Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Jennbridge: Slamming in Philly III

There were few bright spots in our match against the #1 seed (Joel, Sokolow, Seamon-Molson, Meyers, Willard and Cronier) in the Round of 8 in the Wagar.  In the first session I played a normal 4 after opening 1NT and engaging in a Stayman auction.  As I had to find the trump queen and could delay playing on trumps, I took the opportunity to make some discovery plays and learned that my RHO held all 3 missing aces.  With that information I played LHO for the trump queen.  Wrong--lose 10 imps! We were down by 28 after the first 32 boards. 

In the second set, as dealer at unfavorable vul.  I opened 1 holding:

♠ KJ874
♣ A103

Partner bid 2 and it was my call. Her bid certainly brought my hand to life and I considered my options.

Obviously I could bid 3, but didn't I have a more descriptive call available?  With 6 losers, the hand was better than a minimum opener. What about 3, a splinter bid showing heart shortness and, certainly, in this instance, good diamonds?  That sounded right so I jumped to 3.

Partner now bid 4, which we play as Minorwood, asking about keycards.    I bid 5, showing 2-plus the queen and she bid 6.  (So far, so good--we seemingly successfully navigated the Minorwood minefield...:-)  A trump was led.

♠ KJ874
♣ A103

♠ A9
♣ K6

The ace of diamonds was taken and another trump returned, trumps dividing 2-2.  She now ruffed 2 hearts and set up a long spade (spades broke 4-2) as a parking place for her last heart.  

Plus 1370 felt like a good score and, indeed, when we compared, it turned out that we won 13 IMPs on the board as our opponents stopped in game.  (Partner later commented that she loved the splinter bid.)

But alas, the opponents increased their winning margin and the match was over.  The Joel team eventually played in the finals where they lost to the Westheimer team. 

Slam Bidding In Philly Analysis: 

This is a small sample, yet I believe that there is a lesson to be learned from these slam hands I have been presenting.  A team with excellent slam-bidding skills should have the upper hand in these women's events, provided their mistakes are kept to a minimum.  In Philadelphia our team was relatively young and inexperienced and not favored in either match, yet our slam bidding propelled us to an upset win in the round of 16 and produced a notable swing in the round of 8.

Attention to slam bidding is always a fruitful area for match-winning swings, and should probably be an area of concentration for teams seeking success in this arena.

See you at the table!

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Jennbridge: Big Casino, Little Casino

By Bob Klein.
When I was a boy, I used to play a card game known as Casino.  It was a simple game where you had to amass cards in various ways.  You could win 11 points on each deal: 3 for having the most cards, 1 for the most spades, and a point for each ace you won.   There were two added bonuses.  You got 2 points if you won the ten of diamonds and one for the two of spades.   These cards were known as the Big Casino and the Little Casino, respectively.  

There were a lot of bids and plays in the National Roth Open Swiss recently in Philadelphia, but one stands out in my mind because of its timing and significance.   It was in the last round of the finals.   Our team had a chance to finish really well if we could win our last match.   During this match, I was dealt:

♠ K8542
♣ 9

Not a terribly interesting collection.  Yet it produced an opportunity for me to either win or lose the match.   Dave Neuman, my partner, opened the bidding with 1 Diamond.  RHO overcalled 2 Clubs.  I passed, LHO cue bid 2 Diamonds, Dave passed, RHO bid 2 Hearts, I passed, LHO bid 3 Clubs, Dave passed, and now RHO bid 3 Spades.  This got my attention, since it gave me a chance to do something.  I wasn’t sure where they were headed, but it seemed like a good idea to get in a lead directing double, so I doubled.  Now LHO bid 3NT, ending the auction.

Dave, being a good partner, followed my direction and led the three of spades.  Dummy hit with:

♠ A9

Declarer ducked, and I won with the king.  Now came the moment of truth.  What do I play to trick two?

It looked like declarer had the clubs locked up, so with the ace of spades that was 7 tricks.  In order for us to have a chance, partner had to have the ace of hearts, and we needed to set up tricks in either spades or diamonds before it was knocked out.   Well, should I continue a spade or a diamond, and which one?   

