Monday, April 30, 2007

Controlling the losses

Facing a couple of Austrians in a team game, I came across the following collection, red vs white:


LHO opened 2H (weak) as dealer and RHO responded 2NT, forcing. What would you do?

I think most would bid 4S, but I'm very hesitant these days to be aggressive in 4th position after both opp's has gotten a bid in there. The odds for getting good dummies or pressuring opp's into overbidding has seriously decreased. I repeat: seriously decreased. It has finally hit me how much, after spending a considerate amount of time looking through these auctions (actions).

This time though, I probably should have bid 4S anyway. I settled for 3S. I was vulnerable against not and not having doubled 2NT, partner should expect more playing tricks than honor strength. The next hand bid 4H and partner was on the spot with:


I think double is the correct call, but maybe I'm just influenced by what was right this time. I try to look at each call objectively when analysing an auction, post-mortem, but it's not always easy to do that. At some subconscious level, there is always the risk of a biased view. I'm not sure what I would have done over a double. 4S looks a bit tempting, doesn't it?

Anyway, partner hoped for a different kind of hand with me; at this vuln, the 2NT call may have been a semi-psyche with a prime fit and I could easily have had a stiff H. He tried 5C, immediately X-ed, I retreated to 5S and the inevitable X followed.

K of heart lead. This did not look good.



As always, it's not over til' it's over. RHO fell for the old 'play to fast' trap. Sensing blood, he quickly overtook with the ace and shifted to a low spade. Where would we be if our opponents, even the competent ones, played well all the time?

I ducked in hand (with no expectency of a 2nd spade trick, i.e a spade holding without the J, East would have just cashed the ace) winning in dummy as West discarded. The extra entry meant that I could setup club tricks with the ace of diamonds as re-entry to discard hearts and got out for -200. This proved to be a push when the other table played 4S X.

Stop to think both when things look good and when things look bad. Every trick makes a difference. (Sometimes even obvious things need to repeated out loud! ;-)

Friday, April 27, 2007

Listen to the auction

Leading against slams may be nerve-wrecking, especially if you get it wrong. Anonymous auctions can be a nightmare and may be a pure guess without any attractive holdings. Often the opponents have had some sort of long(er) dialogue which means that there are pointers in the right direction available. Sometimes it's downright obvious, sometimes almost obvious; take a little time and the 'solution' stands out.

Take this hand:


Auction (with you silent!):

2C - 2D;
2S - 3C;
3S - 3NT;
4C - 4H;
4N - 5D;
6S all pass

2C strong, 2D waiting, 3C second negative (I guess), 5D 0 keycards.

What do you lead?

Let's see. Declarer has a seriously good hand and launched into Key-Card Blackwood after learning that dummy had a heart control but lacked a diamond one. And we have 2 aces. Don't you think declarer is void in diamonds and has pretty good black suit holdings? I think the heart lead stands out; it's only a matter of which one to pick. This time it didn't matter as long as you picked the right suit.


When this hand came up in the Bermuda Triangle Teams Cup final last weekend, no other than Adam Zmudzinsky didn't lead a heart, going for the 'auto-pilot' high diamond instead. Declarer guessed hearts for +10 imps.

Wait a second. Was this a mistake or a deliberate choice by Zmudzinski? Maybe he didn't miss the fact that declarer was void, maybe he just tried to lead safely; going for a layout where the heart lead would cost a trick, even knowing the king would be in dummy.

I think it was a mistake (xx in clubs increases chances of club length in dummy; declarer not likely to have genuine 2-suiter) and that a low heart is indicted. Whether the mistake was based on faulty reasoning, according to me, or not listening to the auction, i.e. missing the 'pointers', we'll never know.

On some layouts where a low heart lead is 'wrong', the trick may come back. Say declarer has Qxx vs KTx in dummy and no discards coming in other suits. After winning the queen he's likely to lead low to the T next time. If declarer has Jx vs Kxx(x), a low heart gives him a losing choice.

Everybody makes mistakes; mistakes that could have been avoided. Even the very best.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Great service!

One of my new favorite guys are Masakatsu Sugino from Japan. He's the author of PS-bridge, an utility to create PDF-outputs from PBN-notation (and indirectly from all kinds).

The best part is that he [automatically] creates and publishes PDF's of all vugraph matches from BBO!

No need to sit at the computer with .lin-files. Just print them out and study the action at your leisure - when commuting or whatever.

