Suppose you're playing with me and you hold the following hand:
All vulnerable, your partner (= me) as dealer, imps scoring, the bidding goes:
pass - pass - 4♠ - 5♥
You may disagree with the 4♠ bid, but I like it.
I lead a ♦ and you take a look at following dummy:
Declarer wins with ♦J in dummy, and leads ♥J which you cover. Now the question arises: how can we defeat this contract? Imo there's a lot known about the entire hand.
- Your partner didn't lead ♠ which suggests he holds 2 or more (or 0, which is unlikely because declarer would hold 4♠ from the Q and wouldn't bid 5♥).
- He lead ♦, your short suit, which suggests that he's long in ♦, doesn't hold the Ace, but still wanted to give us a ruff.
- Declarer played ♥J, which suggests he holds either KQ or KT. Looking at the vulnerability, I'd rather give him KQ or even KQT, so there won't be another trump trick unless you can ruff.
So there are 2 suits left to try and reach partner for a ruff: ♠ and ♣. Looking at the auction and HCP alone, I think you shouldn't give partner ♣A. There's a lot more to say for ♠Q, since we think partner has 2+♠. Declarer can easily be singleton or void to explain his bidding. There's one more chance for success: partner having a void in either black suit.
So which suit do you play, and which card?
The key is in the lead: if partner played a high ♦, he says you can reach him with ♠, but if he lead a low ♦, he's asking for a ♣ return.
At the table, I held ♠Q96, declarer had a singleton. I lead a small ♦ instead of a high one, partner took ♥A immediatly but continued ♠K. After analysing this hand, I saw my error. Partner said he thought about a low ♠ at the table, but didn't do it because he hoped for another ♥ trick. I was glad he realised his argument for playing a high ♠ was wrong. We missed an opportunity to defeat 5♥, but I guess we learned from that mistake...
Saturday, September 30, 2006
Suppose you're playing with me and you hold the following hand:
Tuesday, September 26, 2006
Lets talk about the following hand, might be a good lesson:
Suppose you are sitting in East. Your opponents had a bit of an agressive auction:
pass - pass - 1♦ - pass
1♥ - pass - 3♠ - pass
4♦ - pass - 4♠ - pass
5♥ - pass - 6♥ - Dbl
Partner leads ♠K, dummy ruffs with ♥4 and plays ♥Q.
First question: do you take your Ace or not? There's no real reason to take it. Playing low gives away a trick (double dummy), but you make it very hard on declarer to get to 11 tricks, since he can't draw another trump! I think most good players would hold it up once.
At the table East cashed ♥A, so we cash and have another decision to make.
The key now is to figure out what declarer needs to make his contract, and what dangers he'll have to cope with. It's clear that he'll need his ♦ length (which you control), and he'll also need to draw trumps at some time without us getting another chance to play some ♠s. To set up his ♦s, declarer will need ♣ entries (you only have 2) and 2 trumps to ruff. So it might be possible to lock up the hands.
There's another question that is probably very interesting: how many ♦s does declarer have? We can't know for sure, but it's probably 2-3 since most players don't cuebid partner's suit with a singleton. If he has 3, then you can probably give partner a ruff, but in that case you'll always have a ♦ trick so there's no need to play ♦. If he does have a singleton or void, he'll be totally ruined anyway (with stiff he needs to ruff 3 ♦s, so he'll need a 5 card trump).
So what do you continue?
It's necessary that you mess up declarer's plan. You suppose declarer has ♦Kx (which is the only dangerous one for us). He will be able to set up his ♦s only if he can draw your last trump when he's in dummy (since he'll need his other trumps to ruff ♦s), ready to cash his remaining ♦s. So there are 2 possibilities to mess that up:
- let declarer ruff a ♠: declarer will have to hope for a 3-3 split in ♦ now, which isn't the case (he'll need to draw trumps, and will only be able to ruff 1 more ♦, not 2)
- mess with the ♣ entries. You only have 2, you declarer will need 2 ♣s to get to dummy twice. Now that you'll ruff the 3rd ♣ he'll be down.