I decided that If I played a diamond, it had to be the ten.  (A low diamond could be ducked into partner’s hand so the suit couldn’t be continued successfully.)  If I played a spade, if would be a low one.   Interestingly, the choice boiled down to the Big Casino (10) or the Little Casino (2). (OK, I could have played the 4 instead of the 2 to show fourth best, but then it wouldn’t be such a fun story)!
If Dave had 4 spades to the Jack or Queen, another spade would set up the suit.  But if he had only three, the spades couldn’t be set up.  If he had Qxx, giving declarer Jxx,  the Jack would block the suit since I had no entries outside.  
I finally decided that it was more likely that he had three spades than four, so I played the Big Casino.  I had to consider Dave’s possible distributions based on the auction.  South had denied holding 4 hearts, and had supported clubs.   So I thought he was likely to hold 3 hearts and 3 clubs, leaving the same for Dave.  So Dave’s possible distributions were 4=3=3=3 or 3=3=4=3.  If he held 4=3=3=3 he might have opened 1 Club instead of 1 Diamond. 

This was the only card that could sink the contract, as the four hands were: 

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

♠ J 10 7
J 7 2
K J 5 3
♣ K J 5
1 2 ♣Pass2
Pass2 Pass3 ♣
Pass3 ♠Dbl3 NT
All pass
3 NT by South

This won us ten IMPs, more than our margin of victory in the match. 
Good luck!

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Jennbridge: Swiss Team Challenge

By Bob Klein.  I was playing on a Swiss team with Dave Neuman at the Philadelphia nationals.  Jenn was my teammate along with Jean Barry.  I found myself holding this hand, nonvul. vs vul., in first seat:

♠  Txxxx
♥  void
♦  xx
♣  AKJxxx

I was tempted to get into the auction right away with 3 Clubs, but it is not usually a good idea to suppress a 5-card major in front of a partner who has yet to bid, so I passed.  LHO opened 2 Hearts, partner passed, and RHO raised to 4 Hearts.  What now?

I didn't want to sell out when the opponents have bid a vulnerable game, I am void in their suit and have favorable vulnerability.  But how to enter the auction?  Three possibilities came to mind:  double, 4 Spades sand 5 Clubs.  Each action has advantages and disadvantages.

Double give partner the chance to pass if he has good hearts, for a nice penalty, and if partner has spades, we could land in 4 Spades.  The downside is that (a) partner may sit for the double expecting more defense from me, or (b) he may bid 5 Diamonds expecting support for all unbid suits. 

4 Spades keeps the bidding at the 4-level, and is the bid most likely to push the opponents into 5 Hearts, which partner may be able to double, since they may be afraid 4S could make for a possible double game swing.  However, the downside is that (a) if the opponents do go on to 5 Hearts, partner may make a disastrous opening lead from, say, Kx of spades, handing them the contract, or (b) the opponents might double if partner doesn't have much in spades, and now you may have to run to 5 Clubs, giving the opponents a fielder's choice of doubling or competing to 5 Hearts.

5 Clubs puts the most pressure on the opponents, it gets partner off to the right lead if the opponents compete to 5 Hearts, and you have a good suit to fall back on if you get doubled.  The downside is that it is a level higher than 4 Spades so you need to take more tricks, the opponents are more likely to defend when it is right for them to do so because you are at a higher level, and, similar to 4 Spades, removes the possibility of punishing the opponents if partner has a stack of hearts.

After considering all of this, I decided to bid 5 Clubs.  This worked like a charm.  It went pass, pass, double by RHO, all pass.  They led a diamond, and I was looking at:

♠  AQ9
♥  Jxx
♦  Jxx
♣ Txxx

♠  Txxxx
♥  void

♦  xx
♣  AKJxxx

They cashed 2 diamonds and switched to hearts.  I ruffed, played the ace of clubs, all following, drew the last trump with the king, and played a spade to dummy.  Fortuitously, LHO followed with the jack and the queen held!  A heart ruff back to hand, and another spade produced the king on my left.  I took it with the ace, and claimed, making 5 Clubs doubled for +550!

My counterpart at the other table, after hearing the same auction, thought for a while and passed.  This was the last choice in my opinion, and he paid dearly.  4 Hearts made easily, losing just 2 spades and 1 club, so Jenn and Jean scored +650, for a total of 1200 points for our team and 15 big IMPs. 

Good luck!

Monday, July 23, 2012

Jennbridge: Slamming in Philly II

I'll continue with some more good slams from Philly, but first some notes:

Stuck 29 IMPs at the half and time was running out.  We needed some good scores to advance to the round of 8 in the Wagar.  We were playing a good team (Moss, Glasson, Mancuso, Gwozdzinsky, Michielsen and Dekkers) and the two young women from the Netherlands had been brought in for the second half and were at our table.  Their job was to finish us off, and they clearly thought it would be no problem.  We were using screens so I could only see one of them for most of the match.

