Tuesday, 23 December 2014

Monday 22 December

Came first N/S  in the Monday Butler with a score of 58.  Had a few Christmas presents early on when a competent opponent inexplicably went down in a straightforward 3N and when we ended in 3N after a (non-promising) Stayman and defender on lead decides to lead from 4 small diamonds when either major lead defeats us.

This was the first hand when we actually earned our score. Our bidding went 1S - (x) - 2S - (P) - 4S.
A bit pushy but you never know where partner's values are and East has to lead into you.
Gloria started with two top diamonds, I ruffed, spade to K and finessed JS.  What now?
You feel AQ of hearts are over you, when you draw last trump East has easy exits in diamonds.  Also you have no entry to clubs even if you can drop a doubleton Q. However, I found the answer.  Leaving the last trump outstanding I led JC.  Gloria naturally covered with the Q and I ducked. Gloria returns a club as the only safe exit but I win in hand, draw last trump and have 10 tricks (11 actually as when I discarded JH on a club Gloria accidentally played the Ace!)
If Gloria had overcalled 2D instead of doubling I would never have made this, playing for the drop in spades and a sure loser in each suit.

After two passes West (Stewart Pinkerton) opened 1H.  I had my suspicions about this bid, but had to pass, Stewart (Duguid) bid 1S and this was passed round to me.  I bid 2H, I thought this had to be natural but of course it confuses Adrianne who bids 3D, two down and -8 Butler points.  Difficult to see us finding 4H unless West passes, nobody did.
However Stewart's bid actually gave me a chance for glory. I should have bid 1N, Adrianne will raise to 3N.  East leads a club, ducked, win continuation and play QD, defence are powerless even if they duck two diamonds, just switch to QS (or overtake 2nd diamond), as soon as they try to clear clubs they unlock 5 heart tricks. Instead of -8 it would have been +10.

A lucky one later on. Mary opened 1C 3rd in hand and I overcalled 1D.  Katie passed(?), Adrianne bid 2C and I bid 2H.
Again Adrianne has no idea if I have the right cards but punts 5D.  Of course this goes down on any of three safe leads but partner opened 1C and Katie naturally led AC giving me my 11th trick.
I avoid leading unsupported Aces in partner's suit whenever possible as this happens so often, however against a 5 level contract it is difficult to justify anything else. You look silly when a club trick disappears.
Luck was with us.

Saturday, 13 December 2014

Peebles Congress

Partner opens 1S (not playing checkback), you bid 1N, raised to 3N.  5H led (from J965), what is the best play for 9 tricks?

There are three chances, spade to J, spade to K or duck a club and hope they split 3-3.
The club split is 36%, either spade play is 50%. However I seriously considered ducking a club.  West wins and returns a diamond, but now I cash 4 heart winners and West could be in trouble with all sort of 3-1-5-4 distributions and even 4-1-4-4, so it’s not just a 36% chance.  However I couldn’t quantify it, you can’t sit forever at the table thinking what to do.  So I just played a spade to the J which was the only losing option.

Playing at a Congress against unknown opponents made it harder but I think I would duck the club against weaker opponents.
West, with a singleton heart is likely to have 4 clubs.  Duck a club, win the diamond return and now play 4 hearts.  West has to find 4 discards between spades and diamonds.

With Qxx and say KJxxx  they’ll almost certainly let a diamond go on the KH, then maybe a spade on the next heart but what next? Of course with better players they know immediately that partner has AS (I can't have 10 points).
If they have Axx spades they can discard two spades, but then have to let two diamonds go.
With 4-1-4-4 hands they will still be in a bit of trouble and might even block the diamonds. Some players won't even like playing a diamond from say KJxx and you might get a passive club return giving you a better chance to sniff out the spade situation.

So even against better players ducking a club is better than 36% and against weaker players I think it could be at least 60%.

Like I said, small spade to the Jack was the only losing option.

However I later thought, what if I run all my hearts first? I can afford a diamond and a spade from Dummy.  What will West's 4 discards be?   They can't let a club go in case I have Jxx, they are clever if they find 3 spades and 1 diamond. I might misguess and duck a spade thinking they started Axxx or guess that they started with Qxx in clubs rather Jxxxx to explain no club discard.

So better to run the hearts first but still a guess at the end.

Friday, 5 December 2014

Thursday 4 December

Just a 5.5 table Howell at the club.  Gerry and I came first with 59.7%

A lot of people who play weak NT won't open basic 12 counts when vul, especially vs non-vul. However I think if you want to play weak, then play it. If you can't stand the odd -500 or even -800 then play variable.
As North I opened 1N and Gerry raised to 3N shutting out West.
Alex led 4D to Q and K, Rod returned KS to Dummy's Ace. I finessed JH which held and led a diamond to the 8.  I followed with JD and Alex ducked
Nine tricks are in the bag, I ran clubs ending in Dummy and played a spade.  Rod took the Q and exited with TH but I wasn't being fooled.  I took AH and JS for 10 tricks.
We were the only pair in 3N.  Two are in 4S by West and there is a 3H by North.

