Sunday, July 25, 2010

All the compound squeezes

I've spent a lot of time enumerating and trying to name various squeezes. Here's a quick summary of all the compound squeezes (pure, without trumps), just based on naming conventions. I think a name should contain enough information to specify the whole squeeze. Concise names should do little more, but as squeezes get more hairy it can be nice to have some redundancy. Here, I'm trying to be concise. This might be (i.e. probably is) only useful to me.

1. There are type-R (2 double threats opposite a lone basic menace), type-L (1 double threat opposite a basic menace and an adjacent double threat), and Alternate Threat (like type-L, except the adjacent double threat suit also has an alternate threat in the other hand). In both cases, one hand has only one menace, designated the "lone" menace.

2. Type-R and Type-L can be restricted or unrestricted. Unrestricted basically means that the lone menace is recessed -- this makes room for idle cards opposite so you can run the free suit.

3. The standard "basic" menace (i.e. guarded by one opponent who is under the menace) is just a 1 card menace. If an entry is required, it might become "2-card", i.e. Ax/x. Recessing is often required to make room in the other hand, this can make a 1-card a 2-card-non-communicating (2CNC, Ax/-), or a 2-card a "recessed" (AKx/x). If an entry is required to the opposite hand, it can become "blocked" (xx/A), or "twin-entry" (Axx/Kx).

4. The standard double menace in a pure compound is a 2-card (Ax/x). This can be recessed to make room opposite, or twin-entry to add an entry opposite. A 3-card might also be necessary (AKx/xx, where both entries are important -- contrast with "recessed"). In alternate-threat squeezes, either a 2C or a 3C might need an alternate threat: 2-card-alt (Ax/xx) or 3-card-alt (AKx/xxx).

There are 2 double menaces in a compound squeeze. In a type-L, one is "adjacent" to the basic menace and the other is "opposite". In a type-R, both are opposite. Often one of them needs some extra feature, but it doesn't matter which has it (since it's symmetrical).

5. The free suit is normally 2 winners with the lone menace. In an unrestricted squeeze, they both might be opposite; these positions are called "adjoints". Sometimes, a late entry is used in the free suit -- these have "balanced" free suits, such as AK/xx (Ax/Kx also fine). Sometimes the penultimate free winner needs to be in the opposite hand, a "blocked free suit" (though again Ax/Kx would work fine).

In my naming convention, the type (R/L/alternate) describes the basic layout of the menaces and minimum necessary (but not sufficient) entries (see row I, II, and II-C). "Unrestricted" says something about the lone menace: that it has an extra winner without (necessarily) a corresponding link opposite. But, each basic family potentially has some additional entry requirements that are satisfied by upgrading one or more standard menaces. The type of upgrade and the upgraded menace(s) constitutes the rest of the name.   Often specifying which menace is upgraded is redundant, but still helpful.

In hand diagrams, spades is always basic and in North (guarded only in West), clubs is always free, and the red suits are always double menaces, guarded by both opponents (diamonds is always opposite, in South; hearts might be in either hand). An 'o' designates an idle card.

In the outline, every line using arabic numerals corresponds to a distinct compound, where as long as East can't stop spades, declarer can take the rest (might also require that the hand with CA is on lead).

I. Type-R (implies at least x/x/x/AK opposite -/Ax/Ax/o)

    A.  Unrestricted (implies spades is 2CNC or recessed: Ax/- or AKx/x)
  • requires a reentry to the basic hand, could be in basic suit (B) or one of the double menaces opposite (O). Free suit (F) not possible since it's cashed first.
          1.  Type-R Unrestricted Recessed basic
               AKx/x/x/AK opp x/Ax/Ax/oo

          2.  Type-R Unrestricted Twin-entry opposite
               Ax/Kx/x/AK opp -/Axx/Ax/oo
  • both of the above could be "adjoint", with the free winners in the other hand.
  • If the free suit is blocked, play is harder but nothing extra needed.
   B. Restricted
  • requires a reentry to the basic hand, could be in B, O, or F:
          3.  Type-R Restricted Two-card basic
               Ax/x/x/AK opp x/Ax/Ax/o

