Thursday, March 25, 2010

Board 125

Board 125
Both sides vulnerable

♠ Q 10 8 7 5 Q 5 6 5 ♣ A 8 7 5

Two passes to me. I could open one spade.  But, playing this style, I don't typically open hands in third seat that I wouldn't open in first or second, unless perhaps I have concentrated strength.

Passing proves to be a good idea, because LHO opens one spade in fourth seat. Partner doubles, and RHO bids one notrump. I like my defensive prospects, but I'd like to get them a little higher than one notrump. I bid two clubs. After two passes, RHO bids two spades. That looks like a fine spot. I pass, and two spades ends the auction. Partner leads the jack of clubs.


NORTH
♠ 6 2
J 6 3 2
A K 10 4
♣ 9 6 4




EAST
♠ Q 10 8 7 5
Q 5
6 5
♣ A 8 7 5


West North East South
Pass Pass Pass 1 ♠
Double 1 NT 2 ♣ Pass
Pass 2 ♠ (All pass)


Three clubs, a doubleton spade, and two defensive tricks! If I held the North hand, I would just defend two clubs. That seems likelier to yield a plus score than declaring two spades.

I win with the club ace, as declarer plays the deuce, and return the club five. Partner takes declarer's queen with the king then plays the ten. I never know what I'm supposed to play in this situation. Do I play the eight to show a heart card, or do I need better hearts than that--queen-ten, say--so that a heart shift by partner is more plausible? Subtle suit-preference signals have never been my forte. Fortunately, Jack isn't going to pay attention anyway. I decide to play the seven. Declarer follows with the three.

Partner shifts to the ace of hearts. Having played the club seven, at least I needn't feel complicit in partner's decision. Or perhaps I am complicit.  If partner thinks the seven denies a heart card, maybe he thinks he has nothing to protect by avoiding the heart suit.  This is all very confusing.  I hate suit-preference signals. I invite anyone who has firm understandings about these things to comment.

I play the five, and declarer follows with the ten. King-ten doubleton, I presume. That's a relief. He was probably guessing that suit correctly even if partner didn't lead the ace.  Partner appears to have five hearts. That makes him 1-5-4-3, leaving declarer with 5-2-3-3. Partner has at most two high card points more than he's shown up with so far, so we have no diamond tricks. We need to take two spade tricks to beat this.

Partner plays the four of hearts to my queen and declarer's king. Declarer cashes the spade king, on which partner plays the jack. I guess I have my two spade tricks now. Declarer plays the seven of diamonds--nine--king--five (I don't think partner really cares about my diamond count). He then leads a spade from dummy. There's nothing to gain by splitting, so I play the seven. Declarer inserts the nine, cashes the spade ace, then plays diamonds. I get my two trump tricks for down one.


NORTH
♠ 6 2
J 6 3 2
A K 10 4
♣ 9 6 4


WEST
♠ J
A 9 8 7 4
J 9 3 2
♣ K J 10


EAST
♠ Q 10 8 7 5
Q 5
6 5
♣ A 8 7 5


SOUTH
♠ A K 9 4 3
K 10
Q 8 7
♣ Q 3 2



As North should have expected, his two spade bid turned a plus into a minus. I wasn't making two clubs.

At the other table, my teammate opens in fourth seat with a weak notrump. West does well to pass; bidding could land his side in a fair amount of trouble.  If I were West, I wouldn't bid over a weak notrump as an unpassed hand. But I would certainly bid as a passed hand. (Or as an unpassed hand over a strong notrump. You need a better hand to bid over a weak notrump than you do over a strong notrump, because you have to worry about having game on power. Over a strong notrump, you presume you don't have a game without an excellent fit, so your bidding can be primarily obstructive.)

Once West chooses to pass, the danger should be over; East should not balance. Without a singleton, he can expect to do at least as well on defense as on offense.  He seems to agree. North passes, as does East.

Against one notrump, West leads the deuce of diamonds. That seems like a strange choice. What happened to fourth best from longest and strongest? Declarer wins with dummy's king. Declarer rates to have four diamond tricks (by finessing the ten if East doesn't show up with jack doubleton). So it seems declarer should play on hearts for his seventh trick. If he plays a heart to the ten, he'll wind up with eight.

Instead, declarer leads a spade to the nine. West wins with the jack and shifts to the ten of clubs. East takes his ace and continues with the eight of clubs. I don't understand the carding.  I know from previous deals that Jack doesn't play ten or nine shows zero or two higher at trick one.  Does he play it in the middle of the hand?  And why the club eight instead of the five?  How is West supposed to know that declarer isn't the one with four clubs? In any event, West cashes his two club tricks.

West should now play diamonds and let declarer play the majors for himself. After a diamond shift, it's conceivable that declarer will go down. But West continues the weirdness by shifting to the four of hearts--deuce--queen--ace. I don't see what layout West was playing for.  Even if declarer does have seven tricks without attacking hearts himself, how does shifting to a heart help?

Declarer takes East's queen with the king, then drives the heart ace to establish a seventh trick. He finishes with a heart-diamond squeeze against West for his eighth, obviating the need for a diamond finesse. Making two and picking up six imps. Not bad. Three boards left, and we've narrowed our opponents' lead to a single imp.

Me: +100
Jack: -120

Score on Board 125: +6 IMPs
Total: -1 IMP

9 comments:

  1. Hi, me again!
    Been wondering about this whole "playing the match as 128 boards, switching tactics at half-time" business.
    It leads to a very artificial match when you know, board by board, exactly what the score is, and what's needed to win. To replicate a true match, wouldn't you at most have to just compare scores after each set of 14 boards?? The score enables you to "swing", or not, whenever you actually need too, in full knowledge of what's needed to win. Real life isn't like that at all.
    This way, almost all the suspense is missing too.

    ReplyDelete
  2. You're correct. In fact, I thought of posting the last eight (or possibly sixteen) boards without comparing with my teammates, then going back and comparing afterwards. I decided that wouldn't work, because too much time would have passed between comparisons. I didn't think the reader would feel like going back and refamiliarizing himself with the deal. I did do that for myself, however. I played the last eight boards without comparing. Only then did I have Jack play the boards against himself at the other table. So I already know how the match ends, but I didn't know the running score at the time.

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  3. Philip
    Great stuff; what are you planning for an encore?
    I've really been enjoying this.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Philip,
    Just wanted to clarify: in no way an I trying to imply that I haven't enjoyed your blog thoroughly. In fact it's probably the Bridge Blog I have checked most frequently the last couple of months. Great job done, with lots of interesting "issues" covered.
    Thinking about this "switching sides at half time, then trying to bring back the deficit" scenario: essentially, it seems to boil down to you playing against yourself, except that during the second half you know exactly what the IMP's needed to win are, and are able to gauge your "effort" and strategy required to overcome that. Maybe, if you had played towards the end of the first half in a manner dedicated towards "maximum positive swings", it would have been a bit more of an even competition. As it is, it's you comparing your score in the first half, to your score in the second half. All your opponents spots are filled by Jack, and are thus it's essentially you against yourself.

    ReplyDelete
  5. All this is true, and it makes no sense as a contest. But the main reason for switching was to create an opportunity to discuss how being behind in the match affects your decisions. Secondarily, it had a psychological effect for me. I suspect if I were up 300 imps or so going into the last few boards, I might have relaxed a little. Even in a pretend match, I find I play better if I feel under a little pressure.

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  6. Barry: I'm glad you're enjoying the blog. I have some ideas for what to do next, but I 'm going to take a break for a little while first-- at least until after the premiere of my opera. That's taking a lot of my time at the moment.

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  7. I live for irony. I refer to Barry's post Mr. Marton

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  8. Oh and BTW I think it is right to play the 8 of Clubs to indicate something in Hearts. On partner to work it out. If I had nothing in either suit then I would use OBV shift principle to determine where I lump my neutral signal. Here the 7 would be neutral or Diamonds

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  9. Just wanted to say thanks for writing this blog and long may it continue. It's great to see the thought process I really should be following.

    Frazer Morgan

    ReplyDelete