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Bridge in Corona

I’ve played on BBO (and earlier on OKBridge) for over a quarter century. I finally played a sanctioned tournament online. A few thoughts:

  • From a strictly time/money perspective, a big win. Although the tournament was only 18 boards (boo!) it took 2 hours. A full 24/27 board tournament still keep it ~30 minutes faster than a club game. And there’s no time driving too and from, etc. Cost was several dollars cheaper.
  • This is partially due to the fact that nobody has to get out/sort/put back cards and the clock is 7 minutes a board feels generous (instead of a touch rushed for most people). Also, the enforcement is automatic, after 14 minutes the hand ends. I assume it goes down as an average (unless the director can see timing and adjust).
  • The ACBL/BBO did well to make games sponsored by clubs. So most people go to “their” club and you know everybody. This does help a bit because when Hank and I are playing Polish we still have to alert, but most people aren’t surprised/asking a lot of questions (which takes much longer). So you are still “seeing” your regulars, but only a few sentences of chat between hands means the social aspect is much worse.
  • There is a big discussion about cheating. See Bridgewinners. What needs to happen is an automated way to fill out a recorder form (basically “I smell something funky, please investigate.”) These exist, but are such a pain to fill out nobody every really does. (Actually, I wonder. Jeff G. sits in review for national appeals committees, but maybe they only happen at high level). But by being automated BBO could provide a certified copy of the bidding/play to at least prevent “remembering with advantages” by either party. Right now there were a few questionable things that happened, but honestly in a club game I get a fair number. Most are just mistakes. But the ability to see exactly what happened is enlightening.

Anyway, I wouldn’t normally play a club game online and this doesn’t really change that. But you make do…

Written by taogaming

June 1, 2020 at 10:11 pm

Some Bridge Reading for You

Mats Nilsland has made his new book “Competitive Bids the Scanian Way” free to download for your Corona-reading pleasure. I’ve only scanned the first bid, but I have a few other books on Modern Scanian (which means approximately “Scandanavian,” with some differences I may not grok) bidding, and they are full of interesting ideas. Kind of like reading “Better Bidding With Bergen” in the late 80s … his ideas were rarely used in club circles, and are now reasonably common.

Written by taogaming

March 27, 2020 at 12:12 pm

Posted in Bridge

RIP Josephine Grabow

Josephine (‘Jo’) Grabow is now the third bridge partner I’ve lost. Not only was she a much more frequent partner (I haven’t played with her in a few years, but we had 5-6 of us that would play practice and rotate houses, but she seemed in perfect health. She just performed the lead in a local theater production two weeks ago, and I saw her last weekend at the tournament. She played at the club on Monday, and Tuesday suffered a massive stroke. It’s infuriating and heartbreaking.

Written by taogaming

January 24, 2020 at 9:42 pm

Posted in Bridge

Tagged with

Heat 1

I had an arranged bridge partnership for the weekend, as I was skipping this years North American Open Pairs. My partner (from CA) was described as a nice expert and she was. After going to the wrong hotel (this tournament was in the same place for a decade …. ), I arrived in time to make a card and sit down to a simple sectional pairs game.

Not much happens in the early rounds,

Then I pick up (Red vs White):

S:KQ8xx H:Txx D:– C:ATxxx

My RHO gets things off with a 3D preempt. Since I have diamond shortness, it’s my obligation to stretch. There’s something to be said for double, but with 5=3 in the majors I bid 3S. If partner bids 3N I think I may pull, but she bids 4D as a slam try and I slam on the brakes with 4S.

LHO leads the diamond three and I see this in dummy:

          S:AT9x H:AKx D:KJ852 C:9

3D led

          S:KQ8xx H:Txx D:--  C:ATxxx

 

I think I’ve done well. I only have one loser (and third round at that), but winners seem thin on the ground. I cover the diamond 3 with the 5 (maybe RHO will mess up and play too high) but he’s there with the 6 and I ruff.

