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Mixed USBC Final
(Page of 16)

The last quarter of the finals of the Mixed USBC was extremely exciting. We were down 18 IMPs going into the quarter, and the score of that quarter was 50-42, so there were plenty of IMPs to go around. I thought it would be interesting to go through the session hand by hand from my point of view.

The full vugraph record of the quarter can be found at: http://usbf.org/docs/vugraphs/MUSBC2016/html/MUSBC2016_F_1_s4.htm Keep in mind that the vugraph report might not be completely accurate.

At our table, I was West, my wife Sally was East, Alex Ornstein was North, and Sue Picus was South. At the other table, Brad Moss was West, Sheri Winestock was East, Debbie Rosenberg was North, and Michael Rosenberg was South.

The excitement kicked off on the first deal:

West
7652
AQJ84
10974
W
N
E
S
P
4
4
5
?

I have a huge hand in support of spades. It certainly has to be right to drive to slam. Slam is probably making, and even if slam isn't making they might save. But a grand slam is possible. So instead of merely jumping to 6, I tried 6. Since I'm a passed hand, partner isn't going to be playing me for anything more than this. If Sally bids a grand, it figures to make.

Remarkably enough, bidding 6 instead of 6 probably swung 26 IMPs. This was the full deal:

West
7652
AQJ84
10974
North
J
AJ1087432
9632
East
Q10843
KQ
5
AKJ65
South
AK9
965
K107
Q832
W
N
E
S
P
4
4
5
6
7
X
7
X
P
P
P
D
7X North
NS: 0 EW: 0

Had I bid 6, North probably would have made a Lightner double, hoping to get a ruff on the opening lead and score some other trick. However, when I invited a grand he decided it was right to take a save. He could have waited to see what happened, but if Sally bid 7 he was afraid that his partner might not know which minor to lead. So, he bid 7 to make sure he would get a club lead against a grand. As can be seen, this was a very expensive decision. 7 went down 4 (declarer could have saved a trick by end-playing Sally, but he failed to do so and lost 3 diamond tricks). At the other table, after the same start South doubled 4 and defeated it a trick.

 

West
J76
J3
K983
KQ102
W
N
E
S
1
2
3
?

Bidding 3 seems safe. Even if we are going for too much it is unlikely that they will get us. The opponents should have at least an 8-card heart fit and they are in a game force, so they will probably be bidding 4. The 3 call gives Sally a chance to take a save if her hand is unexpectedly offensively oriented. Also, this robs North of a 3 Q-bid if his hand is worth that. The bidding continued:

West
J76
J3
K983
KQ102
W
N
E
S
1
2
3
3
4
P
P
P

It was hard to see how a spade lead could do much good. It can't establish more than one trick, and where would 3 other tricks come from? I thought it better to try clubs. This could establish 2 club tricks if partner has the jack. Even better, if partner has Ax of clubs there might be 3 quick club tricks and a promotion. I led the king of clubs. In retrospect I probably should have led a small club, which is better if partner has Ax or Jx.

West
J76
J3
K983
KQ102
North
A
Q1072
A765
J943
East
K985432
85
104
65
South
Q10
AK964
QJ2
A87
W
N
E
S
1
2
3
3
4
P
P
P
D
4 South
NS: 0 EW: 0

The club lead struck the usual layout. Sally played the 5 (UDCA), the right play since as we play my king lead could be from AK. So when declarer drew trumps and led a club up, I was able to duck. Declarer went up jack, so we held them to 5. At the other table, 12 tricks were made in the same contract.

 

 

We lost a double part-score swing when we misjudged a competitive auction.

West
Q4
A109432
K95
J7
W
N
E
S
P
P
?

I could open 1, but this hand is more preempt oriented considering partner is a passed hand. Our preempts can have a very wide range, and I will usually have a 5-card suit at this vulnerability if I bid Multi. Normally I would open 3 at this vulnerability with this sort of hand, but I felt that the hand was too flat with too much junk outside. In addition to the small but existing danger of going for a number, there was too good a chance that the hand would be a general misfit and 3 would be too high to compete. So I settled for Multi.

