Friday, July 31, 2009

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.

1 comment:

Memphis MOJO said...

I would pass 3H. Anything else at matchpoints is too hungry. The way I do LTC, I have 7 losers, so don't mind opening, particularly because I have such good heart intermediates.

I believe I'd just play for three. Everything looks like it's splitting, so lead a diamond to dummy and ruff another spade. Cash the diamond king, club king and two more clubs. Ruff another spade. This looks like 4 trump tricks, two diamonds and three clubs. A slight improvement might be to cash the ace of hearts??? Not sure about that.

Also, deals like this play better when you're at the table and can see and smell what the defenders are doing.