The Tao of Gaming

Boardgames and lesser pursuits

Archive for the ‘Bridge’ Category

Kibitzing on Realbridge

I spent part of yesterday watching the JLall4 Quarterfinals on realbridge ( Some thoughts:

  • The matches are delayed by 30minutes (and in the final session for multi-session events even longer) to prevent cheating. Which is nice but that also means that when one table has a problem they hold the other tables …. so one match kind of got delayed. (Of course I can just turn on a videogame until they restart, but still….)
  • They have commentators (watching on the same delay you are) which is nice. One is a local expert I’ve known and played against, and several well known experts also.
  • You can rewind the hand to watch, generally the User Interface is fine.

Written by taogaming

June 19, 2021 at 9:03 am

Posted in Bridge

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

Welcome Back!

Playing in a (real) unit game I’m having a good session when we sit down against a Pro and his (expert, but non-Pro) wife who are the strongest pair in the field. We have two probably “touch below” average boards (I guess wrong on the first board; the pro takes the maximum number of tricks in a board that a few will get wrong) when I pick up:

S:A8xx H:J9xx D:9x C:Axx

With nobody vulnerable, it passes around to partner who opens 1 Club. With the opponents silent, I bid 1 Heart. Partner jumps to 2 No Trump, and I bid 3 Diamonds (checking back). Partner bids 3 Hearts, but I was checking for a 4-4 spade fit, so I bid 3 NT. Partner considers this and bids 4 Hearts. Uh-oh. We’re probably playing a Moysian, but I can’t correct it, so 4 Hearts it is. My LHO (the Pro) leads the diamond 8, but they lead second and fourth.

Dummy S:Kx H:AQx D:KQx C:KJT9x

Diamond 8 led

Hand S:A8xx H:J9xx D:9x C:Axx

I suspect LHO has led from ?8x of diamonds, but for now I have an easy cover with the king. RHO wins the DA and returns the diamond five to the 9, ten and the queen. This is ugly. I don’t necessarily need the king of hearts on side, but it looks like I need a 3=3 break. I’d like to come back in clubs, but that risks some ugly things so I think I’ll make the somewhat weird play of blocking spades and lead a small spade to the ace and then I take the heart finesse which wins, RHO playing the heart eight. That could just be suit preference, but it could also be T8x or KT8 simply waiting to see how I take the finesse again (the stiff eight is too ugly to contemplate).

I could just bang down the heart ace and a heart, playing for the 3=3 break. Then I’d have to ruff the diamond return and pick up clubs. But since I have to pick up clubs I think I’ll try to do it first. RHO has five diamonds (assuming that LHO wouldn’t lead 2nd from a bad four or five, which I think is true) so all I’ve got to go on is the principle of vacant spaces and the fact that LHO led from diamonds, so perhaps that was his safest lead and he didn’t want to lead from an honor. Both of this inferences make LHO more likely to have the queen of clubs, so I cross to the club ace and take the hook. When it wins (whew!) I play the heart ace and it goes 7-small-Ten. I don’t think I’m being jobbed so I play a 3rd round of hearts and when they break I claim the rest. Making five for an excellent score, as the normal 3N by partner will be have ten tricks on the (expected) diamond lead but not path 11, so +450 is the maximum. (Update — It being a club game this turned out to not be a top as a few pairs slipped up and let 3N make 5 (and in one case, six!) but it was still 14 out of 17 or so).

The rest of our session is solid (and our few questionable plays are never punished and in one case rewarded for +800 on a part score hand), so we get first overall. A nice return!

Written by taogaming

June 5, 2021 at 5:01 pm

Posted in Bridge

Results from my Slay-the-Spire/Bridge Training

As you recall (or can read), I was using techniques given by Kim Frazer in her Gaining the Mental Edge at Bridge in Slay the Spire. My goal was to win 25% of the games I played, and the results are in: I played the same # of games as my sample size (where I won 12%) and got

17W – 33L (34%)11W – 39L (22%)6W – 44L (12%)34W – 116L (22.67%)
Not quite…

So, I missed, but not by much. I won more games with each character from the fifty prior games, nearly doubling my win rate. (I’m still much better at Ironclad than the other two characters, but that’s because its easier to play).