Even better is that he's a real service-minded guy with a desire to widen the audience. I contacted him about doing conversions for other stuff. The weekly Cayne-matches with high-profile players were my first thought. Getting the .lin files is the issue though. BBO is contacted and hopefully will provide those (anybody else out there who has collected them?).

My other suggestion was the Oz-one team BBO practise games, where files were published on their site (see links). Voila! Less than 24 hours after my intial contact, they're up!

Keep up the good work! The bridge community is grateful for your efforts.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Partscore advice

Every now and then I witness people getting this one wrong after partner opens 1NT. It concerns how to handle 5332-hands with a major suit and scattered strength. Here's a piece of advice you can take to the bank. Don't try to use your judgement, just transfer or bid your major (depending on your NT-methods).

You can't get 100% right, but it's so overwhelming, you can stop reading. In one recent international match (names withheld;), our contestants were dealt:


... and faced a 14-16 1NT-opening across the table. This seemed like an occasion to forego this advice and both passed. After the defence collected 5 diamonds and 2 spades with 9 tricks cold in a heart contract, another deal went to the evidence room. This time partner held:


It's impossible to know what is right on any given hand, therefore consistency is needed. Always opt for the major.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Trust your partner - or use your brain

I failed to solve the following defence vs a partscore. The auction:

(1C) - 1H - (X) - pass;
(1S) - pass - (pass) - X;
(pass) - 2C - (2S) all pass

(1C) = 17+
1H = natural, not trash
(X) = any 0-4

I balanced with double, but sold out to 2S. Partner led the 8 of D, playing Scheider-Rusinow (1 or 3 higher).


I won the ace and returned the 3 for partner to ruff. Partner shot back the 2 of C to my ace and declarer's T. How to continue?

Well, as I knew declarer had only 5 trumps (possibly 4) and another high diamond, I continued diamonds for partner to ruff without really analysing the deal. Auto-pilot. So wrong!

There wasn't really any need to analyse the deal; just follow the directions. Freddan's low club meant he didn't want another ruff. So, shift to hearts.


Now declarer can't reach dummy to finesse in trumps without me getting the over-ruff for the setting trick. If I decided that partner may have led the wrong club and analysed the deal, this would also be the indicated shift. The fact that no other pair beat the contract either is a poor consolation (and certainly no excuse). Competing to 3C would have been even better.

Follow partner's advice. Or use your brain. Hopefully one of them steers you in the right direction...

Monday, April 23, 2007

Going passive or active?

When leading, a lot of players always opt for longest/strongest, others always look for the most safe alternative. Some well-known names, Tony Forrester and Peter Fredin comes to mind (among others), would rather drink toilet water than lead away from a K vs a suit contract.

I'm in the mixed zone. The auction influences the choice to a large extent, as it should of course, and I also look for 'middle of the road' vs NT, i.e not most attacking or the safest.

I'm more passive vs suit than NT as long suit tricks come into play in the latter case. By this I mean that even if the lead costs a trick, it may come back later, if you can cash established tricks (with no little trumps out there preventing that ;-)

Freddan had to find a lead vs 3NT from:


The auction went 1S (4+) - 2C (gameforce with bal or clubs) - 2NT - 3NT. What would you lead?

Here the choice comes down to a heart or a diamond. Frederic started with the 7 of D (not risking a beer on that one ;) playing Schneider-Rusinow, a choice I like without any useful heart spots. That was a real killer on this layout:


South somehow managed to open with 1S instead of 1H. After the diamond lead, we beat it which only happened at a couple tables in the rather large field (50+ tables).

Too many players are addicted to aggressive leads. A lesser number are addicted to passive leads. Stay away from addiction and when in doubt: go passive.

Friday, April 20, 2007

Attention to detail

Last weekend was a qualification weekend for the Swedish GNT. 10 locations, 6 teams each, round-robin with the winner coming through for the play-off in May (also round-robin format). We won our heat and I'll share some interesting deals. The deals were duplicated across the field and imps-across-the-field (IAF) tabulated (we ended up a bit over +0.7; solid but not more).

First a 3NT (dealer S/E-W vul).



At many tables, after a strong 1C (or 2-way) and a negative 1D-reply, East preempted with 3H and South tried 3NT.

After the H9 lead to the ace and a low club shift to the J, club back to the ace and another one, many declarer won the K and finessed in diamonds. When RHO turned up the Qx and cashed a couple of clubs, the declarers blamed their bad luck thinking they went with the odds. With the known long H's and 4+ clubs, they surely did, didn't they?

