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Never in a million years…

We are doing reasonably well in a Swiss teams, event. Earlier I held something like:

S:Kxx H:T8 D:Qx C:Jxxxxx

and partner opens 1 Heart. I could bid 1 NT (Semi-forcing) but since I’m playing Polish 1H is capped at 17 HCP (and rarely that strong). So, best to pass right away and prevent partner from jumping with his 15 points or (more likely) bidding 2 Diamonds and then I have to bid 2 hearts. If I’m lucky LHO will double back in and I can bid clubs over 1 Spade.

But LHO passes. Partner wins the opening lead and plays a small heart towards dummy …. Jack … small, pitch.

A 6-0 heart break. Sad trombone.

But we won that match and are sitting down against a Grand Life Master with multiple national championships and his partner (no slouch, either).

I pick up S:9xxxx H:Q D:xxx C:AJ92

Partner opens 1NT. I could pass, but I think I’ll transfer into spades.  If partner super-accepts then I’ll chance the game. If not, I’ll pass and hope that spades is OK. A bit weaker and I’d pass. (Passing 1N isn’t wrong, by any means, but this gives me chance to get into a borderline game and even if there isn’t game 2 Spades is probably as reasonable as 1NT).

I bid 2 Hearts and my LHO (the Grand Life Master) is in there with 3 Diamonds. This gets passed to me. I still don’t want to force to game, but partner doesn’t know if I have any values and may be wishing he could double 3 Diamonds. I double. Partner will likely sit with two spades. LHO passes and partner passes and now RHO goes in the tank. Eventually, he passes.

My partner leads the heart king and RHO says “Never in a million years will you guess my hand” and tables the AKQ8xx of spades. His full hand is

S:AKQ8xx H:xx D:x C:KTxx

The play is brutal and fast. Heart king, heart ruff, diamond to partners king, heart ace (I pitch the deuce of clubs encouraging), club 8 (conventionally, either a singleton or promising one higher card which must be the queen, as I can see the rest), king ace, small club back to partner’s queen, heart ruffed, club jack at which point declarer ruffs high and concedes another high trump.

The full hand


          S: xx H:AKxxx D:AKx C:Qxx

S:-- H:JT9xx D:QJTxxx C:xx    S:AKQ8xx H:xx D:x C:KTxx

         S:97xxx H:Q D:xxx C:AJ9x

The really impressive thing is that everything is so reasonable. East could have overcalled 2 Spades, but decided to wait and see, and must have been shocked beyond belief to hear my transfer into spades. West …. fearing that opponents may be off to the races got in a space eating lead-directing overcall. You can argue that any bid is pushy or poor judgement, but its not totally out of left field. East considered pulling 3D-X to 3 Spades or 3NT, but those have their own problems.

(At the other table East bid 2 Spades, off four undoubled, which is also beyond my ken).

And in the category of “poor opponents” we have the other weird hand of the day.

I pick up S:8xxx H:K D:AQJ98 C:Qxx

Partner opens 1 Heart, I bid 2 Diamonds (not necessarily game forcing), partner bids 2 Hearts, which could be a sixth heart or just waiting without extras. I bid 2 Spades, showing my shape and confirming a game force. (Yes, we might go down in game, but I have an opening hand, so I’m forcing).

Partner bids 4 Diamonds.

I think this is a splinter showing 4 spades and a stiff diamond, (since 3 Diamonds would be totally forcing and set diamonds) but delayed jumps are not alertable, so I don’t alert. I was just a mere game force and I have all my values in diamonds, so I signoff in 4 Spades. Partner thinks for a bit and jumps to 6 Diamonds.

(Now I think partner misbid and was slammish in diamonds). I pass. Thankfully nobody can be accused of “waking up” due to an alert.

LHO leads a club and I am surprised to find myself in a non-hopeless contract.

Dummy has S:KJx H:AQJxxx D:T7xx C:–

Wishing that dummy had my nine of diamonds, I ruff and lead a small diamond to my queen. Perhaps I should lead the diamond Ten, but I think I need a stiff king or Kx onside, since I’ve already ruffed a club. The DT wins against Kxx onside and 3-3 hearts, but losses against stiff King onside (unless hearts are 3-3). I’d really like hearts to be 3-3. I can’t figure out the odds and anyway that’s what I did at the table.

It goes small diamond, jack (keeping my 98 so I can overtake) and LHO wins the diamond king.

But … she starts to think. That’s good. Very good.  She doesn’t have the spade ace and (for her point of view) leading a spade into the spade bidder (who was willing to play in the four spade game) looks like a good way to solve the suit. She may be looking at the spade queen or afraid of finding partner’s spade queen.

She eventually returns a trump and I win in my hand (they break two-two) cash the heart king, ruff a club in dummy and claim when hearts break no worse than 4-2.

Looking at all four hands, LHO could have led her doubleton spade to her partner’s AQ and gotten a ruff and possibly picked up her stiff DK.

Sometimes there is no justice in Bridge.

         S:KJx H:AQJxxx D:T7xx C:--

S:xx H:???? D:Kx C:?????   S:AQxx H:xx D:xx C:A???? (E-W hands approximate)

        S:xxxx H:K C:AQJ98 C:Qxx

Written by taogaming

March 4, 2018 at 7:50 pm

Posted in Bridge

Damn, wish declarer was a point stronger

Played in a swiss, terribly. Got trump squeezed when I could have seen it coming, but I’m not terribly upset by missing it. Later on I’m defending 3N and declarer has had to concede her fourth trick to me (setting up her diamonds).

I have actually been paying attention, and the auction helped. I know the following cards:

           Dummy: S:AJ8xx H:x

Partner S:?? H:Jxx C:x    Me: S:T9xx H:x D:x

           Declarer S:? H:AQ9 D:2 winners

I’m giving partner the HJ, because if he doesn’t have it nothing matters (or if he’s stronger). He can’t have more than that (left) on the auction (one of his spades must be an honor as well, the KQ are still out, but declarer needs an honor for her bid). It’s clear to me that if I return a heart or diamond declarer will run her winners and end up in this position

        Dummy:  S:AJx

Partner: S:(K/Q)x H:J

        Declarer: S:(K/Q) H:9 D:Winner 

No matter what spades are, on the diamond partner is squeezed. If he pitches a heart, that’s it. If he pitches a spade declarer can lead her honor and overtake when partner plays the other honor and the jack is good. (Even if partner had both KQ of spades, he’s squeezed).

Well, nothing to it. Lead a spade. Break communication between the hands and when declarer runs her diamonds partner just pitches his spades.

I lead a spade and declarer plays her stiff Queen and …. partner thinks and plays the king. Hand is over. Declarer wins the ace, pitches her little heart on the spade jack, and claims.

As mistakes go, its a forgivable. (In fact, I made a terrible one just the hand earlier, so partner may have been fuming at that ….)

Only … I wish declarer had been a touch stronger.

If declarer held the spade KING, partner would have had no chance to go wrong.

Written by taogaming

February 25, 2018 at 10:40 pm

Posted in Bridge

A little embarrassing

They have a mentor-mentee system at the local bridge club, and for years I’ve been shocked at who is allowed to mentor. Simply atrocious. So this year I volunteered and had my first mentee game today. She’s a lovely lady from Indonesia and not exactly a novice. (The yenta who arranges the partnerships said she’d played, but using an Indonesian system. This turns out to be — as far as I can tell — basic Precision with some weirdness).

We’re playing simple Standard American bidding with the minimum of agreements (Stayman, Jacoby, Blackwood, Strong jumps, weak 2s and negative doubles) and practically no signals on defense.

Early on I have a few problem hands, because I can’t decide if she’s bidding ‘correctly’ or ‘like a novice.’ On the very first hand I have to decide if her jump to game is a weak preempt or an opening hand. I decide to treat it as a pre-empt (which is what it should be) and miss a slam.

Later on I bid 1 club with a balanced 12 count and the (expert) on my left bids 4 Spades. She bids 4 NT.

I’ve seen very strong partnerships (like a married couple with ~20k master points between them) get into hissing matches as to what 4N means in that situation. I’m firmly in the “game before slam” school of thought … it means you aren’t sure where to go, not Blackwood. There’s an argument that it could be to play. Partner has agreed to play negative doubles, but we defined very little of the card so far, so I have no idea how high we play them. I’m looking at AJxx of spades, so partner could have Kx of spades and mean it to play, but that’s ballsy. (On her part. I have no problem believing my LHO would preempt to the four level on a QT seventh suit non vulnerable).

I know that she knows Blackwood. I also know — from long personal experience — that even some strong players think 4N is always Blackwood. Newer players love having a bid where they know the meaning.

I treat the bid as Blackwood. Wrong! Partner bid 4N to play (with Kx of spades and about 17 HCP).

We get too high, and I apologize, tell her that her bid was fine but that I wasn’t sure what she meant.

We get to another slam off an ace and the trump queen, and the queen is off. No problem there, we just don’t play key card blackwood.

Apart from near-slams, we’re doing fine. One expert makes a matchpoint double, hoping for +200. Partner calmly collects +870 (doubled overtrick). She sometimes chooses an inferior line, but she doesn’t block suits, etc. By about halfway through the game, I realize she is in fact a good ‘novice.’ Every time we play another mentee (or even a player with only a few years under their belt) we do well.

I pick up S:xxx H:xxx D:QTxx C:Qxx. Not much to write home about, unless you like letters involving flat hands lacking controls.

My opponents are a married couple that are acquitances of the family. The husband (an intermediate) had lunch with my grandfather two days ago. He opens 1N and his wife (aggressive, but a better cardplayer) put him into 3N without much thought. Partner leads the three of clubs.

Since this is a teaching game, I note to myself that partner should prefer leading a major if its borderline and as dummy hits I also note that my RHO had her bid. Probably because her husband was declaring.

          Dummy  S:Qx H:JTx D:98xxx C:AKx

Club 3 led                     Me: S:xxx H:xxx D:QTxx C:Qxx

Declarer thinks for a bit, the plays the club ace. He now plays the spade queen, king and ace. I expect a fourth spade (and maybe a fifth) but declarer surprises me with the club jack, partner follows with the deuce and declarer studies that, then calls from the club ace.

I follow but before declarer can call for the diamond I realize I’ve made a mistake. She led the three, then played the deuce. If I trust partner, she started with five clubs.  I’m also kicking myself because I didn’t note the card declarer played at trick one. But if partner is telling the truth then a) declarer’s play is terrible and b) that’s not my problem, but I needed to throw my club queen under the ace.

But I’ve missed my chance. I play a small diamond and declarer’s jack is taken by my partner’s king. She cashes the spade ten and — thankful for the second chance and willing to look silly if I’m wrong — I discard the club queen. I’m pretty sure I’m right. Partner doesn’t play many signals, but fourth best leads she seemed solid with.

Partner notices my discard and quickly puts down the club nine — declarer started with JT tight — and two more clubs.  I have no problems in discarding and we get them another trick for down two.

Everyone is saying my discard was excellent but I quietly inform partner that it should have been done earlier. “If you hadn’t had the high spade, the suit would have blocked.” Dummy has a few words for her husband about his (double plus ungood) line of play.

Partner comes back down to earth later on, and I got a few points of discussion on standard bidding and cardplay. Amazingly, as we’re going over the hands I hear that we scratch in our direction in Flight A (and win B/C outright), with a touch over 50% (the three expert pairs sitting our direction destroying the field, mostly).

More importantly, I’ve avoided anything too embarrassing.

Written by taogaming

February 11, 2018 at 12:54 am

Posted in Bridge

A full weekend of Bridge

means a full weekend of weirdness. We had a day of pairs to knock of the rust to prepare for the North American Open Pairs Texas/Mexico qualifiers. (We did not knock of rust). We then played in the NAOP top flight and had a pretty good morning session and an atrocious afternoon to fall out of the running. Then we paired up with another non-qualifying pair to win the second bracket of the Swiss Teams.

I made my typical number of mistakes most days. In the NAOPs they were brutally punished and in the second bracket, they rarely were (unless the mistake did not require the opponents to do anything, like dropping the wrong card at trick 12).

Among other things:

  • I found a strip squeeze (for down one, of course), then the opponent discarded a suit he was guarding, which made me stop and recount … incorrectly. If everyone plays correctly, I’m off one. Defender plays incorrectly, so I should make; but my recount is wrong  — Down two. Typical.
  • Based on a mis-understanding, I doubled a cold 3N and then a non-cold 4m when they ran.
  • Partner held an all-black hand. S:AKJxxxxxx H:– D:– C:Q9xx.
  • Based on stupidity, I ran when they redoubled 4H. Amazingly, it may be possible to make it despite a 6-0(!) break. (Double dummy it makes, and the play may be railroaded into the right line).
  • You may remember Jeff Goldsmith’s Bridge without Sam columns. Met Sam.
  • Sam was playing a system that makes Polish seem pretty normal, a Blue-club style system except that instead of 1D, 1H and 1S showing 12-16 HCP, it shows 8-12 (in 1st and 2nd seat). Had an interesting hand where I knew everything I needed right away (it helps that I played Blue Club for a dozen sessions) but unfortunately all the information told me that I had a sure fire make if Sam held the club queen and would need a gross misdefense otherwise. (He did not, and they did not). On the other hand we got to a messy 3S instead of defending a non-hope 3H, but managed to make.
  • A deliberate dog walking by partner turned a likely  +620 /+650 into a potential +170/+200 and was rewarded with a double to net +1130.  (At IMPs!) Another hand I had a near game decision, chose to only invite, and was rewarded by being doubled in 3, but that was matchpoints, so just a top.

