Tuesday, 25 March 2014

Monday 25 March

Playing N/S with Adrianne came above average with a Butler score of 17.
Not a lot interesting play but one hand presents a bidding problem that nobody surmounted.

Anatomy of a slam hand.

We reached 6H via
1C – 1H – 2C – 2S – 4H – 4N – 5H – 6H

2S is just a one round force so 4H is stronger than 3H. The final contract could have been 6C at Butler scoring but we are all so programmed to bid majors as we play Match Points most of the time.  However the clubs are probably 6 so maybe the extra discards might be better. Anyway Adrianne chose 6H and made the easy 12 tricks on the diamond lead, AH, ruff a diamond cash two more top trumps and running clubs until eventually the JH was taken.
7C and actually 7NT are stiff.  Most people bid 6C, unluckily Ian McClure and Steve Bailey bid 7H.

So how do you get to the best contract of 7C?

North always opens 1C, South bids 1H (nobody would bid 2H nowadays unless they had a 6th). North surely always rebids 2C.
At this points South ‘knows’ they are going to play in 6C, if they embark on RKC they get 5S (2 with) and what do they know? Three hearts, likely a fourth, 5 clubs (partner could be xx xx AQxx AQxxx) a diamond and two spades, slam seems certain. A six card club suit is a bit more likely, in that case a grand slam is more or less certain but thirteen is rare, you would need to be looking for a score to bid that. What if partner only had a singleton heart, what if only five clubs? No, 6C looks right.

However, let’s go back to Adrianne’s bidding of her 2S reverse with her three card suit (safe to do so, I've denied four spades) and my jump to 4H. What does she know? Well I’m not just a minimum 1C – 2C, I have three hearts, could I be 4-5 in the minors or is she certain I have six clubs? Well the latter actually because with 1-3-4-5 I would have rebid 2H (this requires good partnership understanding).  So I must be 2-3-2-6 or 1-3 in spades and diamonds.  What can South work out now? If there are normal breaks you have 6 clubs, 5 hearts and two Aces and a King, 14 tricks.  If I did have five clubs, you can still expect thirteen tricks. However we are not playing MPs so you should bid 7C because the six card club suit is very likely and you know that if the hearts don’t run you can ruff one to make the four tricks you need. So 7C is an excellent grand to bid.
So brilliant bid that 2S reverse, you should always look to make forcing bids like that to find out more about Partner's hand.  However, the main point is always count your tricks in suit slams.  People tend to concentrate on RKC and controls.  That just tells you what top tricks you might lose, doesn't tell you how many tricks you make.  In fact I would never teach Blackwood to beginners, teach trick counting when it comes to suit slams (yes I know you can have 12 tricks and three top losers -- I'm assuming some common sense comes into it). Just use point counting when it comes to NT -- 33 points, can't be missing two Aces, bid slam.

Thursday, 6 March 2014

Wednesday 5 March

Playing N/S with Gerry, came first with 63%. There were a lot of big hands around, on one set when we were close to slam two hands in a row, we didn't bid them but made 12 or 13.  Then on the third, the best one to bid, we did try for 6S. Small club led, the slam depends on one of two finesses in clubs and spades, Gerry played Q from AQxx in Dummy, lost to the King, club back, ruffed! The spade finesse was on of course. C'est la vie.

This was an early hand where a number of people bid 6H, one even bid 6N.  I opened 2N, Gerry transferred with 3D and as I am always playing this in hearts, I broke the transfer with 3S. Gerry knows there are plenty of points missing and doesn't like the idea of me having good spades opposite his singleton so foregoes the diamond cue bid and just bids 4H.
Robina leads JD and Gerry takes King in Dummy followed by AK of spades (throwing a club) and a spade ruff felling the Queen.  Now a heart to the Ace, Phoebe dropping the Jack.  A low heart back and Phoebe plays the 10.  Gerry plays low, losing to the now bare King and has 12 tricks.
Of the three 6H bidders only one made it, those playing North got JH lead.  I sympathise with anyone who covers with the Queen, it is almost an automatic reflex.  However you have to play low and play west for a singleton or doubleton King.

