Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Taking a break

At the moment I'm too busy with all sorts of stuff to post on a regular basis. I've decided to take a break. Depending on work I might return soon, in a few months, or even stop forever.

Greetz,

Free

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Toying with voidwood

Yesterday I had following hand:
AJ9x
AKJT9x
xxx
-

Playing a natural system (pretty basic actually), partner opened 1 in 1st seat, Vulnerable. What's your plan?

I thought of several possibilities:
2 = natural, forcing for 1 round
2NT = GF with fit
4 = splinter
5 = voidwood

Normally I prefer to bid 2, but with this partner I wasn't sure I could set up a GF at 3-level if he rebids 2. After 2NT we play pretty standard responses, so with a minimum hand he'll rebid 4 which we don't want! I thought my hand was too strong for a splinter, so voidwood was the only thing left. However, if partner doesn't have a control in we may already be too high... Nothing was really satisfying. Then I thought a little further, and found a response that was imo better than all the rest. Can you find it?

I bid 5 Diamonds, voidwood. This solves the problem in (who will lead this suit now?) and lets us play 6 pretty comfortable. The auction continued as follows:
1 - pass - 5! - 6
pass! - pass - 7 - pass
pass - pass

Partner's pass should show 1 keycard (not counting A), so I made a gamble and bid the grand slam.

Partner's hand was:
KQTxx
Q
Axx
Jxxx

The slam is laydown, but the trumps were 4-0! After a lead you'll have to count on a 3-3 split so you can play some kind of dummy reversal ruffing some s. Otherwise you can only make 12 tricks...

While I was dummy, I was thinking about these Zia voidwoods (I've seen him do this several times as well, voidwood with another void). Actually they work amaizingly well, although this hand doesn't illustrate this completely. For example, partner has A: without it, the killing lead would've been avoided. He also has Q, a lucky card. Playing 6 (this was my initial plan) while partner had xxx obviously would've been a better example, but I don't like to change the hands.
Nevertheless the Zia voidwood works in the sense that opponents don't know there's a suit wide open, and the hand should practically be over once they've lead the wrong suit. I think it's less useful if you have a control of your own.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Unlucky? Yes!

The new competition season has started 4 weeks ago. At this moment we're not scoring the way we would like to. Most of the time we all play well, but "luck" is not on our side! Many imps are lost because of extremely bad splits (5-0 trump splits for example), or opponents playing 1 with 24HCP while our teammates go -2 in 3NT. The following hand is a perfect example.

Opponents blasted blind to slam as follows (we were silent):
2NT! - 3!
4 - 6

2NT = either weak with both minors, or strong with one Major
3 = to play when opener has the minors
4 = GF with long and solid s

The hands were:
T8
AKTxx
9xxxxx
-

AKQ9xxx
x
-
KQTxx

North can't know they won't lose a single trick in , but still bid slam because he had "2 tricks".

The contract may not be as easy as it looks. A trump lead for example is annoying, but not fatal. Can you construct possible holdings in for EW?

At the table, my partner lead A so declarer made +1. However, even if he leads a trump the contract is still laydown thanks to amazing splits. Look at the full hand:

Dealer:South
Vul:None
Scoring:imps
T8
AKTxx
9xxxxx
-
Jxx
J9xxx
KTx
Ax
x
Qx
AQJx
J9xxxx
AKQ9xxx
x
-
KQTxx

After a trump lead, declarer can ruff a low and later on let the A come down on another low . His T can be discarded on K. This line only makes when one of the EW players has a doubleton with the Ace, and guess what: that's exactly the way the suit split in our hands... What are the chances?

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Triple squeeze

I encountered the following hand this weekend:

Dealer:West
Vul:Both
Scoring:imps
T876
J
K82
Q9752
J543
A82
AT63
JT
92
T97654
95
843
AKQ
KQ3
QJ74
AK6

The auction was pretty standard, ending in 3NT played by South. LHO started with a small . 11 tricks were easy, but perhaps 12 were possible by means of a squeeze. So I took K and played a low to the K. LHO hesitated, so we know where A is. Next was the J, which is necessary to rectify the count for a squeeze. With normal layouts and if the J holds, we have 3s, 1, 3s and 5s = 11 tricks, perfect for a squeeze.