Well, let's say you like to be thorough and cashed a couple of high hearts and the ace of spades. Now you find spades 5-0 and hearts 2-6. How about those odds? Do you play East for 0-6-2-5 or 0-6-1-6?


Declining the finesse is now the indicated play. At our table declarer 'guessed' right for +430. Yes, guessed, because he didn't cash his plain suit winners. Our teammates got doubled in 3NT and ran to 4D, also doubled. This made for +610 and +5 imps.

Sometimes bad luck is just justice in disguise.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

The grave yard - part 3

Finding examples for the fact that acting with shortness in opened major after (1M) - p - (1NT) is seriously dangerous is rather easy. This is something that even the world champions seems to have failed to grasp. The only good results come when you can catch the opponents, which of course happens from time to time. It's more frequent that you get spanked.

Here's a deal from the Cayne team game at BBO the other weekend.


Reisig and Nunes had this hand as dealer, white vs red, and passed but neither could resist a take-out X after (1H) - p - (1NT) came around to them. This certainly looks attractive with the best possible shape, 4 card spades and favorable vulnerability. So, how bad did it end?

Full deal:


Helness-Helgemo nailed Fantoni-Nunes in 2S after XX by Geir for 3 down and +500 with no game on for their side. That was good (bad) for -14 imps!

At the other table Seamon-Cayne extracted +1400 vs 3D! East, Garozzo, first tried 2D then 2S and got preference to 3D. Losing that many tricks looks like a 'misclick' or two; I guess the 'great one' didn't give it his best effort.

My view should be pretty clear by now.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

The grave yard - part 2

As much as Duboin showed good judgement in the earlier post (by passing after RHO X), he couldn't restrain himself when he was in the same position on this deal from Yeh Bros in China this spring vs USA2.


Imps/red vs white and the bidding started the familiar (1S) - pass - (1NT) - ?

Duboin overcalled 2C, which was followed by a take-out X and all pass.


Soft defence by Grue-Cheek resulted in only two down, -500, but still a 12 imp loss when teammate Madala went two off in 3NT the other way. The auction started 1S - 2C at that table so getting into that auction wasn't an alternative.

When bad results happen, you may want to take stock and reflect if it was bad luck, a random result or an anti-percentage action that caused it. If you can't decide for yourself, ask around.

Always look out for the potential misfit auction and remember that sometimes, it's wiser to fold.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

The grave yard

Here's a field excursion to the Europeans Teams Championship last year in Warshaw. It's from match 22, board 7 (W/all, deal rotated) and our contestants were dealt:


The auction went (1S) - pass - (1NT) to you. What's your call?

This is an auction that frequently causes trip to the cementary. The primary danger sign is shortness in LHO's major suit. Here's the full deal:


This is what I've got:
In Netherlands - Belarus, both Muller and Zhuravel doubled but Medusheusk and Ramondt saved them by bidding 2C, leading to 2S.
In France - Germany, Mouiel doubled but Marsaal didn't. Elinescu bid 2C over X.
In Spain - Polen, Tuszynski and Wasik both doubled once again leading Skrzypczak and de Pablos to bid 2C. At this table Wichmann wasn't satisfied which this and doubled 2S on the way out for -670.
In Israel - Italy, Laura and Liran both doubled but here Duboin knew to pass (Fohrer didn't) and collected +400 on defence vs 2D.
For Sweden Björnlund doubled, that was passed out and desperate defence resulted in -580 (2S went down at the other table).

So why is this a dangerous auction? Well, if I have a stiff and they haven't located a prime fit then partner as probably 4+ cards in that suit and the risk of not finding a prime fit our way has increased (a lot). This is a potential misfit auction and those must be handled very carefully without extra values. Any marginal call should be avoided and X is, in my view, a clear anti-percentage action on the hand in question.

Frankly, I'm a bit surprised that so many felt compelled to double and I'm even shocked to see so many 2C calls (after X). As for our contestants, some were punished, most were unscattered. The datum in Warshaw was N-S +100 (lots of declarers went down in 2S).

Monday, April 16, 2007


2006 winners of Chairman's Cup in Sweden. Johan to the far right.

Two weeks ago we suddenly lost a dear friend, fine player, excellent bidding theorist and very popular bridge teacher/educator, Johan Ebenius (1965-2007).

We became friends almost 20 years ago and as a partnership we played the Junior European Championships, notched up two wins in the Swedish first division and a win in the Chairman's Cup at the Swedish Bridgefestival (a 6-day round-robin/knock-out team event with international participation) last summer.

