Sunday, September 27, 2009

My luckiest hand ever

Last week I encountered a hand which is probably the luckiest hand I'll ever encounter. It was the first hand of a club evening, and lady Luck clearly had choosen sides.

It reminded me about hands played by the Hideous Hog in the book "Bridge in the Menagery" by Victor Mollo. He ends up in slams where he seldom has an 8 card trump fit, needs a poor trump break, and where opps have an important decision to make at trick 1 or 2.

This was my hand:
x
AKJT9
xxx
Qxxx

LHO started the auction:
1 - Dbl - pass - 4
pass - 4 - pass - ...

When is trumps we play Kickback RKC (4 is RKC, so you save a step and can always ask for the trump Queen). I wasn't sure if 4 was natural, but if it was we surely had slam. If it was Kickback, I should show my keycards. So I bid 5 showing 2 keycards without Q. Now partner bid 5, again, it could be 2 meanings. He could be running away to his own suit again, but it could also ask for Kings. Looking for grand slam after an opening is rare, but it was still possible. And my first argument still counts, so I responded to the King ask with 6, denying any outside Kings. Partner passed.

1 - Dbl - pass - 4
pass - 4 - pass - 5
pass - 5 - pass - 6
pass - pass - pass

LHO lead A and dummy came down:
AKJxxxx
x
Qx
KJx

One can hardly call this a GOSH. Anyway, that would be a discussion for after the game.

RHO played 2. LHO now started thinking, and eventually continued a . Ok, take it from here.

Since he continued , LHO couldn't have A. If that's the case, he should have the rest of the HCP (Q, Q, KJ and A = 12HCP), maybe not the J. The only way to win, was if Q would be doubleton, so trumps splitting 5-2. If we got that far, we still needed a 3-2 break. Chances were slim, but they existed.

So I cashed AK and saw the Q drop. First success! I drew the rest of the trumps (luckily I had JT9, although JT8 would be enough for a ruffing finesse), and took the finesse. 2nd success! Now A, fingers crossed for the 3-2 break. 3rd success, 6 made in a 5-1 fit with an A and AK outside, and trump Q offside. :-)

Afterwards we agreed that the Double was clearly wrong, and also that in such situations we better don't play Kickback RKC.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

"Either-Or" squeeze (2)

Here another Either-Or squeeze:

Dealer:South
Vul:n/a
Scoring:MP
AQ542
5
65
AK965
963
J43
984
QJ43
KJ87
KQ7
KQT7
T7
T
AT9862
AJ32
82


The auction went:
1 - 1NT!
2! - 2!
2 - 3
pass
(1NT was semi forcing; 2 Gazzilli; shows 8-11HCP)

This wasn't a great auction. I was sitting South and had a problem when partner showed <15HCP and (2)3+. I decided to just go for 3 and see what happens (this is less than invite, otherwise I would've started with 2 instead of 1NT). With the North hand I'd have rebid 3 instead of Gazzilli since it's 2 good suits and a perfect distribution for it.

Anyway, we got to a playable contract.

West lead 9 to the Queen which I ducked smoothly. 7 came back to T and J, and another was played to my AJ. East decided to play the T for my J.

Now I played A (East dropped the King), followed by AK and a ruff (East discarded J). I exited a trump to East's Queen. This was the situation:

Dealer:South
Vul:n/a
Scoring:MP
AQ5
-
-
96
963
-
4
Q
K87
-
K7
-
T
86
A3
-


East played his K but everything was already lost. I had a tenance against West and a tenance against East, so whoever held K would be squeezed.

An "Either-Or" squeeze is technically a simple squeeze (against 1 opponent), but you play it like a double squeeze. Cash your 2 trumps. On the last trump you can squeeze either opponent if he holds the K:

Dealer:South
Vul:n/a
Scoring:MP
AQ
-
-
9
K?6
-
-
Q
K?8
-
7
-
T
6
3
-


3+1 was a cold top. West should've played as soon as he won a trick to break up all communications. I don't know why he didn't.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Strip squeeze

During a MP tournament I picked up the following collection:
K6
AQT42
KQT4
K6

The auction went (uncontested):
1 - 1
2! - 2!
3NT
(2 Gazzilli ; 2 shows 8+HCP any)

I decided to make the practical bid of 3NT, instead of 3 which would show my distribution.

LHO lead the 3 and dummy comes down with:
AQJ2
K7
8652
T93

K6
AQT42
KQT4
K6

Suppose RHO takes A and returns a small . What do you do?

Your best chance is to play the King. Whenever the Q or J is in West's hand, you're losing 4+ tricks if you play low. When you play the King you only lose 4+ tricks if LHO has A.

At the table however, RHO won A and returned 7 for my King (LHO playing the 9). I played a to the King and a small back only to find out that RHO shows out! s are 5-1. Now what?

We have 10 tricks on top. Suppose we give LHO a , what will he do? He may play a in which case we make 11 tricks unless they cash the Ace, but he could also play something else.
We can also take the , return to dummy and play a to our King. But that's dangerous.
Our 10 tricks and the 1 trick opps already have makes a total of 11, that's 2 tricks remaining, which is good for an endplay. We can clear the s and the s, keeping count of the , and eventually endplay LHO with a so he has to play in our QT. If LHO has A he won't be able to defend against our line of play, and we have an additional chance he has QJ (in which case RHO will win A but will have to play to dummy's T9). This is definitely a better and safer way of getting a second overtrick.

So I played A, 4 rounds of s discarding 4 and 6, followed by the rest of the s.

On the last LHO was squeezed:

Dealer:South
Vul:None
Scoring:MP
-
-
8
T93
-
J9
-
A5
-
-
-
QJ87
-
QT
T
K

If he discards a small I'd still lead my K just in case LHO has any honour (if it's the Jack or Queen, I'll still make my 10th trick in dummy). This would only lose if LHO had no honours. In reality, LHO would be endplayed and would have to play into my QT.
If he discards a , my s are high.
So his only chance was to discard A, which didn't help.

3NT+2 obviously was a great score.

This was the full hand:

Dealer:South
Vul:None
Scoring:MP
AQJ2
K7
8652
T93
T43
J9853
J93
A5
9875
6
A7
QJ8742
K6
AQT42
KQT4
K6

Notice that if RHO would've returned a small at trick 2, we would've gone down 3!