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JoBoo on Bridge: Battling the CAYNE team
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BridgeWinners is proud to bring our readers an exclusive (and sometimes disturbing) peek into the mind of one of bridge's young superstars: Joe Grue.  Grue, affectionately known to his friends as Joe Boo, is renowned for his "creative" approach to the game.  Enjoy!

In the round of 8 of the Louisville Vanderbilt we battled the CAYNE team. After the 1st quarter we were tied at 30 IMPS apiece. On the 2nd board of the 2nd quarter (board 18) we struck the first real blow, when my partner Curtis Cheek held:

Curtis
AQJ954
3
AKQ653

Sementa on his right opened 2 at favorable.  What would you do?

Curtis bid 3 Michaels. I know that most pairs like to play Leaping Michaels, but we really like our treatment of (2M) 3M as Michaels, with a jump to 4 showing a powerful overcall of 4 of the other major. So on this deal Curtis bid 3 showing at least 5-5. Obviously at unfavorable this shows a good hand. With lighter hands we would just bid 2 over 2, so opposite Michaels we can use a diamond bid to show a game-try/slam-try with support for spades (and a club bid for pass/correct to his minor). That allows us to gamble a bit and aggressively jump in partner's major when appropriate.

Curtis saw the auction continue:

W
N
E
S
2
3
P
4
P
?

Given the explanation above, 4 here is 4 trumps and less than 2 keycards. Now Curtis is put to the test.

What would you bid?

Exclusion would be perfect but unfortunately is not available for us here. But, for slam to be realistic, Curtis needs me to have the K. I might have a singleton diamond allowing him to get to my hand with a ruff (or maybe the J on a lucky day), but the spade finesse is still likely to be offside. So Curtis decided to do something practical. He bid 4NT, RKC in spades. Over that I answered 5 showing 0 keycards. This was exactly what he was hoping to hear me say. Now he knows we are off the A and the trump king. 5 is almost surely a safe contract, and as I mentioned before he is unlikely to find the weak 2 bidder with the spade king at favorable vulnerability.

If Curtis caught a 5 response he would have taken his chances that my keycard was going to be the K (or the A).

The hands were:

Joe Boo
10863
KQ7
102
QJ84
Curtis
AQJ984
3
AKQ653

The other table was in 6, and my teammates led the A and continued hearts. After winning the K on dummy, declarer needs to decide whether to take the trump finesse.

What would you do? 

If the Spade King is in the pocket (onside) the defenders would never let you get to dummy. So, you should play for the drop. At the table Michael Seamon was too shrewd to take the finesse and played for the drop, but no luck for him.


Some people might look at this hand thinking that Curtis was lucky that the slam didn't make, but in reality Curtis made a thoughtful bid!

 


BOARD 19 

On the very next hand I picked up this hand at favorable with partner as dealer:

Joe Boo
1085
102
543
109865

We play a big club and partner opens a limited 1 showing 11-15 (occasionally 10) and 2+ diamonds. Now anyone who knows me well knows I like to press down on my opponents' throats when things are going great.

So here's a perfect example: after partner opens 1 my goal is to keep my opponents out of their vul game. It gives away too much to tank over 1 thinking about how to swindle my opponents. For me I have seen these types of hands a million times, and I often joke around with my Precision-playing buddies (who will remain nameless) about new and creative ways to mess with the opponents.

The best thing you can do here is to respond some number of notrump. If I were playing against Brad Moss, where the psychological game is at such a high level, I may even have responded 2NT invitational, showing 12-13 balanced.

The key here is: DO NOT RESPOND A MAJOR! I don't care if you are 6-6 in the majors. Bid 1NT.  The opponents, if their 27+ combined HCP's are split relatively evenly, will have a hard time getting in there.

For example, if I have a terrible (0-5 HCP) hand with 5 spades and I respond 1, the opponents are likely to have an easy takeout double for the heart suit. If I psych my short major they may have a strong NT overcall, but when I respond 1NT if the next guy is 4-2 in the majors with 13-15 points he can't double since his partner will probably bid their 2-card suit.

So on this hand I did bid 1NT and it went all pass and I caught this dummy:

Curtus
9643
A865
J107
AK

This is a dream dummy. I know my opponents have a vul game and I have 3 tricks in NT for a likely -200. I usually like to claim these hands at trick one because it is so frustrating for my opponents when I claim face-up like that at trick 1. Sementa led the A and it went low from dummy and Q from Duboin. Sementa continued with a low spade to Duboin's J. Now based on his next play I get to claim down 3 or down 4 depending on wheather he switched to a club or a red suit. He played a club and I claimed -150 to win 11 IMPs (+660 at the other table).

 

BOARD 31

After a few more swings for each side (more for us than them), we encountered the last wild hand of the set, board 31. We were unfavorable. Curtis opened 1, Duboin passes on my right, and I held:

Joe Boo
54
J972
6
Q98432

Playing Precision a jump to 4 can consist of either a random opening hand with 3-5 card trump support or it can also (and more frequently) be preemptive. I obviously don’t have the good hand, but did have an opportunity to show off what Joe Boo is all about!

So I jumped to 4 and Sementa on my left bids 5 and Curtis doubled. His double asks me to bid 5 unless I have an opening hand with fewer trumps. I bid 5 and Sementa comes with 5. Curtis doubles again. Now remember they are white and we are red. For those who play a forcing pass, it should not apply in this situation. If we start doubling them, it is because we think we can beat them, not because we don’t want to bid on.

Duboin now bids 6 directly over Curtis’ double of 5

To recap the auction so far has been:

North
54
J972
6
Q98432
W
N
E
S
1
P
4
5
X
P
5
5
X
6
?

What would you bid?

 

I decided to tap the table and pass since we are vulnerable and they are not, combined with the fact that I already bid more than almost anyone else would have. Sementa passes as well and Curtis thinks, and thinks some more. Finally he bids 6.

Now in the world of professional bridge there are plenty of pros out there that even if they believed that bidding 6 is right, they wouldn’t do it out of fear for their jobs. I have in the past seen people play scared. It is sad and I can tell you right now you will never see me wear a skirt at the table!  My partner’s hand was:

Curtis
10932
KQ543
AK105

We went down 2 for -500 and our teammates Ishmael Del’Monte and David Bakhshi had a nice result of +920 for a 9-IMP gain.

Their auction started off a lot slower:

W
N
E
S
1
P
1NT
X
2
2
2

The key difference is that their opponents did not jam the auction, so Ish had an easy 4NT RKC bid. Partner showed 2 aces and they were on their way.

These hands were the critical boards that led to our strong second quarter, which we won 67-22, ultimately leading to our victory over the CAYNE team.

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