Sunday, March 25, 2012

Jennbridge: ABTA conference in Memphis

The American Bridge Teacher's Ass'n. ( held its annual conference in Memphis last week before the start of the spring NABC.  I was honored to be invited as a program speaker and elected to also sign up for the entire program.  A first time attendee, I wasn't disappointed.

Wed. AM featured an interesting panel discussion including the latest on income taxes for self-employed bridge teachers.  I made a couple of notes of items to look into, including PayPal income.  Then it was my turn.

Carol Griffin from Walnut Creek gave a lovely introduction and I launched into my presentation about Losing Trick Count.  I described how valuable it is as a hand evaluation tool and how I have been using it for over 15 years. I explained how it had markedly improved my game and how I wanted to share it with others.  I quoted Gene Simpson who declared:  "Average players can compete with experts if they understand and use losing trick count!"

I talked about Brent Manley and the series of Bridge Bulletin articles I am currently writing about the subject and how I believe that the time is right for this topic. I shared this enthusiastic comment from a reader:

Dear Jennifer,  A few weeks ago I wrote to let you know I had received your booklet & was trying to put it in use.  Today I played in our local open game.  I may have been the only non-life master in the room.  My partner "only" has around 600 points.  To make a long story short, I used LTC all day.  Much to my surprise we finished in first place, ahead of a player with 25,000 master points.  (I'm sure you know him by name as he plays in big time tournaments.)  Also, using LTC I was the only player in the room to bid and make a 27-point slam.  I'm sure you are used to doing such things, but it was really something for me.
Anyway, thanks for the help!!  Best wishes,  Harry

After an example hand using LTC, I described the teacher package I have assembled containing a copy of my booklet Losing Trick Count, an 8-page seminar booklet which can be duplicated for students and some extra hands if needed.  Bridge teachers can make such a difference in enhancing the skills of players and their enjoyment of the game.

Questions and answers followed. The talk seemed to be well-received as several participants purchased booklets and teacher packages.

Wed. PM
We were all looking forward to Mike Lawrence's talk about Counting:  the art of acquiring useful information.  He presented several interesting hands and engaged the audience in analysis.  The talk was reminiscent of his book How To Read Your Opponents' Cards which I consider to be one of his all-time best and which I recommend to students.  We received a generous 25-page handout.

Joan Anderson then conducted a fun bidding workshop which gave us some good teaching ideas.

A tour of Elvis Presley's Graceland plus dinner was scheduled for the evening and we traveled by bus in two shifts.  Graceland is a '50's style Southern mansion situated on 13 acres.  It is essentially a shrine to Elvis and it was hard not to reflect on his life and music as he was such a larger-than-life figure in our culture.  It was definitely a treat to stroll the grounds at sunset in the warm Tennessee air.

Thurs. AM
The prestigious Bridge Teacher of the Year was announced and congratulations go to Mary Jane Orock from Texas!

It was a pleasure to meet and hear Audrey Grant give tips on improving bridge lessons.  It was impressive to learn about the work that goes into the hands that she uses and we were pleased to receive a copy of her book The Impact of Opening Leads Against Notrump Contracts.

Lunch at the Peabody:  What a fabulous and elegant old hotel!  We were treated to a nice luncheon hosted by the ACBL and Baron-Barclay and enjoyed the ducks merrily splashing in the lobby fountain amid the massive marble columns.

Thurs. PM
Ray Lee told us what was new at Master Point Press and gifted us with A First Book of Bridge Problems by Patrick O'Connor.

Jerry Helms then gave a valuable presentation featuring some interesting teaching hands--all with his famed titles--along with useful handouts.

Finally, we were hugely entertained by Zia--who likened Bridge to Magic as he shared many amusing anecdotes and enlightening hands!  An example:  RHO opens 7 spades and you have the other 3 aces.  You lead the ace of hearts which gets ruffed.  Declarer then proceeds to run out all his spades and you have to decide which minor-suit ace to retain.  Give up?

Zia advised keeping the ace of clubs as declarer, with 13 black cards, may not have noticed that one of them was a club!

Awards Banquet
We all turned out in our finest as awards were given and Julian Laderman and first time attendees said a few words and book awards were given.

Fri. AM
After several action-packed days it was hard to believe what an interesting final morning was planned. We got to hear from Eric Rodwell who answered questions and came up with instantaneous examples to illustrate his points.  His new book is a treasure for those of you who haven't indulged.

Finally, an expert and entertaining panel moderated by the irrepressible George Jacobs.  The experts (John Lindop, Jerry Helms, Ellen Kent, John Rayner and Haig Tchamitch) fielded questions and offered opinions while Jacobs poked fun and kept it moving.

We adjourned, bid our adieus and started packing up. Quite an enjoyable morning, I reflected, as I headed off to play in the IMP pairs.