At the table, East played a ♥, which is imo the least useful continuation possible. Now my partner (I was sitting North) found a very nice line of play: ♦K, ♦A, ruff a ♦, ♣ to dummy, ruff another ♦, ♣ to dummy, draw the last ♥ and claim for contract.
If you visualize declarer's plan, you'll have 'double dummy vision' playing this hand.
Sunday, September 24, 2006
Here's a fun one, too bad opponents made lots of mistakes or this would've been a candidate for hand of the year:
The bidding was quick and simple:
pass - pass - pass - 1NT
pass - 3NT - all pass
Some might not agree with the 1NT opening, but ok... So you're declarer in 3NT by South (nicely wrongsided): do you see any chance of making this? I guess not, but at least you get a little chance after the lead of ♠J. The dangers are quite clear: ♦, but also ♥ for communication between the hands or an entry. There's still not much chance of making this, except if opponents mess it up (or if both Aces are onside, but still risky). The lead told me the location of ♠Q, so there might be some endplay possibilities. The hands aren't played double dummy, so mistakes can still be made. Lets give opponents some opportunities ;-)
I took ♠A and started immediately with cashing 5 ♣s. West discarded 4 small ♦s and East ♥2 and 3. They played standard carding, so both Aces would be wrongsided! Chance for success now seemed very low, but opponents made huge errors during their careless discarding! They were both too greedy, they both wanted to make all their length tricks (which is impossible anyway) instead of just trying to defeat the contract. I still wasn't home, but if RHO would make a mistake in ♠ I could endplay him. So I played small ♠ and luckily I saw East play small (which gives me the contract). ♠K was easy, followed by a small ♠ to the Q. Poor East only had ♦AQJ86 left, and decided to play low to my King (it doesn't matter what he plays, because he'll get it back later). 8 tricks were there already, and I had to find another one. ♥ is the only chance, and to my big surprise RHO didn't follow. So LHO had kept ♥AQT8 and would be endplayed as well! The King was covered by the Ace, but West couldn't do anything else than playing ♥ giving me ♥J as my 9th trick.
3NT= obviously was a miracle: nobody bid it, and nobody made 9 tricks in their partscores.
I hope my opponents learned something from this hand, which is never to be too greedy in an undoubled NV contract with imps scoring.
Labels: Poor Bridge
Monday, September 18, 2006
You were dealer, all green, imp scoring, we get a quick auction:
pass - 3♣ - pass - 3NT
Since you don't know how solid opponents are when they preempt, but can't take much risks, you decide to go for a semi agressive lead: a small ♦.
Dummy looks great for declarer:
Partner takes the Ace and returns ♦2 to your K. You're already glad you took these tricks, but the hand isn't over yet. You might've just given declarer some overtricks. The question is: what do you continue, and why?
Analysing this hand should get you on the right track to defeating this contract:
- ♣ is useless: ♥K is quite a high card, and you might as well set up declarer's suit.
- ♦ has no future left at all. Partner returned a small ♦ out of respect for your lead (you might have a great source of tricks). If he had anything in ♦, he would've returned a bigger card, so partner had ♦A2.
- ♥ is one of the more interesting suits: the K might be declarer's only entry to a bunch of ♣s, but you still need to find ♣K in partner's hand for this to be successful. So what if partner has the ♣K? He'll probably return a ♠ to your AQ to defeat the contract with ease. So the only question which remains is: what if declarer has ♣K? Then you really NEED to take some tricks very fast, or block declarer's suits (which is impossible). There are 3 ways of making tricks 'quickly': either find ♥A in partner's hand so he can return ♠, or just cash ♠s from the top (if partner has ♠K) or hope partner has ♠J and ♣K. Which brings us to the next possibility...
- ♠A is probably most interesting of all: you'll get a signal from partner. The only time this won't work is when partner has ♣K or ♥A.