So, did it work? Well, it’s complicated.

(There’s an XKCD for everything)

This shouldn’t be taken as a complaint about the book. The real stumbling block is that it is incredibly difficult to categorize strategic mistakes in Slay the Spire. Bridge is easy by comparison. While it has grey areas, many of the typical mistakes are easy to diagnose by simply replaying the hand. Bidding has borderline cases, but the play and defense can be fairly rigorously analyzed after the hand.

In this respect, bridge is like shooting. You get instant feedback if a shot was good or not. In this comparison, Slay the Spire is … not quite Calvinball, but at least Cricket as understood by Americans. So, to take some notes from a random loss. “I died hitting the worst possible elite at the time, then drawing poorly. Despite that I might have won if I’d not used my potion a turn too early in this case, if I’d saved it for a turn later — with the draw I got then — I would have won”. So, clearly some bad luck, but also a micro-mistake (any mistake inside a single fight I call a “micro” or “tactical” error). But if I hadn’t used my potion and didn’t draw that particular card (about a 50/50) I’d lose in all cases. So, should I have used the potion? Maybe? I could math it out, but that’s just inside one fight. Many of the StS issues are “Should I rest or smith” and you don’t get feedback (dying) until five floors later, but smithng did save some health, and you had a few random events. Feedback is incredibly noisy.

There were some losses that clearly had horrible luck. But how much? Difficult to say. After about 1/3rd of the trial I realized that my guesses as to why I lost were pretty random. Even right after the game I sometimes couldn’t tell. I suspect that (in the future) it might be best to track more specific information.

Another reason for caution is that this last month was fruitful one for my outside learning. In particular, three StS streamers talking shop about their respective recent win streaks for 3 hours was an invaluable resource, and I probably got a few extra victories after watching that (and reading Jorbs debrief after his Slay the Spire Marathon).

But certain aspects did help:

  1. Mindfulness. My checklist wasn’t perfect, but it did catch some common errors I made. I might revise it.
  2. The act of reviewing the notes. I haven’t done a detailed review of the most recent set of 150 games, but I suspect there is data to be mined. (Some StS streamers appear to have all their runs in a DB where they can run queries to answer it. I haven’t gone nearly that far).
  3. Instead of trying to quantify why I lost, I switched at some point to just writing down a one sentence summary. That may help in clarifying thoughts.

Anyway, with all that said, I suspect that the techniques from this book will work quite well to help the intermediate (or better) bridge player, or really any game where you can quantify the mistakes easily. (Perhaps some StS players who are better than me can, so this would help them more than help me).

So — What’s next? Clearly more Slay the Spire … (its pretty much my pandemic relaxation). I’ll try for a 30% winrate for my next 150 games and we’ll see if maybe my last set was just regression to the mean (as I think 12% was low).

Written by taogaming

February 27, 2021 at 2:46 pm

If you’ve been desperately wondering what I think of a few dozen bridge books…

Written by taogaming

February 19, 2021 at 3:20 pm

Posted in Bridge, Reviews

A Practical Test of ‘Gaining the Mental Edge at Bridge’ using … Slay the Spire

One of the most unusual bridge books I’ve read is Kim Frazer’s Gaining the Mental Edge at Bridge. Unlike the vast majority of bridge books, there is practically no advice on bridge. This is all about “how to think” (a topic that I love enough to have a category in this blog for). Bridge forms the majority of the examples here, but apart from that these articles would not be out of place in any coaching symposium.

