunity to make a jump rebid in , a bid showing a solid suit after a 2/1 bid. After a ♠ cuebid by Versace and a 4 bid by Lauria, Versace could envision a large number of tricks and pulled out the master bid: 6NT! This bid was designed to protect his king, take advantage of any other opening lead and gain that all-important extra 10 points in the BAM event.

A diamond was led and the best was yet to come--the play! South returned a after winning the ace and Versace prepared his squeeze. Before running his hearts, he carefully cashed the ♣ ace (a Vienna Coup), and also cashed the king and the ♠ ace.

Now on the run of the hearts South, forced to make 6 discards, was unable to both hold onto his ♣ king and keep the spades guarded. As the ♣ king had not made an appearance by the time all of the hearts had been played, Versace led the last ♠. The ♠ queen was played perforce and he claimed his slam for a win on the board. His opponents stopped in a pedestrian 4.

Not surprisingly, this pair was on the winning Cayne team:

Included in the online commentary during the day was a valuable monologue by expert Karen McCallum, who gave several tips on playing board-a-match, which she referred to as "matchpoints to the 10th degree".  I'm writing up her tips to present at a later time.

For good measure there was some humor sprinkled in the commentary, to wit:  I don't know their agreements, but it looks like he added some points for (previously) passing!

See you at the table!

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Jenn's Losing Trick Count booklet

Because of my article in the December issue of the Bridge Bulletin, I am getting more inquiries about the booklet I've written on losing trick count.  A description of the booklet, a review by a fellow bridge blogger, and ordering information are available by clicking on the links to the right. Here is some additional information from the back of the booklet:

This “boutique booklet” provides a clear explanation of the basics of losing trick count. A dozen of the author’s own deals demonstrate its effectiveness. Jennifer makes an important bidding contribution as she presents a system of combining losing trick count with Bergen raises.  From sectional team games to the World Mixed Pairs, she takes the reader through her entertaining and instructive hands.   Valuable and enjoyable--a worthwhile addition to any bridge library! 
Informative, educational and well written.  Clears up several questions I had about the effective use of losing trick count.

Improve your game and win more often!  Start using Losing Trick Count today!

See you at the table! 

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Jennbridge: Live From Seattle

Enjoying a wonderful NABC here in Seattle. Thanks for the book orders and comments.

From a reader:  Read your article in recent ACBL publication. I haven't used LTC, since I typically use: Rule of 20, open 12 point hands sometimes, and use 2.5 Quick tricks with 11 points. Please comment on this. thanks. ..rob

Rob: The guidelines you mention are helpful when deciding whether to open the bidding.  We need other guidelines to assist us as the bidding proceeds, however.  Many of our decisions revolve around how high to bid once we have located a fit with our partner.  This is where losing trick count comes into play.  It is used in conjunction with high card points to help us more accurately evaluate our hand so that we can bid with confidence to the right level.

Here is a hand I held recently.  My partner opened 1♠ and I held:

♠ K643
♣ 2

How should I respond? Without losing trick count it would be difficult to accurately evaluate this hand. 

At the table, I counted my losers (7) which meant that my hand was worth a game-forcing bid.  I therefore jumped to 4♣, a splinter showing ♠ support and ♣ shortness, and my partner signed off in 4♠.

These were the hands and partner had no trouble making 4♠.

♠ K643
♣ 2

♠ QJ1098
♣ J93

You can change partner's hand any number of ways and he will still have a good chance of making game.  We received an excellent score for this hand as many pairs failed to reach game. 

I will be writing about this topic in the next few issues of the Bridge Bulletin, so stay tuned.

See you at the table!