As a tribute to him I'll share a deal from the 2005 first division (which we won).

S/all vul


We were playing the Swedish 2-way Club and I opened as North with 1C (11-13 bal or any 17+), East overcalled 1H and Johan passed as South. After 2H and X, Johan bid 2NT as Lebensohl (to sign-off in 3C) and West competed with 3H after 3C by me.

Johan was the most aggressive balancer/part-score fighter I've ever seen. Something deep inside him made it very hard for him to pass at times; he persisted with a 3S-balance on the way out! Even knowing his style, I couldn't resist raising to 4S. This wasn't a good contract and looking at all four hands it's not hard to find a way for the defence to beat.

West led a low H and Johan went to work. He won in dummy and discarded his remaining heart after 3 rounds of diamonds as West ruffed. West now continued hearts and it was all over. Johan ruffed in hand, led a club to the the K and ruffed a diamond with the queen of S, followed by spade to the ace and a low to East's king. Dummy could later ruff and extract the outstanding trump and enjoy the last diamond for a sweet +620.

Rest in peace. We all miss you.

Friday, April 13, 2007

The 'kiss'

Playing a 1-day pairs event a couple of weeks ago (ended a disappointing 4th; 1 board from 1st), this typical match-point decision came my way.


I opened 1C, prepared (playing 5-5-4-2 and 15-17 in occasional partnership) nonv vs vul, as dealer and raised partner's 1S response (Walsh-style) to 2S, which only is made on 3-cards with unbal/semibal.

When RHO balanced with 3H, in tempo, what would you do?

I think it's clear to double in matchpoints. Opps are vul and you need to protect your implied score in 2S making +110/140. Partner could be very weak with 3H making and 2S going down at least one with all those 'quacks'. Sure. But the odds heavily favors double; partner rates to have some values both from a statistical viewpoint (busts are rare) and from opp's 1st round silence.


3H went one down for +200, the dreaded 'kiss of death' in matchpoints. This proved to be a shared top while +100 (defending undoubled) had been close to average, actually, with 2S just making. The 14-16 NT-range is popular in Sweden which meant that many opened 1NT instead, burying the spade-fit, and scored +90.

Sometimes 'wild' doubles aren't really wild; just mathematically correct matchpoint decisions. Not always the winning decision, though.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Hiding the major (again)

Anders Wirgren-Johan Bennet (Cavendish winners -91, Bermuda Bowl bronze -95) have been opening 1C with 5M332 routinely a number of years now (11-13/17-19 bal/semibal or clubs). They have a choice of opening bids with this pattern, but 1C is the predominant choice with minimum hands (only 1M if suit is 'rebiddable').

Not opening with the major gives you 2 ways to win. For me, the primary benefit is that you can use this to your advantage as responder knowing that opener has better playing strength/shape when the auction gets contested (i.e should you make a negative X or how high should you raise with support?).

The secondary way to win is that it's frequently better to initially just show hand-type (bal/unbal) before suit(s) and this way your choice of developing the auction means that you'll get a bigger edge if the opener becomes declarer as less is revealed to help defenders.

By having a choice of opening bids, you give yourself the freedom to exercise your judgement but you take away the, in my view, primary edge.

Anyways, Anders sent me this deal from an outing in Denmark, showing us edge no 2 in all its beauty...



Anders was South and opened 1C, Johan transfered to 1NT and then raised to game. West led the J of diamonds.

Low from dummy and RHO won the king and shifted to the queen of H (!). Anders won and attacked clubs to the queen and king. East continued his attack on hearts and the low heart return was ducked to dummy, with West discarding. An easy +430 when the majority of the field were 2 down in 4H.

Will this way of treating 5M332 catch on to a wider audience?

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Surf's not up

Momentum comes and goes like tidal waves. Sweden was struggling this year in the round-robbin of the White House tournament invitational team tournament in Holland. Take a seat.

You pick up (imps, all white) :


Your Russian RHO opens a multi 2D (weak 2 in either major; could be 5) and you pass (I wonder if Lauria would slip in 2H? ;). LHO bids 2H, pass or correct, and partner overcalls a natural 2NT ("16-19"). What would be your choice?

Passing is not an option, if anyone was contemplating that for even a split second, so it's a matter of which game. Just raising to 3NT has a lot going for it; you know partner has the ace of hearts and your spade length also favors notrump. A weak doubleton may be a liability if that suit is led but the lack of aces/kings may mean that 9 tricks is a better shot. Remember that for 4H to be a better contract than 3NT, the major suit game has to produce at least 2 tricks more (10 vs 8).

