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.