Friday, 13 April 2018

Thursday 12 April

Playing E/W with Gerry in an 8 table Mitchell, came first with 69%.

Defending 1NT by North I led 5H giving Derek 3 tricks in the suit.  He won JH and played a diamond to Ten and my Queen.  I continued a heart, Derek continued a diamond to Gerry's Ace.
Gerry played KS, I played the 3 to show my count. Gerry now made key play of 9S.  It doesn't matter if Derek has QS, I must have club entry and can play my third spade through Dummy's Jack.  As it happens I win and so we made 4 spades, 2 diamonds and a club for down 1.  80% as 1NT was making elsewhere.

Gerry opened a very cheeky 1NT passed round to South who was able to bid a natural 2C.  Well I don't want to defend this and it being match points chose to gamble on 2H rather than 2D.  This goes off on AK clubs, club ruff and a spade switch.  However when luck is with you.... South played AC and switched to QD.  I won in hand and played AH and ducked a heart to North's Ten.  A diamond forced South to ruff with QH and now King and another club couldn't be ruffed.  I just played on diamonds and let South ruff whenever. My spade loser was going away for 8 tricks and a top.

Definitely riding my luck here.  I opened East 2NT with my 23 points and singleton King. Gerry checked for 4 hearts and bid 3NT.  South found the club lead alright, fortunately for me it was a small one.  I ran my 12 winners and the opposition failed to keep enough hearts so I made 13 tricks.

I nearly opened East 1NT but passed.  Norman opened South 1H and Gerry overcalled 2C.  Colin passed and I bid 2H, Gerry 2NT and I bid 3NT. Three out of eight found this excellent contract.
Colin led a diamond to Dummy's Jack and a club immediately found the King.  Another diamond was taken by Colin (not best) who now played a heart but that was it, twelve tricks were there.

Again a bit of luck.  I opened that super East hand 1H, Phoebe overcalled 1S and Gerry bid 3C which shows a solid raise to 2H.  Robina bid 3S and I bid 4D.  Gerry 4H and I bid 5D.  Gerry bid 5H.  As it was Phoebe led a heart and I played KC from Dummy, covered and ruffed and so could cross to Dummy with a trump and discard my losing spade.  Twelve tricks.  Of course in a slam South would have cashed AS.
The thing is neither of us know what my diamond bids mean.  Would I have bid the same with a void? However the bidding must show I have a diamond suit but even then, was I looking for a spade control??? No idea, but often I would just punt 6H on this hand expecting it to be on a diamond finesse at worst. It was just my night for getting things right.

Thursday, 22 March 2018

Wednesday 21 March

Playing E/W with Adrianne at St Andrew club, came 2nd in an aggregate tournament.

Played for a match point top here but you only gain 30 at aggregate.
Our bidding was straightforward 1S - 2S - 4S, Charles led QD which I won in hand.  Six outstanding hearts only break 3-3 35% of the time, if they are 4-2 (or even 5-1) and the short hand has a top honour then I can end play them.
I cashed two top spades and KC, crossed to KD and ruffed a diamond, crossed to a spade and AC, ruff a club.  I only have spades and hearts in each hand now and exit with a small heart.
Charles won 9H, took AH and then had to concede a ruff and discard with a further club to let me discard a heart for 11 tricks.

Playing Benji, our big NT openings are 20-21 2NT, 22-23, 2C, 24-25, 2D.  Adrianne opened 2D, I gave the negative 2H which Ina doubled(?)
Adrianne now bid 3NT, well KJxx of hearts looks as good as AK or at least KQx.
So, thinking Adrianne is 26+, 6C looked a good prospect, so I bid 4C.  After any NT bid, 4C asks for Aces but it is not normal to ask a 26 point hand for Aces!  However Adrianne answered Aces, I just bid 6C.
I was surprised by the small heart lead, Ina couldn't possibly be kidding me?  Well if she is she deserves a good score, I played low, Alex won Ace and returned JD to my Queen.  With the club finesse the rest was easy.

Sunday, 11 March 2018

West District Pairs Final 10 March

Playing in a Howell with Gerry came below average with 48%.  Weren't doing well about half way through (though better than we thought) without doing anything wrong.  We then proceeded to make up for that.