So what's best? Imo the auction can help us here: the 3NT bidder will probably have a ♣ honour. Otherwise bidding 3NT is just suicide: he has to count on 6-7 ♣ tricks. This already makes ♠ vs ♥ 50-50.
What about ♥A or ♠K? One of the suits is definetly problematic for declarer because of our ♠ holding and dummy's ♥K. But I don't think there's a way to tell for sure, except declarer's sanity. He only has ♦QJT8, and he's quite poor in the Majors as well. Since opponents clearly preempt quite solid, you may expect quite a poor hand on your right.
If percentages don't give us an answer, all that's left is 'the long run':
- Lead a ♥ when partner has ♠K gives declarer 7♣+2♦+2♥ = 11 tricks.
- Lead ♠A when partner has ♥A gives declarer 7♣+2♦ and maybe ♠K = 9-10 tricks.
And if you're right:
- ♠ gives you 4 tricks, so 3NT-2
- ♥ gives you 2-4 ♠ tricks (depends if partner has the J or a 5 card), so 3NT-1/-2/-3. However, if partner has ♥A chance of ♠J (or a 5 card) has decreased significantly, so it's probably only 3NT-1.
In both situations ♠A is more successful in the long run.
You may wonder what happens if partner doesn't have either. Then the maximum you'll make is ♠A, so you might as well take it before opponents can discard dummy's ♠s on ♥A and ♦QJ.
On the actual deal you would've been lucky: partner had ♠K94 and could easily encourage ♠, whatever method you play.
Thursday, September 14, 2006
Here's a nice hand from a few days ago:
The bidding went:
1♠* - Dbl - pass - 2♥
pass - 2NT - pass - 3NT
(1♠ shows around 9-14HCP with 4+♦, and can contain longer ♣)
My RHO probably bid 2NT just to try to rightside the contract.
I was sitting South and had to lead. I generaly don't like agressive leads, and there was every sign not to on this particular hand.
- Partner will probably be short in ♠ and chances are big that I won't have an entry if I can setup my suit anyway.
- Leading ♥ from under Kxxx gives the entire show away.
- Declarer will probably have a double ♦ stop.
So I decided to lead a ♣, hoping to reach my partner's longest suit. We lead 1/3/5 and I thought my count would be important: I lead the ♣5. Partner nicely held up his Ace and declarer won with the J. Now ♦K was played and partner took it immediatly, gave the ♣ suit a second of thought and correctly played a low ♣ to keep communication. This only fails when I had ♣53, but you might still get your trick back later. So the communication was still open. Declarer won in dummy and finessed ♠ to my Q. I had an easy continuation, and partner did what we worked for: cash the ♣ tricks. Declarer discarded ♥ in his hand and in dummy, so partner returned a small ♥ to his Ace. Now declarer tried a ♠-♥ squeeze (or ♠ splitting 3-3) by cashing his ♦s. On the last ♦ I hold ♠T92 ♥K, and dummy still had ♠K87. I had to keep my ♠s since partner was all out (I already knew declarer had ♠A as well), so I discarded my ♥K. Lucky my partner had the ♥T, otherwise declarer's squeeze would've worked. -2 was a great result.
GIB's Double Dummy Solver says we can only make 5 tricks. Declarer messed up by keeping his ♦ communication. If he kept ♠K87 ♥QJ ♦J in dummy, he can easily take ♥A, play ♦ to the J, a ♠ back to his Ace, and the last ♦. NOW I'm squeezed in ♠ and ♥...
Monday, September 11, 2006
A few days ago, we planned a training match to prepare for the upcoming competition season, which starts in 2 weeks. We decided to play some hands from Warschau, since these hands have some potential, a minimax score,... so it's quite easy to make an analyse afterwards. Here's one where we ended up in the wrong contract, but where we could recover after a poor lead (for opponents that is):
NV vs V, E dealer, the bidding went quick:
pass - 4♥ - pass - 6♥
It's clear opponents can easily defeat this playing ♣A and K, but LHO starts with a trump. So far so good, we can discard a ♣ on the ♠AK, but we still need to find how ♣ are really divided and where the ♦Q is. We'll need some entries in dummy in case we have ♣AK on our right, so I take in my hand, play off ♠AK discarding a small ♣ and play a ♣ to my J. RHO starts thinking and plays the Ace. It's clear LHO will have ♣K now, otherwise there was no need to think.