1. As they were settling in for the first board of the second half, non-vul. vs. vul., I opened 1 in 3rd seat with this raggedy collection: (Bd. 25, table 3)

♠ A62
♣ K54

This had the desired effect. LHO overcalled 1, my partner bid 1, RHO jumped to 3, a mixed raise, and all passed.  They made 5 for a score of 200.

2. With 3 boards remaining I opened 1 with this nice collection: (Board 22)

♠ K5
♣ AK

Pard responded 1 and I jumped to 3.  Pard rebid 3 and I bid 3NT.  She now bid 4NT and I paused to try to figure out what was going on.  Her bid could be Blackwood or could be invitational, but I liked my hand and was willing to carry on.  I hedged my bets by responding 5, showing 2 keycards, and was pleased when she jumped to 6NT.  A club was led.

♠ AQJ96

♠ K5
♣ AK  

I only counted 11 tricks.  I counted again.  It looked like I would need something good to happen in the heart suit,  but the odds favored honor doubleton in hearts to drop which would give me 12 tricks.

I played a low club and RHO played the queen.  Eureka!  I could now see 12 tricks.  I wasted no time driving out the jack of clubs and scoring the 10 for my 12th trick.  Plus 990 felt like a good score.

RHO held: 108/J2/QJ10432/Q86 so the hearts would have come in as expected.

3. Then, the last board of the session. (Board 24) Partner opened 1 and I responded 1 with:

♠ KJ974
♣ 8

Partner now surprised me by reversing into 2! If there's one thing I know how to do, it's count my losers, and I saw that I held a powerful 6-loser hand opposite partner's reverse.  I bid a temporizing, forcing 3.  Partner bid 4, but I wasn't finished.

I bid 4NT, Blackwood and when partner showed 3 aces, bid 6.

♠ A6

♠ KJ974

A heart was led and the opponents took their ace, but with normal breaks, the contract came home easily. 

We headed out of the room to compare.  It was wild and woolly.  There were 5 double-digit swings--4 going our way.  We won 10 IMPs on board 25 where I psyched an opening bid, as our teammates got to the game missed by the opponents at our table. We won 11 for bidding and making 6NT on board 22 and another 11 for bidding and making 6 on board 24.  This big second half lifted us to a double-digit victory and we survived!  

The next day our win was described in the Daily Bulletin as a "mild upset" and our reward was the opportunity to play the #1 seed.

See you at the table!

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Jennbridge: Slamming in Philly

Lots of action here in Philadelphia between the Spingold, the Wagar and all the national events.  See the finals of the Wagar tomorrow on Bridge Base Online, along with daily kibitzing of the Spingold.

My partner, Jean Barry and I have had a slam fest in the last few days. Here are a couple of fun slams from the first session of the Wagar.

Bd. 17. Round of 16-Morning, Table 3.

Partner opened 1NT, 15-17 and I held:

♠ void
♣ AQ82

Essentially a 5-loser hand, assuming we have a heart fit.  I start with a transfer and partner duly bids 2.  I then make a forcing bid of 3, hoping to get some clarity about how to proceed.

Partner jumps to 4.  Great--I jump to 6

A spade is led and partner ruffs it.  Hearts break 2-2 with the honors divided and the slam comes home for a push board. Partner's hand:

♠ AKQ6

Bd. 23. Round of 16-Morning, Table 3.

I pick up this lovely collection and open 1:

♠ 10
♣ AJ

Partner surprises me by jumping to 4! With very few losers in sight, I do it again--jump to 6!

♠ 8532

There's not much to the play and partner is relieved when I score up 1430.  Our teammates come back with the improbable score of minus 1190 (!), but we still win 6 imps.

Stay tuned for a couple of slams which propelled us to a match win in the Wagar after being behind 29 imps at the half!

See you at the table!

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Jennbridge: A First *Updated*

Here's a hand recently sent from Dee Berry, an expert player, teacher and writer from Washington.

Dee writes: "My RHO opened one heart (not someone who has ever psyched against me!) and I held:


A double, perforce, was the only forcing bid I could make. Partner made a nice jump to 4holding:


I Blackwooded and upon learning he held K (as well as A)  I bid 7 spades.

First time in my whole life I bid a grand slam after the opponent opened the bidding! (My RHO held:x Q10xxx QJ10x KQJ.)"

Great story Dee!  Feel free to send me your interesting bridge stories, hands or questions.

Update from Dee:  "In truth my hand was even bigger than the one I erroneously sent you. It included the heart K---which meant a very easy pitch. "

Thanks Dee.  So now the mystery is solved.  How did she make it?  Where was the K?  Did she make it on a red-suit squeeze as suggested by some sharp-eyed readers?

See you at the table!