Thursday, 27 March 2008

Wednesday 26th March

Playing with Harry there's never a dull moment. He got really poor hands as South, so maybe that explains the problem he gave me on board 6:

Looking at a maximum 2NT opening, I was surprised to see partner reach for a stop card. Could he be bidding 3S? Could this be the once in 10 years use of the Grand Slam Force of 5NT? No, he pulls out 3C. Well if he has 7 to the KQ there are 13 top tricks, how many spade losers though? I couldn't think what to do, so I temporised with 3H. Harry bids 4H. So 7 clubs and 3 hearts, even money there's only one spade loser at most. I still couldn't decide what to do, will there even be a spade lead? Then I thought, why not play it in 4H, we'll beat everyone in 5C with any luck, so I passed!

Of course Harry hasn't anything like what I expected. After AS and a heart switch, I played a spade to the King and finessed a club. I had 11 tricks now.

Now of course everyone else passes the South hand and the bidding goes 2NT - 3NT, off on a spade lead. However I only got a second top, someone made 12 in No Trump!?

Hand 11 was an interesting problem and though I got a top, it was really an error.

Harry opens 4H, obviously we have masses of tricks, most 4H openers have values outside, so hoping for a club stop I bid 6S. I got a trump lead and running 6 spades makes life difficult for the defenders who make an error as West comes down to a doubleton KQ club while retaining 3 hearts to the Queen and guarding the KD. I now play AC, AH, KH dumping two diamonds and exit with JC picking up the last two tricks with the last trump and the 9C.

Nobody esle bid a slam, but 6S was an error. I realised I should have bid 6H. This protects a possible KC in the South hand and my spades are solid for the discards needed. You just don't immediately think of raising when you are void.

Tuesday, 25 March 2008

Monday 24th March

Playing aggregate we had some good scores from our opponents not bidding and some bad from me bidding or playing wrongly.

On hand 4 Adrianne (West) opened 1C, North bid 3S. Using the Bob Hamman maxim (if 3NT is a possible contract then bid it), I chose 3NT, Adrianne not unreasonably tried 6NT.

I received a spade lead which I ducked hoping there might be some sort of squeeze on South. Really I could only cash everything I could as an early diamond finesse might leave me 6 down vulnerable. However North came throwing spades, so eventually I do finesse a diamond, and a heart but lose a diamond for 1 down. Deep Finesse says you make 12, but I can only see that happening if you win the first spade, play QD to KD and Ace, come back to a club and lead a diamond forcing the 10 from South. Now concede a diamond to the Curse and take a heart finesse for 12 tricks. Not a play I will ever find. Few tried the slam -- though one made it by West – (spade lead gives it away?).

Hand 5 was my mistake at the 5 level. Recently with Harry I seem to keep getting the 5 level wrong by bidding on. Harry’s saying is – 'the 5 level belongs to the opponents'. So its his fault!

North opens 1H, I overcall 1S, South makes a system 2NT bid, partner bids 3S, North 4H, me 4S. South bids 5H which comes round to me and double. Oh oh, -850 instead of –300 for 5S doubled, South might even bid 6H for a plus score.

On board 9 I stupidly misplayed the hand:

In 4S, I received the KD lead and as you can see, all I have to do is pick up the spades for 10 tricks. So which spade do I lead from hand? The 4 of course. If I just play the 8S to the King, run the 7S then finesse again and cash Ace, I have 10 tricks. So lazy playing the 4S.

On board 16 it was the opponents who got the 5 level right.

Adrianne opened and the bidding went: 1D – 1S – 2H – 4S – 5H – 5S – x.
Now following Harry’s advice you should double with the North hand, but of course 5S was just right here. A lot of E/W were making 850 or even 990 for 4Hx, we just got 100.

Hand 19 was a really strange one.

Adrianne opened 2S and North came in with 3D. I just chose a simple 4S, but South bid 5D. When this comes round to me I just ignored Harry and bid 5S hoping there weren’t three losers off the top, North doubles this (listening to Harry?) and 12 tricks roll in. 1050 to us.

Can 6S be bid even without intervention? I suppose over 2S you could play 4H as a splinter and with this hand partner could cue 5D.

Friday, 21 March 2008

Thursday 20th March

Hand 7 was well played by Adrianne after a friendly lead. Adrianne actually makes a mistake and opens 1S as West, I raise to 2S – 2NT – 4S.
North is a bit stuck for a lead, could have led a trump, but chose 10H which goes to Jack, Queen and King. Adrianne plays KS to the Ace, a club from South to the Ace, club ruff, followed by a Diamond. Adrianne takes the Ace, clears the trumps ending in dummy and runs the 8H. Taking the rest of the heart tricks she can throw a diamond from dummy and claim 10 tricks. The only one to make 4S.