I opened East 2H, Donny overcalled 2S and Gerry bid 4H. North is a bit stymied and Katie quite reasonably passed.
KC lead which I took right away, drew trumps, tried a diamond to K but lost the obvious 4 tricks.
Two pairs are in 4S by South, one in 5Cx by East (better than defending 4S).
The interesting thing is the swing caused by the position of AD.  If South has it, E/W make 4H, 4S goes down, lying with North, 4S makes, 4H is off.

I opened North 1D, Davina doubled (1N better) and Gerry bid 1N which was passed out.
Mary led 2C (bad lead as what does South have after 1D - 1N?). Davina took AC and returned a club to J and K. Gerry cashed his 3 club tricks then ran QD to the K.  Davina exited with KH to Gerry's Ace.  Gerry cashed his diamonds and exited with JH end playing Davina who had to lead from Kx of spades into Dummy's AQ.
Nine tricks but a different story if West finds a heart lead or even a spade and heart switch from East.

This was our last board against Raymond and Joyce.  The scrolling results were on the screeen and we were about 0.25% in the lead.
I opened East 2H, Gerry bid 2N asking and after a little thought I decided to bid 3S showing a max with diamonds.
I should be 5-5 vul against not, though with a decent hand I might not, so thought about showing minimum, but what the hell.
Gerry bid 6N.
Joyce led TS and Gerry the suit to get the bad news.  In theory finessing TH is best chance for 5 tricks but you can see the problem with that. If it loses a club trough could be a disaster.  Gerry played AH, KH, QH.  S far so good but he ain't out of the woods yet. All hearts cashed it is now AQ of diamonds and the Jack falls. Breathe again.
As it happens even the AC is right  so it was can't fail all the way.
When we entered the results we see that the others are in hearts or spades making 10, 11 or 12.  3NT would have been a top!  We increased our lead to 2 percentage points and that was that.

Tuesday, 18 November 2014

Monday 17 November

Playing N/S with Adrianne came 1st with a Butler score of 47.  Only one hand of any note.

I opened 1H, Adrianne raised to 2H and I bid game.
Alec led a small heart which I won with the 10 in Dummy.
I only have 7 top tricks plus a ruff for 8.  Ten tricks seems highly unlikely.  However I only have three losers (2 spades and a club) and the opponents won't want to open up diamonds with K10 in Dummy.  As it says on the front of The Hitchhikers' Guide to the Galaxy, DON'T PANIC!
I led a small spade from Dummy and Raymond split his honours taking the trick with the Queen. Luckily for me  he doesn't have another trump and quite reasonably chooses to play KC.  I won the Ace and played another spade which went round to Raymond's King.  Raymond cashed QC and I have now lost my three tricks but the club situation transforms my prospects. Raymond decided the defence will now need a diamond trick and exited with a diamond which I took with my Ace, cashed AH then JC,  Alec had to follow and a diamond went from Dummy. I ruffed my 4th club, over to KD and I have a high cross ruff for the rest of the tricks. I made 6 hearts, 2 clubs and 2 diamonds.

Thursday, 6 November 2014

Wednesday 5 November

Playing N/S with Gerry came first with 62.5%.

Got off to a great start on hand 3.
Gerry opened 3N.  Not a purest bid but although I would think about 1D, would probably opt for 3N in the end.
So what should I bid?  Looking at JD, I though Gerry was more likely to have 8 of them which gives us 12 top tricks, probably 13 on the run of the suit though if I bid the Grand it would be in diamonds.
However I can't be sure he has an 8 card suit, but even with 7 diamonds I reckon he is odds on for 12 tricks and decide to bid 6N to beat those in 6D and well done to anyone who makes the Grand.
It turned out to be a complete top.  Edna led JH and as Gerry ran the diamonds she had to decide which black suit to keep and made the wrong choice, 13 tricks. Only two pairs found 6D, the rest in 5D or 3N. Of course some will have opened South 1D.

Got away with murder here. Our bidding went 1S - 2D - 2H - 3C (x) - 3S - 3N - passed out.
Raymond led a club to the King, Gerry cashed his hearts and finessed a diamond for 11 tricks, another complete top.

The question is, what would a double of 3N by Joyce mean? I play if my partner has bid a suit then double 3N means lead that suit, otherwise it is for a lead of Dummy's first bid suit.
But what about Raymond's double of 3C, would a double of 3N ask for a spade or a club lead?
I've decided it should ask for a spade. In a sequence like that you really want partner in to lead a club through and want to find an entry. If you don't double partner will most likely lead a club anyway.
On a spade lead the defence can take the first 10 tricks (though might content themselves with 9), 6 down doubled vulnerable, haven't experienced that for a long time.  Gerry would probably have pulled to 4D though.

