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Subject: Another Club Game rss

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Brian Bankler
United States
San Antonio
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"Keep Summer Safe!"
I'm playing with Hank, my typical partner in a club game with not many great opponents. There are 12.5 tables, so the top score is 11. It's a pretty typical field, there are 2 good pairs, a few solid pairs, and a large mixture of novice/intermediate.

First deal I pick up Kx A8xx Qx KT987 (as always, suits are spades-hearts-clubs diamodns). RHO opens 1 Spade and I have an easy 1NT bid.

Easy because in my system it shows 4 hearts and a longer minor (and, since we're vulnerable, reasonable values. I wrote a post for it on Bridge Winners earlier this year, it's called Raptor 1NT). LHO bids 2S and partner bids 3S which is probably heart support, but definitely strong. RHO bids with 4S and perhaps I should double (partner shouldn't be joking at this vulnerability), but I don't have a trump stack or any shape. I pass, as does LHO and partner bids 4N -- Not Blackwood but merely asking for more information. I bid 5 Clubs (showing my minor) and partner pulls to 5 Hearts.

I still think partner has hearts and is pushing hard for a slam. I pass with some trepidation. After LHO leads the spade ace partner asks if I have a second ace and when I say no he nods and proceeds to make five, as we're off two aces. In fact, if LHO had underled his club ace he would have forced Hank to guess. No matter, the field isn't finding the game our way, much less making slam. 9.5/11.

Next board we find the best defense, but declarer still could have made an overtrick in her easy game. She lost the way and holding her is worth 8/11.

Hank picks up AT976532 Qxx x x and blasts to four spades after RHO opens 1H. This looks reasonable to me but the normal defense holds him to three and the field doesn't get there. 2.5/11.

In 2nd seat, RHO opens 1D and I hold AQJxxx xx Kxx xx. If Hank hadn't passed, I'd just overcall, but he did pass, so I apply pressure. 2S. LHO doubles (negative) and Hank bids 3C and I alert ("Either diamonds or a spade raise with something in diamonds." aka Transfer Advances). I can stand diamonds, so I bid 3D and when Hank converts back to 3S I wonder if I should bid four.

I don't think so. This is matchpoints, going positive is fine.

LHO leads a diamond jack and Hank puts down Kx xxx AQTxx xxx. So 4S doesn't make on good defense, but with the obviously stiff DJ lead I make five. I still think I'm right. Hank may just have Axx or AQx of diamonds and warning me against leading spades. The opponents are cold for 4H anyway, so we get 9/11.

Next round, we get 4.5/11 when the opponents bid their points light but shape-great game, then I pick up AJxx Txxx xx Q9x. Hank opens 1D and RHO doubles.

You may have noticed that we use transfers in a lot of situations.

I redouble, showing 4+ hearts. (We like transfers. One reason for this is that we can distinguish between 3 and four card support no matter if the next hand passes or makes a low level bid). LHO bids 1S and Hank doubles (showing exactly 3 hearts). RHO raises to two spades and I have nothing more to say. Hank backs in with 2N, which is not to play, but saying he doesn't want to give up, but I shouldn't expect much. 3C would show reasonable values. I bid 3C and it goes all pass. I think we're in our best fit, but is it a good one?

Yes. Hank has Q Jxx AKTx KT876. On the spade lead it goes Q-K-A and I pitch a heart on the next spade. Then I lead a diamond and it goes Jack-Ace-small. I could cash another diamond, but I'm afraid of it getting ruffed, so I lead small club to the queen, which holds. I now lead a small club and LHO shows out. What the hell? RHO isn't great, but good enough that the double should be takeout.

RHO even asks "No diamonds?" Something weird has happened.

No matter. I fly with the king and play a small diamond and now RHO shows out and ruffs with the club 9. Hank's eyes bug, but then when I pitch he nods. LHO follows with a diamond and I get everyone to agree there's a revoke. There is little more to the play and I get a bonus trick because of the revoke. 10/11.

Next round, we're playing against a solid B pair. I pick up KQx Qxx KTxx T9x. LHO opens 1H and RHO bids 2D (game forcing). I pass and LHO raises to 3D and RHO bids 4S. My diamonds may be golden.

Hank leads the Jack of clubs (promising the queen). I could pitch my ten (promising the nine) but I don't want to be on lead and that may encourage an underlead. Declarer wins the king in his hand, then leads a heart to the ace and finesses back and then drops my king. Boo-urns, but a normal play.

Now he leads the diamond Queen. Hank plays small and I naturally duck. It's not going away and if I can convince Declarer to play the Jack (playing Hank for Kxx and me for Tx) then I get two tricks. This declarer is good enough to find the pin, I think. If Hank had Kx and I had Txx Hank may have played the King on the first round. Declarer plays the Jack, but before I can celebrate Hank follows. Rats. Declarer only has 3 diamonds. Ah well.

