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.