J held, so I played a to my Q and LHO took the Ace (mistake). He returned a . After cashing all my s, I ran the s. This is the position in the end:

Dealer:West
Vul:Both
Scoring:imps
T
-
2
52
J
A
T6
-
-
T976
-
-
-
KQ
Q7
-

On 5 I discarded K, and LHO was squeezed in 3 suits. 3NT+3 won us a full imp, it's not much, but in MP it would've been a top.

I have no idea why LHO didn't take his Aces. From the auction he should've known his partner had nothing, and creating a third trick was impossible.

Note that if you don't play J, the squeeze doesn't work. When LHO holds up his Ace one more round the squeeze also doesn't work, because the communication to my hand is broken.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

2007 World Championships Shanghai

The 2007 World Championships started a few days ago. Australia's captain David Stern uses the following blog to give daily news:
http://worldbridge.blogspot.com/

Friday, September 14, 2007

Transfers after 1-level intervention

It's been a while since I posted, but I've been quite busy. Don't worry, I keep coming back! ;-)

This is about a method I play when opponents intervene at the 1-level. Beginners learn that, for example, 1-(1)-1 shows 5+s, while Double would show exactly 4 s. This is useful in some cases, but too limited in other situations. What do you bid with 8-9HCP without and without a stopper? Is the distinction between 4 and 5 card Major really that important? Doesn't opener ever raise 1x-1M-2M with only a 3 card support in an uncontested auction? So why shouldn't he do it now?

Obviously you know what I'm getting at by now. Reserve only 1 bid to show the Major, while the free bid can now be used to show some values without a good bid.

One problem remains: should you bid natural, or in transfer? I think transfers are by far superior than natural bids because they leave space (just in case your opponents shut up) to investigate the best fit. Opener can accept the transfer with only a 3 card support, responder will know what to do.

Here's a scheme I like:
1 - (1) - ?

Dbl = 4+
1 = 4+
1 = some values, no biddable suit, no stopper
1NT = standard, with stopper

1 - (1) - ?

Dbl = 4+
1 = some values, no biddable suit, no stopper
1NT = standard, with stopper
2 = natural, F1

1 - (1) - ?

Dbl = 4+
1 = some values, no biddable suit, no stopper
1NT = standard, with stopper
2 = natural, F1

You see I use the 1 bid as trash bin. It's a consequence of the transfers, and in fact has some pre-emptive effect. Also, it's no problem for us, we don't need the 1M bids since we seem to have no Major fit anyway. The 1 bid can be described as some sort of takeout Double without a biddable suit, usually without a fit as well. The hand is very well described!

After 1X-(1) I use normal takeout Doubles. Transfers are no use, and usually there's no big problem anyway.

You might wonder what to do when opponents Double. Well, I prefer a very similar approach, but now we use an entrire level of transfers:
1 - (Dbl) - ?

RDbl = 5+
1 = 4+
1 = 4+
1 = transfer to 1NT
1NT = good raise
2 = poor raise

1 - (Dbl) - ?

RDbl = 4+
1 = 4+
1 = transfer to 1NT
1NT = 5+
2 = good raise
2 = poor raise

1 - (Dbl) - ?

RDbl = 4+
1 = transfer to 1NT
1NT = 5+
2 = 5+
2 = good raise
2 = poor raise

1 - (Dbl) - ?

RDbl = transfer to 1NT
1NT = 5+
2 = 5+
2 = 5+
2 = good raise
2 = poor raise

In all of the above cases, other bids are fit jumps, and 2NT shows at least an invitational hand with 4+ card support.

The biggest advantage of all the transfers is that you now have different kinds of support, which can be very valuable in competitive auctions! Another advantage is that the strong hand can declare most of the time, and the player that doubled has to lead away from strength. This increases your chances for success.
The biggest disadvantage is that you can't ReDouble for penalties. Obviously you can pass and hope you get the opportunity to penalize your opponents later on (which can really happen), but if you look at the frequency of penalizing your opponents opposite the frequency of handling a competitive auction, the latter is most important.

Friday, August 24, 2007

2Sx? No, we prefer 3D

Take a look at following auctions:

Open room:
pass - 1 - pass - 1
pass - 2 - Dbl - pass
3 - pass - pass - pass

Closed room:
2! - pass - 2! - pass
pass - Dbl - pass - 2NT!
pass - 3! - pass - 3
pass - pass - pass

Yes, these are the auctions from 1 board played at 2 tables! It was the match we played against one of the Danish teams (Blakset). At both tables we were doubling our opponents in 2 (both down), and at both tables our team ended up in 3!
The board was not fouled, everybody was sitting in the right direction, nobody was psyching,...

