Saturday, August 25, 2012

Elimination in slam, suit combination QJxx-A8xx

Cover the North and South hands and declare West in SIX clubs on the lead of six of clubs. Given that you win the first with the CK, and that on CQ, South discards a low heart, plan play. This problem is from the 1962 book by Ewart Kempson and Paul Lukacs, "the second book of bridge problems, SINGLE DUMMY PLAYS", a compact collection of 64 test your declarer play hands.

Amazingly, you can cater to any distribution of spades. The solution is to postpone the drawing of the third round (since you want to end up in dummy), play off HAK, DA,DK,Druff, now cross to CA drawing the last trump. Now comes the key move. The two of spades is led. This assures the contract against any distribution and defence. Here, North takes West's queen of spades and leads the ten, West wins and East makes the Ace and the eight on marked finesse.(North can shift to a plain suit but that gives a ruff-discard, disposing of the remaining spade loser). If, instead, North allows west's Queen to win, declarer who still does not know the break, can duck when the 9 of spades appears. If south follows, the spades must be good, If south shows out, North is endplayed. If North shows out on round two of spades, leading up to the closed hand, after going up Ace of spades is simple enough.

Thus, with the elimination complete, you can handle QJxx, A8xx against all breaks. Amazing, is it not? One card combination to add to your mental arsenal.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Meckstroth declares a hand

This hand is from the QF of the Mind Games in Lille where USA lost narrowly to Sweden despite this board. North (Rodwell) opened a precision 2D, South (meckstroth) bid 3S (invitational, actually preemptive invitational at this vul), shutting EW completely out of the auction. Since EW are cold for a VUL game, this rates to win IMPs, but the icing on the cake is when Meckstroth makes his contract.

Visualize the play after the play of the first few tricks. Trump lead to E's Ace, HK, H continued and ruffed. Club to the Ace, and diamond to the Ace. How do you proceed for nine tricks? there is no complete cross ruff, because if you play, d ruff, H ruff, d ruff, how do you come off dummy to ruff your last diamond? West can ruff the first club and play his remaining trump taking out your last dummy entry while dummy's clubs contain a loser.

Meckstroth accurately played to set up clubs and combine the chance of a cross ruff. It went club to East, Diamond tap, H ruff to hand, and a club from hand, and defence is now helpless with the fifth club coming into its own if they ruff in and play their last trump. Well played.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Platnick-Diamond defend 3NT against Rodwell

Meckwell reached the same 3NT as in the other room, after a Big club auction with artificial responses. Platnick won the first heart, which declarer has to duck, and found a spade shift, after which declarer can prevail double dummy, but is the only one to give him some trouble.

Please use next button to advance to the play where rodwell advances the 8 of clubs. This was, at double-dummy, a mistake. The correct play was the Ten of clubs, preserving the 8 for a possible later finesse against the J to bring in the suit if N rose Ace. A very difficult defence that beats the contract now is to rise CA because the clubs are blocked (That is, on the next round of clubs, declarer will be allowed to run the Ten, but the Queen in dummy is marooned.) When the C8 to the C9 finessing against the AJ worked, declarer needed to play a second heart, stripping North, and then play a club up, when North can be strip-endplayed to play Diamonds into the tenace. He instead chose to take a diamond finesse, playing South for some outside values. when this lost, Diamond defended most accurately, locking declarer in his hand where there is a loser by finding the only sequence of plays, Club Ace, then a red card (here, a heart). Declarer cashes his diamonds but has to concede a H at the finish for down one, and 12 IMPS to DIAMOND for a tied match.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Zia's 4-3 Diamond Slam

This hand from a Nickell comeback in the finals against Diamond, featured a Zia brilliance. How do you play 6D (the 4-3 fit, these guys usually show 4 diamonds on a 1D opener except with 4432) on the lead of the SJ to the SQ and SA? The lead with a potential builder of a trick in spades may appear inconsequential. There are four variations to the complex play.

Any 4-2 diamonds with 3-3 clubs allows drawing of trump. Will fail here after pulling 3 rounds of trump, if you touch a round of clubs.

If you play for diamonds 3-3, Play CQ and CA and hope these stand up, ruff a third round of clubs high. Will work here

The actual line chosen by Zia was sexy. None of the online commentators found Zia's table line combining chances. He drew trumps finishing in dummy, finding them 33, and played a heart from dummy, planning to put in the Jack. (If the Jack lost, he would have to fall back on clubs 3-3 or club J coming down in 2 rounds.)

When RHO did not split, he put in the Jack, and built a trick in spades by forcing Hampson to split his T9, winning SK, and playing back a spade. He had at this point a Spade, DA, 3C, 12tricks in all

The other variation if Greco split was amazing, You win with the Ace, and play the HJ pitching a spade, Back comes a heart which you win, a spade to the King, DA, and Greco is squeezed on this trick, between clubs and his last heart. What a hand.

Geoff Hampson plays a hand

In the on-going Finals of the USBF, Hampson playing for Diamond held the North cards. In the other room, after the auction by Diamond-Platnick E-W ONE HEART-FOUR HEARTS,Jeff Meckstroth did not reopen in spite of the void in hearts based on his judgement. The opponents were, on the one hand, playing limited Precision style opening bids, and for another, the FOUR HEARTS raise could be tactical (especially if you were against Grue or Cheek or Lall or Bathurst). However, the inferences might have been different, or the hand evaluation a little different here, where Greco doubled for takeout and partner bid FOUR SPADES

Since 4H presented no problem in the play, we would have a double game swing against team Nickell, that rarest of events, if Hampson brought home his contract.

And bring home his contract he did. The play is virtuoso-like. Please play through the first few tricks until the CJ is led from the table. Please make sure you understand the variations at this point with the DQ as re-entry to dummy, the bare King of trump in dummy, and established clubs. In hand are Tx of trump and Axxx of diamonds. In every variation defence with its QJ9 of trump is powerless to stop the elopement/trump-substitute type play. Pushing clubs through is the brutal counter measure to the bad trump break. Gets my vote for the best-played hand.

Monday, April 30, 2012

Throw-in or show-up squeeze?

Please use next button to play through first few tricks. In view of the diamond gift and tempo, I went after clubs. Lefty chose to continue clubs, but did well to choose the 8 spot, the 10 would have been, for him, a disaster. I won the D return. Then I took a losing spade finesse, and a diamond came back. I rose in order to play a spade up again. The speed with which LHO followed, I felt that this finesse was bound to lose. I know also that RHO has longer hearts from the play. Therefore, a better line than the one I followed might have been: Go up with Spade Ace, cash Club A, exit spade, which RHO has to win. Now he is endplayed and has only hearts to return into the tenace "AQ" in dummy!

At the table, I missed this unnatural line, choosing to finesse again in spades. RHO was out of diamonds and put me back in dummy. I had to execute a precise sequence of moves. I need the H finesse for the second OT, but I can take it in a sexy way, via the show-up squeeze. On the next trick (SA) I keep my D threat card, and pitch one heart, next I play off the CA and a C to my hand squeezing LHO between Kx of hearts and the DQ. He chose to throw the DQ. I cashed my D9 and HA for my last two tricks. The "show up" case occurs when LHO keeps as last two cards DQ master and Stiff HK. When I play the H up, I can see the HK. A 90% board

The ultimate puzzle is why did partner playing a 15-17 open 1C rather than 1NT? Did he fear his D guard? That is not the modern way. Hands where N declared did not get the D lead gift and, on average, took fewer tricks.

Friday, April 27, 2012

The Abbot and the Merrimac Coup that could have been

A field of 218 pairs were competing in the St.Titus charity speed-ball. The Abbot was in a bad mood, having admonished Brother Aelred for his opening choice in the previous set. He looked up from his upholstered South chair to see Brothers Cameron and Lucius arrive to take the specially provisioned cane chairs for East-West pairs at that table.