Tuesday, 4 November 2014

Monday 3rd November

Playing N/S with Adrianne came first with a Butler score of 26.  Could have been a lot higher as we missed slam and game chances, for instance we both pulled making 3NT contracts.  Not very clever.

We got most of our points against Alec and Raymond rather ruining their score.
Alec opened East 1N and Adrianne overcalled 2H.  Raymond bid 2N Lebensohl and I bid 3S.
This was uncharted territory for us and Adrianne decided she had better bid in case it was forcing.  She bid 4H passed out.
Raymond led a club allowing two club ruffs and Adrianne just lost a diamond and a heart for 11 tricks. Only one other pair in game. A fortuitous mix up.

Raymond opened West 1H, Alec bid 1N (6-9), round to Raymond who bid 2H. Now I managed to show some decorum the first time red against green, but what is happening? Adrianne must have a decent hand. I couldn't resist bidding 2S.  Alec now bid 4H, Adrianne bid 4S. Alec bid 5H!  Adrianne doubled! Boy did this hand light up.
I thought for a while before passing out the double, even if they make, we are surely losing 500 for 5Sx.
Raymond had to lose 2 spades and 2 clubs to give us 300, a good score.  Not as good as 5S making would have been mind you, probably doubled as well.

Friday, 31 October 2014

Thursday 30 October

Playing E/W with Gerry came joint second with 58%.

Two hands against Steve & Marilyn got us a top and bottom via playing Lucas Twos.

I opened this rather anaemic looking East hand 2S which stymied the opposition into passing it out.
Marilyn lacks any attractive lead and chose a heart which I won with the Queen.  Short of entries to hand and wanting to lead minors to Dummy I played KS to Marilyn's Ace and won the heart return in hand. I played a club now and Marilyn won her Ace and played a trump to Steve's Queen. I ruffed the club return, drew the last trump and led a diamond to J and Ace. I just lost two spades, two diamonds and a club for a top.  Luckily opponents hadn't forced me earlier in hearts.

On the very next hand I am Dealer.  Now if I open 2S on the last hand, I have to open this 1H.  There is no keeping out of game now via 1H - 1S - 2C - 2D(a) - 2S - 4S.
Steve led a spade to the 10 in Dummy to kill any diamond ruff, though there would have been two spade losers that way. There was no avoiding a spade, two diamonds and a club loser and Gerry was 1 down for a joint bottom.

We were in some hopeless 3NT contracts on the night with 25/26 points.  This hand with 25 was a good 3NT.  After 1C - 1D - 1N - 3N, Victor made it even easier with a perfectly reasonable 2S lead which Gerry won in hand with the 9.
He now played a club to the J, club to the A and diamond to K and A.
Phil Played a heart back to 10 and J, Gerry finessed 9H and then finessed 10D.
Now QD both Gerry and Victor discard a spade, heart to Ace, Victor letting go a club.
Now Gerry has a complete picture and plays A and another spade to Victor who has to return a club from Q7 into K8. making 11 tricks. Great stuff especially as even 10 would have been a top!

Tuesday, 21 October 2014

Monday 20 October

Playing N/S with Adrianne came 2nd with a Butler score of 21.

Out of 13 pairs 9 played this in a small slam, 2 played 7NT (a dreadful contract at this scoring) and only two of us played in 7D.

Adrianne and I found the bidding straightforward
1S - 2D - 4D -

The grand looked certain to me now. Partner doesn't by-pass 3NT just because they've got good points.  No, this is good distribution. Just check for AQ of diamonds and bid 7D.

We are in 4H making when nearly everyone is off or in a poor 3N contract that had no chance.
David led a diamond, Katie won her Ace and switched to a heart won by the 8 in Dummy. I led my club and Katie again takes her Ace (a duck is interesting, but if my Q wins, then a club ruff and I see J10 from Katie, I should be able to guess singleton Ace left). Katie again exits with a heart to Dummy's King, David discarding a diamond.
I ruff a diamond and cash AH, David discards 7S. I now cash KQ clubs and exit a heart to Katie's Q, David lets go JD. I've lost three tricks and the situation is as shown.  David has had to cling on to that 9C and been squeezed.  Katie exits with a diamond (note how an unlikely spade beats me), I ruff, finesse QS and Dummy is high.

So we were scoring very well but lost a bad one near the end.
Raymond decided to open West 1D, I bid 1H and Charles bid 2H.  Raymond bid 3C, Charles 4N, Raymond 5D (0 or 3 -- in clubs?) Charles bid 6D.
I led KH, three round of diamonds and Raymond runs KC successfully. Can't stop 13 tricks now.
Nobody else near it, in fact others are in a part score.  Ruined our score.