Here it is:

Dealer:West
Vul:None
Scoring:imps
863
Q864
AK
A862
QT952
95
J63
Q94
J
AKJT
Q842
KT53
AK74
732
T975
J7

In the open room, the auction started pretty standard. The raise to 2 seems unnecessary to me because there are lots of values in the doubleton. Nevertheless the North player decided to raise. Now East had a clear Double, showing his values, red suits, length in and shortness in . West was afraid to leave it in and decided to play 3.

In the closed room, West started with a "trash mini-multi", showing a poor hand with at least a 5 card Major. North (me) couldn't double that, because we play Dbl as takeout opposite a 2 opening. Whatever action we want to take opposite a 2 opening can usually wait a round. So East bid a 2 P/C which went back to me. Now I had a takeout Double, although my s were a bit short. South was too afraid to leave that in, and started a Lebensohl sequence to 3.

Our team mates in the open room made 7 tricks, we only made 6, for a nicely combined total of 13. Christina Mortensen (= West in the closed room) claimed they defended better! :-)

So where did it go wrong? I'm not entirely sure (and my opinion is biased anyway), that's why I posted 2 polls on the Bridgebase forums:
Open room
Closed room

At the moment, it seems like people agree with Gert's decision to run, while they don't agree with the decision in the open room.

Maybe some will not agree with my takeout Double, who knows? An auction like 2 - 2 usually points out the weakness of the fit, so I really thought my partner would probably pass 2x. Well, he didn't, but I can't blame him.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Psychs I've seen in Bruges

1. First of all, one I've heard from a friend:

Dealer:North
Vul:EW
Scoring:imps
AT87
K632
J654
2
KQ94
A854
AK8
A7
J3
97
Q92
KQJT96
652
QJT
T73
8543

The auction started:
pass - pass - 1NT! - ...

Now West had a problem: he couldn't Double because that promissed either or both red suits. So he tried 2, showing either or both Majors! Ofcourse, East did what he thought was best: Pass!

pass - pass - 1NT - 2!
pass - pass - pass

EW made some overtricks...

Once again you get proof that Dbl should not be too artificial, especially after a 3rd seat favorable 1NT opening! With Gert I play Dbl as 4M-5m or strong distributional, so we can easily Double. If partner passes, great, but if he bids we can still find 3NT (next best thing).

2. One of our opponents did this at our table:

Dealer:East
Vul:None
Scoring:imps
KJ975
Q5
A2
KJ53
3
987
QT864
A862
AT42
J43
KJ95
QT
Q86
AKT62
73
974

The auction went as follows:
1! - 1 - 1! - 1NT?
2 - pass - 3 - Dbl
pass - 3 - pass - pass
pass
(1 usually shows 5s, opps play Polish )

I bid 1NT because I didn't suspect a psych at that time, and partner could've overcalled a bit light. After the 3 bid however, I was shaken awake, as was my partner. But how many s did I have? Hard to find 4 now imo.

West started his singleton to his partner's Ace but didn't get his ruff (apparently East was the only one who didn't realize the psych). We made 2 overtricks, but 4M makes if you can guess the s.

3. I couldn't help it, the last day against our friends from Oxford:

Dealer:East
Vul:EW
Scoring:imps
J765
J3
A9
T9752
2
AT9842
K42
QJ8
AKT8
75
QT86
A64
Q943
KQ6
J753
K3

The auction went:
1NT! - pass - 2 - 2!
pass - 3 - pass? - 3
pass - pass - 4? - pass
pass - pass
(1NT = weak; 3 = invite+ with fit)

I lead A and got an encouraging signal. Partner thought I lead from AKx and wanted me to cash the suit before declarer's losers would go away on AK. I don't think I'd ask for attitude from AKx, rather count (by leading the K), but ok, we forgive him because it was the last day and we weren't 100% concentrated (nothing to win or lose anyway). After the continuation (I thought I'd get a ruff) declarer made 4 by discarding his losers.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Another missed slam

I forgot one where I made an easy 12 tricks, because it's just crazy to bid slam on this hand. We didn't even reach game, and it needs too many well placed cards to actually make a chance. Here it is:

Dealer:South
Vul:Both
Scoring:imps
AJ4
84
AT2
AJ975
K3
Q72
KJ96
T862
T85
KJ9653
Q74
Q
Q9762
AT
853
K43

The auction was quickly over:
pass - pass - 1NT! - pass
pass - pass

(weak NT)

After a lead, I immediately took A and finessed J. When the K drops under A and Q drops under K, an easy 12 tricks are for the taking...