          4.  Type-R Restricted Twin-entry opposite
               x/Kx/x/AK opp -/Axx/Ax/o

          5.  Type-R Restricted Balance free suit (implies 2CNC basic)
               Ax/x/x/AK opp -/Ax/Ax/xx

II. Type-L (implies at least x/Ax/x/o opposite -/x/Ax/AK)

   A. Unrestricted (implies diamonds is recessed, AKx/x)

          6. Type-L Unrestricted (already fully specified)
              x/Ax/x/oo opp -/x/AKx/AK
  • has an adjoint with free winners in the other hand.
  • If the free suit is blocked, requires a reentry to the long free suit winner (3 possibilities if you include xx/AKQx as a possible double menace.)
   B. Restricted (implies diamonds is *not* recessed)
  • Requires a Spade/Heart reentry to the free suit after cashing HA, plus a late Spade/Diamond entry to give force to the basic menace (and now entry-less heart menace). All 4 combos ([S|H]-[S|D]) work:
          RFL squeezes:
          7. Type-L Restricted Twin-entry basic (both entries in spades)
              Axx/Ax/x/o opp Kx/x/Ax/AK

          8. Type-L Restricted Two-card basic, Twin entry adjacent
              Ax/Axx/x/o opp x/Kx/Ax/AK

          B1-Twin-entry squeezes:
          9.  Type-L Restricted Blocked basic, Twin entry opposite
               xx/Ax/Kx/o opp A/x/Axx/AK

         10. Type-L Restricted Twin entries adjacent and opposite
               x/Axx/Kx/o opp -/Kx/Axx/AK

   C. Alternate threat (implies at least Ax/Ax/x/o opp -/xx/Ax/AK)
  • SA is in the way when West unguards diamonds, need an entry to clear it while still retaining a heart winner (the SA itself is required to make room for the alternate threat). This entry can be in any suit (but if in the free suit, requires a reentry to South):
          11. Type-L Alternate Recessed basic
                AKx/Ax/x/o opp x/xx/Ax/AK

          12. Type-L Alternate 3-card-alt adjacent
                Ax/AKx/x/o opp -/xxx/Ax/AK

          13. Type-L Alternate Twin-entry opposite
                Ax/Ax/Kx/o opp -/xx/Axx/AK

          14. Type-L Alternate 3-card opp w/blocked free suit
                Ax/Ax/xx/A opp -/xx/AKx/KQ
  • In 14, the free suit blockage is essential.  In 11-13, there are some blocked free suit variants not shown.

To recap:

[Note that in restricted squeezes, the common pattern is to cash one free winner, potentially need to do some stuff ending in the other hand, and then need a reentry to the free suit. I strive to only use "reentry" to refer to getting back to the free suit.]

Type-R unrestricted needs a reentry: basic (1) or opposite (2). Adjoints possible.
Type-R restricted needs a reentry: basic (3), opposite (4), or free (5).
Type-L unrestricted needs nothing more (6). Adjoint possible.
Type-L restricted can be an RFL needing a spade (L) entry plus a reentry in spades (7) or hearts (8); or it can have a twin-entry opposite + reentry in spades (9) or hearts (10).
Type-L alternate-threat (implicitly restricted) can have an entry to the basic hand in any suit: 11-14.

I believe that's all of the pure compounds: 14 distinct positions, plus 3 adjoints (plus maybe 2 or 3 variants on a type-L unrestricted w/blocked free suit, and some alternate threat blocked free suit variants).  In most cases, the free suit being blocked is not a big deal, I don't treat those as separate positions.

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Thursday, July 22, 2010

PP 2nd Final Board 26

Board 26
Dlr E
Vul Both

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

1NTPass3NTAll Pass

I suppressed my heart suit and it worked out great.  North, understandably, did not lead a club and I was able to score 10 tricks for 13/17.  +620 was 7.5/17.  2 pairs managed +650. 

Of course, give North a natural club lead and things might have gone differently.