West
Q4
A109432
K95
J7
W
N
E
S
P
P
2
P
2
2
P
P
P

2: Pass or correct

It seemed likely that partner had at least 3 spades and at most 2 hearts, since with 3-3 or better in the majors she would make her P/C bid at the 3-level. It is thematic on part-score hands for the hand with the doubleton trump to go for the ruffs, similar to declarer trying to get ruffs in the short hand. So I chose to lead the jack of clubs.

West
Q4
A109432
K95
J7
North
J96
KQ
Q7
Q98652
East
1082
J86
A832
A104
South
AK753
75
J1064
K3
W
N
E
S
P
P
2
P
2
2
P
P
P
D
2 South
NS: 0 EW: 0

From Sally's point of view I could have the stiff jack of clubs, and that seemed to be the best way to defeat the contract. So she went up ace of clubs and returned a club. This allowed declarer to make 11 tricks. At the other table our opponents bid to 3 making with our cards.

 

Questionable competitive judgments cost us more IMPs on the next deal.

West
AKQ1086
32
7
AJ98
W
N
E
S
P
?

Playing a strong club system, I felt this hand was too strong to open 1. That would put partner in the captain's seat, and she wouldn't expect me to have what amounts to an 8-winner hand. I'm a little light in high cards for a 1 opening, and if she has a positive response with her cards in the wrong places we will get too high. But sometimes bad games make. The risk of missing a vulnerable game is greater than the risk of getting to a bad game. I don't have to worry too much about getting to a bad slam. When I open 1 I'm in the captain's seat, so I should have control of the auction.

West
AKQ1086
32
7
AJ98
W
N
E
S
P
1
1
P
4
?

Partner's pass over the 1 call showed 0-4 HCP. She would need a perfect hand for 4 to be better than a finesse, and opposite most of her hands 4 will have little or no play. I have no idea whether or not we will set 4.

It might seem like a good idea to bid 4 in order to bully them into taking a save. I didn't think that would work. When an opponent preempts to 4 of a minor in an auction like this, she is trying to force you to make the last guess. Bidding 4 and then 5 would defeat that purpose. If I bid 4, I'm probably going to be wearing it.

There is one other argument against bidding 4. Suppose the opponents do take the save. The player who takes the save will almost certainly have a singleton spade. If that is the case, we might not be able to defeat 5.

I chose to pass. The hand was:

West
AKQ1086
32
7
AJ98
North
J
AKJ6
QJ1065
1073
East
75
Q10974
43
Q642
South
9432
85
AK982
K5
W
N
E
S
P
1
1
P
4
P
P
P
D
4 North
NS: 0 EW: 0

4 was cold. 4 goes down 1 against the proper defense of cashing 3 red-suit winners and playing another diamond, a defense which doesn't appear to be difficult to find. At the other table, our teammates took the phantom 5 save down 1.

 

 

On the next board we scored a big swing when our good result turned into a great result compared with the other table.

West
6
84
J32
Q1076542
W
N
E
S
?

I'm not averse to opening 3 on this sort of hand. Non-vulnerable it is trivial to open 3, or even higher at favorable vulnerablity. I might well have opened 3 both vul. There are plusses and minuses. For whatever reason, I followed my gut and passed.

West
6
84
J32
Q1076542
W
N
E
S
P
1
X
1
?

This auction is going unexpectedly quietly. While I have good playing strength, I don't dare jump to 3. Sally likely has a strong takeout double, but she might not have a club fit. If she bids 3NT over 3, I will have no idea what to do. The bidding isn't going to die at 2.

West
6
84
J32
Q1076542
W
N
E
S
P
1
X
1
2
X
2NT
P
?

North's double was a support double.

Sally does have the strong balanced hand, but if she has only 2 clubs notrump will not do well. I must warn her about this with a 3 rebid. At this point she is expecing me to have a club or two less and a high card or two more.

