Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Bidding opposite a preempt

Holding the West cards, at MPs, I felt the hand was marginal to insist upon a game. After much thought, I temporized with 2NT asking for a feature, 3Spades was the response, and I gave partner 4 Spades on the doubleton. Although the SAQ were offside, partner with some assistance from the defence who never switched to a club, brought home the contract.

A passed hand invitation, and a lot of tricks in 3NT

As a passed hand, do you rebid 1H or 1S or invite in Notrump? I chose to bid 2NT (11-12) and partner gave me three. A diamond was led, and I proceeded to rack up a lot of tricks (10) for a MP score of 90.5%

The club King is always single!

What would you bid in response to partner's three clubs (RHO having X'd) holding the cards in the west seat? I bid three notrump expecting some running clubs and some luck in the heart stopper department, or a non-heart lead. I got the latter, but the club suit left something to be desired.

Well, you know what they say about the club king always being single (not to mention that beggars cannot be choosers). I banged out the club Ace and took my ten tricks for 86%

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Opponent walks into a crossruff

Neither my THREE CLUBS rebid nor partner's free THREE SPADES bid were classical things of beauty but it is the result that counts. We were quick to double FOUR DIAMONDS, and partner leads a spade. Declarer is known to be competent, but slips here. With no quick road to hand, declarer tries a club. Perhaps I should have ducked my AK! allowing partner to ruff (partner's failure to lead my suit can only mean one thing, and then we get four quick tricks in a cross ruff, with the DJ promotion to come) but I naturally won the first two clubs and put a third through.
Declarer should have seen that I will ruff spades from the bidding, should have ruffed high and played three rounds of trump, losing the promoted trump to partner's J. THen he goes only one down, as partner is endplayed. Instead declarer played automatically playing a loser spade on the third club, we then crossruffed for two down and a high matchpoint score.

Not shy to bid game. A neat Overtrick at pairs.

My overcall was not exactly strong, and when partner jumped right to game without as much as an invite, and in competition, I awaited dummy with some concern.
The lead (Rusinow) was a gift into my AQ, and a heart loser disappeared, I took the club finesse and arrived at 11 tricks losing a trump to the QJx and a heart. 85% board.

Five clubs doubled in competition making six

I had made a "weak/intermediate" jump overcall of three clubs in competition, and when partner was there with Four and then with Five over Four Hearts by the opponents, I was filled with trepidation. The hand however played like a pianola, with my taking a marked finesse against Qxx marked by the double, and the established side suit in dummy picked up the trumps in a coup. When the spade KQ proved to be tight, I even made a doubled overtrick, taking twelve tricks in all for a 100% score.

A remarkable Moysian fit play by partner.

The elopement toward te n tricks by jeffreyg, and the especially accurate high ruffs towards the end made for an unusual hand. 100% at Matchpoints.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

A slam reached by very few

The slam with 50% odds (better with the jump preempt raise, since the DK is likely in the slot) was reached only 5 times in a 116 table cross-IMP event. +1370 was worth +13.06 IMPs.

I bid briskly and boldly after partner bid clubs and cue-bid and supported diamonds, since my stiff spade, and minimum high cards were all excellent offensive controls.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Dentist coup considered, abandoned, defense slips

A club was led to RHO's Ace, I held off the second, won the third. Next, I attacked spades, jclar (LHO) ducked two rounds of spades. Before leading a third, I had to place LHO with 4234, in that case, I can reach dummy for the heart finesse by "extracting" LHO of all safe exits (by playing D AKQ to remove all of west's diamonds), LHO is welcome to cash a club making three clubs and a spade for the defense, but has to play a major suit for entry to take the heart finesse.

After figuring this out, I cashed two diamonds, and "chickened out" from cashing the third, lest I should be setting up an extra undertrick instead of assuring the contract. Both defenders were following up the line in diamonds! Thus LHO could have beaten the contract with a D exit when in with the third round of spades. But she didnt, I took the H finesse and had nine tricks for 5 IMPS.

Successive chances in a slam

1NT was 10-12, the opponent's 2Clubs was one suited (Capelletti), 4Diamods was transfer to hearts, and a RKCB sequence followed.