This was actually board 23 and most are in slam (South is the dealer). Our bidding went 1S - 2N (Jacoby) - 3H (singleton) - 4C (cue) - 4D (cue) - 4S (I'm only kidding, I'm minimum) - 6S.
Everyone received the favourable lead of 6C to Q and K. Gerry took KD, spade to A, AD throwing a heart, diamond ruff.  Now QS then JS overtaking and he ran all his spades.
Gerry just discarded all his hearts from Dummy on the run of the spades but Brian as East has to keep a heart winner because of Gerry's JH in hand and so his last three cards are AH and T8 of clubs.  A classic squeeze, Gerry took another three club tricks for 13.

This is board 28, Gerry was berating himself  for not making the contract but it was actually an excellent defence.
Paul opened West (remember board 28, dealer West) 1D passed round to Gerry who bid 3N.
Paul found the 2S lead to Nat's Ace and a spade back to the King.  He now played JC which Gerry won and he played out his top clubs and conceded the 4th to Nat.  Nat now returned a heart and there was nothing Gerry could do.  The defence have three tricks, if he goes up with the Ace he can only cash and Paul will have AD and KH at the end.  He tried JH but no good Paul just got his tricks earlier.
Gerry was annoyed he didn't duck the club, he has to make now as the only sensible card Paul can play now is a diamond to J and K, but after cashing clubs Gerry just plays a diamond ensuring a 9th trick.
However although ducking a club would be sensible at Teams, it is not good at Match points if everyone else makes 10 tricks.  No, you just have to admire excellent defence by Paul and Nat.

Tuesday, 4 March 2014

Monday 3rd March

Playing N/S with Gerry came middling with a Butler score of 7. However I suffered the indignity of two complete stupidities which lost us an unbelievable 49 points. In one I failed to ask partner for the Queen of trumps and bid 7 instead of a making 6, in another I inexplicably failed to take a trick I was given to let a game make. Not my night.

We had got off to a great start as well.

I opened North 1H and Charles overcalled 2C, Gerry bid 2S and Raymond passed. I now bid 4C, Gerry 4D, 4N gave me two with and I bid 7S.  I know partner has 5 spades so I can count 5 trumps, 6 hearts, AD and a club ruff, 13 tricks.  If hearts don't run there can be a second club ruff.
The first round of bidding must have been identical at every table but we were the only ones who bid the grand.

Not so lucky on this board. After 1D - P - 2D, Gerry came in 2H, I raised to 3H and Gerry bid 4H.
Only three pairs found what is a very good contract. However nothing lies right.  The lead, rather strangely was 3S which went to East's King, AD was cashed and a spade returned to Gerry's Q.  A diamond ruff, losing heart finesse and a third spade.  Unfortunately this still left a club finesse to be taken and that failed as well.

We crawled into 3N on this one, only three pairs played there and only Gerry and Kathleen made it.
Mary opened 1N, Gerry doubled and Moira redoubled (shows a 5 card suit). I bid 2C and Gerry bid 2D, Moira bid 2H and I passed.  Gerry bid 3D which makes my QD look a huge card, so I sprang to life and bid 3H and Gerry took 3N.
Moira led JH which ran to the Ace. Gerry took QD and passed JC followed by a club to Ace, no luck (double dummy A, K and JC makes the contract -- but Gerry's no dummy). Tried Ace of diamonds, no luck. However Gerry 'knows' Mary has a singleton heart honour as well as all the significant cards and pulls off the master stroke of exiting with 8H.  However Moira scuppers that somewhat by rising with KH. Moira exits with another heart to Dummy's 10 but this squeezes Mary who lets a spade go.  Gerry knows Mary has Qx in clubs and J9 diamonds and must have AK spades to open 1N and coolly plays a small spade from Dummy. Mary can cash AK of spades but must now commit hari kari with either a diamond or club.  Brilliantly done.