Slams we missed

Apart from the 2 grands we've missed (we bid only small slam) we only missed 2 slams. Coincidence or not, both contained a void. Note again that these were also 26-point-slams, just like the ones we bid...

1.

Dealer:East
Vul:NS
Scoring:imps
AKQ
KJT98632
63
-
J83
-
KQT87
AJ742
76542
4
J54
QT53
T9
AQ75
A92
K986

pass - 1NT! - pass - 2!
pass - 2! - Dbl - 4!
pass - 4? - pass - pass
pass

1NT = 12-14, balanced or semibalanced (4441/5422)
2 = puppet to 2, many hands
2 = obligated
4 = shows a splinter, good and no stopper.

The question whether South should've bid 4 remains unanswered. South claimed that a splinter bid is an "evaluation bid" (and with Kxxx he should refuse), while North claimed that South should just show his cue, because showing a good suit without Ace and Queen is very suspicious to say the least. North also claimed he's endplayed if no cue is shown by the opener.
Both players agreed that North must have very long from KJ with slam interest. Since he doesn't hold anything in or , he must have solid s as well. But that doesn't guarantee that we won't lose 2 or 3 tricks. 5-level is probably safe, so percentage wise South might've just cuebid his A, but still it's a borderline decision.

2.
Dealer:North
Vul:None
Scoring:imps
AK7
AJ943
5
QT74
Q52
Q6
KT97642
6
T84
72
AQJ83
982
J963
KT85
-
AKJ53

1! - pass - 2NT! - 4
4 - 5 - 5 - pass
pass - pass

1 = 14+HCP, natural, F1
2NT = fit, either invitational, or GF with a void

Afterwards South admitted he should've just bid 6 instead of 5. Opener shows a non-minimum hand by his 4 bid.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Slams we bid

1.

Dealer:East
Vul:EW
Scoring:imps
Q8762
-
AQ8753
T3
JT3
J842
J92
J84
A94
AKQ63
64
972
K5
T975
KT
AKQ65

1 - 2 - pass - 2
pass - 2 - Dbl - 3?
pass - 4 - pass - 5
pass - 6 - pass - pass
pass

Result: 6=

A sharp one on the first day. We weren't sure about the 3 bid, but we both considered it to be natural. We have numerous ways of supporting partner's s, and an autosplinter wouldn't make much sense.
Bidding 2 followed by another cuebid and 3 wouldn't necessarily show 5-6, so we agreed (afterwards) that this sequence above should be natural with 5 and 6.

2.
Dealer:South
Vul:None
Scoring:imps
63
AJ9872
AJ
Q62
T9842
T654
K3
84
QJ7
-
QT87642
J95
AK5
KQ3
95
AKT73

Opponents were silent:
1! - 2!
3! - 3NT!
4! - 4!
4NT! - 5!
6! - 7

1 = 14+ natural or 15+ balanced (no 5M), F1
2 = GF, 6+
3 = sets, 3+
3NT = minimum hand, no cue
4 = cue and cue, slam interest
4 = cue
4NT = odd number of keycards (3 or 5 in this sequence), cue
5 = 1st round cue, no 1st or 2nd cue
6 = shows trump Q, interest in grand slam if I have a 3rd round control

Result: 7=

Always fun to bid a sharp grand slam on vugraph against the team that would eventually win the tournament.


3.
Dealer:North
Vul:Both
Scoring:imps
AKQ942
7
T9
AJ75
5
Q92
KQJ83
KT42
J86
T853
65
Q963
T73
AKJ64
A742
8

1! - pass - 2! - 2NT!
Dbl - 3 - 3 - pass
4! - pass - 4! - Dbl
4! - pass - 4NT! pass
6 - pass - pass - pass

1 = 14+HCP, natural, F1
2 = GF, natural
Dbl = ready to penalize
4 = cue, serious slam interest
4 = cue
4 = cue (yes we cuebid singletons in partner's suit), no cue
4NT = shows even number of keycards (2 or 4 in this sequence)
6 = poor bid

Result: 6= (7 makes however)

I pushed a bit (showing serious slam interest) when I found out opps had a fit. This was justified, but for some reason I didn't investigate grand anymore. I must have been distracted because I'm always mad if my partner bids like this opposite an unlimited hand...