Board 17 was very interesting.
South opened 1S(?), Adrianne bid 2S Michaels, North doubled and I bid 3H. South passes, Adrianne bids 4H, North bids 4S and I stupidly bid 5C (instead of doubling 4S), Adrianne bids 5D, North doubles and I bid 5H.
Now Deep Finesse says you only make 10 tricks (so you do on a club lead), but after the double I got a diamond lead. I won Ace, ruffed a diamond, finessed QH, ruffed a diamond, club to Ace and cashed AH. Now if my KC stands up I am home, just play a third club which South might as well ruff while the spade is discarded from dummy and the only other trick I lose is a diamond. No luck, the KC is ruffed and AS cashed.
However I immediately saw that I can make this on a diamond lead. Win the Ace and exit dummy with a small heart. The defence can take that trick in either hand and cash a spade, but that is all they can get as I can now pick up the trumps (using a diamond ruff as entry) and make all my clubs.

Tuesday, 11 March 2008

Monday Aggregate 10th March

How not to bid a slam:

Not playing checkback, I open 1S, partner bids 2H. Now I am too strong for 4H, so I try 3C. Partner bids 4S. Now 3C is game forcing, Adrianne should bid 3S with a stronger hand and 4S with 10-12. However, I just ‘know’ partner is showing a good hand, so I try 4NT, partner replies 5S (2 with!???). Now I forget that this sequence has promised 5 spades and bid 6S instead of 6H!
Only about 3 bidding errors to get us to an unbeatable slam played by North. Of course 6H by Adrianne goes off on a diamond lead.

We had a disaster on hand 12:
West opens 1NT passed (inexplicably – surely a diamond transfer is compulsory here) round to Adrianne who bids 2H. With 12 points I would bid 2NT, this looked a very good 13 to me, so I tried 3NT. East now bids 4D, passed back to me and I double. Now we do have an understanding at aggregate that partner should pull this if she doesn’t have the expected values for her bid, but Adrianne didn’t fancy being doubled in 4H and passed.

As happens we lose a defensive trick (partner signals for a spade rather than a club obviously and hoping she might have KJ, I led small to the King, Adrianne returns a heart hoping I can ruff, but declarer clears trumps and returns a spade to set up a club discard. Of course 4H can’t fail (2 spade discards on AD and the 4th club). Deep Finesse says it makes 9, but that needs West to underlead the AC so that East can get a ruff.
Hand 15 was interesting.

Adrianne opens 1S and I am stuck for the best reply, in these circumstances I usually go by the Losing Trick Count, so with 8 losers I bid 3S. The next hand comes in, not unreasonably 4H. This boosts Adrianne’s hand who now bids 4S (with 6 losers that what LTC says you do anyway). Making 4S vulnerable is our best score.

The next hand 16 is also interesting.

Our opponents do all the bidding which goes:

1D – 1H – 3D – 4C – 4H --- 300 points to us

The bids are not unreasonable up to the 4C, a punt of 3NT or a pass of 3D was called for, but I don’t like any of the bids either. I would prefer to bid the West hand as a strong NT. East should have bid 2C, the hand is better than 9 points.
Lesser hands with a long minor and a 4 card major should be bid 1 of the major. It is good to have an understanding with your partner though that in the sequence 1D – 1H – 1NT – 2C that you are not looking for preference, but want to play in clubs.

What is really interesting about the hand is, what if East bids 3NT? South leads a spade won in dummy and a club is played to the Jack. Exit with KC to Ace, spade to the Queen, exit with 10C to Queen, win spade in dummy, lead small heart to King and cash 9 tricks.

Now of course North should have counted these tricks and should rise with AH, cash the spade and lead a diamond to partner’s Ace. I was North, I wasn’t tested, but I am sure I would have been too dozy!

Finally I went off in 3NT on board 19:

Club lead, I continued 2nd club, diamond to Ace and cleared the clubs discarding a spade. East returns a spade to the 10 and King, West returns a spade to the Queen. Now I can make it double dummy at this point, but not unreasonably I exited with QD. East exits with a club. I try a heart to the Queen, no luck, West returns a heart to ensure I lose another for 1 down. Perfect defence.

Thursday, 6 March 2008

Wednesday 6th March

Both of us were under the weather last night and it showed. However I seem to be on a run of opponents doing the right thing. Hand 11 was typical.