When trumps proved 2-2, my first plan was to hope for a 3-3 club split to pitch two diamonds from AKxx if clubs could be set up. When clubs failed, I just cashed the D AK, and was fortunate to have the queen drop doubleton.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

A repeater squeeze to make 6NT

When my LHO led the King of hearts against 6NT, I won the Ace and returned the Jack. LHO took this trick and retured a heart. As I won this, pitching a spade from dummy, my RHO was squeezed in three suits. Hoping that his partner held the spade Jack he came down to the doubleton queen. Now I cashed two top spades, and after a few rounds of the minors, revealing that RHO has 4 in each of them, crossed to my hand to enjoy the spade Jack, and he was squeezed yet again in clubs and diamonds, and he conceded.

Let us look at a possible defense. If LHO wins the HJ, we have seen that the repeater operates.
What if LHO ducks the HJ? Now I have on top two hearts, three clubs, three diamonds, and two spades only but, since RHO's hearts have been extracted, I play four rounds of clubs throwing in RHO. He has to concede a eleventh trick in Diamond or spade, but there seems to be no twelfth.

Can anybody find this duck of the HJ? Well, there was a Bridge World hand like that in Swiss Match Challenge where at trick two a refusal was indicated for the same reason.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

A jettison, a beercard threat, a show-up squeeze

I opened a 10-12 Notrump as North and became declarer when partner put me in SIX NOTRUMP. The lead was the TEN OF DIAMONDS. This was covered Knave, Queen, and I won in hand. I marked time by cashing four rounds of hearts with no clear clues. After the spade finesse was proven, I unblocked in spades, and played a small club toward dummy's Jx.
Either my LHO (E) would need to have a doubleton honor, or RHO would need to have both, and I was confident I could guess the ending. The Jack lost to RHO's Queen. LHO actually played out of tempo, so I still didn't know the position with confidence. However, in the four card ending, the high heart was in my hand. Since I did not want to commit to the club finesse so early, I cashed the high spade, JETTISONING my Knave of hearts. I then cashed the 5 of hearts, with the BEER CARD the SEVEN OF DIAMONDS as the threat in the show up squeeze. In the two card ending, my RHO had to keep the EIGHT OF DIAMONDS and come down to the stiff KING OF CLUBS. It was rewarding to see the King of clubs popup in the show up squeeze on trick twelve.
A 100% board.
I did not realize the full potential of AT9. A mere double finesse guarantees the contract as long as both club honors are offside, making 75% of the time, and representing a better chance. Thanks to Ian Weinstock for pointing this out.

Monday, June 22, 2009

3NT play or defend on diamond lead?

My partner opened 1NT 10-12, and choosing to blast to game and hide my heart suit I bid 3NT which could have backfired. When defence started hearts nine easy tricks were there.

There are all kinds of avoidance possibilities in the club suit if diamonds are led. For example if declarer ducks two rounds and wins the third, he advances the Club jack into the safe hand, it is covered. Jack, Queen, King, small. The next hope is that LHO has the club ten. Duck small, ten, eight, small. The H finesse is needed. 4 clubs, three hearts, and DA and DS, with the established diamonds shut out.

However, if diamonds are led and continued, what happens if declarer ducks two rounds but defense shifts to spades? Awkward isnt it? I thought this was a very interesting hand.

Anyway with the bidding going ONE CLUB, ONE HEART, and then NOTRUMP, NOTRUMP, at most tables a diamond was led, declarers won the SECOND round, rightly fearing a spade shift, and had to lose five tricks, we earned 75%.

Jeffreyg's tight defense

Partner's opening NOTRUMP was 10-12, I considered a Texas transfer to Four Spades. Instead went quiet on round one. When the ante was upped, I had no hesitation entering the fray over FOUR HEARTS. LHO removed RHO's penalty double and that was that. However, partner had to defend accurately throughout, and watch how he sets up clubs for the defense with tempo for one down and 6 odd IMPs for us. And, yes, 4S is down.

Playing on an assumption.

Even though the opening lead, the ruff-sluff, and the trump guess removal were quite strange, and helped me a lot, there remained a lot of work to be done to bring home the ambitious contract of FOUR HEARTS. In the seven card ending, I did not risk trump Q and another, because my RHO might have the J6x remaining which would set up two trump tricks. So I played a small trump to my 9. When a spade came back from my RHO I was quite sure that the position of the spade King was unfavorable, I needed diamonds 2-4 to make my contract in that case. So up went the Ace of Spades, and on went the diamonds all 4 rounds of them, as I pitched spades from dummy.
RHO followed helplessly holding the outstanding little trump. I then ruffed a spade and was home.