West
6
84
J32
Q1076542
W
N
E
S
P
1
X
1
2
X
2NT
P
3
P
3NT
P
?

Now I can pass. She has been warned that my hand looks like this, and she wouldn't be bidding 3NT without a 3-card club holding. The hand is:

West
6
84
J32
Q1076542
North
982
AQ92
A10764
K
East
AQ4
KJ106
KQ5
A83
South
KJ10753
753
98
J9
W
N
E
S
P
1
X
1
2
X
2NT
P
3
P
3NT
P
P
P
D
3NT East
NS: 0 EW: 0

The defense got off to a great start with the 9 of diamonds lead won by the ace (queen unblocked), and 9 of spades return. But the fall of the stiff king of clubs let 3NT make an easy 10 tricks. This is a fine result, since 4 is very close to making their way.

At the other table, the contract was 5. One would expect this to make. But the declarer thought he had enough information from the auction to take the otherwise anti-percentage play of crossing to the West hand and leading the queen of clubs. This was not a success.

 

 

On the next hand we lost more IMPs on a choice of partials deal, but at both tables our team could have done better in the play.

West
AK8
Q986432
J64
W
N
E
S
1
2
X
?

Should I bid 3? If 2 doubled got passed out that would probably be very bad for us. However, in real life players just don't pass partner's negative double of 2 of a major in front of the bidder, almost regardless of how strong their trump holding is, because they don't know how short their partner might be. Thus, I felt that we were more likely to be in trouble if I bid than if I passed. I then got another chance.

West
AK8
Q986432
J64
W
N
E
S
1
2
X
P
2NT
P
3
?

I could almost project the distribution around the table. Sally probably doesn't have 4 spades, which makes the spade suit 4-3-3-3 with South having 4 spades. The hearts are probably North having 4 and South 3. South figures to have 4 clubs, with 4-3-2-4 distribution. North's hand is the mystery, as North could be 3-4-2-4 or 3-4-3-3. If Sally has a doubleton diamond it is probably right to compete to 3, but I still have plenty of defense. If Sally has a singleton diamond and 3 clubs, defending will certainly be right. It looks like the percentage action is to pass.

I passed, and Sally led the ace of diamonds. (Deal rotated for readability.)

Dummy
J543
965
75
AKQ8
Kit
AK8
Q986432
J64
W
N
E
S
1
2
X
P
2NT
P
3
P
P
P

We play upside-down signals. I would like a heart shift. If Sally has led a singleton ace of diamonds, she may take my play as suit-preference. If she has led a doubleton diamond she will probably continue diamonds whatever I play since there won't seem to be any reason to shift. It didn't seem likely that she would have led from AJ or A10 doubleton. So I played the 2 of diamonds.

West
AK8
Q986432
J64
North
1097
AKJ4
KJ
10953
East
Q62
Q108732
A10
72
South
J543
965
75
AKQ8
W
N
E
S
1
2
X
P
2NT
P
3
P
P
P
D
3 North
NS: 0 EW: 0

Sally continued diamonds. Declarer won, drew trumps, and led a spade. I ducked, which would likely get us 3 spade tricks if declarer had Q9x. Sally won the queen, and returned a spade. I won and led a diamond. Declarer ruffed in hand, led another spade, and had 9 tricks. I needed Sally to have the king of hearts to defeat the contract. In the other room, on the same auction South passed 2NT. This might have made after a favorable heart lead, but at a key point declarer misguessed the diamonds and went down 2.

I didn't have anything to do on the next hand.

West
K876
10975
Q105
108
North
1092
K4
AKJ84
J54
East
AJ4
QJ8
973
AQ62
South
Q53
A632
62
K973
W
N
E
S
1NT
P
P
P
D
1NT East
NS: 0 EW: 0

South led a heart. North won the king, cashed the king of diamonds, and returned a heart. A diamond through gave the defense 7 tricks, and the king of clubs also scored for down 2. Same result in other room.

We picked up a couple of IMPs by staying out of trouble.