I could start ruffing clubs before pulling trump but I don’t think my communication is great. After some thought I pull a round of trump with my ace(*) and when both follow I risk playing a club ace and ruff a club with the spade ten. RHO plays the CJ on this. I play a spade to my king and both follow. Ah, that’s great. I ruff a club and RHO pitches a heart. I play AK of hearts and RHO follows with the jack once and then pitches a diamond. Now I only have two trumps and four losers, but I know everything.

                   S:-- H:5 D:KJ82 C:--

S:-- H:Qxx D:-- C:KQ                  D:AQT97

                   S:Qx H:T D:-- C:Tx 

RHO has only diamonds left.I lead the diamond deuce to his seven (pitching a heart) and when he cashes the diamond ace instead of ruffing I pitch a club. He’s forced to lead to my king, allowing my to dispose of my last club.

Not difficult, but I’m pleased to find this double loser-on-loser endplay.

(* Update) — I realized that starting with the ace was stupid, I’m not actually sure I did it, but maybe. Clearly if anyone has four trumps it is likely to be west, so I should have started with the King. So let’s all pretend I did that. Maybe I did, who knows?

Later, a near slam hand:

S:Jx H:AKJxx D:AKJ C:xxx.

Partner (in second seat) opens 1C, I have an easy 1H bid and partner bids 1S. I bid 2D, artificial and forcing to game. Partner bids 2H, showing 3 card support and I set trumps and show slam interest by bidding 3H. Partner bids 3S (first or second round control) and I bid 4D (ditto, also denying a club control). Partner bids 4H and we’re done. LHO (a relative novice) leads the nine of clubs and I see:

S:KQ9x H:Qxx D:xx C:AQJT

I see that slam was roughly 50/50, and with that lead the club king is likely off sides. I’m a bit stuck because there’s a chance that LHO has the king is has done something weird. I decide to risk the ruff and play the queen.  It loses and when a club comes back LHO follows low. I pull trumps (which break) and then lead a small spade to my queen, planning on claiming +650 when the ace takes it. But it holds. Hm. Now I have a chance for six. I cross back to the diamond ace and play two rounds of trump, pitching spades. When I play a club to dummy I see LHO follow, meaning he led top of nothing. I’m really starting to like my chance for six, now. My gut is that LHO has the diamond queen and is squeezed. When I cash the clubs I come down to an automatic squeeze position in spades and diamonds.

Dummy has the spade king and a diamond and two good clubs. I run the clubs and come down to KJ of diamonds. LHO has a good poker face, but my vibe is telling me he’s got the queen. Since he led top of nothing from xxx, he was looking for a safe lead, so there’s also a restricted choice argument. (If he had nothing in clubs and diamonds, he’d pick randomly, at least from my point of view. But if he had the diamond queen and decided to lead nothing, his choice was restricted). I lead a diamond to the king and am rewarded when the queen falls. +680.

Later on I’m defending a game with a 2C opener declaring on my left, trumps are pulled, and partner has only room for one card.

Dummy has T8x of hearts and I have J9 tight. When declarer leads the low heart off the board I’m ready and fly with the jack. This is the position I’m hoping for:

 

        CHO: Kxxx

Declarer: AQxx   Dummy:T8x

        ME:  J9

(The ace and king could be reversed). Declarer covers my queen and partners king wins. Partner exits safely and declarer, having no place to discard her two small cards, takes the ‘marked’ finesse of the heart 8 and is off. Note that if I’d followed with the 9 then declarer would simply drop my jack (or go back and finesse by leading the T or 8. Since that was bound to work, my falsecard gave declarer and obvious (and losing) alternative.

Sadly, I’m off by a card since declarer only has three hearts (AQx), but I’m still happy to have spotted the mandatory falsecard. As the day goes on I realize I’m in Zia’s “Heat 1,” where everything you do seems to work out, your analysis seems sharper. I’m in a good mood, and that makes it easy to play well. Even though our scores are only mediocre (our opponents are bidding their thin slams, and there are a few questionable bids by each side), but I’m in the zone.

Then, my LHO is a solid local expert who has been an expert for my entire bridge playing career, I decide to make a sign-off on a not-so-borderline invitational hand, because the signoff will accurately show my shape and the invite will see partner force to game before I can provide the news. (This follows Woolsey’s advice of “when choosing between two bids and one is a mild over/underbid, make the one that shows your shape.” I had lobbied for the convention to let me show that at a low level, but we’re playing a simpler one where partner may jump with a maximum hand before I can finish….)

