Monday, September 1, 2014

Flyer for a newcomer bridge game

I was standing in line for food at the Oklahoma City Sectional when the person ahead of me in line turned around and said in a disappointed voice: "I was hoping you would make me a flyer for my newcomer game, but then I heard you are moving to Seattle.  I really liked the Easybridge flyer you made and wanted to have some cute cartoons on my flyer too."

I am a sucker for praise (aren't we all?).  So, I agreed to make her a flyer.  This was what I came up with:

The two cartoons:


Here's the Word document in case you want to use it as a starting point.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Count the high card points

I got permission to say goodbye to all my bridge friends by playing two days (!) in the local sectional.  Our team was placed in the low bracket of the Saturday knockout.  No matter what we did, or how many mistakes we made, we would still win and win big.  The opponents were very friendly, but the bridge was a little miserable.  It's no good -- either for yourself or for your opponents -- when you win like that.

So, in the Sunday Swiss, we asked to be put in the AX of the Swiss. No more bunny hunting for us.  We did well, ending up with 120 victory points over the six matches.  But a team we beat by 12 imps in the head-to-head pipped us by finishing with 121 victory points.  So, we were third instead of second (first was at 145 VPs, well ahead of either of us, and we did lose a tight match to that team by 4 imps, so no heartache there ...).

Still, we could have been second in A instead of third.  By one measly victory point! Obviously, with that small a margin, every board would have made a difference.  But there are two boards I messed up that come to mind.

This was against the team that came in second. I was West and held:
W
Me
x
AK10xx
Axxxx
Ax
Lead: A
E
Pard
J10xx
9xxx
xxx
Kx


The bidding had gone:
W
Me
N
LHO
E
Pard
S
RHO
1
1
2
Pass
3
Pass
3
3
4
All Pass

LHO led the Ace of Spades and switched to the Queen of clubs.  How do you play the hand?  Decide before you go on.

Obviously, I have two losing diamonds with no place to go.  Hence, I need to play the heart suit for no losers.  The question then is the right play for the heart suit.  Did you just plop down the top two hearts because a 2-2 division is the most likely? Then you go one down.

What I needed to have thought about was the auction.  RHO passed on the first round and then bid 3S, so he is dead minimum but because he is willing to push us to game, probably thinks he has a heart trick.  From the lead, LHO has telegraphed the AK of spades, QJ of diamonds and probably the K of diamonds.  That leaves exactly the QJ of hearts and diamonds for RHO.  I need to go up with the king of clubs and hook the heart.  I need to take the view that hearts are 3-1 with QJx with RHO.

The board was a push because the other table also went down 1 in 4H.  But I should have made it.

We beat the very last team by 17 imps.  We would have beaten them by 25 imps if I had gotten this board right.  I was West and picked up, as dealer, this 7-5-1 hand.
W
Me
8xxxx
x
AJ109xxx
Lead: A
E
Pard
Q9x
Kxx
9xxxx
Kxx


I've got spades and this hand could very well make slam in either spades or clubs.  So, I passed. The auction now went:
W
Me
N
LHO
E
Pard
S
RHO
Pass
1
Pass
2
3
4
Pass
Pass
4
Dbl
5
Pass
Pass
Dbl

LHO led the Ace of diamonds.  I ruffed and led out the small heart.  LHO won with the Ace and played back a heart. I took this with the king, discarding a spade.  4H is cold for them. 5Cx is a good sacrifice if I can keep this to down 2.  The key then is to play the clubs for no losers.  How do you play this?

I played low to the Ace, and LHO showed out.  So, down 3.  Our teammates were in 5H making against our -500, so we lost 5 imps on the deal.

The key, as before, is to count out the high card points.  Where are the spades?  RHO probably has them, but did not introduce them.  LHO has A of hearts and AK of diamonds. I should play the spades before touching clubs.  I would have then discovered that RHO had AJ of spades.   LHO with AQ hearts, AK of diamonds and Kxx of spades.  Why would she leap to 4H?  Because she is void in clubs.  I should play low towards the King and pick up the Queen of clubs on a finesse back to hand when LHO shows out on the first round.

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.