A high-energy week packed with an impressive lineup of bridge experts, authors and teachers, along with valuable tips and fun activities.  Not to mention gifts, handouts and new bridge books.  I met some dedicated bridge teachers from all around the country with whom I hope to stay in touch.

If you're a bridge teacher, get thee to an ABTA conference.  The officers and participants are hard-working and help ensure the survival of our game. The next conference is at the 2012 summer NABC in Atlanta.

Thanks ABTA!

See you at the table!

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Jennbridge: Memphis Favorites

Back from the Memphis NABC with several interesting hands to write up.  Here is a favorite from the 1st Qualifying session of the Silver Ribbon Pairs (rotated for convenience).

Silver Ribbon Pairs 1st Q

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

2 ♠DblPass3
PassPassDblAll pass

3 x by South

I won the K lead and studied the hand.  Surely East had most or all of the missing hearts.  I led a heart from hand, West showed out and I played the 9.   East won and returned a club, won on the board, and I continued clubs and put him back in.  This is clearly a see-saw action between myself and East.

He returned a diamond to the king and ace.  I cashed the queen  (pitching a spade) and ruffed a diamond.  I had scored 5 tricks and these cards were left.

♠ 7 
 A 10 7
  10 6 

♠  10 8 
 8 5  
♣ K J

I am getting a count on the hand.  East started with 1 spade, 5 hearts and at least 3 diamonds.  I cashed the K♣ and discarded a spade as both followed. So East also had at least 3 clubs. 

I led my last club, West followed and I ruffed to prevent East from scoring a low trump.  He 
overruffed and returned his last diamond which I ruffed.  The moment of truth was at hand.  
I had 7 tricks and these cards remained:

 A 10 

♠  10 8 

How can I get two more tricks?  I studied the position.  East was down to K62.

Then I saw it.  Ruff a spade with the ace of hearts and lead the last diamond, ruffing with the 8.  Score the 
8 en passant for my 9th trick!

Silver Ribbon Pairs 1st Q

Board 9
South Deals
E-W Vul
♠ 7 4
A 10 9 7
A Q 10 6 2
♣ Q 10
♠ K Q J 9 3 2

K 9 3
♣ 7 6 5 4
♠ 6
K Q J 6 2
J 8 7 5
♣ A 9 8
♠ A 10 8 5
8 5 4 3
♣ K J 3 2

3 x by South

Made 3 — +530

Plus 530 was worth 24.5 matchpoints out of 25 and helped us score up a strong session.

See you at the table!

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Jennbridge: Lead Out of Turn

At the recent Santa Clara regional, I faced an interesting problem against a world championship pair in a pair game.

♦ A10753

I responded 1NT forcing to partner's 1♠ opening bid and we had a rather routine auction to 3NT.  As we were putting our bidding cards back in the box, West threw the 5 on the table.  As this was a lead out of turn, the director was called who reviewed the various options available to me.  One of them was to accept the lead, put my hand down as dummy and let partner declare the hand.  As the club lead looked favorable, and as it was possible that partner had a heart holding he needed to protect, I decided to accept that option.

Presidents Day Regional--Friday Eve.

Board 7
South Deals
Both Vul
♠ 9 6
10 4
A 10 7 5 3
♣ K J 9 7
♠ 10 5
Q 9 7
♣ Q 8 6 5 4 3
♠ K 7 4 3
A J 6 5 3
9 4
♣ 10 2
♠ A Q J 8 2
K 8 2
J 8 6 2
♣ A
1 ♠
Pass1 NTPass2
Pass3 Pass3 NT
All pass
3 NT by North

This club lead gave partner the timing he needed to knock out the diamond honor before the hearts were set up and he duly scored up the game.

Additional factors entered into my decision:
  • It is generally advantageous to have the strong hand declare so it is concealed.
  • Partner was a good declarer
  • There is an old adage to the effect that "he who leads out of turn doesn't know what the best lead is".
The opponents were disgruntled as they left the table.  East commented that she "knew what to lead".  I commented that "I was just following the old adage".

Plus 600 was worth 23 out of 25 matchpoints.

See you at the table!

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Jennbridge: Reader Shares Bidding Success

From a reader in Kansas.  I just had to send you this letter because it was so cool how your system worked.  After reading your article in the Bridge Bulletin I discussed it with my two partners.  Then I was dealt this hand:

♠ 4
♥ KJ1098
♦ KQ93
♣ AQ9

My partner opened 1♠ and as I had 5 losers I realized that we might have a slam.  I bid 2and partner raised me to 3.  Now we had found the fit as you always mention so I bid blackwood and then 6.

Partner had a good hand.  

♠ A9763
♥ AQ2
♦ A62
♣ J10

Out of 34 pairs only 2 other pairs bid this slam which is cold.  Thank you for making it so easy to bid!  I can't wait for the next article!

Well done, Peter!

See you at the table!