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BW vs. Forumbridge.pl Challenge Match A - part 1
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Bridge Winners just finished the challenge match against a similar Polish bridge forum. There were 5 matches at once - 4 plus a junior match. This writeup will be about my table, partnering Jason Feldman of Bridge Winners. Jason and I used to be partners but we hadn't played in a long time. We agreed to ignore our old notes and simply made some new agreements instead, which consisted of 2/1 game forcing combined with whatever specific agreements we thought to make.

For the first 12 boards our teammates at the other table were Ari Greenberg and Gavin Wolpert (by playing on this team I think I now own 10% of Bridge Winners - my lawyer is waiting to hear.) On my left was Piotr Krajewski, and on my right was MariuszPuczynski.

On board 1 Jason and I bid the following hands to slam:

North
QJ973
A96
KJ
AJ7
South
K82
KJ7
AQ10753
K
W
N
E
S
1NT
P
2NT
P
3
P
4
P
4NT
P
5NT
P
6NT
P
P
P

One of the advantages of playing kickback, where the suit one above the trump suit is keycard asking, is that you have a lot of room to ask partner to help choose the strain, as this hand showed. My 5NT bid offered Jason a choice between diamonds and notrump. With honors in every suit and only two diamonds, plus a potential outside source of tricks, he was glad to choose notrump. There was not much worry about being off the AK of spades since I probably had an honor in every suit myself to be offering the choice.

6NT is a better contract than 6 since we avoid the risk of a spade ruff, and we won 2 IMPs when the other table had a slower auction to 6 after starting with 1.

Running total: 2-0

On board 2 I had some options:

South
Q1092
J86
KQJ43
2
W
N
E
S
P
P
1
2
2
?

Our agreements are as follows:

Double is responsive, implying the minors.

2NT is lebensohl, relaying to any suit to show a weak hand in context. This includes a weak heart raise.

3 and 3 are natural and forcing by a unpassed hand, but we hadn't discussed what it would be by a passed hand.

3 shows a good raise, constructive to bad limit raise.

3 shows a good game-forcing raise.

4 and 4 are fit-showing jumps.

What would you do?

South
Q1092
J86
KQJ43
2
W
N
E
S
P
P
1
2
2
?

Now that I led you on with all those choices, I did none of those things. I bid 4. Vulnerable at IMPs I don't think I can afford to risk missing game with a hand like this, especially since his overcall opposite a passed partner should be at least a reasonable hand. I was also "Joeling" as explained here:

http://bridgewinners.com/article/view/penalty-doubles/

I had a good chance to stampede the opponents into 4 so I could make a lucrative double. That is also why I didn't bid 4 showing diamonds and hearts. I didn't want to encourage my partner to bid over 4 with his short spades.

Here was the full hand:

West
K6543
K
98
AK843
North
8
A109542
A7
QJ95
East
AJ7
Q73
10652
1076
South
Q1092
J86
KQJ43
2
W
N
E
S
P
P
1
2
2
4
P
P
P
D
4 North
NS: 0 EW: 0

On the ace of spades lead and a club switch this was an easy make. At the other table they decided not to overcall with Jason's hand (I certainly would overcall). The North player instead balanced with 3 when 2 came back to him, playing it there for +170 but 10 IMPs to Bridge Winners.

Running total: 12-0

On board 3 I had another bidding problem about how optimistic to be with a fit.

South
QJ93
7
KJ83
Q942
W
N
E
S
P
P
1
P
1
P
2
P
?

What would you do?

South
QJ93
7
KJ83
Q942
W
N
E
S
P
P
1
P
1
P
2
P
?

This was a close decision. I have a 9 count plus a singleton in partner's suit, which doesn't count for a whole lot with only an 8-card fit at best. Not being vulnerable and not having a clear idea where my tricks would come from, I decided to pass.

Pass was certainly right this time, as even 2 was far from cold.

