The Tao of Gaming

Boardgames and lesser pursuits

Welcome Back, Pt 2.

A few more hands from yesterday.

Holding S:AT97 H:A D:KQJ2 C:AQJ3 I’m not surprised when its three passes to me. I could open in diamonds and jump shift (and maybe I should, as this could easily be a minor suit slam), but I just decide to open 2NT. (The ACBL recently changed, so it is not an illegal agreement to open hands like this in NT, with a stiff honor). Partner bids 3 Clubs (stayman) and raises my 3 Spades to 4 Spades.

I get the 8 of hearts lead and see this.

Dummy S: Q654 H:Q752 D:87 C:K92

8 of hearts led

Hand: S:AT97 H:A D:KQJ2 C:AQJ3

We’ve reached a good game, with only three fast potential losers, but its tricky. I duck the heart 8, RHO playing the 6 and win the ace. I could play either opponent to have the long trumps, and perhaps I should play LHO for it, but the play of the spades in isolation is to lead the queen. Perhaps the opening lead should dissuade me, but if RHO had 6+ hearts in 3rd seat non-vulnerable, I suspect I may have gotten preempted. I lead a club to the king and play the queen of spades. RHO covers this easily so I win the ace and LHO drops the “ominous eight.”

I note that this means that (apart from the jack) my spots are high. I continue with the spade 9 and LHO does indeed show out, pitching the diamond ten (standard signals). RHO wins the jack and obediently shifts to a diamond, king-ace-small. A heart comes back (the four) and I cover with the 7, and ruff the 9.

This is annoying. I have 3 high trumps but I don’t see a way to get rid of my losing diamond (even if I could pull trump, which are blocked). I need RHO to follow to two more rounds of clubs and diamonds, and that can’t happen unless LHO’s heart lead was a lie and in that case RHO would have had to follow higher on the first trick).

But I can’t see anything better and I play for it, but RHO ruffs the 3rd club and I’m down one. I think this may still be OK because people who banged down the spade ace lost two trumps plus a ruff, but those that did that likely used the entry to ruff an extra heart before pulling trumps, so it was a wash. -50 was a very common score. Still, an interesting hand.

          S:8 H:H843 D:AT9xx C:T8xx

S:AT97 H:A D:KQJ2  [4S-W]   S:Q654 H:Q752 D:87 C:K92

          S:KJ32 H:KJT96 D:65 C:75


One final hand. Against a weak pair I pick up S:KQJx H:JTx D:JT9 C:xxx and partner opens 1 Heart. I have an easy raise to two hearts, but …. there are a number of points against it.

  • I’m 4=3=3=3. That’s NT shape and a downgrade.
  • I’m aceless and only one king. Another NT shape and another downgrade.
  • By the losing trick count this is a ten loser hand. Terrible.

Breaking with the field is a risk … we’re a strong pair in this field and to throw the dice on the bidding means possibly giving up all chances to win the board on the play. But I have a few “extra ways to win”. The most likely is that if I raise to 2H partner will bid a terrible game (or invite) and we get too high. Or she may have her bid but hearts break poorly.

And I’m also influenced by the fact that we play Flannery. Our 2D opening shows 11-15 HCP, four spades and five hearts. So I know that partner probably doesn’t have spade fit (if she does, she’ll let me know in either case). I decide to go with my instincts and downgrade this hand. It could turn out poorly, but i would consider that unlucky. So … rather than raising hearts or bidding spades, I bid 1 NoTrump (semi-forcing) and hide my four card spade suit (if partner has spades, I want her declaring). I think the most likely outcome will be that partner bids two of a minor and I bid two hearts — ending the auction in the same place while discouraging partner from going high on borderline hands (since she’ll place me with only two hearts). If partner tries for game after that, it will likely work and it will be easier to get to 3NT instead of 4H.

If partner happens to pass 1 NT, well that’s a higher scoring contract anyway (and I have no ruffing value in hearts). AND I’ll likely get a spade lead, as I’ve hidden my suit.

As expected, partner bids 2 Diamonds and I take a preference to 2 Hearts and partner passes.

Looking at the hand and traveler after the game, I see that I did in fact risk everything. Partner had a 16 count 2=5=4=2 with terrible spots (xx KQ8xx KQ7x AQ). My jack-tens were pulling a lot of weight. We have three aces to lose and maybe the king of clubs, and there’s a decent shot at a ruff, so our 24 HCP game was not a favorite, but neither a huge underdog.

On this hand, it happened to be cold and the field got there.

But! As it turns out I had one more way to win that I hadn’t dared hope for.

My RHO decided to balance into 2 Spades. I had an easy double and partner (knowing I may have four spades on this auction) had an easy pass. When the smoke cleared our +800 was an actual top. You need a bit of luck to win.

Written by taogaming

June 6, 2021 at 9:07 am

Posted in Bridge

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