This was an interesting hand on various levels.  Our bidding was simple enough 1D - 1NT - 3NT.
Peter led 5C and my first thought is I don't want a heart switch. If diamond finesse works I have 11 tricks, if clubs 4-4 winning immediately essential to avoid possible heart switch. I certainly need that possibility of 11 tricks so I took Jim's 8C and ran TD for 1 down.

If I had been playing aggregate / teams I would have ducked the club.  Expecting a club back that would go to Q and Ace and most players will clear the clubs.  Now when you take diamond finesse you are guaranteed the contract, either West has no more clubs or they are 4-4.  The danger with that is a heart switch but West would need KQJx(x) hearts and Kx(x) of diamonds to find that.  A good East defender might find it after winning second club with Ace (I would be discarding a heart from Dummy) but mostly at aggregate / Butler ducking the club is best.

The next question is what is East's best lead?
After 1D - 1NT, North's only suit is clubs.  In fact unless they are precisely 3334 they will have 5 clubs.  South had no problem jumping to 3NT, how many clubs is your partner likely to have? I would reckon 2 or 1 is to be expected most times.  They could have length in diamonds and / or a major.  If they hold diamonds that will usually come into the play by Declarer, so a major lead might be best, a heart might be considered but a top spade is possibly what I would have chosen.  As you can see out of 5 North's that played 3NT, 3 got a spade lead.

Here is another 'match point' hand which got us a bottom. Peter opened 1S and I overcalled 2H.  On the way to 4S, Willie cue bid 4D and Gerry doubled (imagine if that had been left in!).  So I led 8D instead of KH.  Peter had no problem going up with the Ace, eventually discarding a heart on QC and making 12 tricks.
Everyone else led KH, declarer will take the Ace, draw trumps, cash AK of clubs then play a diamond but what do you do?, Finesse and make 13 or go over to Ace, discard heart on QC and make 12?  Well at match points everyone went for 13 (possibly 'helped' by East's heart overcall) and so they made 11.

Thursday, 8 March 2018

Wednesday 7 March

Playing N/S with Gerry came 2nd with 60%.  Were leading going into the last set until I doubled a making contract for a bottom and we both could have found a good switch against a NT contract on the last and both failed.

We were the only ones to bid slam on board 4.  After a NT bid we play Gerber 4C for Aces and 4NT quantitative. When Gerry bid 4NT after a transfer I realised we'd never discussed this, is it now RKCB?  I'm in-between anyway with 13 points but with great controls could bid the slam directly, however 4333 is a bit of a disadvantage.  Not knowing for sure what 4NT is I decided to answer RKCB and bid 5S.  Gerry did mean it as quantitative, but just bid 6S anyway!  On a diamond lead I need the club finesse which makes it a good enough slam though it fails here.  However Liz led a trump and 12 tricks were automatic.  Now the question is, should I have bid 6NT with my 4333?  If I had been sure what the 4NT was, then I would have bid 6N.  On a diamond lead (much more likely now) I would have gone three down.

This was board 18 and I led 10H.  Declarer took two rounds of trumps and led a spade to the Queen which Gerry calmly ducked.  Declarer now led 10C off the table, covered by Jack and King to my Ace.  I returned a club and declarer ruffed.
Stuck in Dummy he had to lead a diamond off table to his Queen and my King.  Now I thought that was strange, why did he not go back to hand with AS and lead QD?  Did Gerry have AS?
I led a spade, declarer went up with King, Gerry's Ace wins and a spade back to my Jack for one down.
Ducking like that can be very effective, often causing declarer to misplay as he thinks he has two spade tricks in the bag for one loser.

On board 22 I landed in 3NT.  This has no chance on TC lead, but West reasonably led TD to Queen and Ace.  East returned a small club to Dummy's Queen.  The double marks East with a spade holding and of course most if not all the points.  At trick three I led a spade off the table to 10 and my Jack and then a spade back to the 8 and Queen.  Back came a club won in hand perforce and a third spade to 9 and Ace.  Back came the inevitable club.
East is now marked with three spades and from the carding, five clubs.  For the double three or four diamonds and two or one hearts seem most likely.  If four diamonds I'll probably finesse QH or should I play to drop singleton KH?  Anyway the problem didn't arise, I cashed my spade and got a diamond discard from West, Queen and Jack of diamonds set up my fourth for the eighth trick and AH made nine.

