Sunday, October 23, 2011
In the QF of the Bermuda Bowl, USA1's Levin Weinstein reached 4Spades X on these meager values, on shape, and as a suppossed advance sac against 4H (which was going down 1). Unbeknownst to them Israel also reached 4S in the other room. It seems superficially that this contract has no chance, but click on the next button. South's subsequent trump leads did not hurt declarer, and in the ending he found himself having to give dummy's DQ and established club the game going tricks. Excellent play, I was listening to some Grandmasters just seeing the score trying to figure out how 4S would possibly make. Israel, to their credit, also landed 10 tricks, albeit undoubled.
In order to defeat the contract North needs to play a trump upon winning he first round of clubs, by playing a heart instead, he is helping declarer time his small trump elopement.
As an aside, the normal contract is 4H going down on the bad trump break, although D is favorable. In the USA2-Sweden QF, neither team bid over 4H, and 4H down one in both rooms was a sedate push.
Saturday, October 22, 2011
Joe Grue in the last round of the Round Robin for USA2 (my favorite player), was at the helm in a close 3NT, on a surprising lead from Jxx of hearts. He thought for a long time, played low, won with the Ten.
Joe kept the clubs blocked and advanced the nine of spades.This was covered by the ten and Jack and King, and when defence played heart and a heart, Joe had only 4 spade tricks, 2 heart tricks and 2 club tricks. Yes, the Diamonds were entangled and defence did not get three, but they made 2D, the HA and H7 and the SK for down one.
It seems impossible against correct defense to get the black suits disentangled.
Interestingly the heart lead is the one to give declarer the most trouble. I saw other tables making it on a D lead, a spade lead.
Playing with a new partner, we managed to come 5th out of 100 tables, in part, because unlike others holding my weak hand, I put partner in 6NT. (My 4NT was not Blackwood, it merely invied 6NT. )
However, his play was not the best.
As you can see by playing with the next button, he won the spade continuation, and before testing hearts, committed to the 3-3 break as his only chance. When that came in he made his slam.
The correct way to play the hand is to give yourself a red suit squeeze against RHO as a extra chance. Unblock the black winners. Play three rounds of hearts, testing the suit ending in dummy. If hearts break your 12th trick has come. Proceed as our declarer did, but without the uncertainty.
If hearts are 4-2 (JTxx-xx) with your RHO having the 4 hearts (as is likely on the spade lead), you have a simple show-up squeeze. On the last black winner from dummy, you are down to D:AQ H:x
and your RHO has to discard in front of you with D:Kx H:J
If he holds on to his HJ, you throw your H, and his DK pops up ahead of you, and you have not committed to the H discard.
Poorly played but for a 9.8 IMP pickup at IMP pairs. Who says bridge rewards good declarer play and penalized poor play?
Another interesting point of the hand is a chance to pick up Hxxx - Hx of hearts without caring about the DK. For this line you have to unblock blacks, play HA and HK only, and if a minor honor falls from the LHO, you throw the DQ on the black winners and play for split honors. This loses to xxx-JTx and that would be a hard-luck story to tell.
Tuesday, October 18, 2011
Justin Lall blogs that the victory margin against the Poles could have been even higher if he had pulled the right card. His analysis is superb. (Both tables went down in 4H, Lall because of the mechanincal error).
I reproduce the following from his blog justinlall.com
I got to 4H with:
LHO led a spade and RHO won the king. The bidding made it clear RHO didn’t hold AK of diamonds. RHO now shifted to a club. I now know the spade position is KTxx on my right, Qxx on my left. If LHO had QT of spades RHO would return one, if RHO had KQ he would have crossed to his partner in diamonds for a spade through.
If I cannot build a diamond trick, my only play is a squeeze. This type of “frozen” spade suit lends itself well to a squeeze. Accordingly, I won the club, cashed the AQ of hearts, cashed the club ace, played the ten of hearts to my hand, ruffed a club high, and led a heart. Now when I run trumps, LHO must hold Qx of spades, and RHO must hold Tx of spades, so they both come down to 2 diamonds (if LHO keeps a club, he must stiff his D honor and will be endplayed).
Great! Except, when I played the H4 from dummy, I inexplicably forgot to overtake with the 8. Stranded in dummy, I couldn’t play the squeeze card! This might be the most tilting hand of all time. Luckily I have all night to recover! It would be much better if I didn’t even see any play, but to get through the hard part and then forget to overtake the 4…words cannot describe it.
I have to play slower from now on, that is really just not good enough in the Bermuda Bowl."