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Wednesday, July 21, 2010

PP 2nd Final Board 25

This is the deal that could have wound up haunting me for the rest of my life.  I certainly thought we were in contention at this point (I had underappreciated some of our earlier bad results) and faced this annoying problem:

Board 25
Dlr N
Vul E-W

♠ K Q 5♠ J 10 6 4
A K 6 3 28
10 9A K J 7 6 4
♣ J 8 3♣ A 5

3NTAll Pass

Lead:  ♣K -- a "power" lead.

How do you play?

The "normal" option seems to be win the 1st or 2nd club, maybe cash a diamond (you can pick up stiff Q or stiff 8, take your pick), then cross in hearts, cash your other heart winner lest it be stranded, and take a diamond hook. If diamonds come in, you have 9 tricks. If not, you're down several, probably 5.

Given the overcall and the power club lead, I decided to cash 2 diamonds. Against the previous line, this seems to gain whenever the Q is offside (I go down many fewer if it's 3rd, and make otherwise), break even if it's onside doubleton, and only loses when the Q is onside 3rd. Even without the overcall, this still seems like the right line to me.  

In fact, everyone followed low to both diamonds and I led a spade, RHO hopped Ace and led clubs. Clubs were 4-4 so I wasn't down yet. North, cruelly, teased me by playing a spade back. Now I thought I had a red-suit squeeze, but alas not and I was down 1.

This was worth 3.5 instead of 8.5 for making 3.  The full deal:

♠ 9 8 7 3
J 5
Q 5 2
♣ K Q 10 6
♠ K Q 5♠ J 10 6 4
A K 6 3 28
10 9A K J 7 6 4
♣ J 8 3♣ A 5
♠ A 2
Q 10 9 7 4
8 3
♣ 9 7 4 2
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Tuesday, July 20, 2010

PP 2nd Final Board 24

Board 24
Dlr W
Vul None

[Andy] You pick up:
♠K 8 7 5 3 2 9 3 A 8 ♣ 10 5 3

and hear partner open a 15-17 1NT. In addition to the standard transfer auctions, you also have the option of bidding 2♣-2red-2♠, which shows a light invitation based on distributional values rather than HCP. (But only promising 5 spades, so partner will not act with less than 3-card support.)

a) What do you do?
b) What do you expect the field action on this hand to be?

Possible actions on this hand include anything from signing off to just leaping to game. At IMPs, I think I would choose the stayman followed by 2♠ option. You stop at the 2 level when not bidding game, and likely get to game the times that it is right. I didn't think this was the right choice at matchpoints though, because there is so much chance that siding the contract incorrectly could cost a trick (on opening lead or otherwise).

So I knew I had to pick a transfer sequence. On general principle I hate light invite actions at matchpoints, as we could easily go down in 3♠. And that might be a complete disaster if partner had an atypical 1NT opening. Meanwhile, it didn't seem like game was likely to be great, so I took the low road and passed 2♠.

This choice was heavily punished as the full hand was:

♠ Q
K 10 8 6
Q J 10 9
♣ A J 9 7
♠ A J 10♠ K 8 7 5 3 2
A Q J9 3
7 6 3 2A 8
♣ K Q 6♣ 10 5 3
♠ 9 6 4
7 5 4 2
K 5 4
♣ 8 4 2

2♠All Pass

Partner not only had a HCP maximum, but also perfectly fitting cards and great trumps. Game is an extremely good contract. Even after the diamond lead and a losing heart finesse, 10 tricks still rolled in when the trump Q appeared.

We got 4.5 but had 11 available for bidding the game.

Afterwards, someone suggested that the field would all invite with this hand and if I knew I was winning the event at this point I should have been tempted to just try to duplicate the field action. In real life, I had no idea that I was winning -- indeed, when the event was over I figured we were probably third or something. Plus, I'm a little dubious of the argument. Enough of the field plays 14-16 NTs that duplicating their result would be impossible. (If partner has 14-16, they open 1NT and my hand passes; if partner has 17, they open a strong club or whatever and get to game. The range times out the worst for you when it centers around the borderline invite.)