Declarer leads a spade off the board and I split my honors. Declarer then leads a low spade from hand, instead of crossing and leading towards the jack, so we get two spade tricks. A curious oversight. We get 7.5/11 for this.

We pull out the next hand and RHO opens 2C (Artificial, 20+ HCP). The ACBL Bulletin had an article just this month on how few people have agreements on interference against big club bids and how fewer people can defend against it. I agree completely. Hank and I compete agressively against big openers, and we rarely get caught.

I have Txxx xxx x KTxxxx, and we aren't vulnerable.

I bid 2S, showing spades and clubs (at least 4-4). LHO passes (alerted, so they have agreements) and Hank jams the auction with 4 Clubs. We're not vulnerable and they are, so this could be as pushy as my bid. (In my defense, I was 4-5!). I'm tempted to bid my fifth club, but we've eaten up two levels of bidding. We must be ahead of the field. I pass, but if LHO cue bids 5 Clubs I'll regret it.

LHO bids 5 Diamonds and it goes all pass. I lead and Dummy hits with a monster: Qx xxxx KJxx Axxx. Dummy should have bid five clubs and probably ignored a signoff. Seven diamonds is cold. That's an easy 10/11 and a clear mistake by LHO.

Next table! I pick up xx A8xx KJxx KJx. LHO (vulnerable) opens a weak 2H, Hank doubles (takeout) and RHO passes. I could bid 3N, but as we play Lebensohl (2N is a relay bid to 3C to escape in a minor or show various invites) I think I have a better bid. I bid 2N and then -- over Hank's 3C -- I bid 3N. I think I'm saying "I have the value for game, but I'm worried about hearts." Hank pauses over this, but passes.

We're on the same wavelength. Hank has AJx xx AQ9x QT97. I duck the HK lead (RHO playing the Ten) and win the continuation (RHO playing the five of spades). When I run diamonds LHO pitches hearts, so I think RHO has the club ace. People with winners and sure entries keep their winners. I'm proven right and get nine nervous tricks.

In hindsight I should have played for hearts to be 6-1 and won right away, because a spade switch would be pretty horrific. 7.5/11.

Next hand Hank opens 1N and I'm looking at Q9 J9x 97 AKJ9xx. All four nines, and a good hand. We will often hide a five card major in 3N and I decide if it's hearts I'd rather be in four hearts. I ask via a modified Puppet stayman and partner does have 5 hearts, so four hearts it is. I'm not at all sure if it would be better to be in 3N, but we make 5H for 6/11.

Next round a (novice) declarer ducks a spade with AKQxx opposite 98x so I score my ten of spades (from Txx). Total gift, 10/11. On the next board there are no gifts, just an average hand. 6/11.

On the next board we set their 3N, but could have set it two. Miscounted, but still 8.5/11. Then I pick up AQ 9xx Jx ATxxxx. I open 2C in third seat, showing clubs and 10-15 HCP. Hank bids 2D ("I am interested in your products and services, tell me more. Particularly, any four card majors.") RHO doubles and I bid 3 Clubs ("Six clubs, weak."). I get to play there. Hank is saying that I may have only five clubs, I chime up and say that would be true if RHO passed, but I could pass the double of two diamonds with 5332, so we have a bit of a discussion while the opening lead is made. It's the four of diamonds.

Dummy xx AQxx QT872 Q9

D4 led

Hand AQ xxx Jx AT7xxx

RHO wins the diamond king and leads the 8 of spades. I don't think this is winning, but I really don't think the king would be stiff, so I finesse. It lose and another diamond comes back (the 3, so I think LHO has a doubleton). RHO wins the ace and now leads the T of spades. I win the ace.

I may as well lead up towards the club queen, which wins. Now I could try to play the Ace (dropping the King maybe) but I'd still have to lose a club. But if RHO ruffs a diamond with the stiff king, perhaps I can finesse (a clever RHO may ruff with the king from King from King-Jack). I lead a diamond and RHO ruffs with the four. I pitch a heart quickly but RHO realizes his mistake and plays a diamond. I decline to change my card (I'd always have to lose the hearts if the HK is behind the AQ, which I suspect) and LHO wins. I call the director and the club four is a penalty card. I can ask for a club lead and I do, which solves my trump problems and so I can pitch my other heart loser. As it turns out, after the diamond ruff I could have banged down my ace to drop the other honor, but whatever. Another 8.5/11. The opponents are cold for three spades and 3N can make on inspired play.

We're having a good set so far.

