Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Playing the common game

Visiting New York, I wheedled Bill into playing with me again. We won the North-South direction, with 59% although it didn't seem like that good a game while playing.

Partly, this was because the opponents were not making very many mistakes. On board 1, for example, they bid 4S and played a double-dummy line to make 4S:

Board 1 (10/29/13)

N Deals
None Vul


See if you can figure out the line to make 4S on the lead of the 8 of hearts.

On board 13, the opponents at our table found a slam that most of the field didn't. Shouldn't everyone find the slam on these cards?

Board 13 (10/29/13)

N Deals
Both Vul

It was not all bad luck, however.  There was one bad board that was the result of me making an anti-field decision.  Sitting South, what do you lead if you hold this hand and the auction has gone 2NT-3NT?


I figured that I had to lead a major. But which one? Since I had no entries, and partner rated to have 6-10 points, I decided to try to hit his length by leading a spade.  Bad idea. The field chose hearts, and that was the right lead on this hand because 3NT goes down if you lead that suit.  The whole hand:

Board 21 (10/29/13)

N Deals
N-S Vul

The Manhattan Bridge Club games are part of The Common Game.  Against the full field, these three are still our bad boards, but we improve marginally to 60%.  Why'd we do so well? Superior card play by partner, mostly. He was dropping doubleton queens like flies. On almost every board, we were at or better than the par score.

I was looking forward to expert discussion of these hands on Bridge Winners, but it turns out that the discussion is not for the night-series games.  Sigh.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Do you also zig?

Playing a BBO team match, you know the state of the match at the end of every hand.  With two boards to go, your team is leading by 16 imps.  So, you know the opponents are going to try to create swings.

On the last-but-one hand, RHO preempts 3C and you hold:

What's your bid?

This would be a straight-forward 15-17 NT bid, but 3NT seems a bit rich.  Opposite a typical 7 points, I don't see a way to 9 tricks unless partner has a long suit of his own.

Double has a narrow target -- only if partner bids 3H do I have a straight-forward response. If he bids anything else, we might end up too high.

What about simply passing? Partner rates to be short in clubs and my partner here was quite aggressive. Surely, he'd reopen?  If he reopens with a double, I can bid hearts or pass for penalty.  If he reopens in diamonds, I can bid 3NT. If he reopens in a major, I can cue-bid 4C.  Pass seems the most flexible option.

Well, not today.  Partner passed and we beat the contract 3 tricks, for a loss of 7 imps.  The other table played in 3NT.

This was the complete hand:

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Back to work

The best thing that happened during Wednesday's evening club game happened thousands of miles away -- Congress finally voted to reopen the "non-essential" parts of government, and I can finally go back to work.  Being furloughed was a weird experience.  Even though there was no financial impact -- I knew that I would ultimately get paid -- a furlough is not quite a paid vacation.  Instead, it was just a nasty cocktail of boredom (the kids and wife were off at school and work), frustration (I was unable to even write papers because I was cut off from my datasets and computational resources) and guilt (there is so much stuff I want to get done). Government by crisis is thoroughly demoralizing.  So, I am very, very happy that I will be off to the lab to do some research tomorrow.

But enough about work.  What about the bridge?

We came in second with 57% and three of our bad boards came against the pair who came in first. It was bad luck, though, because all three of the boards belonged to them and an extra trick was there for a good declarer on every one of those deals.  In the end, they beat us by 1.5 boards.  Sometimes, that's how it goes at match-points.

The fourth bad board, however, was a mishap and it came down to four decisions -- I managed to make the wrong one each time. You hold:
South (Me)
RHO deals and opens 1S non-vulnerable. Your call?.
Well, I passed. I do not have the shape, the points or the vulnerability to do a light negative double.  Would you have acted?

LHO also passes and partner doubles, for takeout.  Your call? I think it is close between 1NT (it is matchpoints, after all) and 2H.  I bid 2H.  

East now comes back in, bidding 2S.  What is your call now?

I have a pretty good hand for defense. Partner rates to have 12-15 points. I have two spade tricks and a club trick or two.  I doubled on general principles.  Do you agree with the double?

Now, what do you lead? I do want to lead a trump, but AJx is a hard holding to lead from -- if partner has neither the K nor the 10, it blows a trick. Diamonds looked reasonably safe, so I led the Jack of diamonds.  Do you have a better lead in mind?

As it turns out, partner had an off-shape double, and his hand was:
Dummy had AKxx of hearts and declarer had AQxx of diamonds.  The only way to beat 2S was to take 3 club tricks and 3 spade tricks on the trot.  I didn't find the killer club or spade lead and declarer escaped with 8 tricks.

2S doubled and made is never good.

These are the four decisions that led to this debacle:

(1) Passing the 1S in second seat.
(2) Bidding 2H instead of 1NT after partner balanced in.
(3) Doubling 2S for penalty in an attempt to catch up after failing to bid 1NT.
(4) Failing to find the club/spade lead.

Decision #1 was right on the merits. 2-4 were quite wrong.

Monday, October 7, 2013

Any way to avoid this squeeze?

Playing with a pickup partner in a BBO pairs tourney, I found myself squeezed out of my heart winners on this hand.  Is there any way to avoid giving declarer his slow 9th trick on this hand (click Next to view the play)?

And yes, with the Jack of spades dropping, declarer has 9 tricks if he guesses to play diamonds correctly. But it appears that most of the field did not make 3NT.  Was the declarer at my table good or was the South defender poor?