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Monday, July 19, 2010

PP 2nd Final Board 23

Board 23
Dlr S
Vul Both

♠ A 8 7 5
6 3 2
K 8 3 2
♣ 8 5
♠ Q J 2♠ 4
K Q 10 7 4A J 8
6 410 9 7
♣ K J 7♣ Q 10 6 4 3 2
♠ K 10 9 6 3
9 5
A Q J 5
♣ A 9

All Pass

This was nearly a disaster.  3♠ was mixed and for some reason South brought it in.

I led the K and then continued a suit-preference 4, when a count 10 would have been better.  Understandably, partner won and played a 3rd.  This allowed declarer to eliminate the hand and throw me in with the 3rd round of trumps to give up a ruff-sluff or lead away from my KJx in clubs.  I felt sick and led a club, but partner was nice enough to hold the ♣Q so down 1. 

+100 was worth 13/17.

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Sunday, July 18, 2010

PP 2nd Final Board 22

Board 22
Dlr E
Vul E-W

♠ J 7 3 2
Q J 9
Q 3
♣ 8 7 6 2
♠ 5♠ A K Q 8 4
A K 10 8 7 6 3 24
A JK 7
♣ K 10♣ A Q 5 4 3
♠ 10 9 6
10 9 8 6 5 4 2
♣ J 9

3♥ 4♦PassPass
6♥All Pass

[Andy] A correction to 6NT would have been worth 4.5 matchpoints on top of our dead average 8.5. At the table, I just followed the principle of not moving over big leaps to slam. Partner might have had a singleton ♦A (or even a void) with one slow heart loser and no entry. In retrospect though I probably should have taken my chances with 6NT, as the odds would seem to favor it.

Multiple pairs got to 7NT on this hand. It can be made, but only on an unrealistic double dummy basis.

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Saturday, July 17, 2010

PP 2nd Final Board 21

Board 21
Dlr N
Vul N-S

♠ A 10 4
K Q 8 5
J 10 9
♣ J 10 9
♠ Q 6 5♠ 7 2
J 10 29 6
K 5 3A Q 8 7
♣ K 7 4 3♣ A Q 6 5 2
♠ K J 9 8 3
A 7 4 3
6 4 2
♣ 8

1NTAll Pass

I think they successfully got off to a heart lead, but after taking their 4 hearts shifted to a minor and I had 9 tricks.

+150 was worth 13/17.

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Friday, July 16, 2010

PP 2nd Final Board 20

Board 20
Dlr W
Vul Both

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

4♠Pass4NTAll Pass

[Andy] I decided to treat my hand as balanced, and evaluated it to a 2NT rebid. 3♣ forced 3, then 3NT showed a mild slam invite with 4 diamonds. I knew I had a high card minimum, but at first glance it was hard to imagine a better hand than 5-card diamonds with extra unanticipated shape, so I bid 4 RKC. The 4♠ response showed one keycard. At that point, I was somewhat worried that 4NT would be a queen ask, but I was unwilling to accept another disastrous 5 of a minor contract, so I just bid 4NT and hoped. Fortunately, Franco remembered our agreement more clearly than I did, which does state that in this auction 4NT is to play. (Had clubs been trumps it would have been the Q ask.)

Ironically, at IMPs I would have bid 5 to try to avoid a slam disaster, but on the actual hand, 5 had no play.

4NT was also quite a precarious contract. In retrospect, I should have gotten a bit deeper in the analysis and worked out to pass 3NT. Partner could have shown 5-card spades or 5-card diamonds, so his choice not to strongly implied 4-4. As a passed hand then his slam try was very likely to be based on short hearts, which isn't a great fit for my hand. There are many hands partner could have that would put slam around 50%, but in order to bid slam you'd like to believe that you will often have better play than that. There seems to be only one very specific hand that really makes slam extremely good: ♠AQxx x KQxx ♣ xxxx. That's just too specific to play for, plus partner might have opened that hand anyway.

If partner weren't a passed hand this evaluation would be a lot harder. I'm not sure, but I suspect that partner perhaps should not make a slam try with his actual hand if he weren't a passed hand. Slam might make, but without explicitly showing short hearts judging it properly without getting too high is difficult.

