Sunday, December 13, 2009

No Cigar Follow-Up

I made a new post for this in case any new readers would like to read the problems first before seeing what happened. Thanks again for the comments...I was relieved to see that my table actions received a decent amount of support. See what you think of the results.

On Board 9 I held AK9x Axx xxx KQx and faced an invitational 3 spade bid in a Stayman sequence. I'm not sure why I was gun-shy on this one...usually it is my style to go for game in close situations. Arguing for bidding, my cards are all prime and well-located. The hand isn't "max" but rates to play better than many 17 counts on this auction. Arguing against is the minimum distribution. For whatever reason I Joe mentioned in the comments, game was pretty good. He had xxxx KJx Ax Jxxx. I got a club lead to the ace, trump split 3-2 and I had no problem taking 10 tricks. The board was doubly painful, though, because we had a chance to win it at both tables. Our teammates lost their way defending a notrump partial at the other table, also allowing 10 tricks. Pipped!

On Board 14 with Kxx AKQx Axx Kxx i opened 1 Club in 2nd seat, got a 1 Diamond overcall, a preemptive 3 Club raise and 3 Diamonds from RHO. I doubled (scary, as Weinstein pointed out). My partner sat for it, which was scarier, and then they made the contract, which took the cake. Partner had to find a trump lead from T98x xxx J QJxxx to beat it. It was a tough break, but I think the disciplined pass is really the way to go at these colors...our teammates had a nice result here, scoring 110 in 3 diamonds (undoubled of course).

On Board 20 I was caught speeding again...with xxx AKQJxxx x xx I overcalled 4 Hearts with both vul after my RHO's 3rd seat 1 Diamond opening. This was passed out. Partner had a smattering of values including the ace of spades and 2 trump. Unfortunately there was no play for a 9th trick and I was -200. My hand overcalled 3 hearts and played there down 1 at the other table.

Board 22 was interesting. I held Qx QT QJxx QT9xx and had the final decision about sacrificing over 5 Spades. Normally I would pass this one out me, all the reasons in the comments were going through my head. Still I felt like I had a decent amount of table feel--something was telling me that bidding was right. My RHO was one of the most solid citizens I knew in the world of bridge and he hesitated forever over 5 spades...I knew he was too disciplined to bid a slam on the auction and that his eventual pass was inevitable, but the fact that he was thinking so long made me nearly certain that 5 spades was making. Finally I passed, deciding bidding was too much of a position. My partner led a top club--dummy was JTxxxx AKxxx x x. Partner cased the diamond ace and exited. Til near the end I held out hope that there was a heart loser, but alas declarer had 4 small hearts and eventually scored up his game. We had 10 tricks available in clubs...this result was a push, and I don't think I did anything wrong, but will resolve to trust my instincts and table feel when the decision looks close.

Finally, Board 24. This one was embarassing, but I'm still not sure what really should have happened. I led the king of spades from AKxx KJx x 9xxxx against 3nt on the given auction and saw: 6 QTxxx Kxx K8xx. Any attention to cashing out/holding in overtricks was immediately replaced by the necessity to beat the contract. My partner followed with an encouraging 9. It looked normal to continue a low spade, which I did--partner won the queen and played a 3rd spade to my ace. I didn't know this for certain, but we had just set up declarer's 9th trick. I had to find a heart shift now to get our 5 tops and failed to do it. Declarer's hand was JTxx xx AQJx AQJ. Our teammates again came through with a reasonable +120 on this board, but they understandably couldn't cover -400. I was thinking that perhaps my lead had made it more difficult for us to cash our tricks--maybe I should have stuck with a 4th-best club. More likely it is a combination of bad luck and my own defensive slip later--it was certainly possible to find the heart shift.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

No Cigar

Well I'm back from another enjoyable trip to nationals...the most exciting moments and ulitimately my biggest regrets came from my team's one day in the main event, the Reisinger Teams. It is scored by point-a-board--in other words, you score one point for beating your opponents' score on a hand, a half for tying and 0 for scoring worse. We played 26 boards in the afternoon and evening and ended up dead average with 26/52. Unfortunately we came on the wrong side of the tiebreaker format and were sent to the showers...2 of 7 teams with our score advanced. This is my favorite event of the year, and it would have been a great experience to advance to the 2nd day, but I guess there is always the next bridge tournament. Here are a few hands from the 2nd session for you to ponder. You hold the same South cards that I had.