Brother Cameron, the upstart novice who annoyed The Abbot immensely, considered his bid over One Diamond. He had too much playing strength for the weak TWO HEART response he had convinced Brother Lucius to play. He started with ONE HEART, Brother Aelred entering this live auction on the North cards with ONE SPADE, Brother Lucius found the most deceptive bid he could, calling ONE NOTRUMP with no clear spade stop. The Abbot had a clear raise on values, but he lay possum. He did not want Brother Aelred to be declaring, heaven forfend. Brother Cameron came to life. His partner had bid NOTRUMP. Any spade tenace or finesse was likely on, and they had magnificent offense in hearts. He trotted out a nonchalant FOUR HEARTS that all passed.

The defense did not distinguish itself. Bro Aelred led SA to have a glimpse of dummy. He persisted in spades, declarer ruffed, and in time took club finesse twice to dispose of a losing diamond, only to lose a spade, a trump Ace and a diamond.

The Abbot: "Shift to a diamond at trick two partner, looking at that dummy, it should be obvious and your only hope."
Brother Cameron shot back: "That is too late Abbot, I am cold for 4 then, I can rise DA, ruff a spade to hand, finesse clubs, ruff another spade to hand, finesse again and dispose of my diamond." Brother Aelred was nodding in agreement as The Abbot's cheek reddened.

To add further insult to injury, Brother Aelred piped up. " My first choice was the doubleton lead. Declarer would have gone down with no chance. I was still thinking about your rebuke about my doubleton lead on board 9, Abbot."

The Abbot was not finished. There was a third string to his harangue of Brother Aelred. "Or you could lead the HA to look at dummy, we can hardly have two trump winners on that auction. Then the diamond shift is obvious and, for one, dummy has no more trump for transportation, and for another, he has no spade ruff to hand before we take the diamond setting tricks"

Brother Lucius said "That leads to a most interesting middle game. HA at trick one, D shift, declarer ducks this trick and the Abbot has to win DQ. He appears to be endplayed but he can get out with DK, a sort-of Merrimac coup. Dummy has to win this trick. If declarer now attacks spades, The Abbot rises King and gives Brother Aelred a ruff.

The Abbot pointed to the next board. "We will be here all night. This is speedball. I was just about to point out the Merrimac possibility myself, but there is only so much you can talk about with novices aboard at speedball. Brother Aelred, could you fetch the satin cushion on the skip table chair? I have to speak to the directors about better furnishing."

Well played, but not well enough

There is a saying in chess. When you find a good move, do not stop, look for a better one. The same is true at matchpoints. In the following hand, I, abhirar, got a 77% score making two overtricks in 3NT. The first few tricks have possible different plans, but let me pass over them without too much comment. Trick one, H6, 9, J, A Trick 2: Spade 5, HEART DEUCE, SA, S2. Trick 3,4 test clubs, on T4 RHO pitches D9 and I keep the remaining clubs for transportation. Trick 5: I play the SQ to drive out the SK Trick 6 (At this point all returns give me at least 11 tricks which the reader can work out) RHO returns ST to drive out my SJ I win and Trick 7, from my S equals 8,7, lead the 7 to drive out HIS S9, but defence makes its first matchpoint mistake ducking this trick. Now I can take ALL the remaining tricks making 12 instead of 11 (a MP score of 89% instead of 78%), can you see how? This is the ending Dummy S:void H:KT D:AQx C:x LHO S:void H:Q87 D:x C:xx RHO S:96 H:none D:KJ82 C:none Me: S:8 H:x D:Tx C:QJ Well the only line to win all the tricks is to finesse the HT, cash the HK pitching my diamond, Cross to the Club master, cash the last club master pitching a diamond, and RHO is simple squeezed. If the S8 is not high in the two card ending, the DAQ should score two tricks.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Bashing a slam. 9=3=1=0 distribution

I think you will all agree that when Briggida, the muse of bridge, deals you the above 9-3-1-0 hand, it is not meant for you to stop short of slam. Anyway I opened SIX DIAMONDS, which RHO doubled. When I saw dummy, and the lucky non-spade lead, having disposed of my spade loser, my only fear was a 0-4 trump break. It transpired that my righty hand doubled with K third of trump and an outside ace. I was relieved to land the doubled slam.