Anyway, there I was in 4NT, on a low club lead to the 10 and A. I played 8 to the A and a diamond back. When RHO pitched a low (discouraging) heart, I won the A and played a third diamond (RHO pitching another heart). I might have wanted to duck the second diamond to maintain communications, but I was desparate for an extra trick and I wanted to force LHO to play something.

LHO went into the tank and eventually played a spade. When this went around to the 10 and A, I fired a spade back and was soon claiming 10 tricks. +630 was worth 15/17.

LHO had a very difficult defensive problem -- his best play appears to be the ♣J, but that's far from obvious. Actually, RHO pretty much knows that spades and hearts are bad, so he wants to signal for a club. Maybe a discouraging heart followed by a suit preference heart is the best that could be hoped for.

Interestingly, even a low club beats me. I was certainly going to float that to the 9, because I needed the trick. Then though, while I appear to have 10 tricks, whichever major I play first establishes (at least one) extra trick for the defense before I can take my trick in the other major.

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Thursday, July 15, 2010

PP 2nd Final Board 19

Board 19
Dlr S
Vul E-W

♠ Q 9 5♠ J 10 7 4 3 2
Q 3 2A J
A Q 107 3
♣ J 9 8 6♣ A 5 4

3Pass3♠All Pass

[Andy] Take the declarer spot on this one. South leads two high spades, North pitching a low discouraging heart on the second. (You unblock the ♠Q for flexibility.) After long thought, South tables the 9. What now?

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Wednesday, July 14, 2010

PP 2nd Final Board 18

Board 18
Dlr E
Vul N-S

♠ A 5 2
A 10 8
A K 10 8 6
♣ J 7
♠ K Q J 9 3♠ 10 6
K Q 4J 6 3 2
Q 25 4
♣ Q 6 5♣ A 9 8 4 2
♠ 8 7 4
9 7 5
J 9 7 3
♣ K 10 3

1NTAll Pass

I normally wouldn't open 1NT with this spade suit, but it seemed right with all those queens.

They took some diamonds but did not start clubs in time to get an 8th trick. 

-50 was worth 7.5/17.

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Tuesday, July 13, 2010

PP 2nd Final Board 17

Board 17
Dlr N
Vul None

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

2♠All Pass

And sometimes preempts work against you.  Our +50 was worth 4/17.  Perhaps I'm supposed to double.  Though it also looks like we might have been able to set this 2.

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Monday, July 12, 2010

PP 2nd Final Board 16

Board 16
Dlr W
Vul E-W

♠ A 4
A 8 6
A Q 10 9 8 3
♣ 7 6
♠ K 10 3♠ Q J 9 8 7 2
K Q 5 4 210
J 56 2
♣ 10 5 2♣ A J 9 8
♠ 6 5
J 9 7 3
K 7 4
♣ K Q 4 3

3♠3NTAll Pass

Rusinow ♠J led, I overtook and played back the ten and it was not hard to hold declarer to his 8 top tricks.

+50 was worth 11.5/17. 

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Sunday, July 11, 2010

PP 2nd Final Board 15

Board 15
Dlr S
Vul N-S

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

2♠All Pass

Sometimes preempts work.  I was down 3, but -150 was worth 15.5/17.

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Saturday, July 10, 2010

PP 2nd Final Board 14

[This feature is finally complete, the final 1/2 session is coming out over the next 13 days --FB]

Board 14
Dlr E
Vul None

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

2NTPass4All Pass

2NT was natural & forcing, though next time I'd bid 2.  Possibly there was a slower path to 4 but I don't think so.

South led the 3rd/low ♠3.  Andy won.  He figured that leading diamonds could make 6, but only if the ace were ducked and both red suits split evenly.  So instead he set about avoiding a diamond guess.  He ran 6 trumps and saw 7 club pitches.  When he cashed ♣A, South pitched the ♠2.  Now he could cross to dummy, eliminate clubs with a ruff, and exit a spade in a position where everyone would be diamond tight.  Had North been able to win the spade, he'd still have a diamond guess, but in fact South had to win and lead one for him.

