Sunday, August 23, 2020

Unusual Response to RKC

I had an interesting situation with the BBO robots recently when I bid RKC, Roman Keycard Blackwood.  Here is the hand.

After partner passed, RHO opened 1 and I made a takeout double. I was pleased and surprised to hear my robot partner jump to 3.  I wasted no time bidding RKC.  Partner responded 5, showing two keycards plus the Q.  

Now, as you can see, I actually held the Q.  What was going on?  I went ahead and bid 6♣, and then understood the bidding when the dummy came down.  With the great extra length in clubs, partner evaluated that it was equal to the possession of the Q.  This is an expert bid and I was pleased to see it utilized by the BBO robots.  

When partner bids RKC, Roman Keycard Blackwood, and you have extra length in the trump suit, so that you are relatively certain that the partnership holds at least 10 trumps, you can go ahead and show the queen of trump in your response. This information can be quite helpful for a partner contemplating bidding a slam, but concerned about losing a trick to the queen of trump.

The play was straightforward. The score of plus 920 was worth 94% of the matchpoints.

Here is another hand I played at matchpoints, where I had some difficult decisions to make. Although my robot partner was a passed hand, I thought I should try to get into the auction when RHO opened 2 and I held: K43, AQJ9, 5, A9865.  No good bid, but I tried a takeout double.  

Partner bid 2NT, Lebensohl, which requested a 3 bid from me. I figured that the robot would correct to 3, in all likelihood its suit, after my bid of 3♣, and that presented a dilemma. I would be happy to hear a heart bid, but a 3 bid would be disastrous.  With no good options I considered a pass. If partner had diamonds, 2NT could actually be the best spot.  Accordingly I passed.

I was quite pleased to see the Q in partner's hand. A spade was led and I took a heart finesse, hoping that if West won, a spade would be returned.  Instead a couple of diamonds were played and then a spade switch.  After all was said and done, the robots didn't manage to cash their diamond tricks and I actually took 9 tricks.

The score of  plus150 was worth 96.5% of the matchpoints.

As they say, "It's better to be lucky than good!"

See you at the table!

Saturday, August 8, 2020

More about BBO Robots

Jordan Chodorow, winner of the recent 3-day 2020 NABC Robot Individual, has created a YouTube video entitled "Win an ACBL Robot Daylong With Me".  He has some really good tips about playing with the robots.  Check it out.

While Jordan discusses playing matchpoints, I have been writing recently about playing IMPs, a totally different strategy.

Here is a recent hand where bidding and making a vulnerable game netted 9+ IMPs.  After my partner overcalled, and eyeing the vulnerability, I decided I needed to bid game.  Most players bid 2NT with my hand and played there.  Not a winning strategy, vulnerable at IMPs, where bidding and making game is richly rewarded.

I took four diamond tricks, three hearts and two clubs to make my contract. 

Next is a tricky play problem. As is often the case, paying attention to the bidding is key.

I got a heart lead from RHO, East, and, as I figured that LHO, West, (the non-preemptor) rated to hold the spade honors, played the 7 and let it ride.  It won, and I next played the 9, covered with the ♠Q and won with the ♠A, RHO following. I now know that LHO started with 4 spades and probably 3 diamonds.  Next I played on hearts and noted with interest when RHO showed out.  Now I have a count on the hand.

LHO, West, started with 4-5-3-1.  Let's see how to best use this info.

I decided to play my hearts and make a critical discard of a diamond from the North hand.  My plan was to go ahead and lose the two spades and 1 diamond.  I couldn't play on spades again without getting into trouble.  If LHO won the ♠K, he would play on diamonds and North would be forced to ruff.  This would leave West with the outstanding trump and I would go down.  A lot.

Instead, I pitched a diamond on a heart and started playing on clubs.  LHO could ruff in at any time, but when a diamond was returned, I would still be in control.

Plus 420 was worth 10.4 IMPs.  The contract of 4 (or 4) went down 14 out of 15 times.

See you at the table!