Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Oh so close

In New York on work, I got to play at the Aces Bridge Club in Manhattan with Bill.  We ended up with 69.58% to win it overall.

But because we missed that pyschologically important 70% mark by a whisker, all four of our bad boards really rankle.

Two bad boards came against Joel Wooldridge.  Yeah, this guy.  Multiple-national champion, and Bermuda Bowl silver medalist Joel Wooldridge.  Both boards were opening lead problems.  See if you would do better.

First board, I hold:
South
South
43
7
AJ95
Q108763

The bidding goes:
W
West
N
Pard
E
Joel
S
Me
Pass
Pass
Pass
1
2
3
5
5
Pass
5
All Pass

What do you lead?

I led the 7 of hearts. Which, in hindsight, is terrible.  Joel had made a slam try and subsided in 5S. It is obvious that partner is totally broke except for clubs. The slam try being in Diamonds, I can not plop down the Ace of diamonds - -AJ9 might well be worth two tricks. I need to cash our club trick in case it is going away and the lead a club for declarer to ruff and do what he will after that.  Leading the 7 of clubs stands out by a mile.  What was I thinking about the 7 of hearts?  Actually, I will tell you what I was thinking. I thought that if Joel had a club control for his 5C bid, it would the Ace of clubs, so partner might have the Ace of hearts. And with the slam try in diamonds and partner's preemptive jump, perhaps partner was short in diamonds ... i.e., I put partner with a hand like xxx Axxxx x Kxxx ... in which case the 7 of hearts would lead to Ace of hearts, heart ruff and Ace of diamonds. Maybe even diamond ruff to beat it two ... Very, very unlikely of course.  Much more likely that we have the two minor suit aces coming and maybe a slow diamond trick to beat the contract.   Leading a club would have given us a 56% board. Defending against Joel Wooldridge, a 56% board is victory. Leading the 7 of hearts, on the other hand, gave us a 20% one.  The full hand is here.  Incidentally, a 6C sacrifice would have been a good choice.

The second bad board, I held (everyone non vulnerable):
S
South
1083
K43
843
K743

The bidding goes:
W
West
N
Pard
E
Joel
S
Me
Pass
2
Pass
Pass
Pass

West has passed after a very long hesitation. What do you lead?

I led the 3 of clubs and Joel had no problems making 10 tricks.  This turned out to be a bad board, because the pass was well judged.  4H was going down one at most tables after a spade lead. I don't know if I should have gotten this one right.  Here's the full hand.

The third of the bad boards came against a Norman Bridge Club nemesis (long story) who bid 7NT against us and made it on a cold layout.  Got to take that bottom, but it's who the opponent was that doesn't sit well.

The final bad board was totally my fault in not being blood-thirsty enough.  Vulnerable against not, and holding:
S
South
QJ74
J5
AK5
J986

The bidding goes:
W
West
N
North
E
East
S
South
Pass
1
Dbl
RDbl
Pass
Pass
1
?
What's your bid now?

The redouble was great.  I needed to double 1S and let them play there.  They would have gone down 4 for a cool top, but the fact that we were vulnerable and they were not convinced me to remove to NT.  Bad choice. Once, I had redoubled, it was a penalty that I needed to be shooting for -- colors be damned.

So how can I have made three blunders in one evening and still ended up with a 69.6% game? Not for nothing does Michael Rosenberg call bridge a game of mistakes.


Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Pacific Northwest

After nearly 20 years in Oklahoma, we are moving to Seattle. I have a new job building the weather inputs to a data analytics system to improve agricultural yield.

With the upcoming move, I haven't had the chance to play much bridge, or to post bridge hands from the games that I did play. I was in New York last week, and played a game at the new Aces Bridge Club in Manhattan with my usual New York partner, Bill.  We ended up with a 61% game and won our direction, but there were a couple of hands where I overbid.

In one, I was not sure how Bill would bid with a minimum hand that held 5 diamonds and 4 of a major.
                         Me                Bill
                         1C                 1D
I had a 4414 hand with 14 points.  Some thing like QJxx AQxx x AJxx. What would you bid in response to 1D?  I tried 1H and Bill rebid 2C:
                         Me                 Bill
                         1C                  1D
                         1H                  2C
Now what? I tried 2NT, and Bill passed.  2NT went down 1.  2C would have made 3.

I will be playing at a sectional in Norman at the end of the month. It will give me a chance to say goodbye to a lot of friends. It is amazing how one builds both deep and broad relationships simply by playing cards once a week ...

