Thursday, April 9, 2020

Balancing in a Barometer Battle

We have been enjoying playing knockout matches with barometer scoring on BBO.  Instead of the typical situation of wondering and worrying about the state of the match, barometer scoring lets all participants see a running tally and the current score of the match after each board is played.

When you set up a team game on BBO, the barometer feature is already "checked".  To play without barometer scoring you have to "uncheck" the box.

We played a nail-biter of a knockout match last night--which wasn't decided until the last board. Bob and I finished our boards early and were a bit disheartened as our team was down 10 IMPs with 4 boards to play, and we really didn't see how they would be picked up.

I will keep you in suspense for a moment as I turn to the topic du jour. Looking over the boards today, I noted that one theme that emerged last night was BALANCING. It helped us pick up a couple of good scores, and factored significantly in the last board! I have come to believe that balancing is just as important at team games as it is at pair games.

*(An explanation for newer players: You do not want to sell out to a low-level contract, but want to find a way to get into the auction to push the opponents higher. So you often have to balance in order to push them higher.)

Here is an example from early in the match which led to a good result.


RHO opened 1, I passed and LHO bid 2.  After two passes it was my bid.  While I wasn't strong enough for an initial takeout double, the opponents' bidding is not strong and my partner rates to have some values.  Unwilling to let them play 2, I doubled.  Partner bid 3 and was able to play there.



As you can see, he had a good hand, and we actually have the majority of the points.  He had no trouble scoring up plus 130 and I was surprised to win 6 IMPs as our teammates were allowed to play 2, scoring plus 110.  6 IMPs is a good score on a rather nondescript hand--and quite important in a tight match!

The 24 board match was lively as several slams were bid. Our team led most of the way, but we were 10 IMPs behind, with 4 boards to play, when our table finished. Then, something good happened. Our opponents at the other table got too high and ended in 4x down 3 for minus 500, on a hand where I was down 1 in 3♠, for a 10 IMP gain. The match was tied.  On the penultimate board the opponents made an extra trick on a hand and surged back ahead by 1 IMP.  That was the situation, down by 1 IMP, as the last board came up, and once again, balancing was involved.

This was my hand, shown as North in the diagram below.


West, opened 1, I passed as North, East, bid 1 and West bid 2.  Now this time I'm not in the "balancing seat" (typically 4th seat), but I know that partner doesn't have much and probably won't be able to balance. I also have a decent hand with short spades and would love to show my values. I therefore made the "pre-balancing" bid of Double which asks partner to bid a suit.  As the opponents were playing Precision, I knew that West, the opening bidder, did not have a really strong hand. I just hoped that East didn't have a big hand either and that I hadn't stepped into trouble.  In fact, East passed and partner bid 3.  The bidding proceeded pass, pass and East then bid 3. So, we pushed them to the 3 level--let's see if that was worthwhile.

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

 ♠ Q 7 62
  J 2
   J 10 9 7
 ♣ A 10 2
                      ♠ 9 4 3
                      ♥ 8 6 5 3
                      ♦  A 6 4
                      ♣ Q 6 4 

Partner, South, led a heart. I won and shifted to the K.  Then a diamond to partner's ace who shifted back to a heart. In the course of time, declarer couldn't manage 9 tricks and went down 1. That didn't seem significant at the time we played the board, but, as it turns out, our teammates were permitted to play 2 and made it! That resulted in a gain of 5 IMPs.  So, after a competitive match of 24 boards, we eked out a 4 IMP win. If we had made it easy on our opponents and let them play 2, we would have lost the match by 1.

The opposing team has demanded a rematch and that will take place in due course...:-)

So today's message is: Be Brave in these Balancing Battles!

See you at the (virtual) table!

No comments: