Monday, March 26, 2007

Cup of Flanders

Yesterday me and my team played a great tournament. Swiss movement, playing at table 1 and 2 the entire afternoon, but lost our final match 25-5 and finished 8th. One can say the afternoon was 1 round too long... Anyway, we had a great time and played solid bridge against good players all day long.

Here's one of the more spectacular hands:
KJ
Axx
AKQxxxx
x

Axxxx
-
T9x
Axxxx

Playing MOSCITO, my partner started the auction:
1! - Dbl! - 1! - 2!
3 - pass - 3 - pass
3 - pass - 4 - pass
4NT - pass - 5NT! - pass
7 - all pass

1 showed 15+HCP any hand
Dbl showed either s or both Majors
1 showed GF with 4+
2 was P/C
5NT shows an even number of keycards and a useful void

Nothing really spectacular imo, but somehow I didn't hear anyone else say they found grand on this hand. I think they got heavier competition in than we did, a result of the opponents' defense against a strong . If they would've been able to show both Majors without the possibility of a suit, we probably would've started with finding our fit at the 5-level... We got lucky here.
Suction has it's disadvantages, especially if your partner doesn't have a fit for the possible 1-suiter.

Another one, we got lucky here:
xx
Ax
QJxx
KJTxx

Jx
KQxxx
Ax
Q9xx

Funny auction, the board contained 50hcp:
1! - 2 - Dbl - 3!
pass - 3 - Dbl - pass
4 - pass - 4 - pass
pass - pass

1 shows 9-15HCP, 4+, can have longer , unbalanced.
3 was invite+ with a fit.
Both doubles were takeout.

LHO started with 8 (from a doubleton) and the defense was over since were 3-3 and were 2-2. If he leads the normal , I would've gone off since a switch through my Ace is deadly if A is still in play.

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Hand which caused some discussion

Here's a hand from a club evening. I was kibitzing since we were bye, and I saw a good player mess up the hand. Lets see if you can do better.

AKxxx
Qx
KJxx
xx

x
K98xx
Ax
AKQxx

Opponents were silent, the good player (but usually not 100% concentrated on club evenings) sitting in South, playing with his wife. He likes to gamble a bit on club evenings, which explains the auction:
1 - pass - 2 - pass
2 - pass - 3 - pass
3! - pass - 6 - pass
6 - Dbl - 6NT - pass
pass - pass
(3 is natural, NOT 4th suit forcing)

After the 6 bid, North was thinking and sighing before bidding 6. Anyway, you're in 6NT and you get a small as lead. Plan the play.

Declarer made a few errors. He started with J which held the trick. However, this blocks the hands completely. Next he played a from dummy to his King, knowing RHO has the Ace. This makes sure you can't even rectify the count for a squeeze. In the end he had to concede 2 tricks for -1.

If you give the hand a good look, you should be able to find a good line of play. You have 11 tricks if Q is onside (good chance after this lead) and s behave. This is your only chance anyway... So suppose all minor cards are nicely divided, you need one more trick. You have the perfect setting for a double squeeze, and you can rectify the count easily by conceiding A. You'll have a menace against West and a menace against East, with working as your double menace. The biggest problem will be communication. That's why you shouldn't finesse at trick one, but just play low to your Ace. Now you're not in trouble whenever opponents play . Next, as planned, we play to the Q, giving RHO a choice: either he takes and rectifies the count, or he ducks and you have your 12 tricks by playing a low back to your King (still only when the minors behave).

It's probably more easy to follow if you can see all the hands now:

Dealer:North
Vul:n/a
Scoring:MP
AKxxx
Qx
KJxx
xx
Jxx
Jx
QTxxx
Jxx
Qxxx
ATxx
xx
xxx
x
K98xx
Ax
AKQxx


1) Suppose RHO takes A and returns a :
You can't come back to your hand in the end, so the squeeze card should be in South. This means you should play s first, followed by the s, ending with
AKx
-
x
-

x
98
-
x
On the last , LHO has to part with a , you discard the small which has done his work, and RHO can't keep his high and 3 s. A simultanous double squeeze gives you your 12th trick and a top score.

2) What if RHO takes A and returns a :
Now the cards lay a bit different. You can't go to dummy, except with . This means you should play your s before your s! This will result in a non-simultanous double squeeze. West will be squeezed first, East will be next. The position where West has to surrender is quite early:
Kx
x
KJx
-

-
K98x
x
x
West still has Jx, J and QTx. He can't part with a or a , so he discards a . Since LHO didn't discard his , we throw one from the dummy. Now we still have to squeeze RHO in both Majors. Finesse the J, and on the play of K RHO is caught in a simple squeeze in the Majors.
Kx
x
K
-

-
K98x
-
-
RHO still has Qx and Tx and has to unguard one of the suits.

I was convinced there was always a double squeeze, but not everyone agreed. I checked with GIB and I was proved to be right. Now that you know how to play the hand after a lead, can you figure out what to lead with West's hand to defeat the contract?

Only a spade lead will kill the squeeze, because EW can ruin all communications required for the squeeze. If South tries to rectify the count by playing Q, RHO should take his Ace and return immediately. Now declarer can't go from one hand to the other after the squeeze card, and this means there can't be any squeeze anymore.

Friday, March 16, 2007

My first "Zia cuebid"

Yesterday I was training for the upcoming Belgian Championship for university students. There were a few interesting hands, but this one was my favorite:

Dealer:North
Vul:NS
Scoring:imps
AK64
A
K98
J7542
JT5
J9643
Q43
T8
9732
KQ87
T76
K3
Q8
T52
AJ52
AQ96


The auction went as follows (opponents silent):
1 - 1NT (14+ nat or 15+ bal - GF relay)
2 - 2NT (5+ 4+ - relay)
3 - 3 (14-17HCP, 5431 - relay)
3NT - 4 (4-1-3-5 distribution exactly - sets trump)
4 - 4! (even number of keycards - fake cuebid!)
4 - 6 (cue - woohoo)

It's not a pure Zia cue since it didn't ruin the opponent's lead. Because of our methods however, I had to make a fake cuebid to figure out if partner had a cue, because otherwise I would give him a much bigger problem. This is due to the kickback Turbo. If I would bid 4NT to deny a cue and show a cue, then partner has to go past 5 to show a cue, but he doesn't have the Q which sort of forbids partner to go past 5 as well. This dilemma is quite unsolvable, and I can foresee it since I hold the Q myself. So why make it hard on partner when you have a bid which makes it easy for him?

Note that partner already showed a singleton , so we already know that we have a cue. No harm done. Nobody else in the main bridge lobby (BBO) found this slam. :-)

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Tight defense

Playing imps, the auction went (West dealer, EW vulnerable):
1NT - 2* - pass - 2*
pass - pass - Dbl - pass
2 - pass - pass - pass

2 shows either or both Majors
2 is "Pass or Correct"

Partner leads J and you see following dummy:
6542
KQ7
5
Q8653

You hold:
A83
JT953
A8
T92

Obviously you take A at trick 1.

How do you plan the defense?

Question is how you'll defeat this contract. EW have 22-24HCP, this leaves partner with 7-9HCP. You already know partner doesn't have K or Q. LHO might have passed with 4 s from KQ, so he probably has only 3 s. This also explains partner's intervention: a poor but long suit. So his values must be somewhere else. The only way to defeat this contract seems if he has good trumps and an Ace. Partner will have 2 trumps at most, so chances are low. However, A or A or K won't run away on declarer's s. We can overruff dummy, so I think the best opportunity we have is to continue a and hope.

Here's the full deal:

Dealer:West
Vul:EW
Scoring:imps
KJ
62
JT97643
A7
QT97
A84
KQ2
KJ4
6542
KQ7
5
Q8653
A83
JT953
A8
T92


This is what should happen: declarer plays a to the K and plays a low trump. You play low and declarer inserts the Ten for partner's Jack. Partner also knows you don't have any s left so he'll play his lowest remaining to show a suit preference. You can ruff with the 8, return a to partner's Ace who returns another (to promote his K if you have the Q) which you ruff with the Ace. Even better!

Only a dummy reversal for the defenders gets this contract down. A,
A and 4 tricks is just enough.

Thursday, March 01, 2007

Safety first

This is one that came up at a partnership bidding table (we were practicing for an upcoming tournament with imps scoring):
3
A
JT984
AKJ632

AKT4
K95
653
T98

The auction is irrelevant, we ended up in 3NT played by South. There are some blockages, and if opponents start with a lead, all communication has been destroyed. So what are your thoughts?

A 4-0 split is deadly, but any 3-1 split you should try to handle. Meanwhile you need to get to dummy after unblocking A, and you'll need to get back to your s as well, without losing control of the hand! Any plans?

After taking A there's 1 line which is safer than all others: you start by unblocking A and you play a low to dummy! Whoever has Q gets a trick, but 9 tricks are assured: 2s, 2s and 5s. Opponents can't make 5 tricks before us, because the s will only produce 3 tricks, plus Q. 3NT laydown.

Note that even if s are 2-2 and you're planning to cash AK, unblocking A makes sure the s block (you can either stay in the hand or go to dummy, but that's the last thing you'll do)! So you would need to cash AK, which is full of risks, and you can only get to 9 tricks anyway...

Only one question remains: how do you play this at MatchPoints? Initially I thought you can make 10 tricks only if you catch Q singleton, all other splits make you go down after cashing A. So I thought you should still go for the safety of 9 tricks. However, Michael (see the comments) got me to realise I was wrong, cashing is better in more than 50% of the hands (unless my calculations were wrong).