Since I’m in the zone, my underbid gets a lead directing penalty double from the S.L.E. (she doesn’t expect us to end up there, and she’s right), meaning everyone who is going high will get massacred with bad breaks and offside suits.

Even more amazingly, my RHO (an imaginative and sometimes flighty player), misreads the double is takeout and informs my partner as such. So partner passes and when he bids I come out of the woodwork and make a double that must be penalty. The smoke clears at 1700 points, although 500 was enough to make the top cold. LHO is still griping (justifiably) at her partner when I pick up.

S:Kx H:QJ8 D:AKJx C:JTxx

This is an easy 1NT, so I have an easy auction. Partner will be captain. The auction proceeds:

LHO CHO RHO YHN
--- --- --- ---
             1N
X*   P  2C** P  (*Alerted as Meckwell, either a long minor or both majors. **Forced relay)
2H*  X  2S** P  (*Both majors, **Correcting to preferred major)
 P  3S*  P  3N  (*Do you have spades stopped. 3N= Yes)

I get a small spade lead and see that this is as touchy a contract as the auction (coupled with my tenous spade stopper) imply.

Dummy has S:J9x H:KTx D:xx C:AK987

I call for a low spade and gratefully cover RHO’s queen with the king. Nobody is vulnerable, so LHO may have risked the bid with only 4=4 in the majors, but in any case the club finesse isn’t likely to work. Still, its my obvious source of tricks to attack first. I carefully lead the club jack. LHO plays the deuce. She can see dummy so she may have ducked the Qxx, but I fly with the ace and play the king, finishing the unblock with my ten. LHO shows out on this, so I lead another club and RHO wins the queen, LHO discarding two hearts, presumably encouraging. RHO continues with spades and LHO wins the queen and knocks out the jack (as I pitch a diamond). When I cash my two clubs RHO follows with a discouraging heart and then pitches his fourth spade.

That confirms what I already knew. He doesn’t have the heart ace. People with sure entries don’t pitch winners.

I get rid of my low diamond on the fifth club and LHO (after pitching a diamond on the fourth), pitches her fourth spade.

I run through the bridge syllogism again.

RHO pitched a spade winner, therefore RHO does not have the heart ace. And since LHO pitched a spade winner, LHO does not have the heart ace.

Maybe I have it? I double check. Nope. I can’ t quite work out why its going on, but that’s not necessary. I simply lead a heart and when LHO wins she returns one and I can pitch my jack of diamonds and avoid the finesse. Ah, now I know. If she kept the spade winner and pitched a diamond, her queen would fall under my AK. And if she pitched a low heart she’d be endplayed after cashing. But in either case she’d have held me to 3N instead of letting me make an overtrick. An uncharacteristic mistake, probably caused by fatigue and annoyance at partner.

In both matchpoint sessions we do OK, but in the Swiss teams the next day I confirm I’m in zone one, as our pickup team just gets edged out of first with a 5-1 score, the loss being very narrow match 13-15 (mostly decided at the other table). I’ve often been in zone three (where you seem snakebit at the table), so its nice to have some time in the sun.

Written by taogaming

January 20, 2020 at 7:00 pm

Posted in Bridge

Problematic hands

While I think that Polish Club is a good system, it has a few weaknesses. One big one is strong hands with primary diamonds and a secondary major, or two suited hands with the minors. (Standard American also has problems handling these in the strong and artificial 2 Club opening). So … while we open 1 Club with “Most” 18 point hands, we will sometimes open 1 diamond with a hand up to about 20 or 21 HCP. But normally those only show up a few times a year.

Playing at the club, I pick up S:x H:AK D:KQTxx C:AKJxx

Tough. If I open 1 Club I won’t be able to show both minors below 4 Clubs, when 3N is the right place. So I open 1 Diamond. Partner bids 1 Heart and I bid an artificial 2N. (Since we open all balanced hands 1 Club or Notrump, this bid is free). This shows an strong (18+) hand, either primary diamonds or a minor two suiter. Partner bids 3 Diamonds, showing that if I have a minor two suiter, he prefers diamonds.