A reasonable line of action is to check for a primary fit in H and otherwise play 3NT. That's was the choice of the Swedish South and a 3C ask fetched 3H showing 5-card H's! The euforia was short-lived, as this was the full deal:


2NT was a practical bid, under pressure, with the North hand. 4H was quickly down after a minor-suit lead and spade shift when North covered the queen (nonv the spade suit could easily have been 5-cards) and 3NT proved to be the only making game.

I'm sure South was kicking himself as raising to 3NT probably was his first thought. And, I think he would have if they hadn't been 'out of sync'. Momentum, real and perceived, is a powerful force.

Sometimes you just can't seem to catch a single wave.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Modest intervention - big consequence

This was a less than stellar performance from the local imp-league in January.


Imps/all vul. The bidding started with two passes and a 1D-opening to me and I felt like overcalling 1H. This isn't my normal style, but sometimes one's got to try new things to widen the horizon. The complete auction:

(pass) - pass - (1D) - 1H;
(2C) - 3H - (4H) - pass;
(4S) - pass - (6C) all pass

Full deal:


Easy make for +1370 and -15 imps. The 1H-overcall was the difference between a partscore and a making slam! The board were played across the room at 12 tables resulting in 1 slam, 3 games and 8 partscores. Our team-mates had the following auction:

pass - 1D;
1H - 1S;
1NT - pass

Not really close ;-)

As for my overcall, I probably deserved some punishment...

Monday, April 9, 2007

Down memory lane - part 2

My first US trip was in May 1990. I went to New York and Atlantic City with Magnus Lindkvist. On the agenda were the classic Cavendish Invitational Pairs and the Omar Sharif Individual (which Zia won and writes about in his autobiography).

Magnus and I were staying with the late Edgar Kaplan in his combined living quarters and Bridge World office. Quite an experience. No memorable finishes in either event but this deal against Paul Soloway in the Cavendish is hard to forget.


This was Paul's hand and the auction started with a Swedish 2-way 1C (11-13 bal / any 16+) to his right. After a positive reply showing 5+ spades by LHO (that would be me) and a relay sequence, opener having a strong hand, the auction eventually came to a halt in 6S and he had to lead.

There seemed to be some confusion about the later parts of the bidding; probably a wheel or two had come off. Dummy had shown 55 in blacks but declarer seemed to believe something else and the ensuing ace-asking mechanism probably had misfired as well (as a consequence).

A lone, young, female kibitzer leaned over to see Paul's hand as he led the obvious ace of diamonds to check dummy. This was the view (Paul and dummy screen-mates):


Partner discouraged and Paul shifted to a heart as this was the most likely trick to disappear if the defence had another ace. About 10 seconds later, declarer claimed.


This was some contract. It required the ace of diamonds lead, suit breaking 3-3, a heart away from the queen (unless finesse working) and a non-club continuation. Not to forget that the trumps queen had to be neutralized, one way or the other. Now all the clubs in dummy went away on red cards for +1430, cross-imped.

Paul didn't say anything. Sabine Zenkel (Auken), the kibitzer, left the table.

I love this game...

Friday, April 6, 2007

Road sign

What would you do with:

...playing imps (none vul) when your partner opens 1H (11-16, 5+suit) and your RHO doubles?

My guess is that a lot of players would bid 1S, just as if there had been no double. My experience is that in this type of situation, you should pass with shortness in partners suit without 6+ suit or genuine 2-suiter (55+) even with values for bidding.

Being short in partner's suit is road sign for 'danger' and passing *always* leads to better results than bidding. What's most likely to happen is that you go down in a partscore instead of going plus on defence. With a better hand you can/should XX of course.

Here's the hand (from the archives), played in the Swedish top division:


The auction went:

1H - (X) - pass - (2S);
3H - (4S) - X all pass

Ace of H was led but when partner continued with the queen (instead of J/T), I misstakenly shifted to a diamond instead of a club and the defence lost a trick. +300 was a still good for +9 imps then teammates went +100 defending a heart partscore.

As always, a single deal proves nothing. But you can take my word for that passing is the percentage call.

Or don't - the choice is yours.

Thursday, April 5, 2007

'Being Ulf' - part 2

On all 3 deals I was a defender and succeded in diverting the declarer from making the contract by playing 2nd hand high. This is not really a difficult play, just something that you should keep in mind and be able to do 'in tempo' or you ruin the 'illusion'.