Wednesday, 15 October 2014

Tuesday 15 October

Playing N/S with Gerry for St Mungo in the Jackie Josephson knockout teams, our team lost but we had a good score mainly helped by two second half slams.

As you can see three tables bid a slam.  Our team mates Les and Shirish were very unlucky with the break in 6D.  Bob & Nat for GUU bid the only making slam, 6S. Double Dummy even on a club lead (AK of hearts, ruff a heart, three rounds of spades and you have 12 tricks).  We were in 6H after 1H - 1S - 2H - 4C - 4D - 5H - 6H.
Now QC lead will put paid to this, however Cathy led her singleton diamond.  Gerry won in Dummy and finessed JH. QC came back, won in Dummy and now he finessed 9H, drew the last trump and used spade entries to set up diamonds for 12 (though spades were 3-3 anyway).

Ian as East opened 1H and Gerry with his whopper of a hand doubled.  Cathy passed and I bid 2D.  Gerry gave this some thought and reckoned I can't have too many hearts, I have bypassed spades and clubs, I must have five diamonds. The Queen won't even matter, so if Ian the opener has AH and KS, even if I have nothing I can make 12 tricks.
So he bid 6D!

Now as we can see AH lead defeats this but Ian with his two Aces thought long and hard but discounted AH first of all as Gerry might be void there and I could have some good hearts.  In fact he decided against either Ace and led a trump.
No problem for me, won in Dummy, second diamond to hand and took spade finesse right away. Cashed AS, spade ruff, heart to K, spade ruff, heart led and Ian has to take Ace and I can claim as I can ruff 4th heart.

So 1900 on these two hands which could just as easily have been -100 on different leads.

Tuesday, 14 October 2014

Monday 13 October

Playing E/W Adrianne and I came second last with a -21 Butler score.  We were never getting a good score as our opponents had this annoying habit of doing the right thing.  However we managed to shoot ourselves in the foot a few times as well.

This is a good example of me going wrong.  After three passes I opened 1D, Adrianne 1S, I rebid 1N and Adrianne raised to 3N.
Alistair led 8C and Dave played the 9 while I won the King.
I have 8 tricks and a heart finesse gives me 9.  However if I can duck a diamond I give myself the combined chance of a 3-3 diamond fit and if that fails I can take the heart finesse. This is a 70% chance rather than just 50%.  So what is that 8C lead?  I soon dispelled the idea of 4th best because with say AQT8 say, Dave would have played the Jack. So, is it a doubleton or MUD? After some thought I decided on MUD and ducked a diamond. Down 1 in a stiff contract.

On this hand I needed two defensive errors to help me home after one error was letting me make it but I contrived to throw the chance away.  It's complicated.
I'm in 5D and South leads away from their AH, so I win with my singleton King. Now all I have to do is cross to Dummy twice with black Aces to lead diamonds and I lose two diamonds for 11 tricks. Why make life easy for yourself?  I looked at all the distribution and decided I should ruff a club as they might well be 5-2.  So at trick two I crossed to AC, ruffed a heart and ruffed a club.  I now led a diamond to my King, South playing the 8.  Now if diamonds are 3-2 it doesn't matter what I do next, just two diamonds to lose. However, I realise it is probably the diamonds that break badly, too late.  I exit with a small diamond to the 10 and the 4-1 break means two more diamonds to lose --- unless.  North exits with a heart and I ruff.  As I am down to two diamonds the same as North I realise that a trump coup is possible. As long as the lead is from Dummy at trick 12 I only lose 1 diamond. Now I need an exact layout of cards.  I cashed two top clubs, finessed QS and bingo!  Dummy on lead with AS and two other cards, North with a heart and AJ trumps, I have KC and Q9 trumps.  I lead AS and North is snookered. Throw the heart and I lead from dummy at trick 12.  Ruff AS with J and I over-ruff and play KC, either way 11 tricks made.

Friday, 10 October 2014

Thursday 9 October

Despite my attempts to the contrary (two inept bids rewarded with two complete zeros against Steve and Frances), Adrianne and I came top in a Howell with 61%.

Only two pairs found 4H on this board and only Adrianne made it. Adrianne opened South 1D, Gerry bid 2S and I doubled.  Adrianne bid 4H. Although I am forcing a bid at the three level, we double with 8 points at the two level and anyway KD and AS are good cards.
Gerry didn't want to give away a cheap spade trick and led 3H to K and Ace.  Adrianne crossed to JH and played K and diamond finesse. Gerry exited with the last trump. Adrianne cashed AD and ruffed a diamond, ran 10C to King, won the KS return, 9, J and AC gave her 10 tricks.
A spade lead would have made life harder, you have to finesse QH (not run the Jack), but the key is not to draw three rounds of trumps or you will eventually lose a spade.