That’s excellent news. Unless partner is 4=3 in the minors he likely has a doubleton club and 3+ diamonds, taking care of a diamond loser. No point in fooling around. I bid 4 Hearts, key card blackwood in diamonds (kickback) and partner bids 4 Spades, showing one ace. Since we have a loser,  I settle for 6 diamonds, which should be pretty reasonable.

LHO leads the spade king and I find out that partner has pretty much the worst hand.

S:ATx H:T9xxx D:8xx C:Tx

Partner took a shot at improving the contract, but not only does he have the ‘wrong’ ace he has no extras. But he could have a lot more points and this would still be dicey, so I have no complaints.

I win the ace and have to decide how to play. I can finesse the clubs, but then I’ll need something good to happen in diamonds and I may still have a club loser. But if the diamond ace is onside (or maybe the jack) I don’t really need much in clubs. Any 3-3 break or the long hand to have the long trump. So I play the diamond off dummy and RHO follows with the jack. I win with the diamond king.

If the diamond jack was stiff I’m down, but I think it was from AJ tight, so I can make if RHO has two or three clubs (because if he over-ruffs dummy he won’t be able to pull dummy’s last trump). I lead the AK and a small club and LHO stares at this and shows up with the diamond nine. Ah well.

Amazingly I pick up another problematic hand later the same session.

S:AKxx H:– D:AQTxxx C:AJx

I open 1 Diamond again, and LHO bids 1 Heart which goes Pass Pass to me. I bid 2 spades, which could be weaker than what I actually have but partner will strive to keep the auction alive. Partner bids 3 Spades and I reveal the monster hand by making a slam try with 4 Clubs. Partner bids 4 Diamonds — possibly a singleton but likely the diamond king. I don’t have quite enough to force, but I try again with 4 Hearts. Partner bids 4 Spades.

After some thought, I pass. If I give partner the diamond king, what else can he have. If he has the club king and the spade queen (as well as four spades), he wouldn’t have passed over 1 Heart. Even with two kings he may have bid with a spare jack, especially). Realistically the best hand he could have is the spade queen + diamond king or two kings.  And Hank isn’t shy. If he had that he might have taken control.

I don’t think he has it.

I get a spade lead (the ten) and I see I’m right:

S:9xxxx H:Qx D:Kx C:Txxx

I win the Spade A and K (RHO following once, but then discarding), so I have a spade loser, but when diamonds break I can pitch three clubs from dummy and make six.

Still — a club lead would set the slam (unless spades split) so it’s reasonable to not be there.

Even though we were in the non-making slam and out of the making (on this lead) slam, I still feel like we acquitted ourselves well enough.

Written by taogaming

December 21, 2019 at 5:28 pm

Posted in Bridge

Tagged with ,

Some recent thoughts

I played the actual Shades of Tezla light and darkness scenario. I don’t like the new orc/monster/dragon tokens scattered into the base game (because they make the variability much higher) but in a scenario designed for them, it was fine. But the rulebook font is so small that basically the TaoLing has to read everything for me now. (It was tough to read even when I bought it….)

Played another game of Race: Xeno Invasion (cards only). I should play more Race. Ditto Baseball Highlights:2045.

Apparently Favor of the Pharoah was a gift at a recent game convention, because many locals now have a copy, so I played it a few more times. I think its an improvement over To Court the King, but the setup is a pain.

Reading many new bridge books. Most are on card play, but I did buy Five Card Majors the Scanian Way, and it has many new ideas and a definite philosophy. (‘Scanian’ approximates ‘Scandanavian,’ possibly meaning mainly Swedish. I think.)

Hank and I use transfer bids in competition (transfer advances and after takeout doubles); the Scanians have more including over 1C without competition, which has some proponents in ACBL land and I would play when playing Standard, if any partner wanted to. Scanian also includes switch bids: oftentimes hearts means clubs and vice versa, especially in competition.