A well-earned 450, but only worth 8/17.

Brian Platnick related leading a diamond at trick 2.  North flew, but failed to continue spades so he made 6.

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Thursday, July 8, 2010

Play the card you're known to hold

This was from the USBC round of 16, and was reported in the daily bulletin.

If you like, cover up North-South and plan the play on the auction and lead and shift shown below.

Board 82
Vul N/S

♠ A 8 7 6

7 6 4

Q 4

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

♠ Q J 10 9 3

K 10

K J 3

♣ K 8 6


DoublePass4All Pass

3♠ was a mixed raise

Opening lead: ♠J (Rusinow)

North won ♠A and switched to the Q. That was a mean play!

More below...

Let's say you duck this, South playing the 3. North continues 4 to South's Jack and you win. Now what?

I figured North probably had no Kings, so decided to hope South had roughly his actual hand: heart to the Ace, then 4 rounds of clubs to shake 2 diamonds. 

Of course, this play might have been harder to find if I didn't know who held the
J. If North could still hold the 3rd diamond, then it might just be right to draw trumps, even if the finesse loses there'll still be time to get all your tricks without losing a 2nd diamond trick.

I would still basically know South had all the Kings (if North is presumed to hold QJx in diamonds), though, and might choose to play
A and 2 or 3 rounds of clubs (depending when they cover) before committing to what to do. I think it's a virtual guess: The non-King red cards split 3-1 in one suit and 2-2 in the other and you need to know which way.  The 10 falling under the Ace might be suspicious, and a harder false card to find than K, so maybe I'd still get it right. 

Of course, the K could plausibly have been on the whole time, maybe this was too fancy.

The other table stopped short of game, so this won 6 IMPs.

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Wednesday, July 7, 2010

A tricky 3NT

This was from the USBC semi-finals, and was slightly mis-reported in the daily bulletin.

If you like, cover up North-South and plan the play on the auction and lead shown below.

Board 39
Dlr S
Vul Both

♠ K 10 9 8 4

J 5

Q 9 6 2

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

♠ 3

K Q 8 6 4 3

5 3

♣ K 5 4 3


3NTAll Pass

3 was stayman, and 3NT denied 4 spades, but showed comfort with the heart stopper.

Opening lead: J

More below...

I won the 2nd heart, pitching a club from dummy. Apparently Rodwell in the same situation took a very long time and pitched a spade -- I think I should have recognized this as a situation worth more thought than I gave it.

Anyway, I tried the 10, which held, then the
J was covered. On the next diamond South was in some pain and shook a heart; I did too. I knocked out North's diamond (South & I both pitched hearts again), and he was endplayed. He chose a spade exit, I won ♠Q, A, and played another, endplaying him again. He played ♣Q, which I allowed to hold, and then claimed.

Note the cute club ending: stiff J in dummy along with 2 winners, opposite AT9. Normally in a position like this South holding Kxx can duck and still score a trick, but here there was no answer.

Rodwell apparently (after pitching a spade from dummy) also snuck the 10 through, then played another--covered and won. Now a club to the 9 and North was endplayed to concede a dummy entry to pick up clubs, cash the diamond, and later establish a spade.

It was reported that after discarding a club and running the 10 I "continued along the same line as Rodwell" which doesn't seem all that accurate.

I'm not really sure which line is better. Seems roughly that we both needed North to have the ♠K and at least one club honor. But, it's not clear Rodwell was going to make if North had both club honors, or South had the ♣8.  Against that, he still had chances if South has both clubs since he retained his slow heart stopper.

Meanwhile, at the other table in my match, declarer also discarded a club, played a spade to the
J, then tried ♣J: covered and won in hand. He next played a club to North's (Alex Kolesnik's) queen, and Alex tangled the hand by playing the Q back at him.

I don't know exactly what happened after that, it actually looks to me like he could survive by winning, playing a spade to the Q (Alex must duck), cashing his clubs, and setting up ♠J while still having a diamond entry.