Little slam with big overtrick at matchpoints.

I had forgotten that it was matchpoints, and watched as dummy, wondering why partner was embarking on a line that entailed some risk. Partner brought home the overtrick taking all thirteen tricks for a 98% board.

Crossruffing home a slam.

After partner (having bid TWO DIAMONDS waiting) raised my FOUR DIAMONDS to FIVE DIAMONDS, I simply bid SIX DIAMONDS. After the Spade break was revealed with the unkind ruff of the Spade King, Partner played extremely nicely to ruff clubs in hand while drawing one trump, and ending in a kind of elopement or crossruff for twelve tricks.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Reaching a 21-point game

The ball got rolling when in spite of a singleton diamond, partner made a takeout double of ONE CLUB. My bid of TWO CLUBS was "pick your favorite Major partner". However partner chose to hedge with THREE CLUBS. Not willing to take any more chances, I took the bull by the horns and bid a somewhat unilateral FOUR SPADES.

There was not much to the play. When my LHO ducked his club Ace, I had the chance of making an Overtrick with the aid of the heart finesse, which I spurned in the five card ending.

Bidding and making game was good for 8.5 IMPs.

Partner misses a squeeze but makes the overtrick.

At speedball, when dummy, I relax sometimes, and fail to pay attention to the play, but oftentimes, I am trying to analyze the play of the hand.

In this case, I was quick to spot a diamond-club simple squeeze possibility. Just finish the trumps, keeping three diamonds in closed hand and two diamonds and the Jack of clubs in dummy.

My partner opted for the straightforward line (probably better line if the two spade bidder even had three diamonds) of advancing the Club Jack at an early stage, when it was covered, the ruffing finesse was proven and the Club Ten gave trick number 11 for a good MP score.

Aggressive bidding pays dividends. Partner shines in FIVE HEARTS X

I raised partner to FOUR HEARTS with King doubleton and the Ace of clubs, and in competition, partner judged to bid FIVE with all the playing tricks!

When the defense tried to cash two spades, (should it not be clear that declarer must have a singleton spade?), partner janal39 played well to bring in a bushelful of IMPs.

When Fourth Best is Not the Best.

Having made a VUL overcall at the THREE level, I was faced with a lead problem against 3NT.
Since RHO rated to have a doubleton, and LHO had shown a stop, I hit upon the lead of the HQ. (The HA followed by a heart amounts to much the same thing. Neither option stikes gold if dummy has Kxx and declarer has Jxx when the tempo is against me.)

Declarer, spurning the club finesse ended up short of tricks.

Friday, June 19, 2009

A freak distribution

My opening NOTRUMP was 10-12 HCP, partner raised the ante to FOUR HEARTS, but LHO with thirteen minor suit cards could not be held back. The defence was brutal, resulting in a 1100 penalty. Declarer must have missed a diamond spot (the nine) , trying desperately to run the SQ to pitch the D8 going down an additional trick.

The odd thing about this hand was, looking at the traveler, played 96 times, there were only six plus scores to those pusillanimous souls who subsided in either two hearts our way, or three of a minor their way. There were -500, -800 aplenty in five and six of a minor doubled. FOUR HEARTS was running into a brutal split of its own. Also doubled and going off at other tables.

When misguessing was better than guessing right!

Please click on next to follow the play in the bridge movie.
MATCHPOINTS. After my misguess in hearts, losing two of them, four winners were ripe and ready in dummy. Not seeing the urgency of cashing the club trick, my LHO instead was still on the track of stopping ruffs in dummy. Spade KING collected the outstanding trumps, and the overtrick was had because the misguess lulled the opponents into a false sense of security. To his credit my LHO was the first to apologize to his partner on the defence. 96.49%

I like the paradoxical situations in bridge where the one who makes the most tricks is not exactly the one who has placed the most defensive honor cards.

Breaking Garrozzo's rule

My partner shangool got into the normal contract of FOUR SPADES. However, opening leader, perhaps put off by my opening bid of ONE CLUB, paid no heed to Garrozzo's rule : "Always lead your singleton in a trump contract." With a routine down one at all other tables, this unfortunate non-singleton lead resulted in a pick up of 8.69 IMP for us.