I played this hand badly yet got a top, such is bridge.
Adrianne opened South 1N passed round to Steve who bid 3C.  Back to me and I bid 3D.  Marilyn gave this a lot of thought before passing it out.
KC lead taken by Ace.  Diamond to Q, 10D back to Marilyn's Ace as Steve drops QC.  Marilyn exits with a diamond. I take out the last diamond and confident Steve has AS after QC discard I played KH and finessed JH. Oops, JC then QS back and I'm two off. I would have played hearts the other way round if I'd known and Marilyn would have been end played in spades to give me 9 tricks.  No matter, everyone else is making in some number of clubs, -100 is a top!

An interesting hand at the end which gave us a top and let us win. I opened 1H and Joyce overcalled 1S. Adrianne doubled promising both minors. I decided 1N was my best rebid and Joyce bid 2C.  Adrianne bid 3H and so I bid 4H.  I asked Raymond if they played Michaels which he confirmed.  If Joyce leads her two Aces, end of story, but she led JD. When I saw dummy I decided it would be 5-5 rather 6-4 but no matter, three red cards was the most likely.
I won AD and played KH, then AH.  I now played KD and so the three red cards were confirmed and I was in a great position. Two more winning diamonds let me discard KC and and a spade. I played the last diamond, ruffed and over-ruffed leaving me with Kxx spade and the last three trumps, dummy has a trump, a spade and the clubs. I envisaged Joyce with AQJ spades and AJx of clubs.
So I played a small spade and Joyce went in with the Jack. Now as it happens Raymond can overtake with QS and play a black card back to keep me to 11, but not so easy for him to see. Joyce is now scuppered.  If she plays AS I ruff in dummy and have KS and last three trumps.  If she plays AC I ruff in hand, ruff spade in dummy and throw the last spade on QC. Not certain on the whereabouts of KS she chose the spade suicide and I made 12 tricks.

Thursday, 2 October 2014

Thursday October 1st

Playing N/S with Gerry came first with 60%.

On our very first board I opened North 1NT which was passed round to Michele who doubled.  I bid 2S and Mike doubled, passed out.
Michele thought her double was weakish in the protective position, Mike thought it was strong.
Anyway Mike led 2H to Michele's King and back came club to Q, A and ruff.  Four tricks down, Ace of trumps to come, not looking good especially as I would have made 1Nx.  Michele now plays KD which I take with the Ace. I can see now that Michele does not have 15+ and thankfully Mike isn't doubling just because of spade length.  I could see a slight chance of at worst 1 down and maybe even making it if Michele started with Ax in trumps as I can discard two losing diamonds, or even sneaking it if she started with Axx by conning her not to bother ruffing JC. I finessed JH and threw JD on the Ace.  I now played the master JC, Michele discarded and I threw my last diamond.  I only lose Ace of trumps now and made it.

Some fun and games against Len and Russell.  On this board our bidding went:
1D - 1H - (1S) - 2D - 2H - 2N - 3N

I reckoned I could chance 2N to show a double spade stop and if Gerry is looking at a diamond honour he'll have no problem bidding game which is how it was.
A club lead defeats the contract but Russell led the inevitable spade and I had no problem making 10 obvious tricks, never touching clubs and just cashing AK of hearts.

The boot was on the other foot this time. Gerry opened 1D, Len bid 2C and Russell 3C.  Len bid 3S and Russell 3N.
A diamond lead defeats this contract but doesn't present itself.  Gerry led AH and switched to 5S to Russell's Q. Russell gave up his club loser, Gerry cashed AS, but that was 9 tricks now.
Gerry could have done better by exiting with a diamond, but Russell reckoned he would get it right after cashing the clubs.

Len opened West 1S, I passed and Russell bid 3S.  Gerry found a 4H bid, Len bid 4S and I bid 5H.  Russell went to 5S and Gerry doubled.  When this came round to me I had to think what on earth was Gerry doubling with?  Has Russell got nothing, has Gerry got great cards in the minors? However Len opened, he must have points there and they are behind Gerry.
It turned out Gerry doubled to stop me thinking of any higher!
So it was one of those cases where we both make 10 tricks in our major, 5Sx gets a joint bottom.  However 5Hx would just have been a second bottom.  As soon as Gerry bids 4H we are getting a top score.

Friday, 19 September 2014

Thursday 18 September

Playing in a small Howell with Gerry came second with 60%.
There were a lot of tricky hands for both sides.