4.
Dealer:North
Vul:None
Scoring:imps
-
QJ6543
AQ96
K87
T6543
9
JT83
Q52
KQ982
87
K754
J9
AJ7
AKT2
2
AT643

Opponents were silent:
2! - 2!
3! - 3!
3! - 3NT!?
4! - 4!
4! - 4!
5! - 5!?
6?

2 = 10-13HCP, natural, unbalanced
2 = relay, usually GF
3 = natural, 0-2
3 = sets trump, at least light slam interest
3 = cue
3NT = light slam interest (???)
4 = cue
4 = cue
4 = also light slam interest
4 = even number of keycards (2 or 4 in this sequence)
5 = cue
5 = no Q

We had a bit of a misunderstanding here. Showing only light slaminterest with South's hand is imo an underbid. After this, North never gave South 4 keycards, especially when he bid 5 later on. North showed slam interest with only 1 keycard, so South could've done more by bidding 5NT. This should show lots of keycards without the trump Queen, why else bid like this? 6 was a gamble, since North gave South only 2 keycards, but didn't know if he had A or not.

Result: 6+1 (7 could've been bid imo)


5.
Dealer:South
Vul:Both
Scoring:imps
KT965
AQJ6
QT42
-
7
T532
J53
Q8764
43
K984
K7
T9532
AQJ82
7
A986
AKJ

Opponents silent:
1! - 2NT!
3! - 4!
6

1 = 14+HCP, natural, F1
2NT = invite with fit, or GF with a void
3 = relay
4 = void splinter
6 = didn't think grand slam was possible

Result: 6+1 after a weird lead! Otherwise K has to be found to make grand slam.


6.
Dealer:n/a
Vul:n/a
Scoring:n/a
QJ
KJT98
KQ8743
-
A986
Q63
5
K8654
72
542
AJ62
J732
KT543
A7
T9
AQT9

Opponents were silent:
1NT! - 2!
2! - 3!
3NT - 4?
6NT

1NT = (11)12-14HCP, balanced or semi balanced
2 = transfer, 4+
2 = no good hand with 4
3 = GF, 4, 5+
3NT = no fit
4 = North thought he showed 5 and 6, while South thought he showed an even number of keycards with as trumps

This was bid on the final day, where we didn't have anything to win or to lose. A bidding misunderstanding made sure we were in a ridiculous contract, but that didn't mean we didn't made the best out of it. When my hand came down, I told partner to play a bit fast if he was going down for sure. I knew the chance of success was pretty small, but this feeling got confirmed when partner immediately started playing with an enormous tempo!


Conclusion: we went down in only 1 slam which we bid without much concentration, but we missed some (lucky) grands as well. Note that all of these slams made on distribution rather than HCP! This proves yet again that evaluating the hand is the most important, and points are only useful to a certain degree.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

European Championship for University Students

This week the European Championship for university students took place. It was organized in Bruges, which is very close to where I live. I competed with Gert Vandyck, with teammates Willem De Visschere en Rutger Van Mechelen. We are a decent team, but our results were a bit disappointing. Lots of (stupid?) mistakes were made at both tables, but that didn't mean we couldn't make fun! The atmosphere was great, opponents were friendly most of the time, people were relaxed,...

There were 32 teams. The organisation wanted to play an incomplete round robin, followed by semi finals and finals with the best 4 teams. There wasn't enough time to play against all teams, so we only played against 28 or so. Nevertheless, we got to meet a lot of people this way.

The matches consisted out of 8 boards (tight schedule if you have to play 30 matches in 4 days), with quite an agressive VP scale. Going down in a vulnerable game could easily mean a 19-11 loss! Every mistake was translated in your VP's, even overtricks from time to time...

With so many teams, a round robin was a bad idea in my opinion. Halfway in the tournament, most teams don't stand a chance to get to the semi finals, so they're just playing for fun and let their concentration slip. The organisation has some ideals they want to accomplish, like creating a certain atmosphere between all players. Still we see all people from the same country stick together most of the time. This means the social contacts aren't actually made, so it might be better to try to give all teams something to play for and give the "university spirit" a lower priority.
Imo starting with groups of 4 would've been a lot better. Half of the teams get to play side tournaments, the rest plays a knock out. Every knocked out team joins the side tournaments, every day there are some winners. If you have an off day, no problem, tomorrow you get a new chance to beat your opponents. This way you can also make lots of new friends, and the teams with a real chance for the big title will have to beat their opponents face to face.