Kim was an international caliber shooter who took up bridge and later represented Australia in International events, so she has definitely “walked the walk” in two separate sports. There are chapters on focus, positive mindsets, mental preparation, rehearsal, match preparation & fitness, relaxation, goal setting and tracking.

The book itself was interesting — I don’t think much of it will come as a surprise but having it all done in a nicely packaged book (and providing references to sports journals, etc for more information) is good. I’ve started to try and build up a routine for the playing of bridge hands (still more forgotten than observed) so as to reduce the number of stupid errors. In fact, the first night (on BBO) I did it, I think I played well and then I went and forgot to look at the checklist this week, didn’t use it, and had a large number of errors. (The checklist is just a routine to do at the start of each hand …. say “Focus” to start the routine, note the board information (dealer,/vulnerability) count the HCP, decide on my opening bid (should it pass to me), and my likely continuations, responses.

I normally do this (in some shape) on most hands, but not in a formalized way. But (as per the book) I wrote out a checklist and used it, to good results (the times I remembered).

While thinking about this training, I realized that I could run a quick experiment on the chapter on goal setting and tracking using … Slay the Spire. I mean, while this book is aimed at Bridge it is not specifically for it, and right now my StS play is much more prevalent. (And is a solitaire game). Consider it a training run.

So — what are my goals? I’d like to improve my win rate (a win defined as “Beating the corrupt heart at ascension 15” (which is what I normally play at). There is a “Victory?” where you win without getting to the heart, but I consider that a loss. It means I’ve forgotten to claim one of the three keys required to unlock the fourth act.

Control Data

Anyway, the first part of goal setting was to set a record keeping standard. I decided to review the last 50 runs I had for each of the three main characters I played (I do not particularly enjoy playing Watcher, so I rarely do). Fortunately StS keeps a record of runs, so I pulled out some basic information (like which floor I died on) and put them into an excel spreadsheet.

Here are the stats:

Died during….Character — IroncladCharacter — SilentCharacter — Defect
Act I (Exordium)1073
First Boss676
Act II (The City)111621
Second Boss335
Act III (The Beyond)335
Third Boss241
Act IV Elites113
The Corrupt Heart344
Not a huge sample size….

It struck me as odd that the Second Boss and Act III numbers matched, but I doubled checked and its just a coincidence.

First thought — I won at a 12% rate, which was lower than I thought (I would have guessed I won at a 20% rate overall), but perhaps I am just deluding myself. I do think I had some bad luck (a certainly have a better than 4% win rate as defect!) so I would expect over the next 150 games to improve the rate in any case. The book states that I should set a goal that seems difficult but achievable. Let’s try for a 25% win rate overall (doubling the control).

I also need to build a checklist for the game, so I did. (Commentary in Italics)

  • Start of Act
    • Examine the floor layout, pick likely path and alternates if I get good/back luck.
    • Note who is the end of act Boss!
    • (Act I only) Decide on Neow’s gift (a special bonus you get at game start), re-evaluate
  • Checklist for each fight/event
    • Upon revealing the enemies, decide on how dangerous this fight will be (win easily, win but take significant damage, likely die, etc).
    • Note relics that I have that may have an interaction
    • Set out my goal for the fight is (Not just winning while taking as little damage as possible, do I want to set up relic counts for the next fight, etc).
    • Decide on general fight strategy …. if I will likely be using a potion(s) (In general the fight strategy will be set by how my deck is built and not change much from floor to floor, but I wanted to explicitly call out this step).
    • Per Turn Checklist:
      • Examine hand, enemy action (if varied)
      • Is my luck good/bad enough to change strategy? (Maybe I’m getting killed an need to drink a potion or assume a good draw next turn….or maybe things have gone well so I can shift from “just win the fight” to “win the fight and set up my relics counts”)
      • Determine candidate plays, pick one (may iterate if plays draw cards).
    • (For events this is basically the same, but simplified since the fight is “picking which event outcome to take”)
  • Post fight analysis
    • Did I accurately judge the fight? Did I miss anything that I could have done better?
  • Post-fight rewards
    • Examine offered rewards
    • State how each option affects my deck. Do I need it to cover a weakness (a specific enemy/elite), or to solve a general problem (front loaded damage/scaling damage/blocking).
    • Double check for good/bad interactions. Look at your deck and relics when deciding!
    • Decide which is best and take it (or skip).
    • Determine a rough “State of the game” (my ‘equity’ in the game). (Don’t need an exact number, but has it gone up or down).
    • Adjust strategy based on state of game. Pick next floor.
  • Post-game analysis.
    • Record tracking information
    • Write up a quick summary as to why I think I won/lost
    • Think of at least one positive and one “need to improve”