Deal 1


Playing 6D, declarer won the K of H, ruffed a heart to hand and led a spade up. I inserted the K and that convinced declarer that spades weren't breaking, so he turned his attention to the club suit instead, playing 3 rounds without touching trumps. A 4th round saw him ruff high in dummy and finesse in diamonds...

The only other table in slam (imp-league match, same boards all matches) made an overtrick.

Deal 2


4H with spade T lead, 2nd round East played the queen. Declarer now abandoned spades and played heart to the ace and another one. Down 1, a bit unluckily, when I could win and push a club through and there were no winning choice.

Deal 3


6S on a diamond lead, heart finesse and spade to the king and ace. Declarer went for the 5-1 trump break by leading a low to dummy, which I won the the J to give partner a ruff for the setting trick.

Be on the lookout for '2nd hand high' plays.

Wednesday, April 4, 2007

'Being Ulf' - part 1

The January 2006 issue of Bridge Today contained an article by friend (and former teammate) Anders Wirgren, entitled 'Being Ulf'. It contained 3 declarer play problems (imp scoring), all of which I was a part of. Here they are:

Deal 1



You play 6D after a 1S - 2D start. West leads the K of hearts. You win and ruff the remaining heart in hand to lead a spade up. West follows with the K and you win the ace. How would you continue?

Deal 2



Contract is 4H after the 1D - 1H; 2H - 2S; 4H. LHO leads the T of spades, showing 0/2 higher. With the intent to discard a club on the 3rd spade (queen is onside, we know that from the lead), you win the K at trick 1 and continues with another. On this trick RHO plays the Q and you win in hand. Plan?

Deal 3



On this deal, from the Swedish top division, you opened a strong 1C, got a gameforcing 2D response and differing views about supporting partner later with a weak doubleton got you to the optimistic contract of 6S. West leads the 8 of diamonds. You need to clear trumps and hooking the queen is a good start, so you enter dummy with heart so the J and lead a spade. On this trick East plays the K and you win. Now what?

Continued tomorrow.

Tuesday, April 3, 2007

Missing data or divine guidance?

Going through the Vugraph archive from the recent Vanderbilt in St Louis, this lead problem came up in the quarter-final between Nickell and Tuszynski. Hamman had (all white):


Kowalski opened a Polish 1C, Hamman passed, Tuszynski bid 1D (0-6), Soloway passed and the bidding continued 1NT (19-20) - 2NT; 3NT all pass.

What would you lead?

At the other table, Wojewoda led a low spade against Meckwell's 2NT - 3NT auction; wouldn't we all? Something tells me that the Vugraph operator forgot to fullfill his duties at the featured table as Hamman tabled the queen of hearts!! Full deal:


How's that for a hit? 3 down and +11 imps compared to the +430 Rodwell brought back. Soloway must have overcalled 1H in real life or that Bob Hamman looks like a man with divine connections...

Anyone who saw this 'live' on BBO?

Monday, April 2, 2007

Italian preempts

Is this title an oxymoron? In the Australian OzOne forum, Hans Sartaj wrote about the Italian's, having just lost to them again in Yeh Bros Cup. He states "Italians hardly ever open a 3-level preempt" among other interesting observations (I could add an item or two from my own experience).

Let's go to St Louis NABC, a couple of weeks ago, for the Vanderbilt semi-final between Henner-Welland (event winners) and Cayne. Sartaj's statement was substantiated already on board 1.



Open room auction (action):

----3S - X - 4S
6D - p - p - X all pass

Henner-Welland made the typical preempt with 3S as North. This is normal to most people (I believe), although there are some who hate prempting with a void. East (Cayne) got in a small jam; you will find players voting for pass, double and 4H. Cayne chose the flexible take-out double, which probably would be a majority choice.

After Sementa raised to 4S, Seamon took a practical stab at 6D (infering the spade void from the bidding), doubled on the way out by Sementa. Probably more worried about missing a grand than going down in a small slam moments earlier, Seamon had to concede down 1.

In the closed room Nunes held the North hand and passed (surprise ;-). After Balicki-Zmudzinski started 1H - 2D, he tried a modest 2S and the bidding continued 3D - 3NT, just making for -11 imps.

"...worry of generating a random result impacts their bidding style. It makes them conservative on preempting (avoid going for 800) and aggressive on bidding game (avoid game-swing)."

Food for thought.