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A Lowenthal lead

It’s the final match in the Sectional Swiss, and it’s been an odd but not particularly fruitful day when I pick up:

S: 9xx H:J9xx D:KQ8xxx C:--

I could preempt this (we’re white vs red), but I’d have to preempt 3 Diamonds and honestly I’d be happy to support either major, so I pass. LHO opens 1 Club.  These opponents play a weak NT, so a minor suit opening shows either extra strength or extra distribution (or both). Partner overcalls 1 Heart, and RHO passes.

I bid 3 Clubs, showing 4 hearts and 7-9 HCP or so. I may shoot game opposite partner’s signoff (because of the void) but I want to be clear about my strength. Partner may shoot the game anyway and I’ll accept an invite and I’ll get another round of bidding, so this seems reasonable.

LHO isn’t done, and bids 3 Spades. Partner bids 4 Hearts, RHO bids 4 Spades.

I’m not going to the five level. Not with three spades. I pass, as does LHO and partner doubles, ending the auction. I’m actually quite pleased with this turn of events. I’m void in LHO’s suit, so I suspect partner has clubs behind declarer. I only have six points, but they are mostly working (defensively). Points in hearts wouldn’t be valuable.

Partner leads a small spade and a disturbing dummy hits:

          S:T8x H:T8xx D:Jxx C:KJx

Small spade led                  S:9xx H:J9xx D:KQ8xxx C:--


Ruh-rho. Dummy had clubs behind partner. And four hearts, meaning declarer is likely void (although partner may have overcalled a good 4 card suit). Declarer calls for the spade ten, so I follow suit.

Declarer the calls for the somewhat surprising diamond jack. I cover, declarer plays her ace and then the wheels come off for LHO.

Hank ruffs and leads a small club. I ruff, cash my diamond, lead my smallest diamond for Hank to ruff in case he has a 3rd spade. He does ruff with the spade King and, noting my play, leads another club so I score my 3rd spade ruff.

Poor declarer had a decent hand:

S:AQJx H:-- D:AT9x C:ATxxx (not sure about club spots)

Anyway, as we’re putting the board away I say something to the effect of “Cool, a Lowenthal lead.”

The bridge expert John Lowenthal died right as I started playing, but I had stumbled across an online tribute years ago, and it includes the following:

Henry Bethe warned me about John’s opening leads. Henry had observed John’s tendencies over the years and had formulated what he called Lowenthal’s Laws:

  1. The lead of an honor denies a touching honor.
  2. The lead of a low card promises an honor sequence somewhere in the hand (though not necessarily in that suit).
  3. The lead of a trump shows a side singleton or void.
  4. The lead of a short suit is an attempt to force declarer to draw trump.

(If you play bridge regularly, you’ll know that each of these laws is ….  strange).

If poor declarer knew that the ghost of Lowenthal had dictated the lead, she could have escaped for less by pulling one more round of trump, but not expecting a 6-0 diamond rail …. ah well. Then again, this was the day where we’re in 4 hearts twice with a 5-0 break and on both hands our opponents inexplicably stopped short of game, so what came around went around.

Remembering Lowenthal” is a riveting read.


Written by taogaming

October 22, 2017 at 6:40 pm

Posted in Bridge

CHO is a bigger threat….

Mrs. Tao and the TaoLing had a day trip, so I called around the usual suspects and find a partner I hadn’t played with a few years. When I arrived at the club she’s talking to Hank, asking “What does Brian play in this situation?”

“He’ll play whatever card you put down in front of him,” Hank says. He knows me pretty well.  Despite our reputation of being weird bidders (because of the Polish Club) for the most part I just play whatever card my partner plays, with a quick review of what I’m playing before hand.

I pull out our old card and we play that. To make sure I remember what “that” is, I hand copy it more legibly into a new card before the game.

It starts well enough. Against Hank and his partner, my CHO passes my 1NT opener with 9xxx KJx JTx Kxx. A flat 8 count means that we have 25 points maximum. I turn up with an average hand that combines for exactly seven tricks with no hope of an eighth, and my +90 is good for 7.5 out of 8. On the next hand 6 Hearts can make, but it’s tricky and lucky. I’m in four hearts, but one of only two people to find the line for six.

Then the bad hands start.

On one hand, I’m two levels too high because CHO didn’t respect my first or second signoff.

Dummy: S: AKxx H: 2 D: KTxxx C:AQx

Me   : S: Jxx H:QJ87653 D:9 C:Jx

1D   1H
1S   2H
2N   3H

I could have shot 4H over 2N, but I was expecting more points for partners 2N bid.

LHO led the H4 to RHOs Ace, and RHO returned the diamond 5 to LHO’s Ace, and then LHO tracked the five of clubs.

And there it is. My opponents are a married couple. LHO is the wife and a better player, arguably good enough to know that if she’s underled the club king, she just handed me the contract (if I have the jack). I doubt she has a stiff club, that looks like an automatic lead. But if she has the spade queen as well, she may have a tough lead.

This is the worst part of my game (apart from obvious inattention) — understanding how others think. If LHO is looking at the club king, this seems like a mistake, but she may trust that I can’t take the finesse. Urgh. My options are let it ride to the jack, which will let me make if trumps behave, or fly the club ace, pitch my remaining club, and then try to navigate my spade loser, which is unlikely.

I honestly have no idea what’s right, and in any case, I get it wrong. The finesse would have worked.

Partner then forgets that we play support doubles (what else could it be, I wonder. It turns out the answer is an SOS double, which practically nobody has good agreements on) so I’m in the wrong contract. Another zero.

Later on I pick up

S:Axxxx H:Ax D:Jxx C:Axx

I open 1NT and LHO (the strongest player in the room, but also prone to hideous hog style masterminding, trusting his card sense and skill to save him) bids 2 Clubs alerted as a single unknown suit.

Partner bids 3 Hearts.

I copy the convention card in order to look at it carefully, so I know the following:

  1.  After our 1N if the opponents bid 2 clubs, we play “systems on” (with double being stayman)
  2. After 1N, our system defines 3 Heart as 4=1=4=4 distribution (stiff heart) and game going values.

I’m just not sure I believe it. But I duly alert.

RHO passes and I’m in a pickle, but my rule is “When in doubt, assume partner didn’t forget.” And LHO could have six hearts (or seven bad ones) and RHO may not have doubled with four hearts. She didn’t ask what the alert meant (possibly correctly guessing that we’re on rocky ground).

I bid 4 spades.

Partner lets me play it in four spades, but my rule has failed me again. Partner has forgotten the card, and assumed that Lebensohl applies (so 3 Hearts was a forcing heart bid). Thankfully we don’t play kickback. I have to play the hand wide open, but with spades 5-1, its hopeless.

(In hindsight was a bit hasty, I should probably bid 3 Spades to see if partner can cue bid if she really has a better hand. Ethically 3 Spades is probably the right call, then treating 3N as a serious slam try. In either case the rails would have come off).

I shrug and mention my rule and LHO archly replies “Even when playing with a woman?”

My partner laughs noticeably more than his wife. The other two hands against them are thankfully straightforward, and on one hand LHO makes a masterminding pass instead of a game try with a good hand (but terrible trumps) and buys the wrong dummy, so makes +200 instead of +650. Who knows how we are doing? I do know that too little of our good results are our own fault.

I botch a contract when I miscount a hand, so its not all one-sided, and we are playing against the lovely LOLs (one of whom is a great-aunt of mine) that have no idea what’s going on. On the first hand I open 1 Spade, LHO bids 2 Spades. I have no idea if they play that as Michaels or strong. Apparently neither does RHO, because she passes. I know enough to not double and just take the vulnerable undertricks.

After the dust settles, LHO says she meant to bid 2 Clubs and only realized after my partner had bid. I inform her that — thanks to a recent rules change — she can correct mechanical mistakes until her partner bids.

(She didn’t have a 2 clubs overcall either, either in suit strength or points….)

On the second hand at that table, I pick up something fun:

S: -- H: xx D: KQ98 C: AQJT984

LHO opens 1 Club, CHO passes and RHO bids 3 Spades. I don’t know what the means, but I do know that asking won’t get me a good answer and may let our opponents figure it out. I honestly have no idea how partner will take 4 clubs, but in any case I think 5 clubs may have an outside shot and may be a decent sacrifice. And I don’t think I’ve ever heard these two make a penalty double in their life. I bid five clubs.

LHO bids 5 Spades and they play it there.

Five spades can make, but its not automatic. Even if declarer took full advantages of all the inferences, it would only point towards the right line. Off one. Five clubs would only be down one against typical defense, despite a 5=0 club rail.

We’re back up to average-ish.

It is not to be. A few more average rounds we’re in the home stretch.

Against a solid declarer I preempt with KQJTxxx xx xx QJ and declarer gets to 3N. I lead my spade King and when partner gets in she plays a club 8. I’ve already decided to play clubs randomly (as per Restricted choice) and partners spot makes me think declarer has AK of clubs, so I see no reason to change. I toss the queen.

Partner gets in again and … cashes the club king, killing my only entry. We both played deceptively, but I think partner could have gotten it right. The club jack was about as much as I could have, and an underlead would have been safe (in that the trick would have come back if my queen was stiff).

Next hand ….

S:xx H:KJxx D:QT97xx C:x

RHO opens 1N. I should pass this, but our system lets me show my two suits exactly. (Another one of my rules, “when your system caters to your hand, take full advantage.”) Yes, I’m light on points, but my shape is good. I bid 2 Diamonds, showing diamonds and hearts. I could go for a number, but LHO is a new player.

LHO bids 3 Diamonds … has she learned Lebensohl? Partner bids 3 Hearts and now I really may go for a number, but RHO bids 3N.

I feel like he’s got a double heart stopper, and decide to trust my instincts. Upon learning that LHO did know 3D was stayman (without a stopper!), I know that RHO didn’t show a spade fit, so I lead my top spade.

Dummy is S:Q9xx H:xx D:xxx C:AKJx. Impressive for a novice to bid so accurately.

The spades goes Queen-King-Ace, and declarer shoots back a spade to dummies nine and partners jack.

Partner tables the heart deuce. Declarer inserts the ten and I win with the jack and return a heart. Partner is showing an honor, almost certainly the queen.


CHO returned the 2 from 9xx2 and after my return goes to the 9 and declarer’s queen I’m riled. My spade lead wasn’t great (declarer hid a 4-4 spade fit) but only saved declarer a guess he’d likely get right (since I’d shown the reds). But partner had an easy return of the heart 9 and I practically hiss as much.

“I wanted to show my count.”
“Do you think I’d imagine you bid 3 hearts with only 3?”

Last hand at the table I pick up

S: KJxx H:AQT D:AQxx C:xx

Partner opens 1 Club (could be short, but shouldn’t have four diamonds unless clubs are real), RHO overcalls 1 Heart. This hand seems earily similar to last one. I also have a (possible) 4-4 spade fit that materializes, but I shoot 3N rather than looking for it. I’ve a flattish-hand and showing my 16 HCP (3N shows 15-17) seems more likley to help than hurt.

Also, I have the opponents suit double stopped. (With the AQT of hearts, in fact, just like the prior hand). If a spade fit does exist there may still be a 4-1 break that lets me take the same number of tricks in NT to win the board (since we’re also a bit heavy, that should help). And in any case I need to win back something.

When dummy hits I discover there is a spade fit, and its a near slam hand.

Only too late I realize my likely double stop inflated my HCP, my AQT are practically worth AKJ. But my “backup plan” pays off. Spades break 4-1, so I make the same number of tricks as I could in spades. I win a top board, but that still leaves two zeroes and a top, and we’re in too deep a hole for anything good to happen.

Written by taogaming

October 15, 2017 at 12:23 pm

Posted in Bridge


The hardest bridge tournament I play every year is the North American Open Pairs District (regional) final. This is a two day event (assuming you survive the cut) of only Flight A players.  My district is Texas + Mexico.

Ironically, one of the easiest tournaments I play in is the Unit (city) qualifier to get into that final. That’s because there aren’t enough A pairs to play separately, so its a mixed field.

And it’s two sessions, which gives skill time to rise over luck.

And the top 60% make the cut. (Not the top 60% of A pairs, just the top 60%).

So in a field where they are only maybe 20% A players (not counting weak players who have stumbled into A flight due to longevity), we can pound on the weak and comfortably qualify even if the top players crush us. And the “top” players are not much better than me (whereas the regional final will have National and even World Champions in a small field with few weak pairs).

Our biggest enemies this year are the same as prior years. Ourselves.

To compound the matter, we’re both fighting lingering illnesses.

We start off rocky, but then our opponents largesse kicks in.

Just to give one example, at the end the first sessionan opponent with holds S:AQJTx H:8 D:Txx C:AKQx.

Her LHO (Hank) opens 2 spades and it goes pass-pass.

She can’t stand it. She doubles. That is not the right bid.

(To be fair, she has a tough choice. I think 2N is the right bid, ignoring the stiff heart). Yes, she’s missing a heart, but she has an 18 count. That may be too much in balancing seat, but just a little. Double is too likely to invite a heart bid from partner, if she bids clubs partner will expect 5 or six, and will likely not have a way to move towards 3N. She wants to be in NT, so bid it!)

Her partner bids three hearts and I double for business. She runs to 3N and Hank doubles. When the smoke clears we’re +800 when we have maybe a partscore, and this latest gift means that we finish the first session 6th overall.

After lunch we start against a wildly aggressive lady: all acerbic remarks, overbids, and attitude. She nonetheless possesses decent cardplay technique. She can (and does!) count and pays attention, and for that reason alone she’s formidable. (And while she will grouse and make self-serving remarks, she is generally nice away when the cards are away) She bullies people in the bidding, but I do that too.

I glance around the section in it appears she’s going to be our most interesting opponent.  Surprisingly, her partner is somewhat of a little old lady.

I hadn’t realized these two were a partnership.

On the first hand partner opens a minimum and I have a minimum response. We got to two spades which doesn’t have much play. I have to guess trumps and decide that the person with a side six card suit is more likely to be short than the person with the side stiff. (The Principle of Vacant Spaces).

Wrong. The hand with the long side suit had long trumps. Off two, -200, Kiss of death, thanks for playing, there’s no lovely parting gift.

It’s annoying, but my brief thought is “bad luck, neither of us made a gross mistake.” If I’m wrong I’ll figure it out later.

The next hand we play in 3 spades making exactly, and for the final hand I pick up:

S:AJ87x H:A87 D:Q82 C:AT

It goes pass-pass and in 3rd seat I open 1N (which we play as a good 14 to 17 in this situation). It goes all pass.

(Some would open 1 Spade, and claim you should never open No trump with a five card major. Hank and I are not those people. I would say that expert consensus is to open 1NT, but that may vary by region).

My LHO — the wildly aggressive lady — leads the intriguing Spade Queen lead.

          Dummy    S:64 H:KQT9 D:96543 C:Qx

Spade Queen led
          My hand  S:AJ87x H:Axx D:Q8x C:Ax

Since I’m looking at the spade jack, what is the Queen? (The opponents already said they played standard leads). Well, experts tend to agree to lead the queen from KQT9 against No Trump, and I am missing the ten and nine. I play small from dummy and RHO (the LOL) plays the deuce.

If they are leading Queen from KQT9 and RHO could see the jack in her hand, she should throw it underneath the queen. If she can see it in dummy, she would give count. Since I have the jack, neither applies, and the two likely means “I don’t like spades.”

I could duck, perhaps LHO would continue, but right now I think I’m happy to have not gotten a club lead. I’d hate to duck and see a club switch. The club position of Qx opposite Ax has a chapter of sample hands on Mike Lawrence’s book How to Play Card Combinations. Barring the highly improbable stiff king, you pnly get one trick if you lead it yourself, but may be able to endplay the opponents for another. I haven’t read the book in ages, but I remember this and note it.

In any case, I win the ace. I could finesse in hearts. I could try to lead a low club and hope LHO ducks her king. But the first is too committal  right now and the second play will fail (spectacularly) if RHO has the club king. My longest suit is diamonds, so I attack that.

I play a heart to my king, then play a diamond.

RHO-LOL discards the club six.

I goggle at this. LHO has KQT9 (presumably) of spades and AKJT7 of diamonds!