Again, I probably did a lot of this automatically, but there are a few things I’m calling out to myself — Making sure to double check potions and relics (because forgetting to use them is a big mistake).

Things to track:

I’ll track everything as before, but also keep track of my mistakes and notes. (For the above, I didn’t show it but I also noted which enemy I died to).

“Oops” Mistakes — Playing too quickly (if I make a move I want to “take back” then that’s a mistake. You can quit a fight and restart, but I’ll only do that if I make an actual misclick. I’ve been somewhat casual about that, but the real goal of this is to slow down and think more — which is the one skill that translates directly to bridge). In order to make this more “Apples to Apples” I’ll divide this by # of floors which isn’t an exact measure since not all floors can have them, but is at least reasonable.

Why did I lose — For my losses, I will categorize them as follows. I’ve decided to assign points to each category, with a total of 10 points.

  1. Too Aggressive — Taking an upgrade when I should have rested, and in general not respecting that.
  2. Too Passive — The downside of that is not recognizing when I’m poorly placed and need to be taking more short term risks to be able to face the next boss, etc. Note that I think I can be too passive and aggressive in the same game (obviously at different times).
  3. Gross Oversights — I missed something and it got me (missed a relic interaction, etc). I’d really like this number to be low … that’s the point of the checklist. These are things that get me killed or a huge chunk of HP.
  4. Math mistakes — Sometimes you have to just run the numbers.
  5. Bad micromanagement of fights — Small errors in fights that cost a HP here and there, missing subtle interactions.
  6. Bad Luck — Sometimes you just don’t get offered great cards, you bottom deck the fights, etc. Things that are outside my control. In theory there should only be points in this category on half (or less) of my games, but sometimes you just lose without doing anything wrong. (Negative Points means I had good luck and wasted it), so if I assign less than 10 points, I’ll dump the rest here.

When I win I will assign a “Good luck” score, how much was it just destined (because I got great cards/relics, etc).

As I normally do, I will rotate characters (Ironclad, then Silent, then Defect), just to match the controls.

Final thoughts (before starting)

Just looking at the stats was useful, because I have noticed a few things:

I play Act I too aggressively as Ironclad. Ironclad’s “schtick” is that he does a lot of damage and heals a bit after fights, and I clearly rely on that too much and end up dying in the first act (or at the first boss) much more so than other characters. My Ironclad win rate is higher (caveat for small sample size), but many of the runs are short, quick deaths.

I may be too passive with the other two characters …. For the silent/watcher (who don’t automatically heal) my play gets through Act I but am not well placed and die in Act II. I suspect I am not taking enough fast damage or all out attack.

I need to respect the Second Act more and start looking “past the first boss” when I think I have it beaten.

Let the games begin.

Update — After thinking about it (and playing a round of games while I was editing this), I think that “Bad Luck” should probably average 3. Jorbs only wins 70% of the games, so assuming that 30% are unwinnable at my level of play seems reasonable. (He’s on a higher ascension, but a better player). I’m not going to agonize over it too much (especially since it would lead to negative thinking, a “no-no” in the book.) I had a few games where things just didn’t seem to line up….

Written by taogaming

January 30, 2021 at 2:59 pm

Another new, yet very old auction

(The second in a not-really-series).