West
106
AJ654
Q109
K83
North
7542
KQ1093
A
J76
East
AK8
82
76542
A105
South
QJ93
7
KJ83
Q942
W
N
E
S
P
P
1
P
1
P
2
P
P
P
D
2 South
NS: 0 EW: 0

I agree with Jason in not passing 1. My experience in this situation has been that if you pass with such good support, the opponents tend to get together up to the 3 level, and you often end up higher than if you had simply raised to begin with. Single dummy this looks to be a challenging contract, but I didn't mind when the opponents started with three round of trumps, West discarding the 8. It then looked normal for me to lead a heart toward dummy, giving me a potentially interesting decision about whether to play the K or 10. I decided to play the K since I didn't think I needed the hearts to come in any more, as the 8 discard did not look like it was from a holding which also included the 10, thus I planned to abandon hearts and set up clubs next. None of this planning mattered when LHO went up with the ace of hearts and immediately took their two club tricks. Lose 3 IMPs compared with teammates going -200 in 2NT.

Running total: 12-3

Board 4 was a flat hand in 4 making 6 (which might not have been so flat if my kind opponents hadn't given me an undo when I accidentally responded 2 rather than 1), then came the biggest swing of the match. First our table.

North
AK762
A
AQJ94
J3
South
8
K1098642
876
AK
W
N
E
S
1
P
2
P
3
P
3
P
4
P
4
P
6
P
P
P

Had I been partnering myself I might have reached 6, duplicating our auction from the table through 4, but then bidding 5NT (pick a slam) as north to help find the right suit, with south choosing 6. I'll leave it to Bridge Winners' fine analysts to tell us all which contract is best, but I know which contract was best this time. Hearts and spades broke evenly but diamonds were 5-0 offside! On a club lead it was a simple matter for me to play spade to the ace, spade ruff, heart to the ace, spade ruff. With both suits cooperating I had two discards for my losing diamonds with no need for a finesse.

Our opponents had a less successful auction:

North
AK762
A
AQJ94
J3
South
8
K1098642
876
AK
W
N
E
S
1
P
2
P
3
P
3
P
3
P
4
P
P
P
It seems to me that each player was playing a style that may have been reasonable, but unfortunately was not the style their partner was playing. On a good day 4 may have made with 6 down (spades and diamonds breaking but not hearts), but with the awful diamond break they could not avoid losing two spades and two diamonds. +1430 and +100 gave Bridge Winners a fat 17 IMPs.

Running total: 29-3

The action slowed down a bit over the next 5 boards. On one of them Bridge Winners won 6 IMPs when Poland stretched to a vulnerable game, down 1 but avoided at the other table. Combined with some overtrick IMPs, the score stood at 36-5 when disaster struck for Bridge Winners.

North
A10
73
KJ87
KQJ85
South
K743
Q2
AQ6542
A
W
N
E
S
1
3
X
4
4
P
5
P
6
P
P
P

Perhaps inspired by board 5, it was our turn to reach a silly 5-1 fit by playing different styles at the same time. Jason doubled in an attempt to reach 3NT, but I read him for four spades and took his 5 bid as a slam try in spades. Note this auction is not the same as something like 1 (3) X (4) 4 (P) 5, where partner might double to show one of the unbid suits with diamond support in reserve. Here there only was one suit shown by the double to begin with. Even if 5 was natural I thought I had a backup plan of partner having a singleton heart, but if it was a slam try for spades then he was denying a club control, so I showed my ace. Jason thought 6 was natural and passed, adding insult to injury perhaps but the damage had already been done.

The opponents took their AK of hearts and switched to a spade. After playing the club ace I attempted to cross in spades to draw trumps, and suffered a ruff for -2. At the other table, our opponents stopped in 5 as you would expect, winning a much-needed 11 IMPs.

Running total: 36-16

On the last board, the Polish forum declared 2NT at one table, 1NT at the other. With 9 tricks available to E/W, their combined +150 and -300 sent 4 IMPs back to Bridge Winners, bringing the halftime margin to 24.

Did Bridge Winners hold onto their lead to win match A? Tune in soon for the second set of 12 boards, as popular contributor and well-known expert Michael Rosenberg steps into the match.

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