Monday, December 31, 2012

Jennbridge: Best of 2012

I have selected some of the best Jennbridge posts from 2012 and collected them here for your holiday reading.  Happy New Year!

2012 was the year that most of my articles on Losing Trick Count appeared in the Bridge Bulletin. This prompted a flurry of blog posts.  Here are a few:
Fun preempts from a Northern CA regional:
What do you do when a world championship pair makes a lead out of turn?
Exciting hands from 2012 NABCs
Play Problems:
Defensive Problems:
Bidding Problems:
See you at the table!

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Jennbridge: 2 Endplays

Here's a hand I played recently which reminded of a hand that my friend Erwin Linzner had given me earlier in the week.  We executed very similar endplays. I'll present them both.

I found myself in 3NT with these hands.  I believe that I jumped to 3NT after partner opened 1♣.



The Q was led and it was clear that I had enough tricks--at least 10.  As this was a pair game, however, it was incumbent on me to look for the 11th.

I won the heart and played a diamond to the king which RHO won.  She seemed to be considering a (spade) switch but, instead, continued hearts.  Now I ran my clubs, putting LHO under pressure.  At one point she made a telling discard:  the 3♠.  When I inquired about the carding I was informed that they were playing odd-even discards. Very informative.  I judged that this was a true card and that LHO did indeed hold the spade king. This steered me away from a possible spade finesse, but, instead, set the stage for an endplay.

I cashed the diamonds and ran the clubs, pitching a diamond on the 5th club and was down to these cards:



I now exited with a heart, and sure enough, LHO had come down to one heart and the Kx of spades and was forced to lead into my spade tenace.  Making 5 was worth most of the matchpoints.

This hand reminded me of a hand that Erwin Linzner had related to me earlier in the week in which his LHO also made a telling discard and he executed  a similar endplay.  Erwin's hand came in a regional pair game at the San Francisco NABC and helped him and Gary Robinson nab a second place finish in the event.

Erwin found himself in 6NT with these hands.  His story follows.

Gary opened 1♠, I bid 2♣, and after a minorwood auction I decided to blast and bid 6NT. I opted for NT rather a club slam because this was a matchpoint game.
So I got a heart lead.  Looking at dummy I was not pleased with my decision. I had 9 tricks off the top, so I had to develop 3 tricks. There are 2 possible lines. RHO has Kxx in spades (low odds - maybe 18 percent) or find the Q onside, K♠ onside, and the K onside (about 13 percent). Not exactly a great slam. Is there a way to combine chances?
In any case there was no harm in taking the heart finesse. If off, I can still fall back on Kxx of spades onside. So I  called for J and RHO contributed the 10. Great, my chances had improved. Both possible winning scenarios required a spade from dummy towards my queen. So at trick two I played a low spade towards the Q. To my surprise the Q won the trick. I now have 11 tricks. 
So it was time to play a few rounds of clubs and see what happened. I led K♣ from hand and LHO pitched a heart. I played the Q♣ and LHO signaled encouragement in diamonds. If that's a legitimate signal, the diamond finesse won't work. I now play a low club towards the ace and LHO pitches a spade. Well, that pitch makes it safe to test the spades. If spades are 3-3 I'm home free. If not, LHO, with 2 only spades, will be 6-5 in the red suits and ripe for an endplay. 
The A♠ produces another red card from LHO. It is now time to cash the K before crossing back to my hand. RHO pitches a diamond. That confirms the distribution: LHO started with 2-6-5-0. I am now cold if LHO has the K
I finish clubs ending in hand. My last 4 cards are A9 and AQ. LHO has 2 options: keep both honors guarded in the red suits or stiff either honor. My opponent chose the first option since he did have the K. I cashed the A and exited with the 9. When LHO won the Q I showed my hand. Making 6NT was a top board.
Lessons for defense here are:
1) The hand is defeated if my RHO pops the K♠ at trick 2. That eliminates the endplay and there are no squeezes on this layout. Difficult to anticipate that early in the hand.
2) Be careful on signaling where key cards are (i.e., LHO encouraged in diamonds) if it will help declarer. RHO certainly didn't need that information. In this case it pointed towards the winning line versus the losing one for declarer.

Thanks Erwin--well done!  I appreciate the symmetry of these two hands.  We both threw our left hand opponent in with hearts late in the hand, forcing them to lead into our AQ tenaces.

See you at the table!

Monday, December 17, 2012

Jennbridge: Don't Just Sit There!

We had an interesting bidding situation in the first qualifying session of the Senior Mixed Pairs in San Francisco recently. LHO opened 1♣, partner overcalled 1, RHO bid 1NT and I passed with this hand:


LHO rebid 2♣ and it was passed around to me.  I hated to sell out, so I considered my options.  The main argument against bidding was the vulnerability--unfavorable.  On the other hand, we probably had close to half of the points based on the bidding.  I liked my diamond holding and my club shortness.  Where are the majors, I wondered?

They must be evenly divided around the table.  Can we find our way to a major suit part-score?  What would a double by me mean?  Takeout for the unbid suits--the majors?

I couldn't bear to pass and let them play at the two-level, so I hazarded a double.  Partner, to my relief, bid 2!  I was pleased when everyone passed. A club was led.