Playing online, I pick up a typical (weak) 1NT opening:

S:xx H:AKx D:Axxx C:xxxx (ish)

So I open 1NT. And partner wheels out an unexpected bid — 3 Hearts.

What is that? In the olden days, that was a five card suit and choice of games or slammish. Nowadays Jacoby transfers handle the choice of games … although I had been thinking that making 3H mean “5 card suit slammish” is likely better than most systems.

In fact, which playing with new partners, I don’t normally bother filling out what 1N-3x means (with the exception that 3C should be Puppet Stayman). I haven’t heard this auction in a while, and I don’t know what it means. If I’ve discussed it, its so long that I can’t remember. Partner is in DC, and so may play some variant of Washington Standard, which I think makes this a 3=1=(54) forcing bid. But since I’m not sure and I don’t think its just hearts, I’m going to punt and bid 3NT. This gets doubled by my LHO.

Partner bids 4 Hearts. If he’s doing that with a stiff heart I think I’m going to make him play it as punishment for torturing me with an undiscussed auction. I pass and LHO doubles again. Partner doesn’t pull, so I guess he really has hearts. I pass and while he plays it he shows up with:

S: Axxxx H: Jxxxxx D: x C: x

I still don’t know what’s going on. Only hours later do I realize …. early on I learned (and still play with most people) that 3 Hearts is 5-5 in the majors, invitational. But its been probably a decade since I’ve seen that, even though I play it with most partners. The good news (from my perspective) is that four hearts doubled is that good place to be.

But A near-year of not even looking at a convention card is showing, I think.

Written by taogaming

December 23, 2020 at 5:02 pm

Posted in Bridge

The Giorgio Duboin Bridge Cheating Scandal

BridgeWinners has posted a summary of the evidence against Giorgio Duboin in recent online play. There are also links to the full hand records and analysis by several world class players. (The full report is here).

The one nice thing about online bridge is that it facilitates these kind of analysis into “Suspicious” and “Anti-suspicious” deals. (A suspicious deal is one where you make an abnormal decision that works out much better than suspected, whereas an anti-suspicious deal is one where the abnormal decision’s punishment works out even more poorly than normal). The methodology was to look at G.D.’s play when kibitzers were allowed (and he therefore may have been able to login with a second ID to see the layout or have an accomplice do that and relay the info) and when no kibitzers were allowed.

I haven’t read the full report, but even the summary seems damning with solid methodology and reporting, but perhaps gamers with more experience in this field will have a different opinion.

Written by taogaming

November 7, 2020 at 5:33 pm

Posted in Bridge

Tagged with

A typical slam

Playing on BBO with my normal partner against two local experts, I pick up a perk-me-up.

S: Ax H:AKQxx D:AT C:J8xx

I open 1 Heart and hear a surprising bid from partner …. 2 NT, which is our strong and game forcing raise in hearts. (Jacoby 2NT)

There are a number of responses, but this is easy enough, I bid 4 Spades, which is our “ace” asking bid. (Kickback Roman Keycard Blackwood). Partner bids 5 Clubs, showing one ace.  Now comes the important part of the auction — I bid 5 Spades, the king ask. Importantly this promises possession of all the key cards partner doesn’t have. He’s shown the ace (of clubs). I’ve shown the other four aces (the heart king counts) and the heart queen.

A fairly descriptive bid for one supposedly asking.

Partner shows a king (we play specific kings rather than number of kings) but I’m done and bid 6 Hearts. If partner can’t count thirteen tricks knowing about my five cards, I have nothing else to say.

I get the Spade Ten lead and the following dummy.

          S: KJ H: JT9xxx D:Q5 C:AK3

ST Led

          S: Ax H:AKQxx D:AT C:J8xx


I cover the ST with the SJ (why not) and RHO follows low. Trumps break 1-1, so now its just a question of which line is best. In both cases I cash a spade first to eliminate the suit.

