Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Board 118

Board 118
Opponents vulnerable

♠ A 8 6 3 2 J 10 9 5 3 ♣ 9 8 6

RHO opens one heart in first seat. I would overcall one spade if he had opened one club, but I don't see much point in bidding over one heart. When an overcall has no pre-emptive value, it must stand or fall on its own merits. I think this one would fall.

LHO bids two notrump, showing a forcing heart raise, and partner bids three clubs. RHO bids four hearts. Even at this vulnerability, five clubs rates to be expensive. Give partner six solid clubs and and out, and we could go for 700. [Actually, as poohbear points out, we couldn't go for 700 unless I were keeping score.  We'd go for 800 under the "new" scoring.] To make matters worse, I can't even be sure they're making four hearts. If partner has a singleton spade, we could have four fast tricks. When you sacrifice, you should be sure either that your save isn't going to be too expensive or that the opponents can make their contract. In general, when you take an action that has two ways to be wrong, that's a clue that your action is anti-percentage.

I pass, and four hearts ends the auction. Probably our best chance to beat this is to catch partner with a singleton spade. Even so, I doubt it's necessary for me to lead the suit at trick one. If we have enough tricks to beat this, partner rates to get in time to shift to a singleton spade himself. If I had a potential entry with which to give partner a second ruff (say, the club queen), I might lead the spade ace.  As it is, it's probably better to lead partner's suit in case I'm wrong about how we're going to beat this and a spade lead would blow a tempo. I lead the club six.


NORTH
♠ Q J
A 8 7 5
A J 7
♣ 10 7 5 3


WEST
♠ A 8 6 3 2
J 10
9 5 3
♣ 9 8 6




West North East South
1
Pass 2 NT1 3 ♣ 4
(All pass)
1At least four-card support, game-forcing


A game force with a nine-loser hand! North seems to have given full weight to the queen-jack doubleton of spades. Declarer plays the seven of clubs from dummy. Partner wins with the jack of clubs as declarer follows with the deuce. Partner lays down the club ace, and declarer ruffs. Declarer draws trumps in two rounds, plays a diamond to the jack, then leads the five of clubs. When partner follows with the four, declarer pitches the four of spades. I'm in with the club eight. I certainly wasn't expecting that. I cash the spade ace, and declarer claims the balance.


NORTH
♠ Q J
A 8 7 5
A J 7
♣ 10 7 5 3


WEST
♠ A 8 6 3 2
J 10
9 5 3
♣ 9 8 6


EAST
♠ K 10 7 5
9 3
8 4
♣ A K Q J 4


SOUTH
♠ 9 4
K Q 6 4 2
K Q 10 6 2
♣ 2



I'm not sure why declarer didn't claim the balance after drawing two rounds of trumps. Maybe, when he pitched the spade, he pulled the wrong card by accident. Anyway, it does seem we missed a good save. Four spades is down only one. Even over-saving at five spades is a better result than this. Where did we go wrong?

I don't think I can fault myself for not overcalling with one spade. I doubt that bid satisfies the Rule of Two or Three. (Not to be confused with Culbertson's Rule of Two and Three for deciding how high to pre-empt. The Rule of Two or Three is a rule Karen McCallum and I used to play: If you're contemplating a bid and you can find two or three people in the room who would make that same bid, you're allowed to make it.)

Partner might have bid four clubs (showing clubs and spades) over two notrump, but that seems a bit flaky without a fifth spade. Should partner have doubled four hearts? The lack of diamond support is no deterrent, since advancer shouldn't pull the double to five diamonds. If he wants to play diamonds, he should bid four notrump, giving the doubler a chance to bid five clubs with inadequate support for diamonds. (If advancer has a singleton club, he probably won't be pulling the double at all, since he will have good prospects on defense.) Even with that understanding, however, East's hand is thin for a double of four hearts. He probably needs either a sixth club or an extra high card. I suspect the only reason we're even discussing a double is that we know it works. We just have to face the fact that there are 11 imps up for grabs on this board that we have no sensible way of grabbing.

