Wednesday, November 25, 2020

Losing Trick Count in Slam Bidding

This is a tale of two slam hands.  One successful, one not.  They were played on the same day--one at matchpoints and one at IMPs.

This first one was at matchpoints.  After partner opened and we located our heart fit, I barreled into slam.  It was only after I went down, earning a score of 46%, that I took a closer look at the hand. 

As you can see, I have a 7-loser hand.  Unusual to have 19 points and 7 losers, but there you have it.  True, the honors held by the opponents could have been better positioned, but in actuality, we had no business being in slam.  I violated my own rules and pushed on without paying enough attention to Losing Trick Count. As partner had not shown more than a minimum 7-loser hand, I should have settled for game.

Next we have another instant tournament, this one at IMPs.

Here I have only 16 points, but hold a nice 5-loser hand.  When partner showed a limit raise or better in hearts with the cuebid, I bid RKC, checking on keycards. Even though partner denied an ace, I judged that slam was a good bet and bid it. As you can see, partner has quite a good hand and slam made easily.

The score of plus 1430 was worth 9.6 IMPs.  Approximately 1/3 of the field bid it.

Don't forget to pause in the bidding and count your losers.  It will usually guide you to the right contract!

Happy Thanksgiving! See you at the table.

Sunday, November 8, 2020

Execute this Endplay with Me

I played a hand this week which is a great example of an endplay if you need to brush up on your skills in this area.

Playing IMPs in an Instant Tournament, I opened 1NT with my balanced 16-count and West, LHO, overcalled 2, showing spades and a minor.  North now bid 3, showing at least 5 diamonds and a game-going hand.  I signed off in 3NT. West led the K and, surprisingly, East, RHO, showed out on the trick. Very interesting.  Now I know that West started with 6 clubs, and presumably, 5 spades.

Before I played to trick one, I counted my tricks and only came up with 8.  Where would I get the 9th? Although ordinarily I might duck the opening lead to try to induce West to continue clubs, which would give me an extra trick, that wouldn't happen now that East showed out of clubs.  So I won the A and started thinking.  Hoping that West might have a good holding in diamonds, I led a diamond to the 9, losing to the 10--no help in the diamond suit.  East returned the J which I won with the K.  Now it was time to run my four heart tricks to see what would happen.  Undoubtedly this would put pressure on West.

West discarded 2 clubs and 1 spade on the hearts.  I then cashed the A and West discarded another club.  Now the stage was set.  Do you see it? (Visualize the endgame before the spade trick.)

I should be able to throw West in with a spade for the endplay. I played a spade to the A and now exited with a spade to West.

Voila!  When West wins the spade, a second spade can be cashed, but now clubs have to be played--resulting in my getting a club trick.  The 9th trick and my contract!

Plus 600 was worth 11. 6 IMPs as only one other person made the contract.  

Two-suited overcalls by the opponents make counting easier in the play of the hand.  Work on your declarer play--that's where success lies in bridge!

See you at the table!