I am going to have to look for bridge clubs and partners in Seattle. I went to the ACBL website and did a club search. There are 3 pages of listings, nearly 40 clubs in the area! How am I supposed to know which games are friendly and strong? And even then, finding a network of partners will take time.  One part of me is nervous about going to a club and saying that I have 250 masterpoints for fear of who I would be matched up with (I delude myself that I play much better than that ...). 

Monday, July 14, 2014

A nullo play

A nullo play in blackgammon is a play that can never be profitable.  The obvious thing to do is to avoid nullo plays, but what if you are making nullo plays without ever realizing it?

Playing the bridgez tournament, I got a pretty good board for bidding and making 4D when the field was going down in 3NT.  This was the bidding on the hand:

You can click "Next" to see the play as it develops.

The field had bid 3D on the first turn, and since that would be forcing, they saw partner bid a hopeless 3NT.  Passing and then bidding 3D was right on values, and allowed the robot to compete to 4D.

4D making was worth 85%, but then I noticed that the WBridge robot had made 5D.  5D?  What was the mistake in my play?  Did you spot it?

It was the nullo manner that I played the clubs.  Having stripped the hand, and lacking the 9 of clubs, the club finesse was a poor choice because it would win only if West had a doubleton club headed by an honor. Yet, with the preempt, it is East who is more likely to have the doubleton in clubs.  Small club to the Ace and low club from hand.  Now, I should get a ruff and discard to make 5.  This is how the play should have gone.




Sunday, July 6, 2014

What's a point between robots?

Playing the bridgez tournament rather distractedly, I picked up:
S
South
AQxxx
Qx
AQx
KJx

How many high-card points do I have?

For whatever reason, I thought I had 17 and opened it 1NT (15-17).  The bidding now went:
North
South
1NT
2
2
4
All Pass

This was the hand:

4H making 7 was not a good  board.  And all because I undercounted one measly Jack!  And it is not as if I needed that Jack to make 7 ... 

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Don't fake a reverse when you can open 2C

One of the recommended actions for a Bridge World Death Hand is to fake a reverse.  So, I thought I'd try it on this hand to avoid an auction that goes 1C-1S-3C:


As you can see, the 2D fake reverse was not a success. When dummy came down, I thought I had a chance, but then I discovered the diamond break ...

What's better?  Best, I think, is to open this 4-loser hand 2C and after the inevitable 2D, bid 3C.  Partner will probably put me in 6C then.

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Easybridge flyer

The Norman Bridge Club is going to be running EasyBridge classes starting next Thursday.  I looked at the suggested flyers for advertising, and they are ... horrible.  The entire aesthetic is so 1970s.

I decided to create a more modern-looking flyer and in an effort to decorate it, went looking for cartoons or photographs for the flyer. I found a few including a pretty cool New Yorker cartoon titled "Turning Tricks". But, then I also decided to create one of my own using Tondoo, a company run by one of my undergraduate classmates:


Here's the full flyer.  What do you think?

In case someone else is running bridge classes and wants to use my flyer as a template, click the link to get it as a Microsoft Word Document.

More info on our EasyBridge lessons are on the club's Facebook event page.

Saturday, May 31, 2014

Careful with the doubles when GiB is your CHO

Playing a 8-board robot tournament on BBO after a long-time, I got off to a rather poor start when my robot partner pulled my penalty double:


5H down 1 was a 38% board.  4Sx down 3 would have been a lot better of course.  But I had paid my 25c, and by golly, I was going to get my money's worth.  I decided to hunker down and finish the set.

By the 7th board, I was at 70% overall, and in first place.  This was the 7th board and after my RHO bid 4S, I had a decision to make.


Should I pass, double or bid 5H?  I recalled board 1, where my partner took out a clear penalty double.  What would the robot do with a cooperative one? I decided to bid 5H as insurance and when dummy came down, I thought I had blown it, and passing was the right call.  It turns out that 4S makes. Many of the other tables were in 4Sx, so my Center Hand Opponent would have passed the double this time, so 5H undoubled and down 3 was worth 82%.

The last board of the set was another double-or-not decision. This was the board:

After I doubled 3S for penalty and CHO took me out, I decided to not push my luck by doubling 4S for penalty.  It turned out that 4S down 3 was worth 95% anyway.  Doubling was not needed.

This sort of fielding partner's propensities is something that you always have to do with human players -- there are players who will sit and players who will run. It appears that GiB will take out his partner's doubles even at high levels.  And I can not figure what the robot's logic is regarding which doubles are for penalty and which ones are cooperative.  Any suggestions and/or pointers are appreciated.