There are parts that are likely not legal in ACBL-land (like Multi-) … actually I stared at the new ACBL regs and Multi seems to be legal by the rules but not by the commentary. Also putting 18-19 balanced into the 2C opening. But even if you strip it down to legal, building a system to allow more judgement and multiple ways to bid the same shape and strength (depending on how the HCP are distributed) is intriguing. Also fun are fit jumps (jumps showing the suit bid and a fit with opener’s suit). Of course this is likely for interest only to serious tournament players, and even then most won’t care.

Written by taogaming

November 2, 2019 at 5:33 pm

Can someone scan Shades of Tezla Faction Token reference?

I played a Mage Knight game with the Shades of Tezla tokens, which we don’t normally use because:

  • They are different sizes
  • They add a lot of variability (much harder, less scoring etc)

And I discovered I appear to have lost the reference sheet for the bonus faction tokens. I posted a request (with GG bounty) at the geek.

Also, I published a quick note on BGG giving an example of the math of comparing lines of play at bridge.

Written by taogaming

October 19, 2019 at 10:24 pm

Posted in Bridge, Mage Knight

Tagged with

Some Recent Bridge — Hearts or NT?

I’m playing a bonus game (the TaoLing and Mrs. Tao unexpectedly declared they would be gone today) with Roxie. I’ve played with her several times over the last month, and we do reasonably well. On the first hand of the day I pick up:

S: Txxx H:AKJ9x D:Tx C:Tx

Roxie opens 1 Diamond, I bid 1 Heart, and Roxie bids 1NT. I’m not going to game, so the only question is do I want to play in 1NT or 2 Hearts. Well, if Roxie only has two hearts, then my hand may be worth five tricks (if she has the queen or Qxx is onside) but it could be as few as two (if the Q is offsides and hearts don’t break). But in hearts I’m likely taking four tricks. And if she has a fit, then hearts is certainly better in case a minor is wide open. I bid 2 hearts and am pleased to find Roxie with S:Kx H:QTx D:AQxxx C:Kxx. I get the 8 of diamonds lead and when the queen holds I play the diamond ace and LHO follows with the nine. I ruff a diamond low and lead towards the spade king and when LHO flies the ace the hand is basically over. I make four. This looks (to me) to be pretty good, but every card was basically on (I lose two clubs as the CA is off), but later on I find that the people in 1N are making five! (Looking at the traveler I think it was just novice pairs, but even making four would beat the hands in hearts. If the cards weren’t well placed then 2H would play a trick better).

Later on I pick up another interesting hand with hearts:

S:QJ H:KJ942 D:J98x C:Tx

I’m in 3rd chair and the only interesting problem is what to do if partner opens 1NT. I have an 8 count and we play 15-17 1NT, so game would be very touchy, but partner could have a heart fit (even four of them). Then normal move would be to transfer and bid 2NT. But ….

  • The hand feels like a seven count. The QJ tight of spades is dangerous. I do have nice spot cards, but still…. (The K&R evaluator agrees,, calling this 7.3)
  • If I transfer and bid 2N, partner will likely go with most 16 counts, putting us in a 24 point game. Particularly in 3N, that’s ugly.
  • Unlike the last hand, where I expect us to have ~20 HCP, here we’re around 24, which means even if partner has two small hearts, then my other points are likely useful in NT. I may even have an entry or two.

I think the most likely result of transfering into hearts and inviting is 2NT (with partner having 15) or 3NT (with 16 or 17) or 4H. (Partner could bid 3H, but I’ve noticed that most people just bid the game with a fit). I’d certainly rather be in 1N than 2N or 3H and probably even 3N, I think. Even if partner has a great hand for hearts, there’s always the chance that hearts rail or the cards are poorly place (this is from Kit Woolsey’s Matchpoints).

Against all of that, I’m almost certainly breaking with the field. I may lose the board on my decision. Sticking with the field gives us the chance to win it in play.

I’ve recently splurged on several more books for my Bridge Library (the Bridge World had a sale) and I spent a few days reading “Master of Bridge Psychology: Inside the remarkable mind of Peter Fredin” and while I certainly can’t analyze at his level, one of the interesting points is that he’s willing to look quite stupid if he thinks he’s right. (The book has a number of truly weird bids and plays, and he does indeed get some silly results sometimes. He goes down in contracts any little old lady would make).