I went too far on this board playing North.  Great hand but 1D the only opening option.  Gerry bid 1H and I reversed with 3C. Gerry sensibly bid 3N.  That's usually a good place to be in Pairs but I couldn't resist showing my shape and values by bidding 4H.  Gerry bid 4N, now this was to play (again very sensible) but I thought it was RKC ans bid 5D.  Gerry gave this some thought and passed. Just where you don't want to be in Pairs, 5 of a minor.
Kevin led a spade which immediately cut me off from Dummy. I led a club and Nat went up with the Ace to lead a diamond. I won, played another trump then club to the Queen.  I cashed a second spade pitching a club, finessed JH and just had to concede JD.

Gerry used considerable talent to bring home a simple 1NT in the next hand.  Kevin had opened 1D, Gerry overcalled 1N and that was passed out.
Nat led a diamond to Q and A and Gerry led KC. Kevin naturally ducked this. Declarers should always remember that defenders can't see their hand, surely Kevin thinks that lead is from KQ.
With a club in the bag, Gerry led a heart to the 8 which won. A heart back to K and Ace, diamond to K (Kevin should play the 9), now the 9D and Gerry wins the Jack, a heart from hand, Nat can take the Q but has to exit with a spade or heart and Gerry has 2 spades, 2 hearts, 2 diamonds and a club. 1N made 7.

Tuesday, 16 September 2014

Monday 16 September

After an exhausting week directing at the Commonwealth Championship, back to the club.  Playing N/S with Adrianne, came first with a big Butler score.  No thanks to me misplaying this game.

Our bidding was straightforward enough after Adrianne opened 1D.  1D - 1S - 4C - 4S.
Steve led QC to K and A and Marilyn played back 9S.  I finessed the Queen and cashed my five red winners. I then made a big mistake, on the play of the cards I tried a heart back to hand but it was ruff and over-ruff. I can only make 9 tricks now.
If I had played a diamond to ruff, club ruff and then a spade (but only a spade), I make 10.
Counter-intuitively (at least to me at the time), the best play after the five red winners is spade to the Ace. You must make 11 tricks now.

Pre-empts often lead opponents into high level guesses, unfortunately for the pre-emptor it also pushes them into contracts they would not have bid.
Adrianne opened 1D, Helen bid 3S and I doubled.  Ivan bid 4S and Adrianne bid 5D.
Well my hand looks very good now.  Adrianne can expect decent values as I'm forcing her to bid at the four level, she might also be able to reckon I've singleton spade. However I see her with six diamonds to AK and if she has no wasted values in spade surely top honours in clubs and hearts.  I bid 6D.
An initial club lead would have been a bit more testing, but Helen led a spade, Adrianne ruffed her second, drew trumps and found the QH for 13.
Left to our own devices we'll most likely be in 4H or 5D.

Thursday, 28 August 2014

Wednesday 27 August

Playing N/S with Gerry came 1st with 62%.

Had a bit of luck early on.  There is a lot to say for opening 1S on the North hand, you are liable to find yourself in a spade contract with a 5-2 fit when partner has 3 hearts but it might be the only way to get the suit in play.  However I've found having a 6 card major is a good thing and opened 1H. I've struck lucky when partner bids 2N, game force in hearts.  I bid 3D (singleton) and partner 3H (strong).  I now bid 3S and Gerry bid 4N, I showed 1 or 4, Gerry bid 5H and I crossed my fingers and bid 6H. Lewis as East quite rightly doubled and Alan led a diamond to King, Ace and ruff.  two rounds of hearts and I conceded the AS.

Only a few of us found 3N on this board, the others went down on what is really a stiff contract.
After two passes I opened 1H and Martin doubled, Gerry bid 2D and I bid my automatic 2N which Gerry raised to 3.
Martin led 6C round to my Q, I played JD, Martin tried KC (best chance of killing the diamonds if I am doubleton club).  I won the Ace and played another diamond, spade now which I can win in Dummy and clear the diamonds for 10 tricks.
There just isn't any defence to stop this, heart or spade leads can only keep me to 9. Some West's will have opened 3H.  I would certainly have liked to bid 3N with the North hand, but would probably have passed.

Paul opened 1H as West (?) and I bid 2H.  Nat raised to 4H and Gerry bid 4N which I converted to 5C.  This was passed out.
Nothing in the play, AH, heart ruffed, AK of trumps, A, K, ruff a spade and claim 12 tricks.
Only three of us are in clubs, everyone else defending a heart part score. I presume Paul and Nat are strong NT here and don't play checkback, so has to open 1H.
Strong NT with checkback will open West 1D, others a weak 1NT.  In either case what would I bid now? Over 1D I would pass, hoping it goes 1D - 1H - 2H and I can bid 2N to show this distributional hand. Over a weak 1N I feel really stuck. Not surprised everyone was defending heart part scores. Shows how much luck there is in bridge, I was against a system that let me describe my hand right away.