What do you open the West hand?  3S is not a good bid, very anaemic suit and good clubs outside.  There's more to be said for a weak 2S, however our opponents played Acol Twos, so west chose 1S.  I used a bit of imagination and overcalled 1NT and East has a very good double.  Of course West should have bid 2S now but passed. 
KS was led and I was feeling some trepidation as I saw five diamonds going down in Dummy, why not take me out of this? As I saw the rest of the table I realised Gerry was expecting me to make this!
I ducked the KS and won the 10S continuation with the Jack discarding a heart from Dummy.  I led KD, immediately taken by East with the Ace and JC hit the table. West has now shown 8 points, the remaining points, AQ clubs and KH must be with West. Just have to hope West is doubleton AQ or AQx, so I ducked.  Another club to the Queen and the Ace is cashed for five tricks to the defence.  West exited with a spade to my Ace and I cashed the diamonds for 6 tricks to me.  I now led QH from table and West showed out having discarded his heart.  So up with my Ace for 7 tricks and a top.

On board 24 with my solid 11 points (in fact I've often opened this hand 1NT), I didn't expect any problems making 3N opposite a strong NT.  As it happens nearly everyone made 7 tricks.  Gerry though got his 9 playing for the actual layout.
My spade bid unfortunately stops the easier spade lead and West led 6C.  As I said Gerry made game by playing for the spade finesse and running 10D from Dummy.  It can't be beaten.  An interesting question is though, should you take AC at trick one?  I've usually found it better to hold up until third round especially on the lead of a 6 which is more likely from five.  However if you expect to lose the lead to West early on, it could be better to take the Ace immediately because West can't continue clubs without giving you a second trick.  Just another of these problem decisions to perplex us, but then that's what makes the game interesting.

Wednesday, 21 February 2018

WD Pairs Semi-final 20 February

Top 14 pairs to qualify for final, Gerry and I comfortably qualified in 13th place!

Playing N/S mostly in a Hesitation Mitchell.

Playing Lucas Twos Gerry opened the South hand 2S.  Now that is supposed to be 5-5 vulnerable(it never is).  So I thought better to play in minor even if 4-4 and bid 3C which is where I was left.
2D was led to my Ace and I looked at ruffing diamonds using spade entries (they looked to be 4-4) but that looked to be two down.  I'll need to make spades and I tried KS first.Seeing the 4 and the 2 made me feel they would divide.  I then switched to a trump taken by Ace.  A spade came back, ruffed by West, a heart to Ace, spade ruff.  No matter, I lost 4 clubs and a heart for one down as I was always destined to be.  2S was a better contract.

I opened 1S, Gerry bid 3D (good spade raise), Bob came in 3H and I bid 4C.  Cathy contributed 4H and Gerry 4S.  Wasn't sure if that was good or bad, afterwards Gerry reckoned it shows a basic hand, pass would promise more interest.  A Queen and two Jacks outside certainly was disappointing..  Cathy led a heart to my Ace, spade to dummy and ruff a heart.  I now exited with a diamond, Cathy took Queen, played Ace and another for me to ruff. Minuscule chance of end play gone, I played a spade to dummy and Cathy's diamond discard made me hope that suit was 4-4.  Were hearts 7-3 or 6-4? Good chance of doubleton King of Clubs with Bob.  Normally though you play a club to hand and try to just cover whatever West plays.  However my 5, 6 and 3 mitigated against that, but decided to just duck a club anyway.  Played 5C, Bob played 4 and I played 10, oh no, didn't notice 4, could have played small to keep 10.  Oh well, Cathy won Jack and now I have no option but to hope for doubleton King with Bob.  Cathy returns club, low in Dummy and King appears, 10 tricks.
However, if I had noticed Bob's 4 and ducked the first club, Cathy wins the 7 and returns small club, what would I have played?  I think I would have got it right, but saved myself a guess.