Bd 9:
The auction starts with two passes to you--you open 1NT, partner staymans and bids 3 spades over you 2 spade reply. Do you go?

Bd 14:
none vul
You open 1 Club in 2nd seat. LHO overcalls 1 Diamond, partner raises to 3 Clubs (weak) and RHO bids 3 Diamonds. You?

Bd 20
Both Vul
RHO opens 1 Diamond in 3rd seat. How many hearts do you bid?

Bd 22
E-W Vul
LHO opens 1 Spade in 3rd seat. Partner overcalls 2 Clubs and RHO bids 4 Clubs (splinter). You double (do you?), LHO passes, partner bids 5 Clubs, RHO bids 5 Hearts, you pass, LHO bids 5 Spades, partner passes and RHO takes 2 minutes to pass. Do you sacrifice?

Bd 24
RHO opens 1NT, LHO transfers with 2 Diamonds. RHO bids 2 Hearts, LHO 3 Clubs and RHO 3NT. What do you lead?

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Your Call?--Updated

Red on white you hold in 1st seat: x x AK98x AQxxxx. You open?

I chose 1 Diamond...this hand is plenty for a reverse if you could be guaranteed a fit, but life is not always great with hands like these, and until you get some good news from partner, my experience tells me to start cautiously. The auction did not develop particularly well for me. LHO overcalled 1 Heart, partner bid 1 Spade and RHO jumped to 4 Hearts. You have your 10 seconds, but must act then or you could put your partner in a tight position at his next turn...what's your call?

Thanks traps on this one, Mojo--it looks relatively obvious to bid 5 Clubs, and in retrospect I agree with that bid. I was about to do it at the table but in my 10 seconds of waiting after the skip bid I talked myself out of it. Bidding can certainly be wrong...often you will turn a plus position into a minus one and it would be nice to hear some input from partner--his range of hands is enormous at this point. Also sometimes even if you can make, partner will correct, blissfully unaware that clubs is your 6-bagger. One problem with the pass comes when partner does show signs of life with a double. Now you got the input you wanted but it's back to you and can you really bid just 5 Clubs now? Wouldn't you do that with xx x AQJxx KJTxx? You've endplayed yourself into a guess--my guess might have been 6 clubs but if the hand is good enough to bid a slam when partner reopens with a double, it should be good enough to bid 5 Clubs now. Also if you've made up your mind that you are never passing a double (and with 6-5, who really would?), there is no way you are going to get them on this auction if they are stepping way out of line. So you are drawing a bit thin with a can play 4 hearts undoubled, possibly 5 diamonds, or a slam (if that is your choice over partner's double). And that's without considering what you may do if partner bids 4 spades. I hadn't seen this situation before and certainly wasn't capable of all of this analysis within 10 seconds--actually i only got as far as the point about partner correcting to diamonds when it was wrong. So I made the 2nd best bid, pass. Fortunately it was in tempo and my partner brought a smile back to my face by reopening not with a double, but with an aggressive 6 diamonds. His hand was AKxxx Axx QT9x x. The play was as easy as it looks...I made 12 tricks for a major swing against 5 diamonds at the other table. One possible moral--in some of these tough situations, if you don't know exactly what to do, at least do it in tempo!

Monday, October 26, 2009

Gambling at the 4-Level--Updated

I'm not sure what my fascination is with high-level bidding decisions. I guess part of it could be an overall love for excitement, gambling, and adventure, which all play their parts when your bidding space is sparse. I just got back from Lake Geneva--it was a fun weekend and generally successful tournament. I got some solid practice time in with my partners for the upcoming NABC in San Diego. Hopefully this will be the first of a few posts about the tournament.

I'll do this one in the form of a poll...what do you like on this auction?
Love all-


The above hands are North and South respectively. West opens 4 Diamonds (natural) in front of the North hand. The scoring is IMPs and here are your options for entering the auction (I'll let you know my own opinions later, which could certainly change...actually i don't think any of these choices are insane, so please don't feel bashful about stating your opinion!)
a) North should overcall 4 Hearts.
b) If North passes, South should balance with 4 Hearts
c) If North passes, South should balance with a double
d) Everyone should pass--the preempt worked this time
Let me know what you think...if you choose a, let me know if you would also agree with b or c! This is fun. I must be sick :).

Thanks for the comments. Situations like this don't pop up all that often, but my general experience has told me that it's right on hands like these to bid aggressively with distribution. That is why, though most of you seem to shudder at the thought of overcalling with the north cards in this example, I personally don't think overcalling is that bad. In fact, throw in the jack of hearts and jack of clubs and I would call the hand a sound minimum 4 heart overcall. The reason I think bidding with distribution is important is that often your partner will have some kind of decent balanced hand, perhaps with 3 of the enemy suit and have no safe-looking action available. Picture Axx Axx Axx Kxxx. I would feel very nervous bidding over a 4 level preempt with this, even in balancing seat...opposite the north hand with the two jacks thrown in, you will be odds on to make 6 hearts, and opposite the actual north hand 4 hearts would be a very resonable contract. The consequence of this line of thinking is that as partner of the overcaller in this type of situation you have to give a lot of leeway. It's a little bit analagous to responding to a 3rd seat careful not to hang your partner for acting aggressively. If a slam is there, you know that the other table may well face the same difficulty and guesses in the bidding. Indeed on this hand getting to game would have been plenty. At my table I help the 2-4-2-5 hand and faced the auction 4d-p-4s-?. I should probably have doubled, but I passed...we set it 3 for what looked like a horrible result. We gained 3 imps when the auction was 4d-p-p-p at the other table.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Rebid Problem/Possible Solution--Updated

You hold:

You open 1 Spade, partner responds 1NT and you bid?

Well, I bid 2 Hearts as well and we did miss a cold game this time. Partner had: x xx AQJTx J9xxx. One of the biggest problems I've had with standard bidding is this exact situation--opener's simple rebid in a new suit has a very wide range. One possible solution is the Gazzilli convention. Stacy Jacobs has a nice write up on her blog here: Basically a 2 Club rebid on this auction could be arificial, encompassing your jumpshift hands but also the problem-range hands. It starts around a good 16 points and responder's 2 Diamonds is a relay, game-forcing if opener has 16+. Our auction on the given hand would go-1S-1NT-2C*-2D**-3H***-3NT
*-Gazzilli--either semi-natural or 16+
**-8+ points any (gameforcing opposite 16+)
***-16+, 5-5 majors

Monday, August 31, 2009

Too Strong?

I kibitzed this hand during the Bermuda Bowl round robin USA2 vs Norway match--dealer held:

How good is this holding and what's your approach?

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Close One?

Vul vs not you hold:
You open 1 Heart in 3rd seat and LHO leaps to 4 Spades, passed back to you. Do you act?

Friday, July 31, 2009

Part 3--Updated

This was my favorite hand of the tournament--it is a great hand on a lot of different levels.
Vul vs not you hold:
As you sit counting your points, RHO opens 1 Spade in front of you. You double, LHO passes and partner bids 2 Clubs. RHO rebids 2 Spades and it is your call. A case can be made for 2NT, but I think another double is a standout, and that is what you do :). LHO passes again and partner bids 3 Clubs. This is passed to LHO who looks anguished and eventually bids 3 Spades, which becomes the final contract. This is a multiple-part problem--first, though, what is your opening lead?