I get a ♠ back which I ruff high, just in case we need ♥5 as an entry, draw the last trump with high cards and play ♣Q to confirm LHO has the K. Indeed, RHO very quickly plays small so we ruff, and start off playing the rest of the ♥s. Opponents don't discard any ♦s, so there's no real way to see the situation. On the last trump, here's what's left:
LHO discards a ♦ so I can easily discard the ♣T in dummy.
Now we have to decide how to play ♦. There are 3 possibilities:
able to cash our top honours
- RHO has QTx and there's nothing we can do
- LHO was squeezed with the Qxx and the ♣, in which we can just cash our top honours. A simple finesse would've worked as well.
- LHO was squeezed with Txx and the ♣, in which case we need to play the K followed by running the J (pinning that T).
I don't think there's any way to tell which line will work best. Percentages will probably tell to just cash and hope. The fact was that the most beautiful situation had occured: LHO had ♦Txx, so we had a guard (or showup?) squeeze!
Here's the full hand:
The contract is always laydown after the ♥ lead, whatever RHO does in ♣ at trick 4.
Sunday, September 03, 2006
We all see the auction 1m - 1♥ quite often when we hold a balanced hand with a 4 card ♠. Some bid 1♠, some bid 1NT, and other can just chose if they skip ♠ or not. There's no clear solution on what is best, it's more a matter of style imo, and what fits best in your system. Here are some pros and cons:
Never skipping ♠:
This shows just 4♠. Nothing else about distribution is known. If you're playing sayc for example, you just know 3+m and 4♠, so there's no extra information about the minor. The advantage is clear: you'll never miss a ♠ fit! Disadvantage is something completely different: when there's no ♠ fit, you'll probably wrongside the contract more often when you'll play for a partscore.
This denies 4♠, so there's also not much known about the distribution. This however can sometimes be a good thing when you have to declare in NT. Partner doesn't need to checkback with a 4-4 Major hand, which can be an advantage because opponents might make lead directing doubles and have a better defense.
Always skipping ♠:
This now shows 4+♠, but also an unbalanced hand! If you opened 1♣ it's 100% certain you have 5+♣ and 4♠. If you opened 1♦, you still may have a 4-1-4-4 (I assume you open 1♦ with 4-4m). This makes partscore competing easier (can get you out of a poor 1NT contract for example). I don't see any disadvantages on this auction.
This will show a balanced hand, and can still contain a 4 card ♠. The advantage is that partner now knows your strength and hand type, and that defenders don't know if you have ♠ or not (so the lead gets harder). The disadvantage is that you will miss a ♠ fit (if there is one) when partner is weak. Another disadvantage is that your partner has to use checkback or NMF or something else to find out if you have 4♠ or not, and you may tell opponents more than they need to know when you don't have a fit.
Sometimes skipping ♠:
IMO this is not a good approach: you don't have any advantages, except perhaps that you always know that partner has a good (or bad) ♠ suit when he bids them... Advantages about hand type or minor suit knowledge are minimum.
So what is the best approach? As I said, we don't know. You move some (dis)advantages around, and that's it. I personally prefer the second approach, because opener having 4-4♠-m and partner having 4-4M with a weak hand is quite rare. When partner is invite or better you won't miss your ♠ fit anymore tnx to checkback possibilities. But I know that there are disadvantages as well, and that there's no superior approach until proven otherwise ;-)
Note: sometimes when you have a 3 card ♥ it's better to just support partner, even with a 4-3-2-4 or 4-3-4-2! With a 4-3-1-5 or 4-3-5-1 it's easier ofcourse, but even there you can still decide to bid 1♠ and support later... So skipping ♠ is a very complex topic, which reaches further than just bidding 1♠ or 1NT.