West
KQ65
7652
A73
94
W
N
E
S
P
P
1
2
X
?

I was prepared to try 2NT if South had passed, since I have a near maximum for my initial pass and game is possible. When South made a negative double I decided to trust the opponents and stay out of the auction.

West
KQ65
7652
A73
94
North
A9
J104
K98654
A10
East
J32
A8
J10
KJ8752
South
10874
KQ93
Q2
Q63
W
N
E
S
P
P
1
2
X
P
2
P
P
P
D
2 North
NS: 0 EW: 0

Sally led the 2 of spades. Declarer won and led a diamond to the 10 and queen. I won the ace and shifted to a club. Declarer won, drew trumps, and led a heart. We failed to take our second spade trick, so declarer made 10 tricks.

We could have won a second trump trick if I had ducked the queen of diamonds, as declarer would certainly have played Sally for A10 doubleton. The problem was that I could see that we could take only 5 tricks (2 diamonds and 1 trick in every other suit) if that is the hand, so I hoped declarer had 5 diamonds and 3 clubs. We won a couple of IMPs, since at the other table they played in 2 down 2 with our cards.

The next board presented interesting play and defense decisions.

West
K1072
AJ9
AK3
Q32
W
N
E
S
1
P
1
P
?

1: 16+

1: 9-14 balanced, says nothing about spades

I could bid 1NT, which would allow me to find Sally's exact shape as well as whether she is 9-11 or 12-14. This could help me choose between 4 and 3NT if she has 4 spades. However, 3NT could be as good or better than 4 regardless of her shape. Also, the luck of the artificial 1 response would make the strong hand dummy, which figures to be disadvantageous. It looked better to just bid 3NT and tell the opponents nothing.

Opening lead was the 8 of hearts (standard leads and carding). (Deal rotated for readability.)

Sally
AJ43
K103
J1042
98
Kit
K1072
AJ9
AK3
Q32
W
N
E
S
1
P
1
P
3NT
P
P
P

There are various possible approaches. RHO was certain to have the queen of hearts from the lead, so there was no need to let the heart lead ride around to my hand. I wanted to be in dummy so if I lost a finesse it would be to LHO, as he would have a more difficult time finding a club shift. It was also important that I conceal my spade and diamond strength as best as possible, since if North knows I have AK of diamonds and king of spades he will be able to find a club shift. So I won the king of hearts (South playing the 7), and led a spade to 10 and queen. North continued hearts, South playing small. I won the jack, crossed to the ace of spades, and ran the jack of diamonds. North played another heart, and I had 9 tricks.

West
K1072
AJ9
AK3
Q32
North
Q95
852
Q97
K764
East
AJ43
K103
J1042
98
South
86
Q764
865
AJ105
W
N
E
S
1
P
1
P
3NT
P
P
P
D
3NT West
NS: 0 EW: 0

Should the defense have gotten it right? Not clear. South might have discouraged in hearts, but from her point of view continuing hearts might be the right defense. North thought South could have Axxx of hearts, or maybe xxxx in hearts and not so much in clubs. At any rate, my play succeeded. At the other table they got to 4 and guessed the queen of spades, so we lost 1 IMP.

The next board was costly for our team.

West
KJ103
765
10952
Q6
W
N
E
S
P
1
P
1
P
1NT
P
?

1: 16+

1: 0-8

1NT: 17-19

If I choose to explore, we play Puppet Stayman at the 2-level. I would bid 2, then 2 over the likely 2, showing 4 spades and invitational or better values. Our maximum is 25 HCP, but I do have tens in my long suits. This is not the kind of hand to bring back a 10 IMP loss when partner has a maximum and game makes. Furthermore, bidding Puppet has the advantage that if partner has 4 spades and a minimum we can stop in 2, which would almost certainly be the best contract and couldn't be reached by any other methods.