I felt like I had some table feel on this LHO had passed all too happily over each of the doubles, but when 3 Clubs was passed back to him, he looked like he had a real problem. I had a strong hunch that he had an awkward hand with modest spade support and club shortness, so I decided to lead a trump. I thought about a small one like some of you suggested, but ended up leading the ace, prepared with apologies if my partner had the stiff king. I knew that I had struck gold when this dummy hit:
I wasn't hard-pressed to get another trump on the table--my partner followed suit both times. Declarer drew the last trump, my partner throwing the six of clubs. Then he led the jack of hearts. Consider what you'd do now.

I won the ace of hearts (partner played small) and cashed the king of clubs, my partner following with the jack and declarer with the deuce. Now I tried to imagine declarer's distribution. It seemed consistent with everything that had happened for declarer to have 6-2-1-4 shape and if that was the case, I could beat the contract for sure by playing back the king of diamonds. After one final re-count, I decided this was definitely the best move, and gave it a shot, hoping for down 1, but really hoping to see declarer's stiff queen fall on this trick. I got one out of two--partner followed with the ten and declarer with his small singleton. When the dust settled the contract was down 1 and I felt like Garozzo, even if only for a few moments :). Declarer's hand: KQJTxx QJ x Qxxx

So, on this one--if you led the ace of trump and shifted to diamonds after winning the first heart, you get +50 and 90%. Sorry--I know how unlikely that is, but I have to trumpet an occasional success story. Any other defense is -140 but you still get an above average score because many bought the contract your way in notrump and went down multiple tricks.

Part 2--Updated

At game all you hold:
The auction begins with a pass on your right, you pass, and LHO opens 2NT (20-21). RHO transfers to spades and bids 3NT, which becomes the final contract. Your parner leads the queen of hearts and this is what you see:
Declarer wins the lead with the ace and thinks for about 2 minutes. Hopefully you were thinking too, because next declarer plays the ace of diamonds and a small one. You are in with the jack--what do you return?

Thanks for the comments, guys. Perhaps thg is right about this being a suit-preference situation, but it may be a little obscure, especially in a new partnership or one that doesn't play regularly. Absent that agreement, we are left to our own devices to figure the hand out, and I think Weinstein hit the nail on the head. Assuming partner's hearts are Q-J-Ten, a low spade return is only wrong when declarer has both the ace and ten of spades. So, in my best Kelsey impersonation, if you returned a low spade, you achieve a satisfying down one and 90% of the matchpoints. If you did anything else, you are -600 for a 30% board. At the table I got this one right though I admit that I didn't have all of the reasons worked out. It took me a long time to find the play, so it was nice when the hand was over 2 seconds after :).

Declarer's hand: Tx AKxx AKxx AQ9

The Tough Game: Part 1--Updated

I just returned from a full week at nationals. The tournament continues through the college buddy committed the indiscretion of scheduling his wedding this Saturday so I had to come back and fulfill my role as groomsman. I feel like the guy doesn't even know me :)... In all seriousness, I got enough bridge in and got to play some incredibly interesting hands. I'll share three of them in succession here and will use Hugh Kelsey's framework from his fantastic series of books on matchplay--first I'll leave the problem for you and then later I'll post the results (matcpoints) depending on how you bid, played, or defended. Good luck!

Hand 1, love all
You hold:
and choose to open a frisky 1 Heart. Your partner responds 1NT, semi-forcing, you bid 2 Diamonds and he bids 3 you bid game?

Whatever you do is passed out.



West leads a 4th best deuce of spades, you play the seven from dummy and East wins the ace. He returns the 3 of spades. Plan the play.

I don't have a lot of insight about the bidding, except to say that what started as a very borderline opening hand has grown in the presence of a fit. Opposite a 4-trump invitational raise I would consider it a mistake not to bid game. Opposite this 3 card raise, passing seems normal, but if your game needs some momentum, this may be the time to take a shot. On to the play!

If you are in game, you can make against a diamond or club lead with a normal 3-2 trump break and the honors split as long as diamonds are 3-3. Eventually you will duck a diamond and the long diamond becomes your 10th trick. This spade lead upsets your timing--you are about to be forced and will need to lose the lead twice more before your tricks are established--once by losing a trump and again when you duck a diamond. That's once more than you can afford and you'll end up getting tapped and losing a spade trick. On the bright side, the early play suggests a different line--it looks as if spades are 4-4 with LHO starting with Kxxx and RHO AQxx. If this is the case, you can pitch a diamond on this spade and then use your established ruffing finesse to dispose of your other diamond loser. You have just enough entries to pull all of this off--so you'll end up with 1 spade trick, 4 hearts, 2 diamonds and 3 clubs.

The matchpoints were particularly unkind on this hand because the diamonds were 3-3 all along and the spade lead put you to the test. If you bid game and made it, you earned a 90% score and your game got the shot in the arm it needed. No matchpoints if you went down. If you stayed in the partial, you needed to take 10 tricks to earn slightly above average--9 tricks are worth only a 15% score. At the table I was in 3 hearts and missed this line completely--in fact I wasted the ten of spades at trick one and had no chance for 10 tricks. I'm guessing diamond and club leads were common at other tables...I am glad it happened because otherwise I never would have noticed how interesting the hand is.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

5-Level Agreements?

Here's a situation that is not all that uncommmon, but caused a bit of a stir at our online table recently. Each of the four players involved had different opinions of what 5-level bids should mean in this sequence:
**-the 3 card limit raise

What agreements to you play here? How would you handle this hand (the one actually held at the table)?

Thursday, May 21, 2009

From Champaign--Updated

I'm back from a quick trek to Champaign for the regional there--we had a fun squad but unfortunately never quite got things rolling. Here was one interesting declarer play problem:

The bidding is a bit different because of the system you are playing--the north hand deals and east-west pass throughout after the initial overcall.
*15-20 pts any shape
**9-11 balanced
****No major
West leads a standard deuce of spades and East plays the Jack. You duck and when East continues with the Queen, your King holds, West following. What now?

Nine tricks could be there with a diamond finesse and a 3-3 club split or a miracle in diamonds, but from the carding it looks like the spades are 5-3. The opps can't cash more than 4 immediate tricks if that is the case, so the best line is to give up the 3rd spade now, cutting the defense's communication. You will make when West has King-third of diamonds because he'll be squeezed if East cashes out the suit (if not, clubs were 3-3 all along) and you can set up dummy's 4th diamond otherwise. The other two hands were:

Sunday, May 10, 2009

AKQ--A Bad Holding?

How bad can a holding of AKQ in a suit be? My dad and I do at least one Bridge World Challenge the Champs set each time I'm home...since it was Mother's Day this weekend, we got another opportunity to shine this afternoon. We play Precision with a 14-16 Notrump. Two problems:

1) Jxxxx xxx Ax AKQ
Partner opens 1D (11-16, could be short if 11-13 balanced). You respond 1 Spade and partner bids 4 Clubs (a club void and spade support). What do you bid?

2) Ax Ax KT9xxx Axx
What is your opening bid? You can choose from 1 Club (strong), 1 Diamond (explained above), and 1 Notrump (14-16).

Sunday, May 3, 2009

2 From Lake Geneva--Updated

Two weekends ago my college friend and bridge partner Jason Rosenfeld came into town from Boston for a weekend of bridge playing. We went out to the regional in Lake Geneva for Saturday and Sunday--here are a couple of problems.

game all





RHO opens a weak 2 Hearts in first postion. What's your approach with this hand?

Sorry for the late follow-up. I think I made a mistake when I posted the defensive problem--I have to confirm with Howard--hopefully I will have more on that later. I am interested to discuss the bidding problem though. I felt uncomfortable overcalling on the first round thinking it was too much of a distortion. I also felt very uncomfortable keeping silent. I decided to apply Jonathan's approach, hoping my partner would read me for this kind of hand. So I passed and LHO bid 2NT. Jason passed and RHO bid 3 Diamonds, alerted and desribed as a "medium hand." Undeterred, I entered with 3 Spades. My LHO thought briefly and doubled, which ended the auction. Jason's hand was a fantastic Qx AKTxx x KJTxx and I was pretty much cold. Plus 730 went well with our teammates' +200 against 4Sx at the other table (my opposite number overcalled 2 Spades). In retrospect I like the way I handled this one--of course the result didn't have to be this great, but I think it gave us a decent shot at figuring out what was going on in this tough auction.

