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Concluding A/X Swiss in Providence
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In the last round of the getaway day A/X Swiss at the Providence NABC, your opponents are experts who have designs on winning the event. Your pick-up team is a probable favorite, at this stage, to win Flight X, and you would certainly welcome an opportunity to finish as high as possible in Flight A.

You have reached this position, frankly, mostly through the efforts of your teammates. Not that your pair has not produced a few nice results through your own efforts, but your teammates, a pick-up partnership, have repeatedly converted your pair’s softer results into pushes. Your partner is a solid player – meaning that she likely plays better than do you – but one whose game is not heavily nuanced. She plays quickly and accurately, and you have concluded that your pair’s best results will be derived by minimizing added science to your bidding or defensive agreements.

The A/X Swiss is not exactly the Reisinger, but since you are in a good position, and know that your opponents are experts who will be giving it their best, you would like to conclude the tournament on a good note.

Will the hands be interesting?

I think they were.

Board 8 seems like a routine major-suit game. But Board 9 produces some action in both the auction and the play at my table.

North
AQ
Q8xx
Qxx
AQxx
South
xx
AKxx
x
KJ109xx
W
N
E
S
1NT
3
4
P
5
P
P
P

You check an opponent’s convention card and notice that they are playing UDCA. A spade is led. At unfavorable vulnerability, the possibility of East’s owning eight spades could not be dismissed, and so you win the A. You draw two rounds of trumps (East following once), ending in hand. To remove potential exit cards from East, you play one round of hearts, each opponent following small. Next you play a small spade to dummy’s queen (West following suit) and East’s king. East plays the A and West follows suit with the 2. In tempo, East plays back a small diamond.

North
Q8x
Qx
Qx
South
Kxx
J109x
W
N
E
S
1NT
3
4
P
5
P
P
P

Your play?

At the table, you ruff the diamond and play a second high heart from my hand, only West following suit. As you prepare for a red suit squeeze against West, West states, “down one”. Huh? This was the whole hand.

West
xxx
J109x
J10xx
xx
North
AQ
Q8xx
Qxx
AQxx
East
KJ10xxx
x
AKxxx
x
South
xx
AKxx
x
KJ109xx
D

Oh, man, all you had to do was discard a heart on the second diamond and you would have made the contract! Nice partnership defense!

In retrospect, you think you should have done two things differently. One, you should have cashed a second high heart from hand to confirm the ownership by East of only one heart. And two, you admit to not having paid close attention to the particular spade spots played by West. Had West led a low spade and then followed with a higher spade on the throw-in spade, you could have been alerted to East’s only having six spades and might have divined that East, for the unfavorable vulnerability jump to 3, also held long diamonds (thus increasing the chances that he also held both high diamond honors). Well, there is a reason you are still in Flight X.

Board 10 seems to be another routine major-suit game.

On Board 11, your partner, perhaps not seeing your Bridge Winners harangue earlier in the week about delayed entrance into non-fit auctions, balances with a 2 call (on AKxx) after having the auction go:

W
N
E
S
P
1
P
1NT
P
P
?

You hold a fair hand with QJxx,pass 2, and notice that partner finishes one trick short of contract for -50. You realize that partner was correct to assume that you have some values and that her LHO will not own four spades, and you think -50 is a fair result, but you feel as though you were lucky that the opponents were unable to punish you: you just do not like the sound of the auction.

On Board 12, your partner holds xxx, 10xxx, void, AKJxxx and hears a Precision 1 opening to her right. She bids 2. Your RHO turns inquisitively toward you, even though you have not alerted, and you answer, “Would you believe? That shows clubs!”. RHO smiles and bids 2, alerted and explained as game forcing with 5 or more spades. LHO raises spades to the three level and RHO bids 4, passed out. Your partner sees you lead the 10 and the following dummy (hands rotated for convenience):

Dummy
Axx
KJ
AKJxxx
xx
East
xxx
10xxx
AKJxxx
W
N
E
S
1
2
2
P
3
P
4
P
P
P

What is your defensive plan?

Well, if you take your two club winners (everyone follows suit, partner playing the 9) and then take stock, your opportunity to beat the contract has probably passed. That is what happened at the table. You followed with a third club, queen, ruff, overruff. The winning play is an alarm clock play – win the A and then the K, playing your clubs out of order to alert your partner to do something special. At Trick 3, you can lead to your partner’s (hoped-for) A and, with partner’s hand being xx, Axxx, Q10xxx, 109, he should have no trouble identifying the special play as giving you a diamond ruff for the setting trick. Oh, that would have been such a great set of plays! Well, opportunity – both to set the contract and get your name in lights – missed as you record -420.

On Board 13, you face a tough partnership bidding problem, made tougher by your having few partnership agreements. Well, you did talk partner out of playing Minorwood, to her chagrin.

North
K
AKQ10x
AQJx
10xx
South
AQxx
J9
K10xx
AQx
W
N
E
S
1
P
2
P
3
P
3NT
P
4
P
4
P
5NT
P
6
P
P
P

With thirteen tricks on top, surely there must be a better sequence available, even for a partnership with vanilla 2/1 agreements. How should the hands be bid? +1390 seems a disappointing score.

Board 14 seems to be another routine major-suit game, the third one in the set. However, no doubt exhibiting, on the last board of a long tournament, the mind-sapping product of too much bridge, Westsuffers a major accident. West places the Pass card on the table, and a second or two later, says, “oh, I meant to open (Precision) 1”. Your partner shrugs her shoulders and passes out the hand. As much as you hate to win 10 IMPs this way, you realize that partner is right to accept the call actually made. After all, you recall, how many times have you failed to cash the setting trick in a team match, or made some other silly error that you quickly recognized, without either asking for or expecting to be granted a re-do? Isn’t a I-didn’t-mean-to-do-that call (not corrected in the same breath, if that is important) similar?

When your teammates finish and you compare scores, you learn that you lost a total of two IMPs on the two routine major suit games bid at each table (Boards 8 and 10), gained two IMPs on the seems-dangerous-to-you 2 balance (Board 11), and won the gifted 10 IMPs on the accidental Pass on Board 14. As they have done all day, your teammates bring back a card that pushes soft results at your table: here, on Board 12 (where neither pair found the defensive diamond ruff to beat 4) and Board 13 (where the opponents at the other table also rested in 6, cold for a grand).

On Board 9, your teammates conducted a slower auction than your table opponents, with East managing to mention both of her pointed suits before the opponents won the contract in 5 (doubled). Sadly, your teammate led a diamond and not a spade. The declarer at the other table also played along elimination lines, but with much more confidence than did you. Declarer covered the J with the Q to avoid a spade play through the AQ. A second high diamond was ruffed. Declarer drew trumps, ruffed dummy’s last diamond and played two rounds of hearts in hand. A, then Q endplayed East and declarer scored +550. 12 IMPs to the opponents.

You lose the match by 2 IMPs. You still win Flight X and finish fifth overall in Flight A. Sadly, however, the opponents finish justout of first place. Had the bidding accident not occurred on the last board of the tournament, your opponents,whose auction and teamwork defense to Board 9 led to your going down one trick in a contract you could have made – would have been deserving winners of the event.

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