West
KJ103
765
10952
Q6
North
874
Q932
76
KJ72
East
AQ96
A4
KJ83
A103
South
52
KJ108
AQ4
9854
W
N
E
S
 
P
1
P
1
P
1N
P
2
P
2
P
2
P
4
P
P
P
D
4 East
NS: 0 EW: 0

4 is basically on the diamond finesse, which is off. Our teammates found an unfortunate defense to allow 4 to make.

 

 

West
K7432
762
102
QJ3
W
N
E
S
1NT
P
?

1NT: 14-16

Passing could be right with these weak spades, but I didn't think I had the information or the right hand to take this action.

West
K7432
762
102
QJ3
North
AQJ9
1083
KQ764
7
East
65
AJ9
AJ95
A965
South
108
KQ54
83
K10842
W
N
E
S
1NT
P
2
P
2
P
P
P
D
2 East
NS: 0 EW: 0

The king of hearts lead was ducked, and a diamond went to queen and ace. Declarer led a spade to the king and ace. North played 4 rounds of trumps before returning a heart, so the diamonds were eventually established for club discards and down 2. At the other table declarer went down 3 in the same contract.

We had an unfortunate result when a pretty good game failed at the other table.

West
KQJ842
A4
A43
87
W
N
E
S
1
1
X
P
2
?

I couldn't see any reason to do anything over South's 2 call. If they have a heart fit there isn't anything I can do about it, and if they land in 3NT I'll be getting the lead I want.

West
KQJ842
A4
A43
87
North
7653
J10875
5
A42
East
109
K92
1072
Q10653
South
A
Q63
KQJ986
KJ9
W
N
E
S
1
1
X
P
2
P
3
P
4
P
P
P
D
4 South
NS: 0 EW: 0

Declarer won my spade lead and drove out my ace of diamonds. I could have defeated the contract with a heart shift, but it wasn't remotely on my radar that declarer could have 3 hearts and bid this way, so I continued spades. At the other table, the decent 4 contract was reached and defeated by the 9 of hearts via a trump promotion.

 

On the next board our side won the part-score batle.

West
K732
97
AJ76
J63
W
N
E
S
P
1
2
P
2
X
3
P
?

I have about the best hand I could have considering my original pass. But I have already shown a good hand for diamonds, and if Sally can't do more I don't see where we can have a game.

West
K732
97
AJ76
J63
North
A96
AQ8532
5
A87
East
J
K64
KQ983
K1052
South
Q10854
J10
1042
Q94
W
N
E
S
P
1
2
P
2
X
3
P
3
P
P
P
D
3 East
NS: 0 EW: 0

There were 9 easy tricks. In the other room, our teammates bid to 3 and made 4 for +170 and 7 IMPs our way.

 

And yet another competitive decision.

West
KQJ
K84
K1084
A87
W
N
E
S
1
P
1
?

I have a model 1NT overcall. Not overcalling runs the risk of missing a game if the opponents are light. It also risks losing a part-score swing if partner has a 5+ card major. Overcalling risks going for a number when partner is broke. It is particularly dangerous on this sort of hand where there is no source of tricks. Also, it might simply be right to defend rather than declare. I chose to pass.

West
KQJ
K84
K1084
A87
North
A2
J32
A7
QJ10643
East
10873
Q1096
J3
K92
South
9654
A75
Q9652
5
W
N
E
S
1
P
1
P
2
P
P
P
D
2 North
NS: 0 EW: 0

Sally led a heart, and we set up two heart tricks. We tried to develop a third trump trick with an uppercut, but declarer had too many losers he could discard to slip the uppercut so was only down 1. Same contract at other table, but they went down 2.

The final deal of the match went our way on a favorable opening lead.

West
762
J5
A8753
Q52
North
KQ3
42
QJ1096
J96
East
54
AQ109873
K
A74
South
AJ1098
K6
42
K1083
W
N
E
S
4
P
P
P
D
4 East
NS: 0 EW: 0

South led the 8 of clubs. Sally won the queen and led a heart to 10 and king. South shifted to a diamond, and there were 10 tricks. 4 was defeated at the other table.

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