The organisation mentioned that they weren't planning on playing a round robin next time, so I guess they already realise it's not the best solution. We'll have to wait and see, but it should be an improvement.

Enough with the rant...

Congratulations to the French team "Paris Sud" who won!


In this week I encountered lots of interesting problems, which I will try to share with all of you. To warm you up, I'll give you one where I really fooled my opponents after an awful bid from Gert:

Dealer:West
Vul:Both
Scoring:imps
T6543
Q743
54
74
98
T862
A862
J92
AJ7
AKJ9
QT
AKQ8
KQ2
5
KJ973
T653

The auction started:

pass - pass - 2! - Dbl
pass - pass - RDbl - pass
pass - ...

I was sitting North, so I had a problem. 2 was any GF, the RDbl was explained as a strong balanced hand. 2xx and made is a game score, so I should try to find some contract which will go -2, maybe -3. If I would bid 2 and partner had a singleton, it would be problematic. Since I didn't have a RDbl available, I choose to bid 2! If partner has a 3 card support he'll pass, with a singleton he'll RDbl. The auction continued:

pass - pass - 2! - Dbl
pass - pass - RDbl - pass
pass - 2 - Dbl - RDbl
pass - 2 - Dbl - pass
pass - pass

My LHO made it clear that I would die in 2 with a strangling gesture. I was happy to get a RDbl from partner, because it meant we probably had a fit!

East started with A and switched to T, really hard for me to read that card. I played the King which was taken with the Ace. The return was for East's Queen, she took Q, and continued with a small which I ruffed. Now I played a small to the King which held, and ruffed another (West discarding a !). I had a chance now (to go only -2), so I played a small to East's Ace.
She gave the hand some thought, she thought I had 4 and 5 (what I was hoping for), so she could give her partner a ruff! AK followed by went to my Queen (you really had to see the look on my screenmate's face when her partner still followed suit!), a to dummy and my s were high. Result: 2x-2 and 5 imps to the good guys!

The double on 2 was awful and plain useless (he was probably on lead anyway, so there's no lead directing purpose), but it got me a nice story and it won us some imps. Luckily Gert realised his mistake and refrained from doing such things again.

The defense wasn't much better than the Double, but I think both my opponents thought I had 4 and 5 and misjudged the hand completely. They probably tried to shorten me in trumps, which is obviously a reasonable idea, but it didn't work. A return from West however would've been fatal, but how could they know that I bid my 4 card suit first? In the end, East was endplayed and there was nothing left to do than giving me my 6th trick on a plate.

More stories will come for sure!

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Psyching vs strong Club

It's been a while since I posted, but I've been very busy, haven't played much, so didn't encounter any interesting hands. So I decided to dig a little into the past, around a month ago, where we had a funny auction after a strong 1 opening. Here's the hand:

Dealer:South
Vul:NS
Scoring:imps
K872
J9
972
Q542
J64
QT75
8
KJ986
AQT953
8
AJ63
T3
-
AK5432
KQT54
A7

South opened a strong 1, and looking at the vulnerability and the strength of my hand, I thought that a psych would probably work out just fine. So I intervened with 3! North, having some values and some defense, but no shape decided to pass. East had a great hand, thought game might be possible. So he bid 3, showing good s and a fit (a fit non-jump). South somehow decided to pass with this monster, which turned out to be a good decision. The auction ended abrupt:
1 - 3! - pass - 3
all pass

The play was easy, and we made +1. We lost imps however! Look at the scoresheet below:


Some people got in realy ridiculous contracts... Nevertheless, we all enjoyed the way we got to our contract. :-)

The European Championship for university students starts this weekend, 15km from my house. I'll be competing which will make sure I'll have some good material to post afterwards. You might be able to follow my actions on vugraph from time to time.

Friday, July 13, 2007

Safety or gamble at MP?

Saturday I played a marathon as preparation for the upcoming EK for university students. Concentration for a long period of time could be one of the biggest problems we'll face, so we played in a good field for an entire day with MP scoring. Imp tournaments are more relaxed imo, so MP is a great training.
We didn't do great, but it wasn't bad either. Some silly mistakes mainly in carding, but our bidding system and competitive agreements work.

