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Adventures with LC Standard
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Recently, Bridge Winners has been featuring a series of articles about LC Standard, a simple 2/1 system to use for new partnerships. It all looks fine on paper, but how does it play in practice? I decided to give Larry's system a try with a first-time partner, Polly Siegel. Polly is an enthusiastic improving player relatively new to the game, having won the ACBL National Mini-McKenney in the 50-100 MP category a couple of years ago.

We assiduously read all of Larry’s articles, talked about a few of the optional treatments, agreed not to play odd/even discards, and printed out a LC Standard BW card from Bridge Winners. Then, we were off to the club (Unit 503 Palo Alto). After the game, I sent the more interesting hands to Larry for feedback.

Our first interesting bidding decision occurred on this deal:

West
AKQ9
J974
102
AKJ
East
3
A106
K854
Q9843
W
N
E
S
1
P
2
P
3NT
P
P
P

Holding the East cards, I showed a limit raise by raising to 2. [LC Standard has only preemptive and limit raises available.]  Polly had extras and bid 3NT, attempting to get across her 18-19 balanced, but unfortunately wasn’t able to specify her concentration in the black suits. While we were not able to confidently diagnose that 3NT was the best spot, it was the best spot as the cards lay: clubs were 0-5 and diamonds were 6-1 with the singleton diamond ace offside, while hearts were 3-3 with the honors split. Making 5, for a good board.

Larry’s comments:
Happy with KISS here – could have tried for more fancy bidding by opener, but the main note is that a pair who has 5 pages on “after inverted minors” would have wasted all 5 of them.
Running count of “Boards where system mattered” : 0


Then, Reverse Drury came up:

East
AKJ104
965
J63
A10
W
N
E
S
P
P
P
1
P
2
P
?

In 4th seat, you open 1 and are pleasantly surprised to hear partner bid 2 Drury. What’s your call?

 

East
AKJ104
965
J63
A10
W
N
E
S
P
P
P
1
P
2
P
?

Despite the good trumps, this hand felt a little too square to be pushing to game opposite a passed hand limit raise, so I went low with 2. (LC Standard is silent on what a 2 counter-try means, and I was reluctant to trot out something that might be misunderstood). This was not a success when partner had Qxxx KQ8 A10 xxxx and the K was led. When trumps broke, I could knock out the Q, and pitch my slow heart loser on the J. Although the A was offside, nobody was finding the killing heart lead because of the KQ honor sequence. 

Larry’s comments:
Game is roughly 50-50. No fancy “Drury follow-ups” would have mattered.
Running count of “Boards where system mattered” : 0

--------------------

Then, a hand in the slam zone:

West
J965
KQJ32
A7
A9
East
3
A10987
K42
Q532
W
N
E
S
1
P
3
P
4
P
4
P
4NT
P
5
P
6
P
P
P

The splinter was wide-ranging. Clearly we were too high, as this was essentially a slam that needed a opening lead from the K (and we didn’t get it). I submitted this auction to Larry to assign the blame. His comments:
I have sympathy. A minor-suit jack in either hand gets us to 50-50. Slight overbidding; no system issues.
Running count of “Boards where system mattered” : 0

-----------------------

Right after that, another system deal came up. Test your judgement:

East
Q85
J93
QJ10952
6
W
N
E
S
1NT
P
2NT
P
3
P
?

The system told me my partner liked my diamonds and had 15-17 HCP. Should we take a shot at a higher contract?

 

East
Q85
J93
QJ10952
6
W
N
E
S
1NT
P
2NT
P
3
P
?

While it’s tempting to shoot 3NT if we can run 6 diamond tricks -- partner likes diamonds, right? -- a moment of thought indicates that it would be unwise. In order to run the diamonds, you need partner to have AKx of diamonds, because it’s unlikely partner can reach your hand in a side suit. That means less on the side for her to stop the enemy suits. Even if partner stops every suit, your queens and jacks indicate you won’t be able to cash enough fast tricks before the opponents take 5.

Partner had K10 K108xx AKx Kxx. Even though every suit is stopped, after a club opening lead, there are simply not enough fast tricks to take 9 tricks before the enemy takes 5. Another pair tried 3NT and went down 3. Meanwhile, we stopped in 3, making 5 after partner was able to use her suppressed 5-card heart suit to discard a club loser.

Larry’s feedback:
I agree with rejecting.
Running count of “Boards where system mattered” : 0

-------------------------

The final interesting bidding hand was one of the great part-score battles that matchpoints is all about:

East
Q765
K862
8
K764
W
N
E
S
1
P
1
P
1NT
P
2
P
P
?

Both sides are vulnerable and 2 was to play. Do you fight for the partial with double, or pass it out?

Even though the vulnerability is the worst for competing (we could score +200 if we are making a contract our way, and we could be -100 or worse against -90), it’s not in my nature to pass it out at the 2-level when I hold a singleton in the enemy suit and we could easily find a 2-level contract of our own. I doubled, and Polly went into the tank. Well, so much for finding a 4-4 major-suit fit. She eventually bid 2, which the opponents were quick to pass out. Oops, sorry partner. RHO led the K and I put down my thin dummy.

West
A109
A103
Q942
J83
East
Q765
K862
8
K764
W
N
E
S
1
P
1
P
1NT
P
2
P
P
X
P
2
P
P
P

Polly won the K and had to decide how to play the trumps. She knew that South could not have 4 hearts: the diamonds were 4-4 from the bidding, and South responded 1, so if South were 5440 then North would be 1246, which was impossible.  So, catering to trump length in North, Polly now played the A and then the 10, maybe hoping for a doubleton 9.  The 10 resulted in an expensive trick: North covered with the Q, Polly played the K, and South contributed the J.  This led Polly to believe that hearts were 4-2. At this point Polly led a spade to set up the 109. South flew with the J and North pitched an encouraging club. The defense then lost their way by cashing their top tricks in the wrong order and endplaying themselves in clubs, giving Polly 8 tricks and a near-top. Most of the field was in diamonds, making 8-10 tricks, so even down 1 undoubled would have been a decent score.

Larry’s comments:
Agree with the double.
Running count of “Boards where system mattered” : 0


Conclusion:
There were no huge bidding successes, but neither were there catastrophic failures from forgetfulness or lack of system. Our brains were free to play and defend, and we ended up with a solid 58% game. Perhaps I'll try again, with a different first-time partner.  

Larry’s conclusion:
Your deals prove to me that system is not important. You had no accidents on any deal and playing a fancy system wouldn’t have increased your score even 1%.  Final total of “Boards where system mattered” : 0

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