Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Meeting people

Going to US nationals means, among other things, meeting old friends and new interesting people (and reconnecting with those you haven't seen for a while). One of my rising favourites is a relatively new acquaintance, Migry Zur Campanile from Israel. She's one of the best female players there is and her articles in Bridge Today is a great read.

Here's a deal from San Francisco (Women's BAM) where she showed off her lead capabilites. As I have a soft spot for great leads, I got to share this one:

The auction was:
pass - pass - 1D - pass;
1H - pass - 1S - pass;
1NT all pass

What would you lead from:


Migry tabled the J of diamonds, a great choice from that holding, which is often overlooked by lesser players. Actually one of Gunnar Hallberg's favorites also. Layout:


The J went to declarer's K and after a club ducked to the queen, Val Westheimer could reach Migry's hand twice for diamond lead through and down 1 was good for a win on the board.

Check Migry's website at www.migry.com.

Monday, December 10, 2007

San Francisco NABC

Bob, Fred, I and Jerry

San Francisco was a great place for the US Fall Nationals. We did so and so, nothing I would call a success but I guess we didn't embarass ourselves totally either. We won a 1-session BAM, a top-bracket consolation knockout (losing our first match on American soil a mere 14 hours after a 20 hour trip and 9 hour time-zone skip) with MÃ¥rten Gustawsson and Gunnar Andersson.

The Blue-Ribbons had us finish 31th out of 104 reaching day 3 (416 pair entering) and the North American Swiss saw us fade to 28th place day 3 (160 teams entering, 40 made it to day 3), playing with Robert Bitterman, Jerry Helms, John Diamond and Brian Platnick.

In the Swiss, a distributional layout started off day 3. The first 2 days boards were shuffled each match but the final day all matches played pre-duplicated boards. South, all white (deal rotated):


The auction went:
1H - pass - 2D - 2S;
pass - 4S - 5D - pass;
6H - pass - pass - X all passed

1H was 11-15 5+suit, 2D was artificial gameforce with at least 3 hearts, pass after 2S denied shortness in spades and 5D was natural. 6H was a reasonable guess, or so I thought.

West obviously thought X was a general vote of mistrust for the contract and failed to lead a diamond, which of course would have resulted in a swift 2 off, instead opting for a surprise attack in clubs. This was lucky for us and I managed to take the first round finesse in diamonds after collecting the trumps for +1310 (need to, no re-entry otherwise after drawing trumps) for +9 imps vs 6D making at the other table.

Britain's David Bakshi found the text-book switch to a heart at his table against 6D, removing the entry to dummy prematurely and declarer was not prepared to finesse in trumps first time around and went down. Well done David!

Sunday, December 9, 2007

Overcalling for the lead - the other way around

Most are familiar with light overcalls with good suits to help partner finding the best lead. What may be overlooked is that overcalls may be made for the opposite reason, to find out what YOU are going to lead.

Still 1st division in Denmark, round-robin 36 board matches. I was dealt this one (red/white):


After pass on my right, I passed and LHO opened 1C. My RHO responded 1D and I slipped in a seemingly meaning-less 1S, Lauria-style (he's overcalling-crazy btw - and ranked no 1 in the world).

The next hand doubled, showing a good hand without suitable rebid and after partner passed and the guy on my right rebid 1NT, leftie raised to 3NT.

So now we pretty mych know a spade lead is unlikely to be successful. Therefore I led a heart.


Jackpot and we cashed out for +50 and 11 imps vs 520 and the other table.

If you think the opponents messed up an easy board, you are maybe correct, but this was arguably one of the best pairs in Denmark and when playing good opponents you certainly need to 'shove' them a little bit.

For whatever reason we won the imps, and you might come to a different conclusion than I do as to the reason for that occurence, we happily took them.

Saturday, December 8, 2007

Analysing the auction

Blind leads aren't always that blind. While there may not be much useful info at first glance, there can be inferences to guide you when taking a closer look. Here's a lead problem from the first division in Denmark against declarer Lars Blakset.

My hand:

The auction went:
1S - 2D (FG)
2NT - 3S
4S - 4NT (showing 3+ aces)
5C (cue) - 6S

So, what do we know? What would you lead?

Declarer seems to have hand with scattered minimum strength from 2NT-rebid and refusal to cuebid after 3S. Dummy jumped to slam after hearing a 5C cue. That indicate tricksource and weak clubs. So, I tabled the K of clubs. This was the layout:


Declarer can always make the hand by finessing in spades but went for the percentage line of AK of trumps and running diamonds, pitching clubs. One down when the diamonds didn't break and the trump queen didn't come down. After anything but a club lead, declarer can take the trump finesse in comfort and then try to run diamonds, combining the chances. With a club lead it was decision time right away.

Reaching for opp's bidding motives, i.e. why they bid the way they did can provide the crucial indicators. As always, buyer beware, remember some people just can't be trusted!