A gutsy 3NT, making for 10 IMPs

When my RHO bid Hearts, my LHO got off to the unfortunate lead of the HEART QUEEN from the doubleton. I proceeded to guess the spade honors, and went on to make 3NT for a good IMP score.

A fraught THREE NOTRUMP, making.

I made an offshape TWO NOTRUMP bid, held off the first two hearts and brought in the club suit. Some other declarers were helped by a diamond lead.

A minor-suit slam.

I chose to jump to FIVE CLUBS, and partner with beautiful controls judged to bid slam, I held the diamond void. In the play, LHO of partner accidentally dropped his King of trumps with a misclick. But reaching SIX, albeit in the minor was a good IMP score.

Defence of 1NT X

A lucky slam

After my shaded limit raise, my partner boldly jumped to slam and it needed only trumps 2-2 with King onside, and pulling in the spades, all of which tippiellis guessed to perfection. A sizeable IMP gain on the lucky hand.

To view the play of the cards, click on the third button, it works like an embedded bridge movie.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Book review: Setting Trick: Practical Problems in Bridge Defense by Ian McCance

2008, publisher Masterpoint Press

First a word about bridge books. There are too few good books on defense. This book should be on every serious bridge addict's shelf, together with Kelsey and Pottage.

Take the particularly thorny problem of bridge defense. If you are like me, you are a poor holder of cards and even the average card holder is twice as many times on defense as he or she is declarer. So sharpening your defensive skills should earn twice the reward. Moreover, the defender is at a great disadvantage in two respects. First, he does not know the combined assets of his army unlike declarer who can plan the play like a general in a theater of war. Second, he has to guess whether to go all out to break the contract or to prevent overtricks especially at matchpoint duplicate.

It is a concession to the difficulty above, that in this book you are told from the outset that you have to break the contract by a trick. This does not make the hands any easier.

We have read "Killing defense" by Kelsey, "Big Match" by Julian Pottage, and "Masterpieces of defense" by Pottage, but this book out-Pottages Pottage.

The choices to be made are the sort of choices one encounters every day.

Most examples are original, this one however is standard. In a trump contract ending where you have been stripped, you are on lead with J 4 2 in a plain suit, Dummy to your right has Q 9 7.
Your exit? You need two more tricks and partner has the Ace , and declarer knows it. Yes, it has to be the J.
You are catering to the layout
.........A 10 6 5

K 8 3................. Q 9 7

..........J 4 2

Declarer on a small lead captures the ten with the queen and finesses the J on the way back to lose only one trick. If we lead the Jack we give declarer a guess as to where the Ten is.

Another problem:

Dlr: E
Vul: Nil









"The bidding with South opening and becoming declarer is ONE CLUB - ONE HEART - TWO NOTRUMP (18-19) -THREE NOTRUMP.

Your SPADE NINE lead is covered by the JACK, KING, and ACE. Declarer produces the DIAMOND TWO. How will you defend?

The full solution:

Dlr: E
Vul: Nil

















"So, declarer has two or three tricks in spades, one in hearts and is likely to be well-upholstered in clubs. When he plays the DIAMOND DEUCE, it looks as if his remaining tricks have to come from diamonds, and here you know what's what because the auction has told you declarer has only two hearts.
It is likely that decalrer has Axx in DIAMONDS, and you have to remove the entry in hearts before diamonds are established. Take control - play the Diamond Queen and swithc to the HEART THREE. "

In yet another problem, you are led up the proverbial garden path, by being given a count of declarer's winners in a notrump game. They add up to nine. You are alert however, and you note that one of declerer's closed hand winners is stranded. What is your game plan you are asked?
Why do I need an active game plan?
Declarer might have played inaccurately or stranded a winner earlier in the play, but I still have to discard carefully to avoid becoming a stepping stone, lest he should recover in the later play.
I have to discard a King, hoping partner has the Queen, to avoid being used as a stepping stone. Neat stuff.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Book review. "Moments of Truth at the Bridge Table" - R.Jayaram

Batsford, 2003

This is one of three books by the author, an Indian bridge writer. The hands he has chosen are from the actual praxis of Indian experts in major tournaments. The analysis is the author's own, except where attributed to other experts.