NABC 11/28/2012

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

♠ 9 7
A Q 5
K J 9 8 2
♣ Q 6 5


1 ♣1
1 NTPass2 ♣Pass
All pass
2 by South
Made 3 — +140
Partner managed to make 3 for a great score of plus 140.  This was worth 36.5 matchpoints out of 39.  As it turned out, any plus score our way would have been a big score as the opponents could make 2NT (W) 4NT (E) or 4♣.

As you can see, the opponents' bidding left something to be desired.  East could certainly have passed 1NT.  West would have played it there and probably taken a lot of tricks. On the given auction, West should have competed to 3♣ over 2.

Unwilling to sell out over 2♣, I competed with an unusual balancing takeout double and it paid off. I tell my bridge students:  Don't just sit there!  Find ways to get into the auction.  Good things can happen.   

See partner's comments on the auction following this post.

See you at the table! 

Monday, December 10, 2012

Jennbridge: Along For the Ride

Here's a hand from the finals of the Nail Life Master Open Pairs played recently at the San Francisco NABC.  My partner, Larry Hansen, had an unusual hand after I opened one notrump and had to both guide and force the bidding in an effort to get to the best contract.

I opened 1 notrump with:  (Board 2, 1:00 game, Nov. 24)


Partner bid 2♠, which is a relay to 3♣ after which partner can describe his hand--a hand weak or strong in one or both minors.  After I bid 3♣, he bid 3♠, showing a slammish hand with diamonds.  With my strong holdings in the majors and weak diamonds, I bid 3NT, denying interest in diamonds.

He then made a surprise bid of 4♣.  This bid hadn't exactly been discussed and I had to decide what to do.  He had a way to show a hand that was strong in both minors by bidding 3NT over my forced 3♣.  So it didn't sound like that.  Perhaps it was Gerber, ace-asking.  I decided to treat it as such and bid 4♠, showing two aces.

Partner now surprised me again by jumping to 6♣!  What is going on here?  Did he misbid earlier in the auction and he really had clubs?  Did he have both minors?  Should I correct to 6NT with my strong holdings in the majors?

I really wasn't sure what was going on--I was just along for the ride.  I decided to trust my partner, however--to trust that he had bid correctly and was trying to send me a message.  Accordingly, I passed 6♣.



Wow--nice hand.  I got a spade lead and starting on diamonds, planning to ruff a diamond in my hand. LHO, whose original diamond holding was K8, won and returned a spade.  Now I played the ♣Q and ♣A, both opponents following, and ruffed a diamond with my ♣J. Now it was a simple of getting to the board to draw the last trump and claim.

Plus 920 was worth 73 out of 90 matchpoints.  Several pairs had minus scores.  Six notrump doesn't make because you have to lose 2 diamonds.

Most of us are unable to discuss every possible auction and must do our best to guide and force the bidding as the situation requires.  A successful partnership is amenable to that.

See you at the table!

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Jennbridge: An Extraordinary Hand from the Nationals

By Bob Klein. My penultimate hand, following six mediocre days of results at the San Francisco NABC, made me forget everything that preceded it.  I picked up this monster:

♠  KQTxx
♣  void

Once I realized that I had indeed sorted it correctly and mentally got up off the floor after having been knocked down, I started to think of how I would approach the bidding.  Before getting too far, I heard my partner, Dave Neuman, open one Heart in front of me in first seat.  Now my perspective changed considerably.  I saw that the only thing I needed to know about his hand was his spade holding to as much specificity as possible.

I decided that if I showed a 6-5 or longer in diamonds and spades, I might get to find out if he has 3-card or longer spade support.  I thought it unlikely that he would have 4 spades since he didn't use Flannery, which he could have done even if he was 4-6 in the majors.  So I bid 2 Diamonds.  He rebid 2 Hearts, I bid 2 Spades, he bid 2NT and I completed the picture with 3 spades.  Now I would get an answer.  He obliged by bidding 4 Spades.  This almost certainly showed 3 spades.

Now the stage was set for me to get the information I needed: did he have the ace of spades, never mind any other aces he might hold?  I therefore bid 5NT, which in this auction was unambiguously a grand slam force with spades agreed.  His reply of 6 Spades confirmed that he had the ace, since if he didn't have any of the top three spade honors, he would have replied 6 Clubs.   I now bid 7 Diamonds, confident that Dave, knowing that I had already bid diamonds and had assumed captaincy, wasn't giving him a choice (if I really wanted him to choose between spades and diamonds, I would instead have bid 7 Clubs.)

I got the king of clubs lead, and looked at:



So I had to avoid losing a trick to the nasty jack of spades.  I saw three chances:

1.  Spades split 3-2
2.  RHO has four to the jack.  Here you cannot misguess if you play the king first.
3.  LHO has four to the jack and the ace of hearts and will be squeezed at trick ten.

So I played the ace of clubs pitching a spade, drew trump, cashed the king of spades and ran all of the diamonds to reach this 3-card ending:

                     ♠    Ax

                     ♠  QTx

If the heart ace has not already appeared, play for the spades to come in.  If LHO started with Jxxx, he would already have been squeezed.  It turned out that RHO had Jxxx so I had a marked finesse of the jack and the grand came home for an 11-IMP win. 

At the other table, after the player holding Dave's hand opened 1 Heart, my teammate preempted with 3 Clubs.  They never got to bid spades, eventually had to guess what to do, and ended up in 6 Diamonds.  Here are all four hands:


x                                                   J9xx
AQJxx                                          xx
xxx                                               void
QJxx                                             KTxxxxx


Good luck!