Partner shines in 3NTx

In bridge, optimism and foolhardiness are tied very closely. However bravery sometimes comes to the rescue. Here is partner in action after I have made a questionable overcall into the teeth of bidding opponents and a silent partner. Partner bid 3NT. RHO doubled. Indeed at double dummy they can take five black tricks off the top, but see what happpened. Declarer took her only chance after three rounds of spades. She overtook the second heart. The suit kindly broke. She still needed a diamond finesse and luck with the DT. When her lefty held on to Kx of clubs and a winning spade, and bared the DT, it only remained to tally up the doubled overtrick for an amazing +13 IMPs. Bravely done, partner.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

I am outwitted by a nice trick one play

I propelled myself into a unnecessary slam yet again, this time my RHO thought for a while before passing. I was inclined to play him for the trump Q when I saw dummy. I thought the lead was a likely doubleton. If Righty wins Ace, and I guess trump, I get a huge score. Righty ducked the C lead to force out my King, and although I used spade ruffs to pick up trumps, guessing the lie correctly, I was doomed by the failure of the DJ to materialize in three rounds. I risked 12 IMPs to win a slam against a field. +1 would have been +5 IMP. I was -7 IMP. You live by the sword, etc.

I make an aggresive small slam bid and back it up.

The bidding was more than a little agricultural. First, my two spades bid was not forcing, so, better was a cuebid on round one. Still the trump suit clarification would not happen for another round.
Luckily they did not lead a heart. I was able to set up three diamond tricks by giving up a trick to the DK, thus getting rid of my closed hand H losers, and when trumps proved to be 2-2, sort of, reverse the dummy. 3H ruffs,4 trump in dummy, HA,CA and three diamonds for 12 tricks. LHO tried the effect of not taking his DK, but wild horses could not make me ruff a D in hand, I absolutely needed to play loser on loser, sluffing my two hearts on a losing and winning diamond. Making this wild slam was an unsurprising 100% at MPs. Risking sure game for a pie-in-the-sky slam? Maybe, but it was 12 board MPs, I could always come back, not like a IMP game.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Have half-stop, will bid 3NT

The above piece of chutzpah at Matchpoints won me 87%. I reasoned thus, holding 6 card diamond support and the HA and the S QJ, maybe they could run spades on me but it was matchpoints, not money. The better bid was perhaps a scientific three spades, lest partner should have Axx in spades. As it was, the spade lead set up my ninth trick. (No lead threatens me. If H is led i hold up till round 3.) When it was ducked, I went safely to set up a club. Now a heart return is needed to hold me to nine. But that is a bit double dummy. Even nine tricks in game would have been 72%. The field was all over the place 3D +1, 4D = etc.

Making use of Zia's Bols tip. When they do not cover...

The featured declarer made good use of Zia's Bols tip "when they don't cover it, they don't have it", dropping the diamond king offside and making +430 (whereas many declarers, including the one at my table where I was defending, went down two on the same lead).

Bidding to a top-scoring slam

I (abhirar) had a maximum pass, and when partner bid 2NT I drove to the NT slam. Partner would have had to take the double finesse after the HJ fell on round one, but pd was not put to the test when roeroeroe split somewhat pointlessly. (yes, partner can lose a H trick and still make the slam because of the lucky club position, 3C, 4H, 3D and 2S)
Made 6, good enough.

Quiz hands, bid problems

  1. LHO opens 1NT pass pass to you S:QJx H:QJ D:AKxxx C:AT9 you play Cappeletti in direct seat, presumably similar in balancing seat. Your bid at IMP pairs?

