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ALT 5: My adventures on BBO part 5
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North
A87
A643
QJ6
A105
South
10
KJ92
A874
9643
W
N
E
S
2
X
3
P
3
P
P
4
P
P
P

COVID-19 entered our lives right after the Tucson regional, the chances of live bridge looked bleak. Naren Gupta called me to start training online, just in case the world would open up again soon. We played a million boards against one of the very best pairs in the world, Bauke Muller and Simon de Wijs. We learned a lot from playing and talking about the hands. Naren got pretty solid in his system, his playing of the cards was never an issue. I got a message from Sjoert Brink, they started organizing online events. Naren added Cedric Lorenzini and Thomas Bessis to our team and we were ready for our first ALT event.

2 Multi, is a common conventional opening bid outside the USA, allowed at all levels. The convention itself is not very good but its main advantage is that it frees up the 2/2 bids. We play a simple defense:

  • Double = a good weak NT or a very strong hand
  • 2NT = natural, all suit bids are natural
  • pass and double = Take out with shortness in their suit
  • jump to 4 minor shows the bid minor and hearts. With spades and a minor you wait and bid 4 of your minor on the second round.
  • If we overcall in a Major, the other Major is our cue bid.

North has a normal double here, too weak to overcall 2NT. My RHO jumps to 3, pass or correct. I have nothing to say at this moment but after 3 comes back to me I bid 4, maybe a little aggressive but we did pay a $300 entry fee.

North
A87
A643
QJ6
A105
South
10
KJ92
A874
9643

lead: Q

Pretty good dummy for my bidding. How to play this hand? One possibility is to take the heart finesse, pull trumps, and play for diamonds to be 3-3. This feels like a lot to ask for. If diamonds are not 3-3 or if hearts are 4-1 I will go down for sure. I think a better plan is to go for a dummy reversal. I probably still need diamonds to be 3-3 but I will make it now even with hearts 4-1 with East. I win the ace of spades and ruff a spade, play a diamond to the Queen, and it holds. Looks like I am on the right path. Another spade ruff and now the ace of diamonds and a diamond to West's king. They break 3-3 and this is what is left:

North
A643
A105
South
KJ
7
9643

West plays Q and the rest looks simple. Win the ace, heart to the jack, king of hearts, and pitch a club loser on the 13th diamond. Going over this plan I see that with hearts 4-1, East can ruff the diamond, and cross in clubs to West, who now can play a spade to promote the Q. Is there anything I can do about this? Yes, the solution is simple: just duck one round of clubs.

My careful play is rewarded as the full hand turns out to be:

West
QJ6542
5
K52
QJ7
North
A87
A643
QJ6
A105
East
K93
Q1087
1093
K82
South
10
KJ92
A874
9643
W
N
E
S
2
X
3
P
3
P
P
4
P
P
P
D
4 South
NS: 0 EW: 0

At the other table the play went basically the same but when West returned a club, declarer directly won the ace. Bauke, after ruffing the diamond, had no problem underleading his king of clubs for the trump promotion. We won 10 IMPs on this board and the match by 9 against a strong DONNER team.

My teammates and I are very happy with the initiative for these events: ALT, OCBL, USBF, and others. It gives us the chance to play some serious high-level bridge and make some money. As a top-level pro player, you make your money by traveling around the United States to participate in Regional and National events. No more tournaments this year means no more money. The horrible thing about these events are the accusations about online cheaters. If you make a great bid or a nice play, in real life you get a compliment from your opponents; if you make a winning bid or opening lead online, there's a good chance you will be reported to the authorities. I am not stupid. I know there will be some people out there who might cheat but I can't believe there are many of them. Example:

West
Q93
KJ752
86
973
W
N
E
S
2NT
P
3
P
3
P
4
P
P
P

Though 4 didn't make, it was a couple of tricks better then 3NT. Should I report this just because I think 4 is a horrible bid? Or should he report me for leading a heart from KJxx 10x, Q10x, K109x, defeating the contract easily?

And finally, the hand where A was led from Kx 9x A10xx KQ10xx. Finding his partner with a singleton diamond.

The opponents had a Precision auction to 4: 1-1NT-3-4. This was not a standard invitational bidding sequence but a Precision auction. His upper limit will probably be 15 HCP so not all 5-5 hands will bid 3, but for sure almost all 6-5 hands will. I don't say I would have led the A, but I will say I think it's not unreasonable. The fact that partner had a singleton diamond was a bonus, but after the lead he had no other options left.

Be careful what you wish for and let's hope we will see each other face to face as soon as it's safe. I love this game so much, I've even started appreciating online events.

Huub

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