I pick up AQx AQTxx 9x KTx and open 1NT. As I've noted, we hide five card majors in here. Hank goes into the tank. I know he has a difficult hand, but that's unauthorized information. Fortunately all of my bids will be purely mechanical, I think, since NT openings make partner the captain unless he invites.

Hank emerges with a 3C bid, which forces me to bid 3D. I alert his bid and follow orders. He now bids 4N.

This should be a quantitative slam invitation with 6 diamonds and a balanced hand. But now I wonder -- we also use 4S (in similar situations) as a strong quantitative slam try. Does this apply here? It probably should.

Further question -- Would Hank risk it? I might interpret 4S as void showing. I shouldn't, because Hank could bid 3S first to show shortness and a slam try and see my response. But we're in uncharted territory.

Argh. I'm at a minimum with bad diamonds, so passing should be automatic ... but my fifth heart could be a trick card. Perhaps I should go anyway. I decide not to.

This turns out to be wrong, as Hank tables Kx KJ AKQJxxx xx. With a seventh diamond and a perfect fit, we're cold for 6N. LHO didn't cash her club ace on opening lead so I claim 3 spades, 5 hearts and seven diamonds. "Making 9".

Hank admits he decided not to bid 4S because it was undiscussed. 3.5 out of 11. I point out that since he has solid diamonds I'm going to downgrade my hand, and he does have 17 with a seventh diamond. I think he should blast it, but it's close.

The opponents look like they are going to stop in 2H but then RHO bids 3H and is passed. 2H was the limit and our defense gets the full amount, 9.5/11, so the round goes back to slightly above average.

I pick up xxx JT8x AT8x Ax and pass in second seat. LHO opens 1H and Hank bids 1S and RHO passes. Most people play that 2H is a limit or better. We play that it transfers into the next suit. Since I'm transffering into partner's suit for us it means .... limit or better. (Maybe a smidge lighter, since I'm a passed hand). Hank bids 4S making exactly, but not everyone gets there, 8/11.

Hank opens 1S in third seat and I have 9 KJxx KQ98x xxx. As a passed hand, I could bid 2D non-forcing. I'd like another point for that, or an ace, but if Hank has something like 5=2=2=4 I'd hate to bid 1N (my other choice) and then hear 2C. I'm still debating this when RHO bids .... Three Spades!

This must be asking for a spade stopper for 3N.

And since I've got a decent hand, I think RHO (a strong player) has 7 running clubs, or maybe six with an extra side trick or two. I'm not sure what double should mean in this case, but I pass. LHO appears to be in some agony, so she doesn't have a spade stopper. She bids 4 hearts. RHO corrects to five clubs and I pass, then instantly regret it. Five clubs likely has no play, and I expect to go spade ace, spade king and we should have a slow trick, even with hearts over me. And if 5 clubs is cold, we'll get a bad score anyway.

I lead the spade nine and dummy says "I was considering dropping you in 3S," as she tables six spades to the ten and five hearts to the ten. It goes spade ace with declarer dropping the king, so we wouldn't have gotten two spades after all, but as compensation I'm over the hearts. Five clubs goes off three, and not doubling costs us 2.5 matchpoints, as we get 8.5/11.

I pick up J AQJxxxx KQx xx and RHO opens 2 Spades. I quickly bid 3H then realize I should have just shot four hearts, which better describes my hand. (Not a monster, but with good shape. A hand that has some play at four hearts). LHO bids 3 Spades and Hank bids 4C.

We like transfers, but this time I forgot they were on. Oops.

I think 4C is an advance cue bid showing heart tolerance and slam intentions, so I bid 4S. Partner bids 5N ("Pick a slam") and I pick hearts. Partner corrects that he was showing diamonds, which makes me both more and less optimistic. But I've overbid, RHO doubles and slam has no play. Partner has Axx Kx Txxxx Axx. In fact partner was making an advance bid in support of spades, but was showing his shape. On the club lead I have no way to avoid losing two tricks. -200 is 0/11.

On the next board I open 2C with Jx x Axx KQxxxxx. I could have opened 3, but I was in first seat. The opponents bid to slam, but this time we have two inescapable tricks. +100 is 10.5/11. Average round, the hard way.

Next hand I open 1N with AKQT5 Jx xxxx AJ. An extreme example of shape, and I'm not sure it's right. Partner bids stayman and when I bid 2S raises to four. Ah! All roads lead to the same game.

LHO leads the diamond ace, and I see.