A really cute 4-card ending to visualize.
Dont worry about it Justin. What is done is done. More such heavenly analysis ahead
Sunday, October 16, 2011
Out of 109 tables, 4 pairs arrived in a small slam, I was one of them. I bid myself to the slam after buying a raise and after just two cue bids. I was able to completely cross ruff the hand conceding just the trump ace.
If they lead a diamond, the play becomes interesting. I need to set up the clubs. Under DA unblock a high D. Win any return, CA, C ruff high, D small to D 9, C ruff high, Draw trump, get to dummy with a ruff to enjoy the clubs.
Saturday, October 15, 2011
You are doubled in SEVEN DIAMONDS. On the lead of the HT
The full hand is
_________ __North: S:Ax H:xxxx D:Q865 C:xxx
West: S:xxx H:T9xx D: 7 C: Jxxxx ________________ East:S:xx H:KQJx D:JT32 C:KTx
____________South S:KQJxxx H:A D:AK94 C:AQ
Well, there is one side entry to take the club finesse, and to pick up the diamonds. How do you play after winning the H lead perforce?
Small to the Queen will only pick up a stiff DT and DJ Your hope would be small to the Q, catching a stiff minor honor, finish trumps with a single finesse against the Hxx. and you have the SA entry for the C finesse, but today that line fails.
If you do lead a small card, and play a trump up to hand, east splits. Now you need a extra entry to dummy, You might try to ruff a spade hair-raisingly hoping LHO with the short trump has the short spades but not today as E over-ruffs.
The winning line?
D9 at trick two, smothering the 7, and unblocking at the same time to the DQ. Now advance the equals 865, and with the D4 safely in your hand, split or not, you can finish in dummy to take a C finesse. Pretty, isn't it?
When you get dealt a hand like mine, it is not for going quietly short of slam. LHO preempted 3H, and when it came around to me (if rho had raised to 4, i would make the same bid), I needed only a little help in secondary honors in either suit from partner for a laydown slam. I therefore bid SIX, which was reached by 15 tables out of 29.
Plan A, was to find trumps 2-1 when I can pull trumps, unblock the clubs and reach the K of clubs. However, I had to fall back to Plan B when trumps were 3-0. The only play is to pull trumps and overtake the third round of clubs hoping for clubs three-three. As the cards lay, I could not be defeated.
Monday, October 10, 2011
When I played these cards, I held the 6-4 in the blacks and i bid 1S-2D-3C-3NT-4S(showing concentration in black suits, 6-4 distribution and a semi-solid spade suit). Partner gave this a look but passed. He might have taken a optimistic view of his fitting club cards, the 98 of spades and the A AQ in the reds covering my three red-suit cards from the bidding.
At the table I am presenting, over 3NT which was a balanced opening, opener's 4C was likely Roman Keycard Blackwood for spades, received a four spade response showing two aces, and five diamonds was a cuebid, the redouble showing a cue in the same suit, an ace, and opener simply jumped to slam.
I made 12 tricks (ie overtricks in game), but this declarer made 13(an overtrick in slam). Every textbook tells you to play S:AKJTxx opposite xx with plenty of entries like this: Do not cash the Ace first. Take a first round finesse, so that you can pick up Qxxx which is much more likely if there is a 4-1 split. Indeed that is how our hero played it. The only one in 60 plus tables to bid the slam and the only one to make thirteen tricks.
I choose to show a table where I was not playing. This hand replayed at 60 tables, when played at FOUR HEARTS went down as often as it made. Many declarers tried a complete cross-ruff and fell a trick short, losing control sooner or later. It is essential to build one spade trick, cash that spade trick and then get four spade ruffs (because defense usually manages not to draw two rounds of trump, not disentangling the heart ace early), to go with four high trumps in hand and the Ace of diamonds. At this table, declarer got it right.
For defence to quickly pull two rounds of trump, opening leader must act double-dummy, eschewing the lead of a club from AK, hardly possible. If he plays a heart, partner can return a club, and now S plays a second round.
Saturday, October 8, 2011
Saturday, September 3, 2011
Eric Rodwell, the professorial half of the famous pair "Meckwell" that has dominated bridge for decades, has written a work for an advanced audience, which according to the blurb "is guaranteed to change the way you play bridge."
Nearly 400 pages, chockful of examples from high-level practice where the names of the innocent are not withheld, illustrate the points of technique. You will find here pointers in planning, in suit combinations, advanced suit handling, in abundance over double and compound squeezes. Rodwell uses colorful and memorable terms for the techniques, such as "gouging", "days of thunder", "The Left Jab" (second hand high from Kxx or Qxx when declarer leads to dummy's AJTx), "The 007 Play - License to Kill", my personal favorite "Chinese High Card Promotion" (not to be confused with the well-known Chinese finesse),and the 322-1/6 Super Duck (Dont even ask).
