Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Emotional highs and lows of a hand

[Andy]  This one is just an amusing story, from the second day of the Platinums.  You pick up:

♠ 10 8 7 6 5
Q J 10 7 5 3
♣ 10 8  

The auction starts a strong 2♣ on your left, 2NT by partner showing 2 nontouching suits, double on your right.  Gee, I wonder what suits partner has.

I concluded that it must be right to play in diamonds rather than clubs -- I should be able to take some tricks in that suit, and maybe partner will supply a few tricks in high cards.  So I redoubled, which in our agreement says that I have my own suit that I want to play in.

When LHO inquired, partner incorrectly explained the redouble as preferring his higher suit (an agreement we play in certain other situations).  Uh-oh.

Partner might have remembered in time, but LHO came to the rescue, bidding 3!  Whew!  Then, to my surprise, the auction proceeded 3♠ - 4♠ - 5.  They just bid to the five level in the suit partner has!

Partner leads the CA as dummy tables ♠ A J 9 9 7 2 8 4 2 ♣ Q J 6 3.  Partner cashes the K of clubs.  RHO half-jokingly says "I hope he doesn't have clubs and hearts!"  I just stare at him.

Two seconds later, declarer claims for what turns out to essentially be a flat board.  Partner held: ♠ 2 8 6 5 4 3 9 6 ♣ A K 9 7 5

Note the importance of having some agreement to get out in a separate suit after a two suited bid -- 3 easily goes for less than their game, while anything else is a disaster.

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Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Platinum Pairs 1st Semi Final Board 21

Hands rotated; as shown I was East. N-S vul.

A K 8 2
K 9 7 6
A 9 7
6 4
A Q 3
K Q 6 4 3 2
8 5 2

West North East South
All Pass

Should I balance 2 here? I think at both white I'd consider it, though partner is marked with 5+ spades.

Partner led the ♠5. Declarer won, led a club to the king, then a spade to the 8. What should I pitch? I chose an uda 2. Another club, this time won by my partner's Ace and he produced the very nice J. Declarer ducked this, captured the 10 with his Ace, and threw me in with a 3rd diamond. I won this and cashed another.  Declarer pitched a heart and a club, while partner pitched a club and the missing lower spade spot (i.e. he started with 5).  I had to make a play in this position:

A 2
K 9 7
A Q 3

What do you think?

Partner is under a little pressure here, but luckily declarer had pitched a heart. Q seems to cater to all possibilities. The final result was down 1. If you cash the last diamond partner is squeezed out of a heart and declarer can always succeed (not saying that he's guaranteed to go right if you play a low heart next, of course).

Of course, if I had never pitched a diamond (maybe a club was safe?) it would have been easier. Or if partner splits in spades we rate to be in good shape.

Declarer started with Jxx originally. Pretty sure that if he holds onto all of those we're toast.

At the table, Andy thought a lot about whether to encourage with the 10 (I think no -- at that point, I know he has an honor, so might as well tell me whether or not it's the J). Declarer got annoyed when I showed up with the Ace, but there was no other line he could/should have tried at that point.


Tim points out that the defense can survive even if I cash the last diamond (partner pitching a heart).  In the 4 card ending, if declarer doesn't keep 3 winners I can exit a club and later get 2 heart tricks.  If he does keep 3 winners, then he has only 1 heart and now playing Q will pin his jack and the defense can (at declarer's option) untangle 2 heart tricks or a heart and a spade.  Pretty cute.  
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Monday, March 29, 2010

3N vs 4M


Franco has graciously granted me access to post myself (Andy), which will presumably make sense for some of the hands. Not sure if it will be obvious when I'm writing, so I'll try to remember to prefix my posts.

Here is a hand from the first qualifier that I like a lot, as it involves interest in both the bidding and the play.

♠ K Q 8 4
A 9 7
Q 8
♣ Q 8 5 2
10 7 5 A J 6 3 2
K 6 5 3 10
A 7 6 4 2 5 3
JK 10 7 6 3
♠ 9
Q J 8 4 2
K J 10 9
♣ A 9 5

West North East South
All Pass

We play a 2NT response as old-fashioned balanced GF, and can include 4-card spades. At the point at which Franco bid 3, I had to bid at the 4-level to show heart support. (We use 3 as a proxy for club values.) I wasn't sure I wanted to do that, so I concealed my support and showed spade values, then passed when partner bid 3N. This feels a bit unsatisfactory, but there just isn't enough room to show support as well as pinpoint values and offer a choice of games. It's not like one would be better off after the standard start to the auction of 1-1♠-2-3♣.

It's only one hand, but note that 4 has virtually no play on this layout.

The opening lead was a spade. I won in hand and immediately played a diamond to dummy. RHO won and played back the spade 7, which I covered with the 8, LHO winning the J. Look at what happens when LHO tries to exit passively -- I have 3 heart tricks, and when I cash all my winners ending in hand, LHO is endplay squeezed, force to give me a 9th trick in either of the black suits.

It seems that I would be virtually guaranteed to find that play, so LHO actually made a very good play at the table. Upon winning the spade J, he tabled the club 7. This presented me with a losing option -- it would appear that if I ducked the club to RHO's K I would be down 2 immediately, whereas flying would leave open the possibility of bringing in hearts for 5 tricks. If I did fly, it breaks up the strip squeeze.

At the table though LHO took like two minutes to find this play, so I just ducked the club, making 3 the "easy" way.

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Sunday, March 28, 2010

How do you play?

Another early round hand:

Board 6
Dlr E
Vul E-W

J 10 2
K Q 8 7 5
K 8 3
K 10
8 4
A J 10 3
Q 6 4
A Q 9 7

[Hands not switched, North is declarer]

West North East South
Pass 1♣
Pass 1 Pass 2
Pass 2♠ Pass 4
All Pass

This was the auction at our table (2♠ was artificial, and 4 was max balanced with 4 trumps) and the defense took 3 quick tricks for a fast 420.

However, say East leads the J and West wins the Ace and plays back another. You draw trumps in 3 rounds as East shakes 2 diamonds. Now what?

Seems like you might as well run your red winners and then clubs.  But, when you do, no one pitches any clubs but LHO pitches 2 low spades and a spade honor.  Well, now you can cash 2 clubs and exit a spade for a winkle!  In the 3 card ending, it appears LHO has Jx of clubs and a spade honor.  Either he holds the spade and leads into your tenace, or RHO overtakes, establishing a spade trick in dummy.

I don't know who, but Andy spoke to someone who found this line.  Sadly, it turns out the ♣J was 3rd all along so the winkle wasn't necessary.  And, had it been on, RHO could hold onto some diamond winners to defeat it.

[Andy] This hand is an example of why bridge is such a great game. At our table, Franco left the table while I played the hand. When he came back I first told him "completely flat board." Then I said, "no wait, I guess if the ♣J is dropping and the defenders don't take the first three tricks I can do better." I would never have known about the winkle possibility if I hadn't randomly heard about it after the session. Read more!

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Early round hand

On the 1st day we had two 57s to qualify in 5th place of 78 qualifiers. This deal was not one of our successes. Andy was North, I was South. David Grainger/Ari Greenberg were East/West.

Board 8
Dlr W
Vl None
A K 10 9 7 6
10 9 6
K 5
10 3
2 Q 8
8 3 2 A K Q J 7 5 4
Q 10 9 8 6 3
A K 7 6
Q J 8
J 5 4 3
A J 7 4 2
9 5 4 2
Ari Andy David Franco
West North East South
Pass 1♠ 2 4♠
All Pass

We managed to hold it to 5.

Assign the blame. My thoughts below.

I think:

a) Ari made a big 5bid. Not sure what he's supposed to do.

b) Ari's difficulty highlights the value of South bidding 4♠ instead of some lower fit jump involving partner.

c) I think North has a clear 5♠ bid.

d) I think I also had a somewhat clear 5♠ bid.


Nice to start off with what might be the worst thing I did :)

You at least have somewhat of a problem. I had an automatic 5S bid. The only thing I can think of is that he took so long to bid 5H that he talked me out of it [Ari did take a long time--FB]. Even after you doubled I wanted to bid 5S, but I didn't think I could because you took a long time to double. Read more!

Platinum pairs pics & links

NY Times column

ACBL Article

Before and after pictures:

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Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Platinum pairs

So once I lay my hands on some hand records, I'm planning to blog every hand from the final session of the platinum pairs. Or at least the first 2, which are both pretty good.

Part of me finds this idea embarrassing, but I'm confident that in fact it will demonstrate the important role of luck more than anything else.

Run now or stay tuned.

[Andy adds:]

For what it's worth, my overall summary is a bit different. One certainly has to get a bit lucky in the way things work out to win one of these, but it's not like our opponents were crapping all over themselves or anything like that. The level of play was certainly reasonable (as would be expected), we just took advantage of slips that came our way and did a couple of things right. We also did a couple of things obviously wrong, so my overall sense of the demonstration is that you can make a few mistakes and still manage to win.

Undoubtedly plenty of luck in the way it matchpointed out given the margin of victory.

Read more!