At this point (possibly aided by a faint growl from my left, but I can’t be sure), RHO goes “oops” and plays the diamond seven.

I see no reason to change my play and I play the diamond queen. I didn’t expect it to win before I lead the diamonds (I was just catering to AK(x)(x)(x) on my right) and it doesn’t. LHO wins the diamond king.

Now we have an irregularity … RHO has a penalty card. I call the director because I don’t remember my options and in any case the Laws have just been updated, so they may have changed.

It turns out, I can require or forbid a club lead, in which case RHO can pick the club six. Or I can let my LHO lead freely, but keep the penalty card on the table.

Options. If I think LHO has the club king, I can force her to lead it and endplay her. It’s intriguing. I’ve basically been handed an endplay, if I want it.

LHO could have the club king, but right now she’s shown up with all the point’s I’ve seen so far. That isn’t a big deal, but they balance more often than not. Still, a 12 point hand would keep quiet.

More importantly, I’d welcome a spade lead, a diamond lead, or a heart lead in almost any position. A club lead I’d only welcome if LHO has the king, and if she does, well, maybe I’ll get my endplay later.

I forbid a club lead. The director mumbles that LHO can’t lead a club until she has lost the lead as she wanders off.

LHO cashes the diamond ace (RHO follows with the ten), then asks if she can lead a club now. We tell her no. She grouses at the director for not having been louder and pauses.

Eventually she emerges with the spade king (RHO follows) and then the spade ten … and RHO follows! Huh. She lead Queen from KQT (tight).

Odd, but welcome. I cash two more spades, pitching dummies two diamonds. Now I cash the heart ace. Both opponents play low, and have played low high. I think hearts may be 3-3.

Here is the position

Dummy has King-Ten of Hearts and the Queen small of clubs

I have a heart, the diamond 8 and the Ace small of clubs. (The red jacks are still out).

I lead a heart and when LHO plays low I fly with the king. Wrong. RHO shows out and pitches a club.

Ah well. At this point I am back to the endplay. LHO has the heart jack, but I can hope RHO has the diamond jack. I lead the heart ten and RHO pitches a club. I pitch my diamond threat.

LHO wins and shifts to a small club. At this point I can know that RHO has a singleton club. LHO might not have cashed it earlier, with three diamonds on the table, but she would have cashed it now).

So …. play the queen or hope that RHO has bared the king?

A quick count of the hand shows me that LHO has shown up with KQT of spades and AK of diamonds and the jack of hearts. The king of clubs looks like a double of 1N to me, not a smooth pass. It looks like RHO’s king is stiff.

I call small and RHO follows with …. the jack.

Wah-wah (sad trombone).

I failed to consider two things.

  1. Our opponents may be playing a system that lacks a penalty double of a strong NT opening.
  2. A little old lady almost certainly would have exhibited some anguish baring her king of clubs.

The first is speculative, but the second should have counted for more.

Ah well.

Despite my misplay on this hand and both of us botching a hand in the last set (fatigue, possibly)  we qualify comfortably, if not spectacularly. Off to the district final….

Written by taogaming

October 7, 2017 at 8:00 pm

Posted in Bridge

Bad Luck, and Worse

It’s bad luck at bridge when trumps split 5=0.

It’s worse when you had a 9 card trump fit, didn’t notice, and go down in a cold game “because of the 5=0 break.”

Written by taogaming

September 27, 2017 at 9:26 pm

Posted in Bridge


Tired of working on my latest Factory, I fire up the robots for a few hands of bridge solitaire. I pick up the sort of hand you get in solitaire…

S:KQ7xxx H:A D:KQ62 C:xx 

(You get them because the computer deals out the hands, then swaps your hand with the best hand if you don’t happen to hold it).

Suprisingly, your robot partner opens 1 Heart. I bid 1 Spade and CHO bids 1NT. I bid 2 Diamonds (natural, forcing) and the CHObot admits to having two spades. I suspect four spades is cold and six spades is odds against, but I’m playing against robots and just goofing off. We’ll be light on points but maybe hearts will run (and I do have a sixth trump). Six spades it is.