This was a very awkward 1NT contract by me.  It should go down automatically on a heart lead, 5 hearts, set up a diamond and make AS.  However Jim led 6S.  I found that difficult to read, maybe 10 6 4 3? It looked like I wanted a double diamond finesse and if I played low from Dummy I could be denied a spade entry, so I put up the Queen to Peter's Ace.  The 7H came back, even more perplexing than the 6S lead.  Can't be 4th highest but if there is an honour is that KJ7?  Why didn't Jim lead hearts?  I haven't a clue but luckily the opponents haven't either, the 7 went to T and J and Jim came back a club!. Four club tricks induced a spade discard from Peter and so I made 4 clubs, 3 spades and a diamond.  My double finesse in diamonds never came into it.

Friday, 16 February 2018

Thursday 15 February

Playing at Maccabi in a Howell with Gerry we came 1st with 70%.  Had some luck obviously, none more so than on board 13.

Davina opened the South hand 1H and I have the perfect hand to double then bid my suit which shows a strong jump overcall.  Mary passed my double (1NT?) and Gerry jumped to 2S, must have really liked those intermediates.  Davina passed and I bid 6S, hoping it might just be on a club finesse which should be on as North can't have much.
Davina led KC and Gerry took the Ace, cashed two spades and played 10C to Davina's Q.  She got off lead with QH to Gerry's Ace and he crossed to Dummy with a trump to play JC, discarding a diamond.  Davina's 9C fell so 8C from Dummy discarding another diamond and that was 12 tricks.
Obviously nobody else was in slam.

I covered myself in ignominy on this hand. Playing weak, South opened 1NT, North bid 2C and Gerry 2S.  South bid 2NT, North 3C and continuing their mix up, South bid 3NT.
I led 6S (lowest from three of partner's suit) and Gerry took the Ace, declarer played the 2.  Gerry now played the 10S to Declarer's Jack.  Three rounds of clubs followed, Gerry taking the third and he played 9S to Declarer's King.  A small heart was led towards Dummy's Queen and I stopped to think for a moment.  Declarer seems to have four spades KQJ2 and KQ3 of clubs.  He cannot therefore have AH as that would be 15 points.  Must have KD.  Now Gerry has five spades and four clubs so could have singleton AH, so I must play low.  Oooooooops!  Queen wins, Declarer made five clubs, two spades and three hearts (I had discarded two hearts on the earlier clubs), 10 tricks.

Gerry opened East a Lucas 2H and I just bid 3NT.  North led the obvious QH to my Ace.
Lacking entries I led clubs from hand and started with KC to South's Ace. A spade came through to Jack and King and North continued a high heart.  Looks like they'll be 5-2 so no point in ducking and I took the King to play a club ducked to my Jack and continued a club which South should duck but he took the Queen.  No matter, I would have had to finesse 10D if he had ducked. Now a spade came back to my Ace and I had 10 tricks.  That was a good score, no doubt other tables didn't like leading away from KJT of clubs.  However if you don't and even if you successfully finesse 10D to lead a club you will find entries very difficult in both directions.  In fact South can scupper you by simply rising with AC and returning a diamond.

Thursday, 15 February 2018

Wednesday 14 February

Playing with Adrianne in a Howell at St Andrew came in the middle with 51%.

Bob opened South 1S, Ian bid 1NT, Bob 2C and Ian 2H.  Bob showed his points with 2NT and Ian passed.
My singleton diamond looked like the only logical choice of lead and that worked well, Ian running it to his 10.  Now he runs JS (the 7S would have guaranteed 8 tricks, but that is Double Dummy) to Adrianne's Q and she returns JH.
Ian comes back to hand by overtaking QD and plays a spade to the 10 to get the bad news.  He now tried a club to the 9 but we have 6 tricks now for down 1.  They were making 3NT at the other tables.  A black suit lead would certainly have given Declarer a much easier ride.

South is in 3NT and Adrianne leads KS so Declarer has to run his tricks in hearts and clubs to make his contract.
After winning the second spade he crosses to AC and back to AH.  Now a club again and which card should he play?
It is a difficult concept to understand but once I play JC (or QC) it is twice as likely that my partner has the other honour.
So declarer should finesse the 8C.  Unfortunately for us Declarer didn't know the principle of restricted choice, rose with the KC and made 10 tricks.