Against Mary and Moira our bidding went:

 P - 1S - 2D - 2S
3D- 3S - 4C - P
4D - P - 5D - passed out.
Wish I'd bid 4H over the 4C, but 5D it was.
Gerry received a spade lead and ruffed.
Assuming 5 heart tricks, if club finesse wins then negotiate trumps for 1 loser.  If West has KC, you need a club ruff and just one diamond loser (at least you'll know now where KD almost certainly is).
Gerry crossed to AH, finessed QC and Moira continued a spade. Gerry ruffed, crossed to KH, led QD to K and Ace. Now played AC, ruffed, heart ruffed, two down. Crossing to Dummy to lead QD probably led to an extra one down but could have gained from a defensive error.
The only other two pairs in diamonds made 11 and the hands' sheet says you make 11. I can't see it, so I put it into Bridgify.
Spade lead, ruff, 8D (must be 8), play low from Dummy whether covered or not. Say it is not covered and runs to King. Club back, win Ace, play another club.  A club can now be ruffed by the 10, draw trumps and make your 5 hearts.
If 8D is covered by the 9, you must play small to make sure you get that club ruff. Wonder how those other two tables made 11???

Friday, 15 August 2014

Thursday 14 August

Playing N/S with Gerry in a Teams at the club accompanied by Russell and Len we came in the middle with an average score.
In truth there wasn't a lot in the hands and part scores played a major part.

There were just two hands I played that were interesting.

Rod opened 2H, I doubled and Gerry bid 3D which shows at least 8 points.  I bid 3N.
Alex led 8H.  I considered what would happen if I won the first round, could I play the diamonds to keep Alex out? However even with 5 diamonds I only have 8 tricks and have to guess where the black Kings are.
So 8H was ducked all round, Rod won the second with Ace and cleared the suit (playing JH) while I discarded a spade. and Alex a McKinney 3C. Alex is no danger now so I finessed JD. Noting Rod's JH, Alex exited with 9S to Rod's 3 and my Q.  If these cards are genuine then ROd started with KJ103 of spades but nobody bothers about any rules for weak twos these days. However I am fairly confident that Rod has KS and therefore Alex has KC.  Iran the diamonds, Rod's first discard being a McKinney 10H and then Ace and another club for my 9 tricks.
400 didn't get a lot of imps as Len was left in 2H at the other table and went three off for -300.

Six pairs were in 4H but four went 1 off (including our opponents).
David Shenkin led 4C.  This looked unusual, not likely to lead a little doubleton and Jxxx(x) isn't much of a lead, so I thought it might be singleton and this greatly increases the chance of a bad trump split.
On a 3-2 break there are ten top tricks but I thought I should take some insurance.  Now if it is a singleton and 4 hearts there is no worry about losing a ruff. So I played for a spade ruff, I won AC and played Ace and another spade.  Cameron won this and played back JC. David thought for a while and rightly discarded a diamond (if he ruffs I have my original 10 top tricks --- that is why there was no worry about a ruff). However I just played a third top club and discarded a diamond.  David ruffed but I had my contract by ruffing a spade to make up for the lost club. Note if it had been a doubleton club or four or five to the Jack, I would have made 11 tricks by playing for the spade ruff.
I assume those that went down immediately drew trumps and when they had a loser tried a diamond to the Q to no avail.

Friday, 8 August 2014

Thursday 8 August

Playing N/S with Gerry came second with 57%. Could have won in so many ways.  In fact coming into the last three boards we were well ahead and both of us contrived to get a bottom each in two of the boards.

We had an interesting set against Issy and Gerald.

Gerry opened South 1D, round to Gerry who doubled and Gerry bid 2C.  This was passed out, you certainly can't blame Issy with his 3 points.  At Pairs Gerry should maybe double again but that could go wrong if I have majors.
Issy led 3H and Gerry cashed AK then played KD.  Gerry took AK of clubs and exited with a diamond. Gerry played back a heart (mistake) which Gerry ruffed. Another diamond leaves Gerry end played (should have cashed the diamond last time before exiting with heart).  He has to play another heart for ruff and discard or lead a spade.  He chose 2S, Gerry ran this to J and Q and had the rest for a second top.
 1C - 1S - 1N - 3N was how we bid game.  Gerald reasonably reckoned that his Partner will have to defeat this and tried 9H lead to Q and my Ace. I played 10C to Gerald's K.  This is where a convention called Smith-peter comes in very handy.  Issy would play a high club if he liked the heart lead and a small club if he didn't.  However they don't play that so Gerald doesn't know where KH is and tries JH. I won the K and played 9C to Issy's Ace.  Issy returned 2H to my master 10.  So I had 10 tricks set up,  I played out my clubs and top diamonds then KS and spade to the Ace, Gerald lets a lot of diamonds go. I am now in hand with a small spade and heart, Dummy has Q9 spades with the 10 having gone. Surely Gerry had started with J95 of hearts, if he had the 4th he would have led small. Does he have a spade and QD or Jx spades? I felt 90% sure he had the two spades but then thought I've been given an extra heart trick, don't throw it away.  I just played the top spadde for 10 tricks and a joint top.
However, on reflection I should have finessed.  If Gerald has QD then he started with QT9xx, SURELY he would have led 10D, not 9H.