I get the five of clubs lead and I don’t have time to wonder if I’ll be down before I won a trick because dummy is already tabled.

Dummy S:A9x H:KT9754 D:xx  C:Ax

Hand  S:KQ7xxx H:A D:KQ62 C:xx 

(Club 5 led by LHO)

That’s my type of opening … minimum. Well, I fly with the club ace and think. This is a decided underdog. Do I have any lines of play? In fact, I do see one. The nice thing about slam hands is that you usually don’t have a tangle of possible lines.

I win the club ace (naturally) and lead a heart to the ace. (Technically I should probably lead a spade the king and then cash the heart ace, but that’s a minor improvement and If hearts are 7-0 I think I would have heard something). I lead the spade king and then a spade to the ace, as spades break 2-2.

I needed that.

Next comes the heart king, pitching my losing club as LHO shows out. Uh, ok. I lead a diamond and it goes ten-queen-small. It looks like the diamond ace is onside.

I needed that, too.

But I also need RHO to have started with the ace and shortness (A, Ax, or Axx).

Nothing to do but lead a small diamond. LHO wins the 9 (RHO completing an echo!) and leads a club. I ruff the lub, ruff a diamond and … RHO plays the ace.

Score it up.

Once the diamond queen won, my odds were pretty good. RHO was known to have six hearts and two spades. Not much space for four diamonds and if he did have four, LHO had 8 clubs. I definitely think that would have been mentioned.

I also belatedly realize I missed another improvement.

If an honor had fallen on the second round of hearts, I would have had options. If RHO plays the honor I can play for him having QJx tight. If LHO shows up with an honor I could play for QJx tight or Hx. In the latter case I can run the HT for a ruffing finesse through RHO and (assuming it wins) get back to dummy with with a diamond ruff after losing the diamond ace and winning the other diamond, and pitch my last diamond on dummy’s good 9 of hearts.

I hadn’t considered it, but if the honor had popped up, I probably would have noticed. A minor demerit for not thinking about it ahead of time, but it turns out I had just enough luck on this hand.

Written by taogaming

September 24, 2017 at 9:25 am

Posted in Artificial Opponents, Bridge

Tagged with


Playing in a Bracketed Swiss, our opponents are a solid pair. LHO is hyper-aggressive but backs it up with exceptional card play. (In fact, one of my best tournament weekends was partnered with LHO. I saw him make one questionable card play in two days, but hands that I would force to game opposite anyone else were mere invites with him). RHO is the solid citizen half of the partnership.

S: KJxx H:JTxxx D:Qx C:xx

I expected not to do much with this hand, when RHO opens, but the auction takes a turn….

-   -   1D  P
1H  2C   X* P    *Support Double, 3 Hearts
P! XX*   P  ?    ** SOS

LHO has gone for the jugular by passing the support double — this is IMPs, so he fully expects this to go down. Partner’s redouble indicates he agree.

Originally I would expect six clubs for partner’s stepping into a live auction, but he’s been frisky too. If he does have six clubs, they are terrible.

What else do I know? Partner should have exactly one heart (I doubt LHO would double with a fifth heart with RHO showing 3). If he had four spades and five clubs, I expect he would have doubled 1 heart. So, partner is likely 3=1=4=5. In that case, we’ll play in the seven card fit that lets the short hand ruff (maybe).

I bid 2 Spades. This gets passed to RHO, who doubles. Nobody has anything else to say.

LHO leads the heart Ace (Ace from Ace/King) and dummy is not what I’d hoped.

S: 9xx H:x D:AKxx C:KJxxx

That’s definitely frisky. On the plus side, my diamond queen is pulling its weight. LHO quickly shifts to a trump and this goes to RHO’s Ace, and he then returns a small spade.

I could fly with the king and ruff a heart, but I think I’ve got a decent play to make it, so I finesse the jack. When it holds I ruff a heart, cross to the diamond queen, play the spade king (LHO discarding a club), then cash the diamond king, discard a club on the diamond ace, and ruff the fourth diamond with my spade jack (LHO discarding another club). I now lead a club, expecting LHO to fly with the ace, but he plays low.

Doggy-doggy-what now?

