Friday, December 21, 2012

Combined chances turn out to be worse

I was playing an online IMPS tournament. Going into the last set, we were 25 imps positive and on Table 3. The way these things work is that Table 1 are the leaders, so Table 3 indicates that we have a decent shot to win the tourney.

The last board of the tournament was this hand:

What do you think of the auction (we are playing 2/1)? I opened my rule-of-20 hand as 1H, thinking it too strong for either pass or 2H. Partner forced to game with 2C and now I had a choice. I could bid out my pattern with 2D and then later bid 2H or I could limit my hand with 2H. I decided to limit my hand. Partner now temporized and I showed my 4-card minor and partner put us in the slam.

They led a low spade and when the dummy comes down, I feel pretty good. Players at my level simply do not bid minor-suit slams and this one seems to have several possible lines.

How would you play it?

There were two possible lines that I could see at the table:

 Line 1: I could make this thing by reversing the dummy, and ruffing out the spades. I would make if diamonds were 3-2 or if the club finesse worked.

 Line 2: I can play two rounds of clubs and ruff the third club with the 10. If it gets over-ruffed by the Jack, I can pull trumps and claim. This will make as long as clubs are 3-2.

My ability to gauge the odds is rather poor, but it seems that Line 1 has the chance of line 2 (a suit breaking 3-2) plus a 50% chance of a finesse. So, probably 80% vs. 68%.  So Line 1 is the line I took (click Next to see my play).


Is there a better line? Am I thinking about this right?

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Not necessarily surrounded

Playing a team match against competent opponents, I open 2NT (22-24 in our Precision system) and find myself in a rather routine 4S contract. North leads the King of diamonds and this is the dummy that comes down:

How do you play?  This is board 14 of a 16-board match and we are 2 imps behind. So no heroics.

I take the diamond Ace, pull two rounds of trumps and exit with a diamond.  North plays the 10 of diamonds but South overtakes with the Jack and leads the 9 of hearts.

I try the queen of hearts. It loses to the queen and a small heart comes back. Now what?

I had given up on the hand at that point. South overtaking the diamond and leading the the heart looked very much like a surrounding play. He must have lead from the J98 of hearts.  I played low from dummy, South played the 8 of hearts and I had one more heart and a club to lose. Down 1.

Unfortunately, this was the hand:

At the other table, they went down 2, so we actually gained 2 imps on this deal. However, had I made, we'd have gained quite a bit more imps.

The mistake? Not playing to make.  Yes, South's play looked suspiciously like a surrounding play, but he may have simply wanted a heart ruff -- he'd play the 9 of hearts from 98 hoping his partner had the AQ of hearts.  Put another way, if South had J98, I was toast no matter what, so I had to put the 10 up from dummy.

Monday, December 17, 2012

A flexible bid gives me too much rope

The contract was not a success: 4S went down 3.  Which bid was wrong -- the takeout double or the subsequent raise to game?

Looking over the hand-records, anyone who held my hand and overcalled 1D did well.  North bid 1NT, East came in with 2H and EW played it there for down 2.  No one holding my hand passed 2S: they all bid 4S and went down 3 or 4.

(a) Is there something about this hand that indicates that a 1D overcall would work out better than a takeout double?  Diamonds are much better, but it is not clear that diamonds (rather than, say, spades) is what I want led.

(b) Is there a better bid than 4S? I would think that 3D would indicate 17+ and no spade support.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Missing precision

I was playing with a non-regular partner in an online tournament, and we naturally decided to play 2/1.  We were having an excellent match (65-70%) until the last two boards.  This was board #7:

Is there any way playing 2/1 to avoid landing up in the slam?  The spade lead is dead-obvious on the auction too ... Playing precision, of course, it is quite easy to stop in 5C:
(1) 16+
(2) 8+
(3) 5+ diamonds 16-21
(4) 6-5 or 5-5 in minors, 16-18
(5) no extras

The last board was a doozy of a fix:

Who bids 3nt instead of 4H with a soft stopper in spades and 5 hearts? Our opponents, that's who! My duck of the spade was right (click Next to see the play) -- I was hoping to set the contract if partner has one more entry. However, that was not to be, and 3NT+3 was a near-bottom.  Turns out that 3NT+2 would have gotten us only 5% more matchpoints.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

When you can count 14 tricks ...

I got so excited over being able to bid a grand that I forgot to count my tricks.
Lead: K

Partner, sitting West, was dealer and he opened 1H:
(1) 11-15
(2) 5-4, 11-13
(3) RKC for spades
(4) 2 key cards without trump queen
(5) doh!

At match-points, that 7S bid was quite silly. Partner's two key cards are the Ace of clubs and the king of spades. Since my 7S bid assumes that partner must have the King of hearts for his 1H bid, I can count 14 tricks. 7NT is what I should have bid.

Fortunately, it turned out to not matter. No one else opened the West hand, and so, the rest of the field found only 6H or 6S.  7S was a cold top.