Martin opened South 2S and Adrianne bid a Lebensohl 2NT.  Alyson passed and I bid 3C.  Adrianne bid 3H and now Alyson bid 4S, I bid 5H passed out.  Alyson led a spade and Adrianne could discard a club to make 11 tricks.
It didn't matter if the defence start with AK of clubs, one down would still have been a top for us as spades makes 10 tricks.

Monday, 12 February 2018

Scottish Mixed Swiss Teams 11th February

Playing with Adrianne, partnered by Allan & Claire Whiteford we ended with a very poor result.  For the first four rounds Adrianne and I had done very well.  We had an excellent card on match one which we won 17-3.  For the second match we didn't have much say as the cards were all E/W, unfortunately our partners made a mistaken call of a card from Dummy and went down in a game losing that match.  We won the third as we bid a slam which was missed at the other table.  In match four we lost as Abi bid a slam which was only found at one other table in the room.  So two wins and two defeats and no luck so far.  In round five Adrianne and I collapsed and we lost 20-0.  Not good.  We lost the last match as well to go down near the bottom.

This is the hand that lost the last match and is a problem for weak No Trump vs Strong.  At the other table playing strong North opened 1NT and South with decent intermediates just bid 3NT despite 4333.  This is not a good contract and I suppose sums up our luck on the day.  East leads a diamond for North to win but you must run 8 further tricks before West gets in to lead another diamond through.  As you can see the spade finesse works and the hearts are 3-3, about an 18% chance.
However, in principle, you want to be in this game at teams.
At our table I opened 1S, Adrianne bid 1NT and I passed, just not quite enough for 2NT I reckoned.  East bid 2D, Adrianne 2S and I passed.  Managed to make 10 tricks.

This had been the previous board and we reached 4H by a roundabout route.
Adrianne decided to open South 2S which was passed round to East who found a 3D bid.  This came back to me and I decided to double. Adrianne thought maybe she should own up to having the other major and bid 3H.  East bid 4D!  What to do?  Clearly Adrianne is void in diamonds and 6-4 in the majors.  Setting up spades shouldn't be a problem and 4H will make OK.  Will I make more from doubling?  Playing is always easier than defending so I chose 4H. No problem making 10 tricks for  flat board.

Here is a previous board that must have been a problem for strong NT as half the field didn't find slam.  At our table Adrianne opened 1C, I bid 1H and Adrianne made the only sensible rebid of 1NT.  I couldn't remember whether we played 4N quantative or Blackwood, so just bid 6H.  No problem in making that.

If you play strong NT though, how do you bid it?  1C - 1H - ? Both 2C and 3C are just plain wrong, but I suppose you have no option but to bid 2C and so 4H will be the likely outcome.  If it is available to you this is a case where a jump shift to 2H would be appropriate however these hands are so rare and it takes away bidding space from more normal openers that hardly anyone jump shifts anymore.

Thursday, 8 February 2018

Wednesday 7th February

Didn't do very well playing E/W at St Andrew Club with an arrow switch on the last round came in the middle with 51%.

I opened West 1H and Ian overcalled 1S.  Presumably their Michaels isn't allowed here and if you overcall 2D you are unlikely ever to get spades into the picture.
So what should Gerry bid? 4H is wrong, we play that with weak hands.  We have Bergen raises available, but a limit raise does not describe this hand.  I suppose the options are 3S, 4D or 2C.  3S would be much better than 4D but Gerry chose to show his values first (never a bad idea in bidding) and bid 2C.  Bob bid 4S knowing their 10 card fit.
I don't think we are getting too many match points for defending but don't see any other option but to double.  Gerry now bid 5H leaving me perplexed.  He cannot have just three hearts, he would always leave the double in.  So why didn't he give me a limit raise?  I reckoned on good clubs and good heart support but decided I would be guessing too much and chickened out of 6H.  As it happens it depends on a finesse but the KC is onside and the slam would have been an easy make.

After two passes third in hand bids have a lot of leeway, so here am I with 7 clubs but 4 spades and just enough to open 1C.  However that gives the opponents too much room to find their better red suit fit, so I chose 3C.
North passed and Gerry thought seriously about 3NT.  If there are 7 club tricks he has two Aces and the hearts stopped.  However we have misused minor suit pre-empts third in hand too often.  Even vulnerable he cannot depend on me having 7 clubs never mind the AK and so he passed.  Pity. 
North led a diamond to my Ace, I played AS and ducked a spade to North's Jack.  North now played a club to Jack and King.  I ruffed a spade with the QC felling the King.  I ruffed a diamond back, drew trumps and conceded a heart for 11 tricks.