A quick review shows that RHO has shown up with only AQ of spades and queen of hearts (presumably), and the jack of diamonds, so he really kind of needs the club ace. (Update I just noticed — RHO could have KQ of hearts, but that would mean LHO ducked his club ace when he knows I have a singleton. Ballsy). I play the jack which does force the ace. RHO cashes the spade queen, but he’s snookered. If he leads the queen of hearts LHO can’t overtake (because I have the JT left) and a club gives me the king. I’ve scored 3 trumps in hand, a heart ruff in dummy, three diamonds and in the end I get the club king to make.

I later note to myself that if RHO had played his heart queen on the second round, he would have set me if I’d been unfortunate enough to have the Jxxxx of hearts instead of the JTxxx, because then he could lead through my hearts. In fact, the opponents have been somewhat spectacularly unlucky. If my partner had his bid, then likely he’d have the spade king and it would have been spade to the queen, ace and small, killing most of my value. And hearts didn’t have to break 5-1 (but if the don’t partner probably would have gone quietly … I hope). On the other hand, LHO left in a support double with QTxx of clubs in front of dummies suit (and no reason to believe his partner had any), and only a nine count, so that was probably a bit too aggressive.

We pick up a boatload of IMPs on the hand, but for naught as the opponents squeak out a victory. Unlucky.

Written by taogaming

September 11, 2017 at 4:50 pm

Posted in Bridge

Back from a long layoff (Bridge)

I’m trying to pick up a North American Open Pairs qualification with Hank after a long layoff (nearly four months) and we’re both grinding some rust. Thankfully we both simultaneously forget a rare convention, but we’re also missing some fairly obvious stuff. About halfway into the game I think we are under 50% (in a weak field) when I pick up this fine collection.

S:KQJxxx H:AK D:AK C:Axx

I’m in fourth seat, but it is not to be. LHO opens 3 Diamonds and it goes pass-pass to me. I could bid 4S (or even 5S) but it seems to me that double and then bidding 4S is stronger. But is it strong enough? I double. LHO passes and Hank bids 4 Clubs. I could bid 4 diamonds and then bid four spades, but it isnt’ clear to me if 4 Diamonds is key card or “Try again.” I bid 4 Spades, which should be cold, but it doesn’t take much to make a slam. Perhaps I should bid 5S so partner will go with  nearly anything, but partner may still be broke and 5S may not make. It goes all pass.

LHO leads the 9 of hearts and dummy hits with:


               S: AT H:Txx D:Txx C:K97xx

Heart 9 led

               S: KQJ764 H:AK D:AK C:Axx

Damn. Slam is cold.

Too late to worry about that, focus on the hand. Can I make seven? I think so. Assuming that RHO has QJ of hearts (seems likely on the 9H lead) and LHO owns the QJ of diamonds (or even just Q or J, since RHO’s honor will drop) then neither opponent can hold onto three clubs in the run of the cards.

It’s technically a single squeeze — only one opponent can guard clubs — but I’m playing it as if it were a double. Putting my plan into action I win and run five spades (pitching three clubs from dummy) and then cash my diamond Ace +King (RHO shows out on the second one, as expected and LHO dropping the Jack) and the heart king (LHO shows out), both the Jacks have fallen.

Here’s the situation with four cards left:


               S: -- H:T D:T C:K9

D:Q + 3 cards                H:Q + 3 cards.

               S: 4 H:-- D:-- C:Axx

I haven’t been counting, just watching for the Q+J of both red suits. It’s a lock and I could claim, but its faster to play out. I lead the spade four and when LHO doesn’t pitch the diamond queen I pitch the diamond ten. RHO has to keep the heart queen, so also pitches something else. Each opponent has a red queen which means at most two clubs, so I go club to the king, club ace and good club. (LHO started with three clubs).

It’s a baby squeeze made obvious by the bidding and lead, but I’ll take it. Anything to show that I can sometimes do the right thing. Finding the squeeze salvages the board (75%) and despite our mistakes we have a big last round (including one gift) to qualify.

I also posted a rather more complicated (IMO) technical question to Bridge Winners, if you care.

Written by taogaming

July 30, 2017 at 7:46 pm

Posted in Bridge