Line 1 — I lead the queen of diamonds hoping that RHO has the diamond king and doesn’t cover.

Line 2 — I cash the ace of clubs then lead ace of diamonds and lose a diamond. Whoever wins the diamond king will have to lead a club, and I can play my jack (if RHO won) or let it ride to my jack (if LHO won).

Line 3 — I can cash AK of clubs and then lead towards the jack.

Which line is best?

Line one is a swindle. It starts at 50% (RHO has the DK) but it requires a mistake. RHO is an expert and will never make the mistake looking at the DJ, and will rarely make it not. Call it 5%

Line two works if the DK and CQ are in the same hand, which is slightly less than 50/50 (~48% due to the law of vacant spaces, not bothering to modify it for cards played). It also works if the DK is stiff or if the DK only has a single club and has to give me a ruff and sluff (Clubs are 5-1). Those are pretty small chances, so a touch better than 50% feels right.

Line three works on any 3-3 club break (I lose to the CQ but can pitch dummy’s losing diamond on the fourth round of clubs). If RHO has the long clubs it also works (either the club queen falls or I can set up the jack for the diamond pitch). If LHO has 5 or 6 clubs I have to switch gears and play the diamond ace, diamond queen and hope that RHO wins and has to give me a ruff and sluff. Only if LHO has four clubs am I down. Clubs break 4-2 (either way) 30% of the time, but that is just for either 4-2 split. LHO having four clubs is 15%. And 1/3rd of the time, RHO will have the doubleton queen. In fact, there are 15 possible cases of LHO having four clubs. I win in six of those — RHO having T9 (the 8 sets up) and all the Qx cases.

Line three must be north of 75% (even ignoring that I still have the stiff diamond king shot if all else fails). I didn’t work the math out at the table but I played Line 3.

Of course this was LHO’s hand

S: QT952 H:5 D:K74 C:Q9xx

Down one when line two works. My first thought (and second) was “Typical slam. Inferior line works.” But now, in the cold light of day…

Maybe I should have known this. The Spade Jack won at T1. RHO would have to be playing a deep game not to cover (since the lead of the ST shows the 9), so that card is confirmed. That’s a mildly attacking lead against a strongly bid slam …. why not a passive lead? A stiff trump lead is normally frowned on as it may finesse partner. Perhaps the reason for the mildly aggressive spade lead is that the other two suits looked even more aggressive? Perhaps because LHO was looking at a choice of bad leads?

How much should that change the odds? I don’t know. A stiff trump lead is normally frowned on as it may finesse partner, but in theory partner should have Jxx or worse on this particular auction. (But one of us may have stretched and Jxxx is possible). I don’t know if the lead changes the odds around enough to make Line two more attractive than line one. That’s a table feel issue. But against expert opponents whatever the base numbers say Line two has a “plus factor” because of the lead….ah well.

Written by taogaming

September 16, 2020 at 5:28 pm

Posted in Bridge

A new, yet very old, auction

Playing online (where else?) pick up a normal 1 No-Trump opener

S:K9x H:AKT9 D:KJ8 C:J95

4333 is bad shape, but the spots are excellent. Partner wheels out a novel bid — 5 No-Trump.

I think this bid was covered in my very first lesson of bidding. The college bridge club had a sheet with a 7×5 bid grid of all the bids, and one section of them was “What this bid means opposite a 1N opening.” 4N (the Quantitative Slam Try) was definitely there. But 5N as “Bid a grand with a maximum, else bid a small slam” likely was. Of course, it never comes up. By which I mean, I have been playing bridge for over 30 years and this is the first time I’ve actually seen 1N-5N at the table.

I bid 6N. The play was boring, I could finesse a queen for seven (or play for some random squeeze that seemed less likely than a finesse). I finessed, making seven.

Next hand.

Written by taogaming

July 14, 2020 at 9:15 pm

Posted in Bridge