Rodwell's unique style of instruction, his extremely high level of analysis, make this unique book a standout in bridge literature, and one that is sure to be talked about for years to come.
Sunday, August 7, 2011
You open a weak two in a major. Partner asks with 2NT. No matter whether you use OGUST responses or Feature, consider adding a response of 4 of a lower suit to show a King in that suit and a semi-solid 6-card major.
Rosenkranz gives a example. KQJT84 32 K2 J87 opp A A54 AQJT83 A62. TWO SPADES-TWO NOTRUMP - FOUR DIAMONDS - SEVEN NOTRUMP.
Sunday, July 31, 2011
Holding the South hand Vul against not, what is your bid? Nick Nickell found the magic psyche, a steal of ONE SPADE, shutting his opponents out of the spade fit. In fact the spade game made with a overtrick at the other table when Meckwell was +450.
Now, after Katz innocently raise to TWO SPADES, Nickell bid FOUR HEARTS.
The bidding tray stayed under the screen agonizingly long, and came back with FOUR SPADES! (Katz had taken FOUR HEARTS as a SPLINTER in support of SPADES, which it was in their partnership). Nickell corrected to FIVE HEARTS. More agony. No escaping with rebids in the modern bidding world. This was interpreted as Exclusion Blackwood (asking for key cards outside of hearts) and the bidding tray came back with SIX CLUBS. Now came SIX HEARTS doubled, and defended softly for -500. The loss being "only" 50 total points or 2 IMP. Instead of a possible double game swing or game swing.
Zia,having ruffed the second diamond, makes the key play of finessing the first round of trump for an awesome result. The stakes are high (the spingold final against Zimmerman-Multon for Monaco.) In this set, Meckwell were sitting out, and Katz-Nickell were in the other room against the strong Helness-Helgemo. The Monaco pair made 4S +2 in the other room, so bidding the slam (the drive by HAMMAN ) and making it was a slam bonus pick up of 11 IMPs.
Saturday, July 30, 2011
Zia S:xxx H:K D:AKQxxx C:Axx. Zia ONE DIAMOND, partner Hamman S:AKx H:AQx D:xx C:KJxxx
TWO CLUBS... ZIA THREE DIAAMONDS (my man!), Hamman (4D sets trump) Zia (4H cue)
Hamman (4NT) Roman Key Card Blackwood Zia (5D = 3 keys) Hamman (5H trump Q?) Zia (5NT) yes with a side king which is higher than the trump suit Hamman (7nt) = 13 tricos in NT a better proposition since if diamonds dont come in clubs might.
The lead by Versace is a small diamond away from the JTx and when all follow to a second D round Hamman claims his grand slam
Saturday, July 9, 2011
When I held the hand you see under abhirar in the diagram, I had a weak two on my left and two passes to me. If I were playing leaping Michaels a convention where a jump to 4 in the minor shows exactly a good hand with 55 in the Other Major and 5 in the said minor, I would have trotted that out. But I wasnt. So I chose the unilateral gamble of FOUR HEARTS. The lead was a diamond, and I was able to play trumps up to my KQxxx twice, and manage to restrict my losers to three in spite of the AJTx xx break. I won 7.71 IMP for my courage. I had some company in the 60 table event.
My username on BBO is abhirar and I was returning after a long absence. On the first hand of a tournament, playing with a new partner, having just decided on 2/1 with gadgets (whatever that might imply), I held the 54 in majors invitational hand when partner opened a 1NT (15-17). Deciding to trot out Smolen, two clubs stayman with a prepared invitational rebid in case of two diamond response of my 4 card major, I bid TWO CLUBS. When LHO X'd this, partner lost no time redoubling and I sat it to play 2CLUBS XX at IMP. The rewards were rich as I learnt that 2Cxx +3 was 1160.
Five Clubs was a bit of a audacious bid, but the proof of the pudding etc.. All along I was playing for the actual layout, when I played a heart up, LHO needed to just get in and out and sit back and wait for his/her diamond. When LHO played low, I played HQ winning, and played H to the Ace, last chance for LHO to unblock the HK under the Ace. When I cleared the third round of the suit, LHO was a sitting duck having to give me a ruff sluff or open up the diamonds. I was home.
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- Ramesh Abhiraman
- 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