I decide to trust my judgement that this hand is not an invite. Therefore my options are transfer and drop partner in two hearts (barring a super-accept) or pass. I’m going to just pray partner doesn’t have a super accept. If I’m wrong, well, perhaps hearts rail.

I’m glad I started thinking about this, because partner opens 1NT (a bit before I finish my thoughts, but only just) so I pass (relatively smoothly) and we play in 1NT.

My RHO tables a card face down and as LHO says no questions I say “I’ve taken a position,” but I’m pretty happy when LHO flips over the three of hearts. Partner wins RHOs ten with the ace, then hooks a heart (RHO showing out) and comes back in clubs to hook the heart again. Later partner reveals that she had a long club suit and shows up with

S:xxx H:Axx D:Qx C:AKQxx

This means the opponents could have rattled off the first seven tricks (since spades were 3-5) but that meant I would have tied with those that went down in 4 Hearts (or 3 hearts, in one case). But with no information LHO reasonably (but unluckily) led his four card major, and so we rattled off the first ten tricks for a top. Of course one result proves nothing, but that felt good.

One final hand. I pick up S:Qx H:xx D:AQ9xx C:A8xx and have an easy 1 Diamond opening. With 9 cards in the minors I should bid 2 clubs if partner responds one of a major. But this is matchpoints so I think I’ll bid 1NT if partner responds one heart, since I have a partial spade stopper. I could do that after one spade as well, but I think in that case I’ll bid 2 clubs. Partner does bid 1 Heart so I respond 1 NT.

Partner bids 2 clubs, New Minor Forcing showing at least an invitational hand (and saying nothing about clubs). My first priority is to show a heart fit, but I don’t have that. And I haven’t hidden four spades (which I might do), so I show my fifth diamond (and relative minimum) by bidding 2 Diamonds.  I’m still deciding if I’m going to pass 2NT or retreat to 3 clubs when partner ends the auction with 3NT, sparing me the choice.

I get the ten of clubs lead and I see partner has also gone for the gusto, as dummy has

S:xxx H:AKQT8x D:x C:KQ9

Huh. Even after what I did earlier, I would have just shot 4H after my 1NT response with two weak suits, a stiff  and a known fit. But that’s in the past. I’m in 3NT. In 4H I’ll make five if the opponents lead and continue spades, but only four if they pull dummy’s trump and nothing good happens in diamonds and clubs (Assuming hearts break) That means I need to make at least 4 NT, maybe 5NT.

The club ten looks like a lead from shortness (since I can see the 9) and denies the jack (unless from JT tight), so I’m going to want to keep my A8 as a finessing position. I play the club king and RHO follows with the jack.

I stare at this for a while. LHO led T from T7xxx? Apparently.

Well, that’s solved one problem.  I hope hearts are breaking, so I cash two hearts and they do. I want to make RHO make as many discards as possible before I lead the diamond from the board, so I cross to my club ace, back to the club queen and run the hearts. (I wish I could have cashed the fourth club, but I need it for communication. (In hindsight, I should have gone all out and only played one round of hearts, cashed the clubs, and then used my last heart to enter the board and hope they split, since if hearts were 4-1 I’m likely getting murdered no matter what as the defense will no doubt find a spade switch after the auction).

RHO seems to have no problems pitching the five, seven, and eight of diamonds (after following to three hearts). LHO pitches her (non-winning) clubs and then the seven and two of spades. I can afford two diamonds, but then pitch a spade and finally the spade queen. It likely doesn’t matter, unless RHO has made a horrific mistake or LHO has the stiff king of diamonds. When I lead a diamond RHO plays the ten.

These aren’t particularly good players, but I can’t imagine RHO pitched away xxx from KTxxx of diamonds in a suit I bid twice. Actually I can imagine it, but she may have encouraged in diamonds then. In any case, I’m not finessing because cashing the diamond ace and my good club means I’m making five, beating those in hearts (unless they didn’t get a spade lead). I play the diamond ace and LHO follows low.