Gerry got us a good score on this hand.  I went with the flow and opened 1H.  Gerry bid 1S and I bid 2D.  Gerry now bid 2NT and I passed.  South made the obvious club lead to Q and Ace. North returned a club to Gerry's 10.  Gerry now unblocked AK of spades and exited with a small diamond to South's Q. Now defence is very difficult and everyone, like South here would  want to continue clubs to set up the fourth.  However that is a  mistake, that gets the defence one more trick.  If South had switched to a heart he would set up two tricks for the defence (why with 5 in dummy is Declarer not touching them?). So a club came back, Gerry ducked another diamond, South cashed his club and that was the end of the defence, two diamonds and a club.

Wednesday, 24 January 2018

Tuesday 24 January

Playing E/W in National Pairs District Final with Gerry we did not shine finishing around the middle with 52%.  There were three possible slams and we missed them all.  Unfortunately I mixed up a system bid on one of them which kept us out of that.  Don't play anything unless you are going to remember it!

 I should have known it wouldn't be my night when I got this very first hand wrong.
Gerry and I competed to 3H and Sheila and Maida to 3S.  I could have been more forceful and pushed us into 4H.
Gerry started with two rounds of hearts,  Sheila ruffed and played three rounds of spades ending in dummy.  She now led a diamond to K and A and Gerry played a third heart ruffed.
Sheila now led JC, covered by K and Ace, followed with TC off the table and I stopped to think.  Declarer has 7 spades and 1 heart, 5 cards in minors.  Gerry has been unable to give any count, so is it 3 clubs, 2 diamonds or vice versa? Inexplicably I decided on 3 clubs and ducked!  By discarding diamonds to keep my QC I let it make 11.
Why is this so stupid?  Well with 3 clubs or 2 clubs, it makes no difference whether I take Q now, Declarer will get the same number of tricks.  Strange how you try to concentrate on one thing and go brain dead on another.

This was a horror story turned into a fairy tale.
Robert opened South 1C and Gerry overcalled 2H, Kathleen passed and I bid 3H.  Yes, I bid 3H.
I was thinking Robert's got a big hand, he won't have spades so can't use a take out double, I can push them into 5 of a minor rather than a probable 3NT.
Unfortunately Robert managed to double and Kathleen bid 3NT.  Oh well, nothing lost except .....  Psycho shower scene music .... Gerry bid 4H.  What happened to a pre-empter not bidding again?!  I had an image of -1100 carved in blood on the score sheet and I have to put down this dummy.
I'm afraid I can't remember the exact play of the hand (I had covered my eyes in fear).  It started with 9S to Ace, I don't remember if there was a ruff but AD went on air, a club was made and my Fairy Godmother Gerry made 8 tricks for a near top.

This is an interesting hand for bidding and play.  In play it can be made by an elimination and throw in OR by a reverse dummy.

Gerry opened 1C, Sam bid 2D and I bid 2S.  Gerry bid 3S.  With a genuine 2S bid by me, Gerry could have bid 4S, but he knows I will stretch to 2S here.
I could now bid 4C, in fact should have.  However those three diamonds were very off putting I just bid 4S  Very poor, 4C never costs.

Anyway the play.  Stephen led JD and I took the Ace.  I cashed KQ of spades and with the two-two break I see that I can strip the minors and throw in. So I cashed AQ clubs, crossed with a spade and cashed KC throwing a DIAMOND.  I ruffed a club and exited with my last diamond.  Sam wins and has to give me a ruff and discard or lead a heart, 12 tricks made.

Lets say the spades had been 3-1 (you can also do this 2-2). Now you can play a reverse dummy, that's when you ruff in the hand with longer trumps.
After AD, KQ of spades, cash AQ clubs and cross to AS, cash KC and throw a HEART.  Ruff a club, play KH, JH to Ace and ruff a heart.  This way you makes 6 spades, 2 hearts, 1 diamond and 3 clubs, 12 tricks.