Read more!

Monday, July 5, 2010

2010 US Team Trials

I recently partnered Jonathan Weinstein for the first time, and along with teammates Clement Jackson, Josh Sher, Alex Kolesnik, and Bob Etter we managed to go to the semifinals of the recent team trials in Chicago.

I should have some coverage soon. In the meantime, there's already some good stuff at Jonathan's blog.

Jonathan also stars in this NY Times column.

Read more!

Saturday, July 3, 2010

PP 2nd Final Board 13

Board 13
Dlr N
Vul Both

♠ K 10 6 2
J 9 2
7 6 5 4 3
♣ J
♠ 7 5 3♠ A 8 4
10 6 3A 8 4
A K Q10
♣ K 6 3 2♣ A Q 8 7 5 4
♠ Q J 9
K Q 7 5
J 9 8 2
♣ 10 9

All Pass


2♦ was a 4 card raise, only forcing to 2NT. (In retrospect, maybe 2♥ showing an invitational 2NT bid would have been better -- Andy.)
3♦ is apparently a bid without a formal agreement, but we both thought it showed a singleton.  Stressing about this probably led to two poorly judged bids:

4♣:  not clear we have 4NT safety.
5♣: I was maybe worried that 4♦ had been naturalish, but really I have a natural 4NT available and should bid it.

11 easy tricks in either strain.  +600 was 3.5 instead of 10.5 for 660.

[Andy]  This kind of result is one of the hidden costs of conventions.  Even when you remember them correctly, you spend all your mental energy trying to figure out if you've remembered rather than on the critical judgment questions most relevant to the hand.

Another interesting anecdote on this hand: More and more players are playing transfer responses over 1♣, in which case the auction starts 1♣-1♠-2♣. Given the situation I feel like the best choice at that point might just be to invite with 3♣, but if you feel like you need to game force with the hand, you have an impossible problem. 2♦ at this point would typically show a natural suit. So it seems that several experts at this point found themselves bidding 2 of a major (whichever one for whatever reason), which is pretty ugly. At at least one table the auction got confused enough that the experts also managed to wander into 5♣ rather than 3NT.

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Friday, July 2, 2010

PP 2nd Final Board 12

How would you play 4 by West?  Opening lead is a low spade lead to the Q and South's K

Board 12
Dlr W
Vul N-S
♠ 8 6 5 3
6 2
K 7
♣ Q 9 8 6 3
♠ A 2♠ Q 4
A 9 5 4 3Q J 10
9 6 4 2A Q 10 3
♣ K 7♣ A J 10 2
♠ K J 10 9 7
K 8 7
J 8 5
♣ 5 4

4All Pass

Again I'm not sure of the auction.  2♦ is actually catchall, usually without diamonds but sometimes a minimum with diamonds.

I chose to cash 2 clubs, then run 2 hearts, then try a club ruffing finesse.  In practice I wound up with a diamond loser and a black-suit loser.  An immediate club hook would have been more successful.

In fact, I like that play in retrospect.  If the club hook loses and they get a spade, maybe I can hook DQ and use 2 pitches to avoid any diamond losers. 

Of course, if I don't open partner will wind up declarer which is much better for us.

450 was 5.5/17.

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Thursday, July 1, 2010

PP 2nd Final Board 11

Board 11
Dlr S
Vul None

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

Pass1NTAll Pass

[Andy]  North pushed the modern notrumpitis to the limit on this one.  My experience seems to have shown that when you hold a 6 card running suit over their 1NT, it often works out best to pass.  I used to think that was kind of gambling, i.e. hoping they bid 3NT and play there doubled, but really it seems to have a lot going for it beyond that.  Anyway, our current agreements constrain my choices to either pass or 3♣, so I preferred the former.

I ran my 4 club tricks, giving declarer an uncomfortable discard at the end.  As often happens, declarer chose to keep winners instead of sure stoppers, pitching a diamond and 3 hearts.  We then took 4 heart tricks for down 4.

+200 was a cold top.  Had declarer chosen to play safe for down two, that would have been worth half the board.

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