East opens 1H, West bids 2H and East declares in 4H, finds QD and makes 10. They were the ONLY pair in it. Many were in 1D, some in 2H or 3H, one North was in 2C. What is wrong with all those Wests? Whether East opens 1D or 1H, West has a simple raise.

I always open the major with a hand I am rebidding 2NT, but I don’t use checkback, I suppose the 1D openers had checkback available.

Board 20 is another typical example. Only two pairs play in 3S, one was of course against us. Unbeatable for 140.
West opens 1C, not great but people always open rubbish 12 counts, this hand is better than that. My hand is a 2H overcall in our system and East doubles. West bids 2S, this is passing out until my partner tries 3D. I decide 3H must be better and then East bids 3S. No point in me going to 4H vul for –200.

Did we get any good ones? Well twice with a big suit we played in 3NT which scored well:
Hand 1:
Playing a strong club I have to open 1D! There is a 1H overcall, partner makes a system bid of 2S and I bid 3NT hoping there aren’t a pile of diamond losers off the top. On a heart lead I made the obvious 11 tricks. Many were in 5C.

Hand 22:

Here partner bids a strong club, the bidding proceeds : 1C – 1S – 1NT – P – 3H – 3NT.

I expect 6 good hearts and an outside singleton with 16/17 points for the 3H bid. Partner coolly passed my 3NT. I made 12 after a spade lead and a club discard by East on the run of the hearts.

Our best board was probably our last, board 24:

West opens 1C, I overcall 1NT, East bids 2S (weak, as you double with any decent hand), partner bids 3H, West 3S and I bid 4H. This makes the obvious 11 tricks after a spade lead but many weren’t in it or defended spades. I would have thought there were many routes to 4H by N/S, even after a 1NT opener by West and even then if North is stuck for a bid, the 2H transfer by East brings South in.

Tuesday, 4 March 2008

Monday 4th March

Playing aggregate we made some very costly mistakes as you will see.
There were an amazing number of hands you could make slams on, but most not biddable. On board 8 we didn’t reach 6H:
Without interference, our bidding went 1H – 2C – 2NT – 3H – 3S – 3NT – 4H

Adrianne wasn’t sure what I was doing, but she should have cue bid 4C. Even so, after my 4H I think she could try one more at that point.

Anyway I am in 4H and get a JC lead. Probably singleton, but I just cover with the Queen as I don’t need to find QD now, also a singleton club might imply 4 trumps, so just let them ruff. As you see I can only make 10 tricks now with a ruff and a trump to lose.

If I am in 6, this is much more interesting. Win AC, KS, AS, ruff a spade. Heart to Ace – oops. Don’t see how I get home now, can’t give them the JH as I’ll be forced in spades, can’t play 4 rounds of diamonds (guessing the Queen) as I’ll lose two trumps.
Double dummy I would have to win AC and run a heart to the Jack, then I get spade ruff and try to find QD to make 12.

On board 11 we are in an unmakeable slam. With everyone bidding it went:

1C – 1D – x – 3D – 3H – P - 4D – P – 4NT – P - 5C – 5D – 5S – 6H

My double promised at least one 4 card major and enough points for the 1 level. So when replying to 3H I have a fit and 8 points more than I have promised, I had to come up with something better than just 4H, so I tried 4D. My partner expecting AD quite rightly tries RKCB, but my reply is 1 or 4, a simple sign off in 5H is required, not asking for QH.
We didn’t lose the spade ruff, but were 1 off.

My disaster comes on hand 13:

I open 1D, partner bids 1S and West comes in 4H. Now I feel I can bid 6S immediately, but try 5H as a grand slam could be on. Partner bids 6D and now I can’t resist the temptation, I bid 7D. West doubles, I assume spade void, so bid 7S. Of course we must lose a diamond, -100 instead of +1370 (or 1430).

I stupidly went off on this hand (although opponents can always beat me by playing a trump --- but that is difficult for them):

We find 4H after West opens 1C(?): 1C – P – 1S – 2D – P – 2H – 3C – 4H
A club was led to the Ace and a spade returned to the 10 and Ace.

I cash AD, KD throwing a club. I ruff a diamond (West discards a club), ruff a club, ruff a diamond (another West club discard), lead my last club and stupidly ruff with the Ace. A small ruff would have given me 10 tricks -- pathetic. I thought West had no clubs left and that I could cash KH, QH and exit a heart to get Queen of Spades if East had the three hearts. What rubbish!
Well, that was only 2000 aggregate points I gave away on two hands.