Dummy: 6432 KQ9x K9x Qx

DA led

Hand : AKQTx Jx xxxx AJ

Despite a fifth trump 4S could be down on a diamond continuation. But LHO cashes the heart ace and a small heart. This is not ruffed, so I'm feeling good. When I lead the spade ace RHO shows out. No matter, I think this is in the bag. I pull three more rounds of trump and then throw LHO in and he switches to a club. In fact, LHO could have set me by just exiting safely, as he's underled his king! 10/11.

I pick up J8xxx KQxxx xx x.

Next LHO opens 1S (Precision, so 15 HCP or less). Partner doubles and RHO bids 1N. I bid 2H, showing some values. Maybe a touch more than I have, but I do have a fifth heart. LHO bids 2S and RHO bids 2N. I decide to bid 3H, now I'm definitely overbidding. LHO bids 3 spades and this gets passed to me, I'm done. LHO has done some weirdness of his own, but this is the same guy who let me make an unmakeable contract. He's bid spades three times with five, and hidden a four card club suit, so instead of making 3 or 4 clubs (or 3N) he's down in 3S. +50 is 8.5/11.

Next round, we're playing Terry and Caroline, the strongest pair in the club.

I pick up KQJTx JT7 KQ7 xx. It's a terrible opening, but an opening it is. I open 1S. LHO doubles and Hank bids 4S preemptive. It goes pass-pass-double-all pass.

Good news -- They can make a slam. Bad news, we go for 800 (all white) and no pair has bid the slam. 0/11. Hank later admits that with xxxxx xx JTxx Qx he should maybe bid 3S (which we play as shows 4 trumps and good values). Ironically showing more values may be more preemptive, and if I got to 4S I might not get doubled.

On the next hand I have another thin opener: AKJ9 QTxx J9x 9x. I open 1C (balance weak hand). Hank bids 2D (game forcing 5+ diamonds), I bid two hearts (showing four) and end up in 3N.

Dummy 4 Ax K876x KJT8x

Spade 3 led

Hand AKJ9 QTxx J95 9x

It goes spade two-four-ten-jack.

Partner has stretched, and so I have I. This could be ugly. I need something good to happen. I lead the club nine, which wins. Am I getting lucky, or has RHO ducked the club queen? I lead a club to the Jack and RHO wins the queen and leads a spade. I win and now things are ugly. I should perhaps infer that the diamond ace is off, but I lead to the diamond king and the wheels come off. Down three. A very pushy game with cards off is 0.5/11.

This hand is fascinating. Communication issues and whatnot. Arguably I should lead a club to the 8 and (if it wins) lead a diamond off the board. Or perhaps I should lead a diamond right away. This one may haunt me. Of course nothing was going to work on the actual layout....

The last round is average. Against a misdefense Hank finds a squeeze for some extra tricks for a near top and then makes an unfortunate opening lead for a near bottom.

We check the scores and Caroline and Terry win overall. They would have won with an average round against us, but with two top boards they win walking away. But we do place first in our direction, so an OK day.
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David Goldfarb
United States
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On that last one, Hank's hand looks like an invitation to me, even opposite a sound opening. If you and he regularly open poor 11-counts like the one you held, then he really can't force, especially at matchpoints.
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Brian Bankler
United States
San Antonio
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"Keep Summer Safe!"
David Goldfarb wrote:
On that last one, Hank's hand looks like an invitation to me, even opposite a sound opening. If you and he regularly open poor 11-counts like the one you held, then he really can't force, especially at matchpoints.

It's very close, partially because of our system. Playing Standard American, yes. There are two issues:

1) He does expect an 8 card fit in clubs, as I'll normally have 3 clubs (or 18+HCP). Only the weak NT with 4=4=3=2 is trouble, and I don't have to be a minimum, so downgrading is somewhat of a parlay. OTOH -- There's huge upside to showing values if I have 18+. Slam bidding will be much easier.

2) His only other realistic response (besides the equally GF 2C) is 1D, which is usually 0-7. He'll have no forcing bids after that, although if I rebid 1S he could bid 2N inviting with likely a stiff spade and normally 1=3-5/4 either way. It will be practically impossible to show a minor two-suiter with invitational values, although if I bid 1S and it goes 2N it is strongly implied, so perhaps that would be best.

Given that, Hank took the path expounded by Kit Woolsey in the book Matchpoints -- "When in doubt between an underbid and an overbid, choose the one that will likely get you to the best strain."

In fact, Hank argued (persuasively) that I should bid 3D over 3C for that reason. But I think we'll still get to 3N
**3S=Grope towards 3N or slam try. 3N is "I'm not slammish, and not worried about spades."

And if the Queen of Clubs had been in the pocket, (doubleton or 3rd) game would be quite reasonable 4C+3S+1H+ either the DK or HQ.

Besides, how are we to improve unless we get to our Meckwellian 23 HCP games?
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