And a defensive problem from my friend Howard Liu in one of the other Saturday knockout matches:









The auction, with your side passing throughout, is: 1H on your left-3H preemptive-4H

Partner leads a 3rd-5th deuce of diamonds to your ten and declarer's queen. Declarer plays a heart to the king...your move.

Saturday, April 18, 2009


This was a near-gem from last night's club game in Elmhurst--I was playing with Kenny Zuckerberg. I was third in hand--Kenny dealt and passed and RHO opened a 12-14 notrump which became the final contract. I led a low spade...this is what I saw:
My lead ran to Kenny's jack and declarer's queen. Declarer led the jack of clubs, covered and won in dummy. Declarer continued with the queen of clubs and the ten, Kenny following. Declarer pitched a heart and i did the same. Kenny won the next club, declarer shedding a spade and me a diamond. Dummy won the spade continuation and declarer cashed her last club (her 6th trick), pitching another diamond from her hand as I blanked the king of hearts. She duly took the finesse into my king and I cashed out but in the 3 card ending declarer, pitching behind Kenny who came down to AT of diamonds, threw the ace of hearts from her hand and made the last trick with the king of diamonds. What if I hadn't blanked the king of hearts, throwing a diamond instead? Now, assuming declarer took the heart finesse, when I cashed out, we would have caught her in a legitimate squeeze--here is the 3 card ending--

---- -
---- A
---- K9
---- -
My hand is South in the diagram with dummy's cards immaterial. On the last spade, Kenny would have pitched his heart and declarer would have been bamboozled.

I took a couple of liberties with the spot cards to make the squeeze work (we were actually short a couple of tens to pull it off in real life)...but here is the hypothetical full deal:


Monday, March 23, 2009

Too Tough...

I just got back from a quick weekend at nationals. I had high hopes for a good showing in the swiss teams, but they were dashed by a non-qualifying first day effort. These two hands from our second round match were kind of typical of the day--

My partner and I had a nice auction to 6 Clubs--uncontested it was 1H-2C-3D*-3H-3S-4D-4H-5NT**-6C *=splinter **=choice of slams
After the spade lead my partner cashed the king queen of clubs finding jack-fourth offside and eventually conceded down two. At the other table our opponents bid only game in hearts.

Then this two hands later:

I shifted the directions on this one so we were sitting East-West. My partner opened 1 Diamond, South overcalled 2 Clubs, I bid 2 Diamonds. North and East passed and South doubled. North responded 3 Diamonds, South bid 4 Clubs and North bid (gag) 6 Clubs. I'll add that North is a top-ranking expert player...his luck was certainly in this time as both the king and jack of hearts were with the opening bidder...gin. So we got blitzed in that match and never made it back to average. There's always Washington, DC.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

2 Problems from GNT Weekend

Here are a couple of problems that came up for me yesterday in GNT qualifying--
game all, I held
xx Axxxxx Axx xx
RHO passed as dealer, I passed and LHO opened 1 Diamond. Partner overcalled 2 Clubs, RHO made a negative double and I tried 2 Hearts. Now LHO bid 2 Spades and partner bid 2 Notrump passed to me. My bid is?


I opened the south hand 1 Notrump and partner raised to game. LHO led the 2 of hearts to RHO's queen. Eight tricks are in view but you need nine--how do you plan the play?

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Nice Treatment

I have been kibitzing a bit of the Yeh Brothers Championship team event on BBO the last few days...once again it is staggering seeing the results you can generate from very solid agreements that can only come from a lot of partnership discussion and experience. It is more evidence of how difficult it can be for some of us with full-time jobs to compete at the top levels with professionals who devote so much time to system refinement. Here is one of the more useful tools that I just picked up from watching the final. It is a very easy understanding to add to your bag of tricks, and i think it gives a decided advantage over standard methods. The pair using the aggreement was Drijver/Brink of the Netherlands.

After a 1NT opening and a 4-level transfer, they play a double as takeout of the reponder's suit instead of as a general lead/direct or sacrifice try in the transfer suit. This adds quite a bit of safety since partner can cooperate after the notrump opener completes the tranfer but doesn't have in the case where you wait for opener to accept the transfer and then reopen with a double. The method is particularly useful at favorable vulnerability, which was the case on this hand--Brink held:
Fredin of Sweden opened a strong 1NT and Fellenius jumped to 4 Diamonds, a spade transfer in their methods. Brink doubled and Fredin completed the tranfer...but Drijver held a suitable:
and showed excellent judgement in bidding 5 Clubs. The Swedes had a likely 100 penalty coming for defeating the contract one trick doubled, but reasonably elected to try 5 Spades. Unluckily for them, ten tricks was their limit and the Dutch earned a major swing. Without the agreement, Brink would have had to pass 4 Diamonds and face 4 Spades on the next doubling isn't nearly as safe as you could end up going for a large number or losing redoubled overtricks. Well done--great players have their methods down for these big tournaments and are opportunistic about putting them to use!

These methods could extend to doubles of two-level transfers as well and also to doubles of the drury 2 Clubs.

Monday, January 26, 2009

All the Aces

Early on in my bridge-playing career I gained an appreciation for the power of aces. Four of them in the same hand is "worth" a lot more than 16 points, so when I have that hand and balanced shape, I try my best not to open 1NT. I got a chance to test out the theory this weekend--3rd in hand both white I held:
After two passes I opened 1 Club, not certain what I would do on the next round but knowing that i didn't want to open a strong notrump. Sure enough, I hit the jackpot on this one--LHO doubled and partner bid 4 diamonds, a fit-showing jump. Now I had an easy drive to at least 6 clubs. Partner's hand was:
After a heart lead I banged down the ace of clubs, dropping the stiff king for +940. Though I would likely have gone down on a spade lead, this was a great slam. Maybe we could have reached it after a notrump opening, but this made things much easier.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

After a Jump Shift...

My partner and I bid these cards today at rubber bridge:


Uncontested the auction went:
how should we bid to this excellent slam? What is 4C over 3D, and should South bid that? And what about 4C over the 3S preference? Is that a cuebid or a fragment?

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Jim Linhart

I was sad to hear about Jim Linhart's passing on the ACBL site last week. Unfortunately I didn't know him personally until this last nationals in Boston. On one of the (many) days that I was out of the national events I played with Helen Raleigh and we picked up Jim and Romanian junior Marius Agica as teammates for the knockout. We were decided underdogs in the first round to Carolyn Lynch's powerful squad that would later win the Open Swiss Teams.

Both of our pairings were first-time partnerships with Jim and Marius being quite an odd one...Jim had 53 years on the kid. While Helen and I had some first-time troubles at our table, it seemd that Jim and Marius were rocks. After a dismal set, Helen and I figured that we trailed by 20 IMPs at the half...we were up by 2. Actually my favorite line from Jim came during the first half comparisons--as often happens with me, it took a few re-addings to arrive at the correct margin. After one of my errors "cost" us 3 IMPs, Jim deadpanned, "Stop checking." Sadly, order was restored in the second half, though again we had our chances...we lost the match by 6. Jim, though clearly a fierce competitor, was far from discouraged by the result--rather, he asked what was on schedule for the evening's bridge events--we'd keep our team together and hopefully do better in a side game! This guy, at 72, seemed to have the same enthusiasm for the game that I had in my early 20s when a trip to nationals for me was akin to a kid visiting a candy store. It was great getting to meet this giant of the game (figuratively and literally--he stood about six and a half feet tall) even if it was just for a day.