The Tao of Gaming

Boardgames and lesser pursuits


Playing (poorly) at a Swiss I pick up:


My LHO is a (quote) life master (unquote) who is not at all good and (vhoje moi!) mentoring new players. She may even teach lessons. A nice woman, but just full of bad ideas and because she’s a life master she has a following amongst the other dear hearts who are just starting out.

She opens 1 Heart which is passed around to me.  With this partner I haven’t played much but he’s an expert. We did make out a card and our balancing NT is 11-14. Over a major that can stretch upwords a point or two, but even discounting the compact spade honors I like the fact that my hand is bulky. I think its too much.

I double, planning on bidding 1NT over 1S to show a good hand.

LHO bids 2 Hearts then partner bids 3 Diamonds. RHO passes and that’s enough for me to shoot 3 No Trump. Even if we’re light on points I know a lot about the hand. It goes all pass and I get a small spade lead.

          Dummy S: xxx H:A8x D:K9xx C:xxx

Spade 4 led

          My hand S:KQJ H:QTxx D:AJT C:KJx

This goes to my hand and I win RHO’s Ten with the queen. OK, I have 24 HCP and I RHO will have roughly 4 at most. I could attack hearts, but I think that I’m going to want to endplay LHO in hearts and clubs. I could finesse into the safe hand (LHO) in diamonds, but I think I’m going to finesse against LHO, even though she’s likely shorter in diamonds. RHO may have the queen, but even if I used my entry and finessed, I couldn’t do it twice. I may want to finesse in clubs. And LHO has the bulk of points.

The Diamond queen is points. Maybe she has it.

I lay down the diamond ace and LHO plays a small heart. Well, I was right about her more likely to be short in diamonds. I let the diamond jack ride to RHO and he returns a small spade without much thought.

That has to be good for me, much better than a club through. LHO wins the spade ace and I don’t see how I’m going to make this, even assuming an endplay or squeeze for the final trick. Hurm. Two spades, three diamonds, if the club queen is onsides then perhaps….

I hadn’t gotten far when LHO tabled the club ace. I follow all low. Next comes … the heart nine?!

I maybe played poorly earlier, but now I see nine tricks. I let the heart ride to the ten (LHO shows out, of course). Small heart from hand and LHO has to split and play her jack. I win on dummy and cash the diamonds (pitching my club jack) and then I can lead the heart eight and when she wins I show my hand of good spade king, good heart queen and good club king. The opponents just shrug and score it up. Her partner isn’t good enough to realize she’s given the hand away.

Later on, same match.

RHO had opened 1 Spade and I’m looking at: S:xx H:AQJx D:Qxx C:xxxx.

With nothing to see, I move along and pass. She goes into a communion with her bidding box and emerges with Four NT.

RHO answers 5 Clubs and she grumbles, grouses and then bids six spades.

Her entire demeanour indicates she’s gambling (she lacks a poker face, but at least I can say that I don’t think her partners can read her. There’s nothing unethical going on here).  I ask what five clubs shows and she says “We play 1430” (so five clubs shows one or four).

Honestly, getting barely by in a solid Flight A event feels better than crushing team, because what I do may work or not for entirely random reasons. At least if I lose at the NAOP’s, I feel like I deserve it. Here I make 3N because she can’t defend passively, and now I’m on lead and I can’t tell anything from this auction. Ugh.

This slam was not rationally bid, therefore it comes down to a simple cost-benefit. If it turns out we can beat the slam cashing the first two hearts, I will murder myself if we don’t.

If my heart ace gets ruffed by dummy on opening lead (and I swear … scout’s honor, that this thought crossed my mind before I led it) then I will simply shrug and say “What can you do against lunacy? It gets lucky sometimes.” More rationally, the heart lead may set up declarer’s king, but if partner has an entry I don’t care if I get one heart or two, and if I give up the timing … oh well.

I lead the heart ace and she grimaces and says “I guessed wrong,” as she tables dummy.

Dummy has (and let us pause to savor this) S: AJx H:Kxxxx D:Kxxxx C:–

Right idea, but I misguessed her void. (Do not bid Blackwood with a void is apparently another lesson she has missed). All thankfully follow and partner is violently discouraging hearts and it suddenly hits me what she meant.

She was guessing whether her partner had one or four key cards.

She doesn’t know that she could just sign off, safe in the knowledge that a partner staring at four key cards the Spade King and three aces (plus who knows what else), might push onto a slam after a strong auction by partner and should let the auction drop.

Then again, if she doesn’t know that, how could the person (who — again — she is mentoring) know?

I lead a diamond to the king and partner takes his ace and shifts to a club. RHO wins the ace and I’m now expecting down two (since that’s he keycard) but no, RHO shows up with both remaining key cards so they are only down one. I missed if he apologizes for pulling out the wrong bid.

We destroy this team but now I’m feeling guilty that I didn’t sign up as a mentor.

That conflicts with game night….


Written by taogaming

January 15, 2017 at 10:49 pm

Posted in Bridge

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