Wednesday, February 19, 2014

A trick behind the field

The director of our club said that he'd been trying to get C. to play the Norman game.  Ever since his regular partner could no longer drive at night, C. had never been to the Norman night game.  Would I play with him?

Would I?  Of course I would. C. is one of the best players in the area.

We got together a few minutes before the game to go over the card.  "No inverted minors," he told me.  And  no Michaels.  Over a preempt, double was penalty and a cue-bid was takeout.  This was going to be interesting.

As it turned out, our bidding was fine although partner was unhappy about a couple of light openings in 3rd seat (I posted one of them on Bridge Winners just to see how egregious it is).  For the most part, I remembered the new system, and our contracts (the two light openings aside) were reasonable.  My play on the other hand ...  On pretty much every hand I played, I was one trick behind the field.  Defensively, I let them make a couple of contracts that would have been easily down had I counted out the hand.  And partner noticed every single mistake.  I wanted to hide under the table.

Take this hand for example.  Partner opens 1C ("could be as short as 2"). I respond 1D and he bids 1H.  I am not sure what would be forcing now, so I bid what I think I can make:  3NT.
Lead: Q

The 3NT is probably wrong-sided, but that is neither here nor there.  The lead is the Queen of clubs. How would you play the hand?

Well, we know who has the Jack of clubs.  But I can take only one of three finesses: clubs, hearts or spades. Deciding that the opponents would probably lead clubs for me, I decide to set up a heart trick by taking the heart finesse.

That's wrong of course. I need to take the spade finesse, because if it wins, I remain in hand to take another one.  And if the Jack gets covered, I have just created an entry in the 10 of spades.  Thus, every other declare made 10 tricks in NT while I made just 9.

We ended the night with 43%. My worst club game in ages and probably partner's too. I doubt he's coming back.


  1. Even though you would like to later take a club finesse, aren't you sort of forced to win the CK at Trick 1 so that you can unblock the DQ?

    After that start, I think I am inclined to play HA,HQ. although not with great confidence that that is the best continuation. Maybe I will be lucky and RHO will win HK (although he should probably duck) and be already exhausted of clubs; a pointed suit return (giving me the spade finesse or allowing me to duck a round of diamonds) would be welcomed).

    1. If I take the club king at trick 1, unblock QD and play Ace and queen of hearts, RHO wins the king and returns a club to my stiff Ace. And now, I can cash diamonds and take spade finesse. This works on the lie of the cards, but would cost the contract if the spade finesse loses. By taking the club Ace, I retain a tenace over LHO's clubs and can try for overtricks without costing the contract.