Thursday, January 30, 2014

Get the kids off the street before the coup

I was South in a club game when I got to a 6H contract:

I got the lead of the Queen of spades. I took the Ace. Then, I played a low heart to the King, drawing the queen from West.  Looks like hearts 4-1.  How do you play?

I have A-10-8 over the J-9 with righty.  Two finesses will do him in. But unfortunately, I will then have 2 spade losers because dummy's clubs are needed to throw away two diamonds.  I decided that I would take one heart finesse, ruff one spade and then hope to play diamonds for one loser and effect a trump coup to take care of East's hearts.

To effect a trump coup, I need to shorten my trumps to have the same length as East. How can I do that? If you click "Next" above, you will see the right line to take. Essentially, I need take a heart finesse, and then cash the Ace of diamonds. Go to dummy's clubs and and throw away the *diamonds* so that you can ruff a diamond.  Ruffing a diamond is the way to shorten my trump length and then the trump coup is on.  All thirteen tricks are mine!

At the table, though, I didn't see the right line. Instead, I played the queen of diamonds on trick 3. East covered and I played the Ace and another diamond to West's Jack.  But now, the defense slipped -- it turned out that West really had only 5 spades, not six and so he had 3 diamonds, not two. My play looked like I had two diamonds and so West shifted to a spade that I ruffed, and I was able to make 6H.

Probably not a terrible board, but I needed to do the trump coup right.

Monday, January 20, 2014

Extreme Moysian

A few weeks ago, intrigued by a discussion about raising responder in a 1m-1M auction with only 3 spots, I started reading up on how to play Moysian contracts.  It came in useful today, although the contract was not exactly a 4-3 fit.

The reason I was playing a 4-2 fit at the 4-level was because I took partner's double as negative. Vulnerable, no less.  That's a benefit of playing with random partners on BBO -- you get experience playing inconceivable contracts.

I won't ask what you think of the bidding.  East started with top heart and small heart.  What's your plan?

The spade spots are actually quite decent. I'm missing the KQ of spades, but do have the J-10-9.  Maybe west preempted with 3 spades?  Could the spades be split 4-3?  I could escape this for one down.

East, however, inexplicably ducked the 10 of spades (he should take it and shift to a diamond to put partner in and get a heart ruff).  So, I ended up making the contract (click Next to see my play).

The other table was in 2C making 3, so this was 11 imps to the unhinged bidders.

Saturday, January 11, 2014

It's not a sacrifice if you play to make

After two passes, I am South with 9 points and 7 diamonds, unfavorable vulnerability.  What is your  bid?
9xx xxx
Lead: A
KQx xxx x

My hand is way too strong offensively for a preempt.  So, I decided to open it 1D.  The bidding now went:
All Pass

Unfavorable, it is a dangerous sacrifice, but I pushed on to 5D regardless and got doubled.

Dummy comes down on the Ace of clubs.  What's your line?

I decided that going down 1 doubled was probably going to be okay, since 4S is cold.

But I had set my sights too low -- I should be able to make this thing.  All I need to do is to ruff two spades and one heart in dummy.  Then, I lose only two hearts.  Unthinkingly, though I pulled two rounds of trumps, and when the Ace of hearts was with East, I went down one.  Still a good board, but I needed to play to make.

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Playing it right the first time around

One of the ways I have been trying to improve my card play is to go through the deals in Fred Gitelman's Bridge Master 2000 program.  It is really good in that it moves key cards and opponents' distributions around so that if you make a suboptimal play, you will not be able to make the contract.

The problem, however, is that on lesson deals, one gets several chances to get the line right. Not so in real-life deals.  I would have appreciated a mulligan on this hand I played online.

How do you plan to make 4H after West leads the Ace of spades (presumably Ace from AK) and then switches to a club?

Suppose you were to test the hearts, and they turn out to be 3-2?  Now what?

I got lazy. After pulling 2 rounds of trumps and discovering the friendly lay of the suit, I pulled the outstanding trump and played diamonds from the top, planning to ruff out the queen and claim.  Can you see the hitch?

Yes, it's as if BBO had the spirit of Bridge Master.  East turned up with Q10xx in diamonds and the contract could no longer be made.  One line that works is to play 2 rounds of trump, play the Ace of diamonds to catch a potential singleton Q or 10 and then cross to dummy with a trump and finesse the Jack.

This was the complete deal: