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Bridge» Forums » Sessions

Subject: Science and Art rss

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Brian Bankler
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The North American Open Pairs is one of the two "grassroots" national championships. You have to qualify at a club game in the summer (usually getting multiple chances), then a city game in the fall, then the district game in the winter, culminating in the national championships in the spring.

Having narrowly missed the cut to nationals last year, qualifying for the city finals shouldn't be difficult. And it isn't, but we're having a thoroughly mediocre event and while there's no doubt we'll qualify, we don't place well. I'm annoyed at a few ugly mistakes I've made, but even beyond that we've had a number of bizarre hands turn out poorly through no real fault of our own.

One opponent denies a four card major in stayman, despite having one. Partner and I both defend on the mistaken assumption that opponent can count, and give up a terrible board. We have an undiscussed auction that lands us in a reasonable but failing contract instead of the safer one. I find decent bids when better ones are available. One opponent makes a ludicrous bid that catches partner with a perfecto. We stay out of two 50/50 slams, but both happen to make.

That kind of thing.

We do have some good boards. We have a few nice bidding sequences. And we have a fair share of gifts.
I
But at the end I'm still playing for pride. I've been concentrating for most of the day. I make mistakes, but at least I'm paying attention. (Save for one bad lapse). Practice makes perfect. I still misbid, but at least I'm playing the cards reasonably well.

So, winding down the day we have one board of science and one of art.

I pick up S:972 H:K D:KQT8xx C:AK7.

I open 1 diamond in third seat, partner bids 1 NT and I buy the contract in 2 diamonds. LHO leads the heart five and I see.

Dummy S:KJx H:Txx D:Jxx C:QJxx

H5 led

Me S:972 H:K D:KQT8xx C:AKx


RHO plays the Heart ace, and I drop the king. I ruff RHO's heart queen and lead the diamond queen ducked around. When I lead the diamond king, LHO pitches the heart three and RHO ducks again.

Do you know who has the spade ace? I do, and I was pretty sure I knew who had the spade queen (but that didn't matter). Sometimes bridge is a science.

Another hand is more art.

I get to 3N and get the club 2 lead.

Dummy S:Q92 H:T9xx D:T6 C:AK76

Club 2 led

Me S:AJ8x H:A2 D:AKJ C:T943


I opened 1 NT in fourth seat, and partner bid 2C (Stayman, asking for a four card major). I showed my major with 2S and then partner invited with 2N.
Having a maximum, I went to 3N.

The club two is an interesting lead. If it's fourth best (and I had no reason to think it wasn't) then I want to play low if its from QJ82 or QJ52, but I want to play the ace if its from Q852 or J852.

Do I have any clues? Honestly, I don't think I have any real ones. What if I'm wrong? Sometimes you can figure out the best course of play by minimizing error. I decide that I may have gotten lucky avoiding a heart lead, and if I'm wrong and RHO has the stiff Jack or Queen, I won't like a heart switch. (A diamond switch is ok, I can win and decide to finesse or not later).

A minor point is that my LHO is one of those Life Masters who has never really progressed much past novice, but who has accumulated points through years (a decade?) of club play. She is -- heaven help us -- mentoring newer players. I suspect that if she had QJ8x, she may have led the queen. (Technically you need QJ9x or better, although there are times it is right to lead it with worse).

I probably spent 90 seconds thinking about this. Like I said, at least I was concentrating. I call for the ace and RHO plays the Jack. One hurdle down.

it's matchpoints, so I'm going for every trick that's not nailed down. I finesse the spade jack since I may be able to set up my fourth spade if they break. LHO wins the spade king and then leads a low heart (the six). I see no reason to put up the ten. LHO won't have KQJ of hearts (that would be an obvious opening lead), and perhaps RHO won't be able to read the position. RHO plays the King and I win the ace.

I play the club ten and when LHO ducks I duck and RHO plays the four of diamonds. Clubs are 4-1, as I thought. I only have one more club trick now, since the position is

C: K7
C: Q8
C: T4


But if I can make LHO lead clubs, I'll get another trick, and I may have squeeze threats. I lead a heart, LHO plays the Jack and then the Queen. I pitch a club. LHO makes another mistake, she leads a spade (the club queen, pinning my now bare ten, was correct). Her lead of the spade means I have no guesses.

I've lost three tricks but I have 3 spades + 2 hearts + 2 diamonds + 3 clubs = 10 tricks. I let the spade ride to my hand, covering the ten with the ace, and then go to the board's queen (unblocking spades). I pitch my diamond jack on the good heart and the club king, then come back to my hand with the diamond and my hand is good. Making four.

Was I right to play the club ace at trick one? I'm not sure, but it worked. Sometimes its an art.

As it turns out, I can always make four the diamond queen finesse works, and if I lead the Club ace and then follow the principle of restricted choice (by playing the club ten and finessing against the queen), but making four was still above average -- 18 out of 25.

As for the first hand. LHO had the spade ace. After all, RHO passed but has already shown up with the AQJ of hearts and the A of diamonds. The spade ace would be way too much. (Even the SQ would cause most people to open).

Anyway, after these hands we check and we've had another slightly above average game. Nothing spectacular, but enough to qualify.

Onward.
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Joseph DiMuro
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Bankler wrote:
As for the first hand. LHO had the spade ace. After all, RHO passed but has already shown up with the AQJ of hearts and the A of diamonds. The spade ace would be way too much.

You're assuming RHO knows how to count. A bad assumption to make, considering what happened here:

Bankler wrote:
One opponent denies a four card major in stayman, despite having one. Partner and I both defend on the mistaken assumption that opponent can count, and give up a terrible board.

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Brian Bankler
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TrojH wrote:

You're assuming RHO knows how to count....

True, I've been known to hide four card majors in selective spots, but the number of times I've seen anyone pass an obvious opening are miniscule and almost always mistakes. Bidding is more fun than not.
 
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