 Well we have two good scores, it couldn't last and Gerald got us back on the last board of the set.
He opens 1H and Issy bids 2D (I think they play 2 over 1 game force). Anyway Gerald bids 3H, Issy 4H and Gerald goes on to 6H. Gerry led a spade to Q and A.  Gerald ruffs a spade, heart to Q and that was just one trump trick for us.  A zero as nobody else bid it.
Another interesting set was against Cathy and Peter.

A near bottom on the first one.  The bidding went:
1C - 2Ca - 3N - 4H
Peter now bid 5C passed out.
I led 8H thinking if parrtner has say AQx(x) over KJx (or vice versa) then this would be the best start.  On reflection I should reckon that Peter won't have more than 1 heart and should maybe have led KS even though I expected AS in Dummy.
Anyway  a spade or diamond leads puts it two down. The heart lead gave two quick spade discards and 11 tricks made.
Our 4H will make, just losing 3 heart tricks and setting the spades up. Cathy's 3N goes 1 down as long as Gerry leads Ace and another spade and we cash three followed by two diamonds. However would South be tempted to lead a heart keeping AS over an imagined King?

On the next hand Cathy opened 1S and Gerry gave himself an extra point for the 109 spades and bid 1N.  I checked for four hearts and bid 3N.
Peter tried 2D to the J and Q and Gerry returned 6D to the 4 and 5! Another diamond was taken by Peter's Ace and now QS, ducked, 7S to Jack and King.
Gerry now runs all his clubs and diamond squeezing Cathy and made 10 tricks.
Only one other Pair was in 3N, by N on a JD lead and they went 1 off. So a complete top.

Again 1S by Cathy, 1N by Gerry and a direct 3N by me. This looks like a flattish board but less that half the field were in 3N.
Peter led a heart and Gerry won the third round.
He was the only one to make 10 tricks via five clubs, two spades, two diamonds and a heart.
Another top.  Pity about a few errors on other boards

Thursday, 7 August 2014

Wednesday 6 August

Playing N/S with Adrianne came just above average with 53%.  I got a complete 0 on the second hand we played.

Our bidding was:

  P  -  1H  -  P  -  2C
  P  -  2D  -  P  -  3D

Adrianne now has a difficult decision on whether to go for 5D or 3N and decides to try 3S.  I bid 3N and there we played.
Nat led 2S so there was no real point in holding up but I ducked Paul's 10S anyway and won the continuation in Dummy.  I crossed with a diamond and ran 10H to the Jack. If it had drawn K or A I would have 9 tricks via another lead to the 9 but now I had no chance. I won the spade return and cashed my diamonds on which Paul discarded clubs, exited with QH and lost 2 spades and 3 hearts.  5D does make, diamond lead win in hand, play a heart, West wins, plays a spade, play another heart, West another spade then AC, heart ruff, spade ruff, heart ruff, club ruff to hand and win the rest.
Some made 3N on a spade lead, must have been some strange discarding by West.

A good score against Dave and Bob when we defeated Bob's 1N by two tricks. This just needs careful defence.

I led 10C, Bob ducked in Dummy as did Adrianne. I'm now fairly certain that the layout is at appears and so can tell partner where my entry is by continuing with JC.  Anyway Adrianne wins and reliably returns 9S.  Bob takes the A and cashes 4 diamonds on which I discard 3 hearts. He now plays a heart to the Q and A ( I discard a club) and Adrianne carefully plays the JS which I overtake, cash my remaining clubs and we win the last spade.

After two passes Adrianne would normally open in 3rd seat, but passed.  Katie opened 1D, Liz raised to 2D and that came round to me and I bid 2H passed out.
Liz led a diamond which I won in hand and played a heart to K and A. Katie finds the club return and they cash 3 clubs and exit with a diamond won in Dummy.  I ran 9H to Liz's Q and now I know for certain Katie has QS. Liz did well to exit with 4th diamond but crucially I have 8H so to no avail whether Katie ruffs or not. I won, drew the last trump and played AS, spade finesse for 8 tricks.
Most people were in 2H rather than 2S (maybe South opened 1S, North bid 2H and they passed). However most went off but they didn't have the information I had and probably took the spade finesse the wrong way.