Sunday, December 20, 2020

Take Your Only Chance

 Here's an interesting slam I played with the robots the other night.

The bidding was unremarkable.  North bid 4, Gerber, after I opened 1 and then jumped to 2NT.  I responded 4, showing one ace, and North jumped to 6NT.

A spade was led and I counted my tricks.  With decent breaks plus a finesse, the slam should make.

Problems started developing, however, when the diamond suit didn't break.  Then the heart suit didn't break. All of  sudden the contract was in trouble.  

Having won 6 tricks (1 spade, 3 hearts and 2 diamonds) it was difficult to see a path to 12 tricks.  Studying the remaining cards, I saw a glimmer of hope.

If the KJ were on my right, I could take a double finesse to land the contract.  Slim chance, but the only chance. I had the entries I needed. (Be careful to save entries in case you need them.)

I led a club from North and inserted the 10 which held!  I returned to the board for a finesse of the Q--and--Success!

The score of plus 990 was worth 10.3 IMPs.  Out of 15 players, 7 bid the slam and only 3 made it.

Never give up on your contract if there is a possibility of making it!

See you at the table.

Monday, December 7, 2020

Grand Slam Trump Coup

I had a fun hand with the BBO robots the other night.  A grand slam with a dollop of extra drama--in order to bring it home I needed to execute a trump coup!

As often happens, it was the last board of an Instant IMP Tournament. I was lying second and figured that I could win with a big final board.

I knew there was a strong possibility of a high-scoring board when my robot partner opened 1 and I held a gorgeous 20-count.

I responded 1.  Partner bid a pedestrian 2.  Now what could/should I do?

I have found that straightforward bidding works best with the robots so I went directly to 4NT, RKC for diamonds.  This bid should elicit the information I need.

A rich 5 bid from North (two aces plus the Q) and it was Show Time.

I pondered my options.  The most obvious bid was 6NT.  I assumed (hoped!) that North had 6 diamonds and I could count 12 tricks. I scanned my hand and reviewed the info for the possibility of a 13th trick. I believed that a 6NT bid would be a small plus, not the big score I was seeking, as many would get there.  

What about 7NT?  What about 7?  I loved all of my aces and kings and eyed the 10 as a possible asset.  If I played in diamonds maybe I could ruff out a trick in one of the majors.  

With nothing to lose but 30 minutes and $1.25, I made my decision and jumped to 7!

The North hand was suitable, but let's look now at the play.

East led the 10 and I paused to count my tricks. An easy 13 tricks if diamonds break 3-2.

I won in the South hand and started on diamonds.  All followed to the K and when I led the 2, LHO played the 10 and, to my horror, East showed out!.  It appeared that West had a diamond trick...but wait...West's remaining diamonds are the J and the 8.  Hmm...maybe something can be done.

I next played the A, followed by the K and ruffed a heart in the North hand.  Now a club to my hand and another heart ruff.  As you can see, I am busy shortening the trumps in the North hand.

Here was the situation and I needed a bit of a miracle in spades.

I played the J and it was covered with the Q!  I won and played another spade honor, all following.  Finally, I played that serendipitous 10 and pitched the Q.  Now the only two cards in the North hand are the Q and 9 and I have to win both of them when I lead a black card from the board.  West's trump are couped and the supposed diamond winner disappears!

I knew that the score of plus 2140 for 7 making was huge, and in fact, it netted 13.9 IMPs for the win.  A few players bid and 6NT and won 3.7 IMPs.  No one else bid the grand.  There are not 13 tricks available in notrump.

Another .90 masterpoint gained as well as a good story!

See you at the table!