  2. In previous problem you double, it goes pass pass RHO bids TWO CLUBS natural, your bid?

  3. You hold at both VUL S:xx H:Jxx D:Axxxxx C:xx Partner opens 2C, you bid TWO DIAMONDS (say negative, but if you play waiting, see if that changes anything) LHO TWO SPADES, partner doubles, pass to you. Your bid?

  4. Partner opens weak TWO HEARTS at unfav vulnerablity. RHO passes. You hold S:AQJT9x H:J D:xxx C:xxx You play RONF, and normally you are not a shrinking violet however you pass. LHO bids THREE CLUBS and RHO bids THREE NOTRUMP, all very fishy. You feel an urge to get active. You double, and lead what? (Hint: your side CAN beat this contract)

  5. Unfav VUL. You open ONE CLUB on S:A9x H:Axx D:void C:AJ9xxxx LHO bids ONE HEART. partner, an active bidder, passes, and so does RHO. It is IMP pairs. Do you reopen and how much of what?

  6. You will be astonished to learn that if you reopen, they bid diamonds and raise and reraise diamonds to the five level and your CA does not cash and they make it.

  7. VUL versus not, you hold in fourth, S:J H:KTxxxx D:KJxxx C:x, LHO opens ONE CLUB, partner bids ONE SPADE. Do you a) pass awaiting developments or b) bid something?

  8. The above was a two part question. If, like me, you passed, LHO opens with a double, RHO converts for penalty. now, what would a Notrump bid mean, a jump in notrump mean, finally what would TWO HEARTS (double) pass pass Redouble mean ? In fact we were on for THREE DIAMONDS when we went for 200 in TWO HEARTS doubled. ( I play in a tough neighborhood)

Game in a minor

when my RHO in third seat found a opening bid of ONE SPADE, I debated for a while before settling on the flexible overcall of TWO CLUBS. LHO should perhaps have bumped the bidding up to THREE SPADES, but he chose TWO SPADES. When partner raised me to THREE CLUBS, with my hand screaming suit offense, and needing just a Ace opposite, I tried FIVE CLUBS.
Tricks were fairly routine on a spade lead, as long as I kept the trump entry in dummy. 80% board.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

A devastating lead at 3NT

What do you lead on the west cards after they end up in 3NT after the auction shown? I reasoned that with a strong 2NT on my right, and my Queens being potential entries, it cost nothing to begin with the Ace. I was surprised to hit paydirt with the Kingleton of clubs in dummy! Taking the first six tricks for down two was worth 80%.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

6NT with chances of a strip squeeze if diamonds dont come in

After a somewhat agricultural bidding sequence, I put partner in 6NT.
The lead was a small spade which declarer ran around to his QJx winning trick one. Now, it may appear that the slam depends on the favorable diamond split (which occurred). However, if opening leader held 4 or more diamonds, he cannot stand the pressure when 4 hearts and two clubs are taken, In the six card ending he needs to hold the supported King of spades (2 cards) and 4 diamonds. Test the diamonds, and if they fail to break, give him the lead at trick eleven in diamonds. He has to lead away from the spade king. Your last two cards are Qx in hand and Ax in dummy in spades.
A routine strip squeeze.
This was all moot as a) diamonds behaved and b) an early discard in diamonds also indicated this was going to happen.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Dentist's coup and stepping-stone missed by declarer

There are variations in play for the first five tricks, and I pass without comment on declarer's strategy for the first few tricks. But look at the end-position after 5 cards are played. Defence has come to 2 tricks, seems to have clubs well controlled and are threatening to set up diamonds. However, if declarer reads my (abhirar's) distribution, (instead of the spade to the nine and ten going down) he can play either a spade to the ace or a low club from hand!!
His strategyis to endplay me to give dummy's nine of spades a trick after stripping me of two hearts and my remaining diamond.
Say he plays a low club from hand. Say I win CQ and exit diamond. Declarer plays a spade to the Ace dropping my partner's ten, cashes two hearts, club to the ace, dentist coup in three suits! now playing his last spade, I have to give dummy the ninth trick in spades.