In the other room, East doesn't bid over North's two notrump. I think that's a serious error. South bids four diamonds, showing a five-card suit, and North bids four hearts. South's four diamond bid makes it more attractive for East to act than the four heart bid did at our table, if for no other reason than that it diminishes the chance that four hearts is going down. But what can East do? Looking at this hand, it's easy to think that double should be for take-out. But you're not supposed to be looking at this hand. You're supposed to be looking at a hand that doesn't merit acting on the previous round. If you can't bid at the three level, knowing the opponents have a fit and knowing they're about to bid a game, how can you want to bid at the four level? Given your previous pass, a double here must logically be for penalties.

South's auction makes the defense easier. West leads a club to East jack, East shifts to a spade, and the defense cashes their spade tricks, holding declarer to four.

Me: -620
Jack: -620

Score on Board 118: 0 IMPs
Total: -7 IMPs

7 comments:

  1. I'm back on the job Phil :)I know you haven't played duplicate for awhile so you might not know they changed the scoring back in the 80's :) . Down 4 is 800 not the 700 you have listed. As to the 11 imps up for grabs, we see here why the 1S overcall has some merit. Personally I wouldn't and I overcall as much as anyone at the one level. Key is to bid 4S over 4H and push em up. Once they've established Hearts as a viable trump suit 1S has merit. Frankly I think overcalling 1S over a club is more dangerous because you can't be sure that's what you want led against 3NT. You are going to be on lead against heart contracts a fair amount of time as the neg dbl will transfer declarer play to opener. Yes it takes up space but give me a tad more playing strength or less defensive strength and then I like it. I am surprised that 4S didn't cross your mind when you were contemplating saving over 4H. Partner can hardly play you for better spades.

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  2. Oh, yes. You'd think I would remember that scoring change. I recall being annoyed that the change was approved but hadn't taken effect yet when the Proz and I played in the Blue Ribbon Pairs. I failed to take a 2100-point save in seven notrump over the opponents' seven spades, and we wound up in sixth place. I think I worked out we would have finished second if the save weren't a viable option (on the assumption that, in that case, no one would have taken it). I did think about the save, but the declarer at our table was a client and one of the weakest players in the field. I just couldn't bring myself to do it.

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  3. I keep forgetting to Email Jeff Rubens. I want to ask him what caused the scoring change. This hand u describe sounds like the one I thought caused it. As I recall I held something like Kxxxx Ax void AKJxxx and partner opened 1S . Righty overcalled 2D and I bid 5NT and got to 7S. This auction was pretty standard around the room except at one table where 4th hand saved in 7NT with a smattering of stoppers and managed to take 3 or 4 tricks . He got a great score for -1700 or so. I seem to recall Kokish and Nagy but people keep telling me it was Meckwell. Do you remember where the site was?

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  4. It was Lancaster. And it wasn't just one pair who found the save. It was quite a few, which is why my decision was so costly. (Also, the board was fouled, so we weren't even comparing against the whole field.)

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  5. I believe the event that occasioned the scoring change was a Meckwell eye-opener in the Rye Bermuda Bowl, where one of them saved at fave over a grand with something on the order of 5S-332. I know for a fact that Marc Nathan had done the same thing (with 6 spades) in a regional KO in the mid-70's. I believe Karen Allison was on the other team, possibly with the Bridsons.

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  6. Munir-Fazli not only found hearts but bid confidently to the excellent grand slam. Too confidently, perhaps, since Meckstroth placed absolute faith in their bidding, and traded on the vulnerability to take a sacrifice [on ♠J9862] that was far from obvious (ah, youth!) … That was down nine, 1700 (…) which meant 11 absurd imps (this is the one aspect of bridge scoring that is askew) to the USA. - The Bridge World, Jan 82, p. 12 according to Nikos Sarantakis.

    I could check it for you if I was home, but you probably can do that yourself. I am quite sure this was the genesis of the "new scoring."

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  7. The Bridge World citation is correct. Perhaps this deal was a catalyst, but I believe discussions were underway for the scoring changes before that. (Including discussions for the extra 50 points for making a redoubled contract that fixed the 1350/1370 anomaly.) At least I'm pretty sure I remember Edgar's talking them before '82. His parenthetical remark above does have an "I told you so" ring to it.

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