And finally, a single hand as seen by dummy:

I held a terrible S:xx H:J9x D:JT8xx C:xxx. LHO opened 2S in 3rd seat, partner bid 2N and I passed. The opening lead was a small diamond — jack, queen, discard by partner!

“No diamonds partner?”


“Uh, ok.”

He held S:AQxx H:AQxx D:– C:AQJx and thought the most likely auction after a double would be 3D be 2N (a weakness relay) followed by 3D (which was correct). That would have been the auction. As he said “”My choices were to bid 2N or to double and have to bid 3N.”

If I had 4 hearts and any values (or any 5 hearts), I could still bid after 2N. The only disaster would be if I had exactly four hearts and minimal values, I’d probably pass 2N. Risky, but correct today.


Written by taogaming

January 21, 2018 at 7:42 pm

Posted in Bridge

A missed super-criss-cross squeeze and Some random notes

Interesting bridge hand from today.

Dummy: S:T9xx H:Txx D:KJx C:AJx

Declarer S:AKQ H:AQ9xx D:Ax C:Txx

Contract 4 Hearts with the lead of the spade 7 from West.

Short story — winning, I decided not to take the diamond hook, since it was 50/50 and there may be a stiff spade. So Diamond ace, diamond king, small heart (catering to KJ tight) When the jack appeared without much thought and the queen won, I decided to drop the king and use the HT as an entry, which worked. At this point pleased with the results so far I forget to rectify the count  for a squeeze by ducking a club. I didn’t, and only made five (when spades were 4-2 and nothing particularly good happened).  I made a comment “there must be some Criss-Cross squeeze somewhere” (see link for details). So I was awake and yet brain dead at the same time. Typical.

Later on I realized I messed up even earlier. Given that I am not taking the diamond finesse, better to keep the ace in my hand and keep Criss-Cross positions in all three suits! This also has the benefit when I lose a trump trick that I may not get overruffed in diamonds (rare) or lose my DJ menace (common). Now when the hearts break I can lead a club right away (I need to lead the Jack) and then win the return and draw trumps. Assuming a spade return, I end up with

Dummy S:T9 D:Jx C:A

Hand S:Q D:A C:Tx

There has to be a squeeze here (unless a card is already falling under the ace). Since each suit is blocked, its a kind of super-criss-cross. Assume one player guards spades (Jx) and Diamonds (Qx). I lead the club ace and then it resolves to a criss-cross with spades and diamonds. If I think that one player guards spades and clubs, I lead the diamond ace, and if I think one player guards clubs and diamonds I lead the spade queen. (Of course, if one helpless soul guards all three, they have already been squeezed).

As in any criss cross, declarer must read the position correctly: not likely given that I botched the hand. (And a non-spade return also breaks up the criss-cross in that suit, so I may have to go to a less esoteric line). Still, I don’t think I’ve seen this before, but probably I just never noticed before.

(Update — As Jeff pointed out in the comments, this is all wrong).

I am also resolved to not bid any more grand slams in club games, even if I think it is highly likely. Only one pair bid the correct small slam, so even if the grand made (sigh) I was risking 9 matchpoints to gain 1. The hand was a rock crusher S:AKQJ H:Axx D:AKxx C:Ax.

Also played today — More Jump Drive, and Vast: the Crystal Caverns. Regarding the latter — some good ideas, nice asymmetry between the players, although it sounds like they aren’t well balanced. Good art, somewhere between Groo and The Grizzled. The TaoLing also played Illumat, which I must admit looks wonderfully gothic.

Written by taogaming

December 28, 2017 at 10:58 pm

Posted in Bridge, Session Reports

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