Oddly, while the hands are themselves interesting, the analyses range from the ridiculous to the sublime. On the very first hand, where a 3-2 split is proven and the queen is outstanding after one round, when righty (who has three to left's two) follows with a small one one round two, the author avers that the probablity of the queen being with lefty has changed from 2/5 to 1/3. Every serious student of the game knows that the a priori odds are not changed with RHO following with a small one to the second round.

The bridge proof-reading, as opposed to the language-proofreading, is terrible. On one hand the defender is given the six and the four spots of spades, and the text says the declarer plays on trick two the four of spades. As it happens, this does not change the outcome of the hand or the analysis in a material way, but is distracting.

A final complaint. There must be tons of Indian bridge material. For writers like Jayaram and Paranjape to rehash the same hands from tourneys that we have read about seems like there is only a little material to go around, which is blatantly untrue.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Need for an "Alarm Clock" discard.

Dlr: E
Vul: Nil

















An alarm clock discard is the discard of an illogical honor card in a suit held by declarer that asks partner who is on lead in the middle game to wake up and cash tricks in a side suit. It is essentially a command to look elsewhere for tricks. Here is an example.

My RHO became declarer in THREE NOTRUMP after the following auction.


I led the King of Spades, which declarer won, He played a club to the Ace (wish trick, deuce, trey, four). When he played a club up, he finessed the nine. I pitched a diamond, Declarer cashes three rounds of diamonds. They break. He plays a SPADE, I win, and now I have to cash out for one down. I am staring at Q763 on my left, and I have KJx. Unbeknownst to me partner has AT9x.
We can cash 4 hearts. How do I know to do this? Simple. Partner should pitch the CLUB QUEEN, and alarm clock signal. This cannot mean interest in clubs, since declarer is marked with the club K (he started with K9x). Now I should switch with confidence to HK, then HJ and a third heart to take 4 fast heart tricks.

A trap that I sprung.

Dlr: W
Vul: N/S

















The bidding went, with my LHO West ending up in 3NOTRUMP, ONE DIAMOND by W, ONE SPADE by pd (N), DOUBLE (negative) by E, pass, ONE NOTRUMP (W), TWO NOTRUMP (E), THREE NOTRUMP (W), all passing.

Partner led a high spade. West won immediately. One can see that with the heart finesse on he has no problems whatever. However, he elected to play HA and another Heart up. Perhaps he wished to keep the diamond entries fluid and hoped to build a club, anticipating our inability to run the spades. I ducked the HQ smoothly.

If I had won the trick, I have no spades to play. We can get one club, one heart and two spades, that is all. So I had, by ducking, seized on the slender straw that declarer's unusual line of play had presented to us.

Now declarer had no way to make the contract. He played a club up to his King, and partner came in and cashed two spades.This set up a spade winner with declarer. A further heart from partner through the H:J9 to my H:KT would have set the unsinkable contract, but partner fell from grace, exiting with a club when declarer had built up his game with overtrick (two spades, two hearts, one club, 5 diamonds)

Welcome to Ramesh's BRIDGE BLOG

In these pages, I comment on hands from Bridge Base Online ACBL tourneys. I play in these with a variety of partners with different degrees of skill. I might present a hand or two from my collection of bridge books, every now and then. I am more interested in play and defense than in complex bidding systems, but I do follow the cut and thrust of Vanderbilt and World Championship Vugraph and try to keep abreast of expert practice in the obstructive and constructive bidding system department. I may also feature, newspaper-style, famous hands from important matches that I saw on Vugraph.

NOTE: For JUNE, I am experimenting with adding BBO's Handviewers, which make bridge movies embedded. Just
scroll down beyond the few sampled book covers and you arrive at the blogs that play themselves with the NEXT button. THANKS, BBO!!

About Me

My photo
Bridge expert for 20 years. I started blogging about bridge only in 2009. Chess follower. Problem fan. Studied hundreds of composition themes in two-movers, fairy chess, the former from the Good Companion era to the modern style of virtual play. Big collector of chess and bridge rare books. My two game blogs bridge blog, and my chess problem themes blog chess expo

My alter ego, The Hideous Hog

My alter ego, The Hideous Hog