Friday, August 31, 2007

Aggressive action

Round of 16 of Spingold we looked horns with Glubok-Ozdil and Coren-Rosenbloom, who the previous round beat 4th seeded O'Rourke (Jacobus, Bocchi-Duboin, Greco-Hampson). We were ahead by 22 going into the last quarter.

This last set Freddan and I played G-O and on the first board they bid good slam cutting the lead to 11. We were 'solid' at both tables the rest of the way going 74-0 on the remaining boards.

Here's a bidding decision from halfway in the set. I had:


All vul and Melih started on my right with 1S. Brian bid 1NT, partner doubled and RHO bid 4S in tempo. What's your call? Is this a problem?

I guess pass would be the mainstream choice, some lunatic might try 5D. I made an aggressive penalty double without trumps because this is a situation where partner wouldn't act on marginal values unless defensive tricks ('grave-yard'). This collected +500 and 7 imps (same contract undoubled at other table) on this layout.


Swap the red kings and 4S makes but I still feel in retrospect that this was clear odds-on double.

Auction analysis often provides the key to going the right way in marginal situations.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

High flyer

Often some of the biggest results come when you've exposed yourself to a sizeable minus and the opponents misjudge and suffer instead. Some people are willing to take risks like that, by choice, others wouldn't dream of it.

What would you do with the following hand after partner opens a mini-NT (10-12) in 1st position with all white and the next hand passes?


Pass, transfer to clubs or go for the juggler with 3NT? Maybe you could catch the next guy with an awkward hand, passing it out. Maybe they bid 4M and are cold for slam.

Kit Woolsey, who's a pretty experienced guy by any standard belongs to category 1; he's willing to shoot it out. He is the one who wrote about 'loading the dice', the 'double flaw' theory etc (classic instructions!) about taking positions, in one of my all-time favorite bridge books "Matchpoints".

Kit bid a confident 3NT in a flash with his LHO on the same side of the screen.

I had xxxx/AKQ9x/AKx/Q and could see that 3NT was very likely to be based on clubs but also that the 'clear-cut' X might not be a winner. 3NT could make with a spade lead or they could escape to 4C when even 3NT undoubled would be a better score for us. On the other hand partner would be more likely to find a heart lead from shortness after X.

Brushing negative thinking aside I reached for the obvious X and another one after the 4C-runout, leaving it to partner to sweat it out.

This time, I can tell you, he wasn't exactly sweating...


Kit didn't buy a great layout for his crew and this went a mere 6 down for -1400 with 4S going down in other direction. Wolff-Morse played 3NT, holding the loss to 14 imps.

As crazy as the 3NT-bid may seem at first sight, it could easily have turned out a winner. What if the K of hearts had been with my partner? Would I have doubled with xxx/AQxxx/AKx/Q? Probably not.

When they try to gun you down, don't be intimidated.
Turn the table.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

What does he have?

Still 2nd set, Woosley-Stewart. Apart from light initials actions going bad, most things go right. Here's a play problem.



Stewart opens 1D on my left, playing Precision and after two passes I jump to 4S (white/red). He's not done and comes back with 5D. Freddan bids 5S (instead of X) and I'm left to play it after K-Q of diamonds are led (divides 7-3).

How to go about it? Play for clubs breaking (ditching your heart loser) or getting hearts right for a club discard?

Starting on trumps , LHO shows out 2nd round and we're reached the crossroads. The answer lies in the 5D-bid at unfavourable vulnerability vs a weak hand. That hand must have at least 11 cards in two suit and not an 'empty' secondary suit (i.e. KTxx or similar). So we play on hearts and make the contract.


Put yourself in opp's position and see what hand(s) would be most likely for the auction.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Lights out

I'm in favor of light opening bids but sometimes they go sour in unexpected ways. A bit unusual, this was the theme twice in the same set vs Stewart-Woolsey in the Spingold quarter-finals. First board of the 2nd set (we sat out the first), I opened 1H in first position white/red with:


This pinpointed the heart situation and propelled them to a cold 6D after a 2D overcall when our teammates went down in 3NT on a heart lead after having the auction to themselves, costing us 16 imps.

Later, my partner had also in first position (red/white):


We open hands like this routinely and have the system to prevent us from getting to high without reason. This time it caught Woolsey with:


He jump overcalled 2H (favourable) and when we got to 3NT this was easily defeated on a heart lead.


At the other table my hand could open 1NT and after 3NT and a high spade lead, it was imperative for West to find the heart shift. That wasn't a clear by any standards and the game came home for 12 imps away.

I'm sure the Granovetters would enjoy these boards... ;-)

Thursday, August 9, 2007

Lethal lead

Still Swiss practise session, we sit down against the fierce Jon Baldurson of Iceland. 1NT (13-15) to your right, 3S from Jon (your LHO), showing 1-3-(54/45) and 3NT concludes the bidding. Your lead from:


Freddan chose a killing heart on this layout:

Teammates were +180 for a 6 imp win. Still could have beaten it with a heart shift on a spade lead but if partner had Qxxx then a spade continuation might be required if declarer has four hearts. Partner needs Jx or xxx in diamonds for us to beat it.

Always satisfying to watch partner hitting perfectly!

Monday, August 6, 2007

Close call

Spingold day 1, we got a bye because only 74 teams entered (we were no 13 seed). We did a practise session with the team at a Swiss. Freddan did well on this hand. He had:


Partner opened 1D and he relayed to find out that my hand was 1-4-4-4 and 11-13 and placed the contract in 5C as I had bid NT on the way as a conventional reply(wrong-siding 3NT). Herbst (of Israel, can't tell which one of the brothers ;) led a trump.



Frederic won with the ace in dummy and led a spade to the king and ace and another trump return, taken in hand. The early play had revealed that the remaining trump was with RHO. He now ruffed a spade in dummy and led the queen of H. This lost to the K and LHO continued with the queen of D.

He won in dummy, entered his hand in hearts to ruff the remaining spade, led a diamond to the K and cashed the trumps, squeezing West in the red suits for +400.

At the other table, the auction was 1C - 3NT and as West had AJx/K9xx/QJTx/xx this was an easy +430 and we lost an imp.

There are worse ways to lose an imp.

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Spingold semi

Nashville was a pretty good tournament. We lost in the round of 4 to Nickell, the defending champs and repeat winners, after leading with 30 halfway and by 15 going in the last quarter. Somehow they always get the set of boards they need and a Meckwell rally turned around the match.

Teammates were great to be around and it was a lot of fun, apart from the strong disappointment after the last loss of course.

I know Meckstroth a bit from various occasions we've met over the years but only played short matches and pairs against him and Rodwell before. Playing 16 set boards against them at this stage was an interesting and quite different experience. Hard to explain without getting into 'psycho babble'.

Next time...