Bid this grand slam with your partner

How did you bid to the lay-down grand slam? I am not sure how the featured pair intended their FIVE SPADE, SIX CLUB bids after they held all keycards. As I see it, if RHO takes control, he needs to know about the extra trump length and queen, the DAK and the HKQ conrtols. If LHO takes charge, he needs to know about the doubleton diamond opposite ie. third round diamond control.
I dont like the continuation in my suggested auction after FIVE HEARTS. Any ideas for east's bid?

My most stupid discard/signal

First, some background. I play with different partners and there is not always time to agree on signals, Lavinthal or not against NT, so I just play the inefficient high-encourages even at NT.
I realized that the opponents are shooting at 3NT, and was hoping that my double indicated heart strength. Partner gets off to a spade, we can still beat it plenty, though I am surprised at the heart weakness in dummy. My dumbest move is an ambiguous spade discard, and when in with the Diamond King, partner plays my spade 7 for a come-on, and cashes the SK. Even now the HA works, but partner is mesmerized by my idiotic signals and continues spades, declarer gratefully coming to 2 spades, 4 diamonds, 4 clubs. The results range from 1NT to 2 of suits to 3NT -4 to 3NTX +1 (The 3NT -4 was where on spade rounds declarer pitches hearts from dummy, the opening lead was the HA, and defence runs a bunch of hearts. Don't ask)

An accurate sac at equal vulnerability (matchpoints)

With the thinnest of High card values, I made a T/O double when the opps bid my short suits. Partner introduced his spade fit at the three level. They bid to game, and I had to bid one more to take the sacrifice. It proved the correct decision. It would have been automatic at unfavorable vul, but this was love all. We got some 80% for -300

Error and counter-error

I bid myself to 4H, and they led two rounds of clubs tapping me. when trumps proved to be 4-1 I had the following problem. I needed to draw trump and now I need to play the diamonds for five tricks. This needs the layout of Tx with right hand opponent (The king is marked on the bidding)This was a speedball game, and I was afraid of KTx on my left when I have no legitimate chance. I left one trump in dummy and AJ in hand to "handle a club force". And gave up a diamond by playing small to the Jack, putting LHO on lead. He cashed his stiff Spade Ace. Now note that his winning defence is to give me a ruff and discard. If I take the ruff in dummy I cannot get to hand by King of spades, LHO ruffs. However, he played a diamond and I was home. (At this point, pulling trump with spade pitch, Cashing SK, and then dummy's diamonds are high)
I got +10 IMP. The results were all over the place. Some 3H -1, Some4H -3, Some 4C +130 Even some 5C making.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Safety play missed by partner . In Slam.

The correct safety play to cater to one loser with QTxx on either side is to cash the K first. This time not following textbook cost at matchpoints.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

me versus the ROBOTS part II

This was an interesting hand. In the field, all but three people opened 2NT, and after 3D transfer arrived in a hopeless 4H.
Here, LHO overcalled 1S, and bot partner found an interesting negative double showing values and hearts. I blasted 3NT.
In 3NT, ROBOT W had a chance to beat me, because my own hand on the run of the hearts came down to Kx of spades. Robot W has to keep three spades to the AQJ, he can throw diamond, even the dQ. His partner needs to have DA to push spades through. When he came down to ?x of diamonds and AQ of spades, I endplayed Robot W in spades for my ninth trick, avoiding any nasty D misguesses.

me versus the ROBOTS part I-

Regular BBO'ers may know that the delightful possibility of entering matchpoint pairs tournament with only robots at each table, is a feature on the website. In some sense this is pure bridge and fair competition since each human opposes consistent bidding and play. Unlike a real MP game, the vicissitudes of random gifts from a roving EW pair or two are not present.

I was annoyed when my bot partner jumped my 3NT to 6NT. The three card ending was interesting.On trick 11, Robot W put his partner under needless pressure with the stupid discard of the ST. Why would he keep two hearts when only the Q was out of sight? Robot E made the final mistake.

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

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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