Sunday, May 22, 2016

Cunning with a bad Trump split

I flew into London today (Sunday) morning, and since I have whole-day meetings for the next few days, I knew that I needed to get over my jet lag by being out-and-about on Sunday.

The Acol Bridge Club puts out quite a nice lunch spread on Sundays -- the bridge is managed by former restauranteur Noorul Malik and partners are guaranteed.  Insisting on playing 2/1 in the land of Acol usually ensures a decent partner (how many bad bridge players will bother to learn a second bidding convention?)

I walked along the Thames from my hotel to Westminster and took the Jubilee Line to North London:

There were the usual questions one gets ...  Really, you play strong no-trumps? How long are you in London? Will you come back later this week? What is it with Donald Trump anyway?

I tried my best to answer the questions, trying tactfully to point out that the approval rating for Donald Trump is no crazier than the approval rating for "Brexit" -- the numbers are very similar and the type of person supporting Trump in the US is the same type of person who'd be supporting Brexit in the UK.

I don't know if it's a weakness of Acol, but our opponents were dying over themselves to rescue their partners whenever they held a singleton in their partner's suit (maybe it's bad memories of playing 4-1 fits?).  The rescues never ended well.  I'm surprised the practice was so widespread. Even my partner would occasionally forget that we were playing 2/1 and rescue me ... She was, however, good at reading spot cards so our defense was tight. We finished with 59%, good for fourth place.

As with the bridge bidding, there were subtle differences in the language between the USA and the UK. Slightly different connotations for the same words.  For example, after I brought home this 4H contract for 27/30 masterpoints, the opponents said that I had played the hand "cunningly."  Turns out that this was not a slur -- they were being very appreciative of my skill.

The hand itself would probably be an average board in a strong field (click Next to see the play), but few declarers could change course and handle the 4-1 trump split:

In fact, looking at the hand, now, after the King of diamond lead, I can make 5H!  Can you see how? Leave a comment if you figure it out.

The bridge game ended at 4, and with a couple of hours to kill, I wandered around the National Gallery.  A few of the paintings that caught my eye today:

The Grand Canal of Venice is often painted, but this is the first time I'm seeing it with a regatta. The colors add drama to the scene and in person, the boats shimmer with energy.

This is the standard pyramid shape of many portraits (including the Mona Lisa), but the hat adds a second geometric interest to the composition. Your eye is drawn to a diagonal formed by her right elbow and left shoulder. I'm surprised more painters don't do this.

The scene here is supposed to be of an angel coming to Joseph in a dream, pointing to Mary, and saying that she will bear a child while still a virgin.  In person, though, Joseph's slumber is quite comatose and the angel's arm is in the same position it would be if she had slapped him into that coma. Meanwhile, Mary looks on with a wry smile. Is the painter an atheist having fun?

Walking out of the gallery and back to the hotel, I got to capture the framing afforded by the half-open gate and the rainy evening sky of Big Ben:

And that is how I bridged over jet lag.  Tomorrow, I'll know if I've been successful.


  1. I think you make 11 tricks if you set up the diamonds to throw 2 spades on - so in the end you have the 2 spades, 3 diamonds, 1 club, 1 club rough and 4 trumps for 11 tricks.

    1. Yes, each time you lose a diamond, the defense leads a trump. But since you lose only two diamonds, you have the tempo to still ruff a club, and it does South no good to ruff in because he'll be ruffing his partner's trick. I found it hard to see to play it out in my head at the table ...

  2. Hi, Nice blog. I too have a bridge blog.
    On this hand, one has to combine a bit of dummy reversal ruffing one club (so if defense plays two round of trump take care to win the last in dummy) and also setting up diamonds by brute force since from KQJx opp stiff 9, they can take 2 tricks. So play goes like this: win DA, draw one trump, play a diamond toward dummy's 8. He wins. Say he plays a trump (spade attack is no better) win and unblock CA and play a second diamond setting up a long diamond. Win his trump return in dummy. Ruff a club. Play DT a winner. Now he cannot stop you crossing in spades, drawing trump and returning to a high spade to cash long diamond for a total of 11 tricks.