The most interesting hand I declared was the following:
AQ9x
AQxxxx
Axx
-

KT8x
K
KJx
AJTxx

We were on the way to grand slam, but partner missed in number of keycards (it was late), so we ended up in 6 instead of 7. Not that it's such a great grand slam anyway, so I didn't complain (it would probably make, but that's not the important issue imo).

LHO leads K. Imo the best way to make lots of tricks is to play on s. I discard a in dummy and take my A. Now comes K of course, followed by a to the Ace. When you play a small RHO shows out (doesn't ruff ofcourse, since that's pointless).

Back into the tank! Is there still a way for +1? Is my contract in danger?

Trumps are 3-2 or 4-1. 3-2 is no problem. So what about 4-1? If RHO has 4 s we'll probably go down. If LHO has 4 of them, we need to unblock s when ruffing out our s, and take the finesse later on to keep control of the hand. That's a safe line when LHO has 4s, but may still be dangerous if LHO has 3 s and a singleton minor! We will have played A to ruff a ...

Anyway, I choose to unblock the s, ruffing with T and K (keeping 8 opposite Q9x). When I played 8, LHO played the J and I made +1.

I was quite surprized that scored a top! Since 6 is a normal contract, and are divided Jx-xxx, any line you choose will get you an overtrick as long as you play on . LHO didn't have a singleton , so the lead doesn't matter much. EXCEPT: the lead of a small will make it harder on you, because they take away an easy entry for ruffing out the s. I guess you'll need even better unblocking there, and you'll need to play on a 3-2 split for sure. Still, you can always make the contract.

Thursday, July 05, 2007

Funny game yesterday

Yesterday I played some games with Gert against Ed and Rob. It's always fun, they like to psych from time to time, they don't mind if we do it too (so it's a good training in "who to trust"), you can fool them, they can fool you, and nobody really cares that much about the scores.

Not long ago we made some changes to our intervention handling after 1NT openings. Because most worldclass players advise us to be able to play 1NTx, we abandoned the forcing pass. It came up, with success. I opened 1NT, LHO doubled, partner passed, and RHO held following hand:
T982
98
K3
T9732
What is he supposed to do? Penalty doubles can be anything, and he holds a K! So he passed. 1NTx+1 was the result.
The non-forcing pass puts pressure to your opponents: do they have to pull or not? If pass obligates partner to ReDouble, opponents get a second chance, and he will pull to 2 (probably -1).

A few hands later there was time for some fantasy. I held:
AKQJ87
J653
94
5
Nobody vulnerable, I could open 2 showing 10-13HCP with 5+, unbalanced. However, I thought the hand was just too strong for that, so I opened 3NT, which shows a normal 4-level preempt in one of the Majors.
Partner asked me to bid my suit, and RHO bid 4! Easy Dbl ofcourse, for a telephone number.

A while later I get the following hand:
A873
Q962
T942
7
Unfavorable, the auction went (we were silent):
1 - 1!
3 - 3NT
(1 shows 4+s)
What do you lead?
Here's the full hand:

Dealer:North
Vul:EW
Scoring:imps
J
A53
K8
AQJT842
A873
Q962
T942
7
6542
JT4
AQJ3
53
KQT9
K87
765
K96

Only a lead or switch can defeat this. No idea if I could've found this one...

A few boards later, I held favorable in 1st seat:
873
T75
T96
QT43
I psyched a 1NT opening (11-14). Opps ended up in 6 when they knew they had a double fit (5-3, 4-4). We already had a board where they had a double fit, and the 4-4 was better, so I guess they remembered that one. Ofcourse, it was the other way around now: partner had J stiff, and my RHO had AKxx, so no chance at all. 1 down is good bridge.

Now look at this one:
-
A97
AQJ98742
KJ
What do you do, favorable in 1st seat?
RHO got creative and passed! I opened 1NT, partner transfered , and NOW he bid 5. What was I supposed to do with:
J6
QT63
KT
AQ653
I doubled, he made... Nice maxipsych!

And our last interesting hand was the following:

Dealer:East
Vul:Both
Scoring:imps
A6
K8653
QJ9875
-
KJ753
942
32
JT7
T982
Q
T6
AQ9843
Q4
AJT7
AK4
K652

The auction went:
pass - 1 - pass - 1!
pass - 2NT - pass - 3
pass - 4 - pass - 6
pass - 6 - ...
(1 shows 5+s)
I thought this would make, and gambled by doubling. Opponents may play the trump suit completely wrong. How was I to know lefty had 5s and partner Q stiff... :-(