When I cash the club LHO goes into the tank. I don’t know what she was thinking but she eventually pitches the diamond king! (To keep her KJ of spades, which is most odd after I pitched the queen). So I make seven. No matter, making five was a top.

We have a few disasters (I’ve played with a few other new partners recently and mixed up “which systems I play right now,” and we have a rather spectacular mis-defense) but overall we have a reasonable game and end up in second….

Written by taogaming

October 12, 2019 at 10:24 pm

Posted in Bridge

The best suit I’ve ever had

Playing bridge I pick up S: — H:x D:AKQJTxxxxx C:Jx

Yeah, the hand wasn’t very interesting. In 3rd seat I’m torn between opening 5D and 6D, but as it turns out partner opened in front of my (1H) then reversed in spades. So I was never staying out of slam (which happened to be cold, partner having the black aces). Still, I don’t think I’ve ever picked up a better suit.

Written by taogaming

September 27, 2019 at 3:39 pm

Posted in Bridge

The old slam killer in action

Playing Bridge with my Mentee, I witness the following monstrosity. My cards don’t matter. LHO is a Life Master who started playing when I moved back here. RHO is a few years newer, but also a LM (she was his mentee at one time, IIRC).

RHO opens 2NT. LHO bids 3 Diamonds. Not alerted. (They play transfers, I know). RHO bids 3NT. LHO bids 4H which ends it. If LHO has only five hearts, he’s using unauthorized information, but he has six hearts RHO has S:AJx H:AKT D:xx C:AKQTx and nothing we do matters (since declarer has the DA and everything breaks for six heart tricks, five club tricks and two aces). RHO has forgotten transfers are on over 2 NT openings, so I mark this as an average plus. That dummy looks too strong for 2NT, more like (2C-foo-2N to me), but even allowing for opening 2NT, the auction should be

2N - 2D* (*transfer)
2S* - ?? (*super-accept. My hand is now too strong to just accept.

It’s actually tricky after that. LHO (with the diamond ace, spade queen and heart queen) would like to cue bid 4D, but that’s normally just a retransfer. But 3N shouldn’t be to play (opposite a super-accept. so that should show slam interest. It’s still not an easy slam to get to (The 2N opening isn’t called “The slam killer” for nothing). But in checking the scores we get a touch below average. Literally no pair bid the slam. And two pairs — not realizing they had 13 tricks off the top if things broke — took the spade finesse to hold themselves to six. The “Winning” side didn’t even find their heart fit, and played in 3N for +720 instead of +710. Vhodjha moi!

But we also had a missed slam:

Dummy S:AKx H:AJ6x D:K94 C:AJx

Declarer S:xxx H:K8xxx D:AT76 C😡 (small club if you are seeing an emoji)

West opened 1 Club, dummy (me) doubled, and declarer bid 1 Heart, a borderline underbid, but certainly arguable either way (2H should show 8+ HCP, but the fifth heart and good controls make it correct, IMO). In any case when I came alive my mentee didn’t realize just how strong I was (in her defense, expecting her to have on average of 4 HCP, I masterminded in the hopes of playing 1N making instead of 3H going down when she was broke or had the wrong four HCP. But when she showed her fifth heart I put her in game).  So we played in four only hearts.

However — on the opening lead of the diamond queen it went four-five-ace and then, after pulling three rounds of trump (LHO with the stiff queen) and then leading towards the club ace and not seeing LHO split my mentee showed nerves of ice and ruffed a club back, finessed the diamond nine, cashed the king and — LHO having discarded a diamond on trumps — dropped the  jack to set up her ten for a spade pitch to ruff her losing spade. True, a totally marked finesse but LHO (a hyper aggressive bidder but reasonable card player) about fell out of her chair to see a new player do that. LHO had — once again — overbid with a terrible opening (S:QJx H:Q D:QJxx C:KTxxx)

Probably that’s why the rest of the field missed the slam. Their auction was harder because they had to open 2NT (and didn’t have most of the HCP marked as being in front of my hand). So making seven was a top in any case.

Written by taogaming

September 1, 2019 at 10:02 am

Posted in Bridge